369. Paper Prepared by the National Security Council Staff1


As part of their effort to solidify the status of the GDR, the Soviets want it admitted to the UN. From the Soviet standpoint, once both the FRG and GDR are admitted to the UN (the Soviets also support FRG membership), it will be difficult to contest the legal status of the GDR as a separate, sovereign state.

Our position has been to support West Germany’s policy on this point. The situation is as follows:

Since Brandt came to power in 1969, he has repeatedly expressed willingness to treat East Germany (the German Democratic Republic) as a second state in one German nation.2 This is a major change of policy and doctrine. He has met with the East German leaders, and his government has also indicated its readiness to see East Germany enter [Page 1039] the United Nations, along with West Germany, provided the GDR first agrees by treaty to a modus vivendi that (a) improves contact between people in the two Germanies; and (b) recognized the principle, important to Bonn, that the relationship between West and East Germany is “special” and different than that between other states.
At the time of the West German-Soviet treaty in 1970, the two sides also signed a declaration of intent “in accordance with their different circumstances” to promote entry of the two Germanies into the UN.3 The declaration, which has no legal force, also stated that the West German-Soviet and the West German-East German treaties were part of a single whole, so that UN membership is linked with the intra-German treaty process.
On May 12, West and East Germany initialed a transportation treaty, the first treaty between them and a major step toward the modus vivendi.4 Bonn still wants to conclude a basic treaty embodying the special relationship. It has requested friendly governments not to support UN membership for East Germany until it has completed this entire process. We have honored that request.
For us there is also the problem of quadripartite rights, which are vital to our position in West Berlin. The Berlin agreements, which include a separate section of implementing measures worked out by East and West Germany, are a step toward our acceptance of East Germany as a state, but we have made no commitments on recognition or on UN entry. We have, however, agreed with West Germany, France, and the UK at the Ministerial level, that before we support UN membership for both Germanies we should seek an understanding with the Soviet Union that four-power rights and responsibilities will not be affected by UN entry.5 We do not know, of course, whether the Soviet Union would agree to such an understanding.

Issues and Talking Points

Brezhnev has directly appealed to us to take a position favorable to UN membership of both German states.6 He asserts that Soviet and East German public opinion would not understand if he did not raise this question at the summit where important issues would be discussed. [Page 1040] He will most likely claim that Brandt supports UN admission and in this connection Brezhnev may refer to the Soviet-German declaration of intent of last year.

Brezhnev and Dobrynin have been told that our position will be guided by the views of the Federal Republic and that you would check with Brandt. (A message has been sent to Egon Bahr to ask how Brandt wishes the subject handled at the summit.)7

If Brezhnev pursues the subject you should make the following points:

  • —On this specific issue we must follow the lead of our Ally in Bonn. You are aware of the Chancellor’s attitude on this question; he has endorsed the UN admission, but as a part of a larger process of establishing a modus vivendi between the two German states. He wishes to put this in treaty form and then support UN admission.
  • —We have not taken a position, but you can tell the General Secretary that we would not oppose UN admission as a matter of principle, providing that the West German government agrees, and that the rights of the Four Powers are not affected.
  • —You have checked this position with Brandt and this is your understanding of the current state of the issue.
  • —In any case, we have the Berlin agreements, including the inner-German agreements, and this is an indicator of our position.

If the situation in your talks warrants a gesture toward the Soviets on this issue, you could

—suggest that they and we now approach the UK and France to undertake a joint examination of the manner in which Four Power rights regarding Germany would be safeguarded once the two Germanies enter the UN.8

[Page 1041]

(Note: The four powers would probably issue a joint declaration in connection with FRG and GDR admission into the UN.)

(Note: The above gesture has been endorsed by Brandt in a confidential message from Bahr to us9 following our request for German advice on how we should handle the UN issue in Moscow.)

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 487, President’s Trip Files, For the President’s Personal Briefcase, May 1972 [Part 2]. Secret; Exclusively Eyes Only. Butterfield stamped the paper to indicate that the President had seen it. The paper was part of the President’s briefing material for the Moscow summit, which began on May 22.
  2. Brandt first announced this position in his government declaration on October 28, 1969. See footnote 4, Document 39.
  3. Reference is to the seventh article of the so-called “Bahr Paper.” For the text, see Documents on Germany, 1944–1985, pp. 1101–1103.
  4. Bahr and Kohl signed the traffic treaty in Berlin on May 26. For the text, see ibid., pp. 1191–1198.
  5. The Allied Foreign Ministers approved a statement to this effect at the quadripartite dinner in Brussels on December 8, 1971; Rogers presented the statement at a meeting of the North Atlantic Council the next day. (Telegram 5154 from USNATO, December 9, 1971; National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 38–6)
  6. See Document 356.
  7. See Document 356.
  8. Although other issues predominated at the summit, Nixon and Brezhnev discussed European affairs during their noon meeting on May 24. After raising the proposed conference on European security, Brezhnev remarked: “now [that] we have through joint cooperation settled the matter of the ratification of the treaties and the question of West Berlin, another important matter arises and this is a simultaneous admission of the two German states, the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic, to the United Nations. The possible solution to this question would certainly remove much tension in Europe and the sources of friction between us on those grounds. This is a major issue, and we feel we should be entitled to count on the positive attitude of your part on this also. Although it is an international problem, it also relates to bilateral relations between our two countries. It would help to create a better climate for the relations between us. And that is something to which you made frequent reference during this visit, Mr. President.” Nixon replied: “The second point, with regard to UN representation of East Germany, this is a problem where we, of course, will have to be guided by the attitude of the Federal Republic. And when the Federal Republic has discussed this matter and indicated it is ready to move forward, we will, of course, cooperate. We will be prepared to discuss it with the British and the French. There is the very sensitive problem of four-power rights that might be affected by this action.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 487, President’s Trip Files, The President’s Conversations in Salzburg, Moscow, Tehran, and Warsaw, May 1972 [Part 1])
  9. In the message, dated May 16, Bahr reported: “The Federal Government stands by its position: an article of the Basic Treaty with the DDR will express the wish of both states to apply for admission in the UN. Already in the spring of 1970, I told Gromyko that our readiness in this regard also corresponds to Ulbricht’s recommendation. That was not possible earlier. We will next discuss membership of the DDR in international organizations internally. Here there could be some room for maneuver. For the DDR, full UN membership is, as a sign of equal rights, its highest goal, in other words, more valuable than it is really worth. The quicker the negotiations lead to agreement on relations between the two states, the sooner will UN membership be possible. That is still attainable by the end of this year.” Bahr also added the following postscript: “It might be taken as a gesture of good will in Moscow, if the President and Brezhnev agree to establish contacts immediately in Paris and London with the goal to work out the necessary joint declaration reaffirming four-power rights upon entry of both German states.” (Ford Library, National Security Adviser Files, Kissinger and Scowcroft West Wing Office Files, Box 35, West Germany—Egon Bahr Communications) The foregoing excerpts were translated from the original German by the editor.