379. Editorial Note

On October 25, 1972, Soviet Ambassador Dobrynin called Assistant to the President Kissinger at 4:27 p.m. to discuss a personal appeal from Soviet Foreign Minister Gromyko regarding the quadripartite declaration on German membership in the United Nations.

D[obrynin]: I just received a telegram from Gromyko and he asked me on his behalf—or rather from his name to discuss with you one point. You mentioned yesterday about this profile of the discussion on this Germany and United Nations.

K[issinger]: Yes.

“D: And he asked you, couldn’t you in a few weeks—how to say— go fast on the whole declaration to make it a little bit weaker than its—

“K: Well, I’ll do my best.

“D: Because he’s even mentioned tomorrow they have about—you couldn’t really [do this?] for tomorrow?

“K: Let me call immediately and see what I can do.

“D: Yes, because this is his personal approach to you and he would like—

“K: I appreciate it and we will do our best.

“D: Yes, but you will notify [me] today whether it’s possible or not?

“K: I’ll call you back within an hour.

[Page 1079]

“D: Within an hour. Oh, thank you very much, Henry.” (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 395, Telephone Conversations, Dobrynin, Anatoliy Fedorovich)

Deputy Assistant to the President Haig called Executive Secretary Eliot at the Department of State that afternoon with instructions for Ambassador Hillenbrand to introduce a “fallback position” after the Allied and Soviet texts had been tabled at the formal talks in West Berlin. (Memorandum from Haig to Eliot, October 25; National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 1001, Haig Special File, Haig (General Files) 1972 [1 of 3])

The revised or “fallback” text, which Dobrynin had given Kissinger on October 24, reads as follows: “The Governments of the Soviet Union, Great Britain, and the United States and France … have agreed to support the applications for UN membership when submitted by the FRG and the GDR and affirm in this connection that such membership shall in no way affect the question of the four power rights and responsibilities and the related quadripartite agreements, decisions and practices.” (Ibid., Box 495, President’s Trip Files, Dobrynin/Kissinger, 1972, Vol. 14)

Kissinger called Dobrynin back at 7:25 p.m. to report on his response to Gromyko’s appeal:

“K: Anatol, I just wanted to tell you we’ve given instructions now through official channels to avoid this dancing around.

“D: Yeah, I understand.

“K: To Hillenbrand to move in this direction.

“D: Umhumm.

“K: I hope they get there fast enough for tomorrow but you can certainly count on the fact that we will now energetically move in that direction.

“D: Directly by orders from you from White House, yes?

“K: From the White House but we gave it through the State Department.

“D: Yes, I think it will—

“K: It makes it less complicated.

“D: Yes. I’m sure Mr. Gromyko will appreciate it.

“K: Well, you tell him that this is—that this has been done.” (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 395, Telephone Conversations, Dobrynin, Anatoliy Fedorovich)

In an undated backchannel message, Kissinger instructed Hillenbrand as follows: “The President would like you to work to a conclusion of the four power talks on four power rights and responsibilities as promptly as possible. Accordingly, using tactics which you consider most effective, you should secure Allied approval of the following text [Page 1080] [see above] which we know to be acceptable to the Soviets and which we regard as acceptable to us.” (Ford Library, National Security Adviser Files, Kissinger and Scowcroft West Wing Office Files, Box 35, West Germany—Egon Bahr Communications) On October 26 the Department of State also sent Hillenbrand the “fallback” text, which it considered “an acceptable minimum position for the Western side provided it is part of a scenario which meets the Western requirements.” (Telegram 194544 to Berlin, October 26; National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 38–6) Although he agreed with this assessment, Hillenbrand replied the same day that “it will take a little time before our allies can be brought around to this position.” (Telegram 1848 from Berlin, October 26; ibid.)

When he floated the text on October 27, the French and British responded as Hillenbrand expected. “They have not yet specifically reacted,” he reported, “except that the French Ambassador [Sauvagnargues] said the phrase ‘the question of [quadripartite rights and responsibilities]’ was completely unacceptable to him. The British Chargé [Hibbert] observed that, on the basis of his current instructions, he had no latitude in moving beyond the substantive content of the draft declaration given to the Soviets during our initial October 23 meeting, although he had some discretion as to form.” (Telegram 1853 from Berlin, October 27; ibid.)

Hillenbrand explained the reason behind this reaction in his memoirs: “My British and French colleagues immediately jumped to the obvious conclusion that there had been Soviet-American collusion of the kind previously experienced during the negotiation of the Quadripartite Agreement itself. My embarrassment was as obvious as the irritation of Sauvagnargues and Henderson.” (Hillenbrand, Fragments of Our Time, p. 322) Nicholas Henderson, the British Ambassador, provided further testimony in his diary entry for October 27. “One of the underlying problems of this whole negotiation,” he wrote, “is that Kissinger appears to have done some deal with the Russians over the heads of the other powers. There is really little that we can usefully do round the negotiating table in trying to persuade the Russians to accept something when the American government has already reached an agreement with them bilaterally.” (Henderson, Mandarin, page 41)