342. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Germany1

42053. Subj: Washington Visits by German Political Leaders. Ref: Bonn 3247.2 From the Secretary.

Given the uncertain situation which has developed in Bonn concerning ratification of the Moscow and Warsaw treaties, both the government and opposition parties are likely to be inclined to send high level representatives to Washington in the hope of gaining some support for their positions or at least some expression of US views which they can utilize in the domestic debate. Von Weizsaecker’s idea that Schroeder should visit Washington in order to explain to the President the CDU’s concepts concerning relations with the Soviet Union is a case in point.
The United States is determined to avoid involvement in the Bundestag’s decision on the Eastern treaties. In responding to press questions I have made clear that we view this as a German matter to [Page 972] be decided by the German people.3 Our involvement and interest in the Berlin Agreement is evident but we view this Agreement as desirable on its own merits and we hope it will come into effect whatever the decision of the German Government may be concerning the Eastern treaties.
I feel that visits by high level Germans can only make more difficult during the present period our objective of avoiding involvement in the internal German political scene. Therefore, to the extent that this can be done without offense to German leaders, Embassy Bonn should do what it can to discourage such visits. The President’s trip to Moscow, the dates of which have not yet been determined, the NATO Ministerial meeting which will require my attendance, and the fact that this is an election year in the United States can all perhaps be used to good advantage in turning aside or discouraging visit proposals while the controversy over the treaties and the future of the Brandt Government remain intense.4
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 7 GER W. Secret; Exdis. Drafted by Sutterlin on March 9, cleared by Springsteen, and approved by Rogers. Repeated to London, Moscow, Paris, Warsaw, and Berlin. The time and date of transmission, which are illegible on the telegram, are taken from a notation on an action memorandum from Springsteen to Rogers, March 10. (Ibid.) Rogers also enclosed a copy of the telegram in a March 10 memorandum to Nixon. “While we cannot prevent German politicians from coming to Washington,” Rogers explained, “I think that it is in our interest to discourage such visits to the extent we can tactfully do so during the current period of intensive controversy in the Federal Republic. I am sending a message to this effect to our Embassy in Bonn and wished to let you know since the White House and the Department will no doubt have to work in close coordination in handling the various visit proposals which can be anticipated despite best efforts of our Embassy in Bonn to discourage them.” (Ibid., Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 686, Country Files, Europe, Germany (Bonn), Vol. XI) Kissinger briefly summarized Rogers’ memorandum in a March 20 memorandum to Nixon; Butterfield stamped the latter to indicate that the President had seen it. (Ibid.)
  2. In telegram 3247 from Bonn, March 8, the Embassy reported that Richard von Weizsäcker, then a liberal member of the CDU/CSU parliamentary group, told an Embassy officer that “the consequences of defeating the Eastern treaties has been, at least until now, underestimated by CDU leaders including Barzel.” Weizsäcker, therefore, proposed that “Schroeder, as shadow foreign minister and in the role of special emissary from Barzel to President Nixon, ought to visit Washington and explain what the Ostpolitik of a CDUCSU government would be and also to express willingness to do what it reasonably could to bring the Berlin agreement into force.” (Ibid., RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 12–6 GER W) After discussing the proposal with Schröder, however, Weizsäcker told an Embassy officer on March 14 the proposed visit was “undesirable” and “that any contact therefore would be between the CDU/CSU and Western embassies in Bonn.” (Telegram 3659 from Bonn, March 15; ibid.)
  3. Rogers fielded several questions on the political situation in Bonn during his news conference on March 7. When a reporter asked what the administration would do if the Bundestag failed to ratify the Eastern treaties and the Soviets then refused to sign the final protocol of the Berlin agreement, Rogers replied: “Well, I am not going to make any answer to a hypothetical question of that kind. You know our position about the Berlin agreements. You know that we hope that the protocol that we worked out will be signed. We don’t want to say anything that interferes with the internal affairs of the Federal Republic at this time. If that should happen, then we will have to consider what to do.” (Department of State Bulletin, March 27, 1972, pp. 472–473)
  4. The telegram is unsigned.