367. Transcript of Telephone Conversation Between the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) and Soviet Ambassador Dobrynin1

K: Hello.

D: Hello, Henry.

K: Anatoliy, how are you?

D: Thank you.

K: I just wanted to tell you—I have just talked to Bahr2 and we’ve also been in touch with Barzel, and I think we can assure now that the treaty will be ratified by tomorrow evening.

D: They are beginning today and tomorrow. Two days, yes?

K: That’s right. Formally, only starting tomorrow.

D: Tomorrow, but how could they be ratified tomorrow?

K: Well, at any rate, I don’t know whether they start today. All I know is that our understanding now is that due to our joint efforts, it’s now worked out so that by tomorrow evening the treaties will be ratified.

[Page 1032]

D: Tomorrow evening?

K: By tomorrow evening.

D: It’s from both, then, Bahr and Barzel.

K: That’s correct.

D: You don’t know the details. Did they work out the joint…

K: Well, they worked out a joint declaration3 which we have urged Barzel to accept, and they are taking it up with Falin. And my understanding is that this will be acceptable.

D: That it will be acceptable. I see. Okay; thank you.

K: I wanted you to know that at least in areas outside Southeast Asia, we have continued to do business as we promised.4

D: Okay. Thank you, Henry. I will be in touch with you, I’m sure.

K: I don’t think so.

D: No, I think…

K: You think there’s going to be a message?

D: I think there will be a message or statement.

K: No, I’m sure. I was pulling your leg.

D: Yeah; I understand. You picked out a day which is really a national holiday in Russia.5

K: I’ll hear from you. There’s no question.

D: Well, bye-bye. I’ll be in touch with you.

K: Bye.

  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 372, Telephone Conversations. No classification marking.
  2. Bahr called Kissinger at 10:02 a.m. on May 9; the two men conversed in German for 5 minutes. (Record of Schedule; Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 438, Miscellany, 1968–76) No other record of the conversation has been found.
  3. For the final text of the joint resolution, see Documents on Germany, 1944–1985, pp. 1188–1190.
  4. The previous evening, Nixon announced his decision not only to bomb Hanoi but also to mine the harbor at Haiphong. Kissinger later argued that the Soviet reaction to the decision was restrained due to their concern for ratification. Citing his call to Dobrynin on the joint resolution as evidence, Kissinger asserted: “We had not planned it this way—we had no influence over the procedures of the German Parliament—but the linkage so disparaged by commentators was obvious.” (Kissinger, White House Years, p. 1192) Hillenbrand challenged this linkage in his memoirs by discounting the implication that Kissinger had given Dobrynin confidential information: “The Soviets, of course, knew about the German situation directly from their able ambassador in Bonn, Valentin Falin, who had been negotiating with the Germans about the declaration and reporting fully on German political developments to Moscow.” (Hillenbrand, Fragments of Our Time, pp. 305–306) Brandt, however, also linked developments in Vietnam and Germany. According to Bahr, who discussed the situation with an Embassy officer on May 9, Barzel agreed to support the joint resolution after Brandt expressed concern that “the Soviet reaction to the mining of Haiphong might amount to a second Cuban crisis,” possibly including “measures against Berlin.” “If in addition to the pressures on the Soviet leadership from the American position on Vietnam,” Brandt argued, “the German Bundestag rejected the treaties to which Brezhnev and other top Soviet leaders had attached their personal prestige, this action might tip the balance towards an overall East-West breakdown.” (Telegram 6516 from Bonn, May 9; National Archives, RG 59, 1970–73, POL GER W–USSR)
  5. May 9, 1945, was the day that Stalin announced the end of World War II in Europe to the Russian people.