380. Memorandum From Helmut Sonnenfeldt of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1


  • Soviet Intelligence Said to Support Brandt

CIA has sent you a background use only memorandum (Tab A)2 reporting that the Soviet government wants the SPDFDP coalition to win the elections and that KGB headquarters has instructed its chief operatives abroad to mobilize all resources in support of their victory this November 19. The report is attributed to “a Soviet source with plausible access.”

According to the reported KGB directive, KGB field offices should carefully disseminate the following line through the media:

Only the BrandtScheel government can carry out an Ostpolitik which is in the FRG interest;
If the coalition continues in power this will contribute to relaxation of tensions and a CSCE but if the CDU/CSU comes in this would revive Cold War politics;
The CDU/CSU is leaning on reactionaries in its campaign, and according to secret information it has agreed to cooperate with the rightwing NPD and Deutsche Union.

The Source of the report says that this line suggests that the Foreign Ministry has prevailed over the KGB, which three years ago preferred a CDU/CSU government because it could attack one more easily.

Several other reports provide some supporting evidence, both ideological and tactical. One sensitive CIA report (Tab B)3 [less than 1 line not declassified] says that at an August 1972 meeting in the Crimea Soviet Party officials agreed with at least some West European communist party counterparts on a cooperative line toward Social Democrats. The aim is to increase the desire among Social Democrats, particularly on the left, for cooperation with the Communists. Attention should be focussed on (a) forming leftwing factions within the Social Democratic parties; [Page 1082] (b) maintaining liaison with prominent Social Democratic leaders to explain the need for cooperation and the opportunities for political decisions on the basis of equality.

There have also been several intelligence reports recently of West German Communist Party (DKP) decisions to back SPD candidates in key constituencies. According to one, DKP headquarters directed lower units to throw their votes at the last minute to the SPD in those electoral districts where the SPDCDU race looks close. (The DKP’s very poor showing in the local elections in Hesse and Lower Saxony a week ago Sunday4 will convince the party’s locals that they haven’t a prayer in any case and render them more willing to cast their ballots for the SPD as directed.)

Comment: The reports sound logical enough, given the Soviets’ evident preference for Brandt. There is the obvious inconsistency in the reported Crimean guidance, which is inherent in all Popular Front tactics, between working with the Socialists against the center and right and within their parties to promote left-wingers. But in the case of West Germany, overriding Soviet interests in Brandt’s victory probably dictate emphasis on the former for the moment.

Should Soviet and DKP support for Brandt become public knowledge and an election issue, of course, the SPD would hardly profit.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 721, Country Files, Europe, USSR, Vol. XXVI. Secret; Background Use Only. Sent for information. Kissinger initialed the memorandum indicating that he had seen it.
  2. Attached but not printed at Tab A is a memorandum from Karamessines to Kissinger and Cline, October 27.
  3. Dated October 27; attached but not printed.
  4. October 22.