40. Telegram From the Embassy in Germany to the Department of State1

14518. Subj: Policy of New German Government on Relations With the GDR.

In a conversation with Sutterlin and the DCM, State Secretary Bahr (protect source) laid out what he called the “real” policy of the new German Government toward relations with the GDR. He said he felt it important to be full, clear, and explicit about this because he feared that telegrams sent to the German Embassy in Washington had not conveyed the policy adequately. He said the full extent of this policy will not be divulged at this time. In an aside, he said he personally thought Brandt’s decision to refer publicly to “two German states”2 [Page 112] was a mistake at this time because it provoked too much public controversy. The full “naked” policy, Bahr said, contains the following elements:
Trade with the GDR: The FRG will no longer stand in the way of expanded Allied trade with the GDR. “We cannot ask the US, for example, not to do in trade with the GDR that which the French already do and which the British will soon do.”
GDR membership in international organizations: The FRG had already given up its position on this subject when the International Olympic Committee voted at Mexico City to allow a separate GDR team at the next Olympics and the FRG subsequently announced that it nevertheless wanted to have the next Olympics in Munich, knowing full well that this meant a separate GDR team would participate in the FRG before the whole world. Bahr did not give details as to how the FRG would proceed from here on its policy toward the GDR in international organizations; he only made the point that its earlier position of opposing membership had already been given up.
Renunciation of force agreements: Negotiation of these agreements in the near future will be the first major step in working out the new relationship with the GDR. The agreements will be negotiated in the following order: Soviet Union, Poland, GDR. In an important aside on the European Security Conference (ESC), Brandt [ Bahr] said that the renunciation of force negotiations will have a determining effect on the German position toward the ESC. If the renunciation of force negotiations are blocked by the other side, the FRG will have no interest in an ESC, in which it has no intrinsic interest anyway. Furthermore, Bahr thought the Soviets had made a tactical mistake in the recent Warsaw Pact declaration on the ESC. By coming out for an ESC in early spring 1970, the Soviets publicly engaged their prestige for an early ESC, thus giving the FRG and the West a tactical advantage in insisting that conditions be met before an ESC is held.
All-German treaty: Negotiation of an all-German treaty (Gesamt-Deutscher Vertrage) will be the final and culminating stage in the process, to be undertaken only if all the preceding steps have been fulfilled. Such an all-German treaty would not provide for FRG recognition of the GDR as a government which the FRG recognizes in the traditional sense, with exchange of Ambassadors, etc. Nor would it affect in any way the Allied rights in Berlin nor the four-power responsibility for Berlin; the FRG and GDR are not fully sovereign nations anyway and have no basis for affecting or altering these Allied and four-power rights. It would, however, provide for FRG acceptance of two German states. Its key point would be a modus vivendi. For its part, the FRG would give up its opposition to third states recognizing the GDR. The other and essential half of the bargain would be solid GDR guarantees of FRG civilian access to Berlin.
Pending the completion of this last step, the FRG will continue to try to prevent other states from recognizing the GDR diplomatically. Bahr said the steps described above would have to move rapidly; twelve months from now, he predicted, India will recognize the GDR.3 When this happens, the FRG will no longer be able to hold the dam; there will be a flood of recognitions because the FRG, given its heavy investment in India, will be powerless to take any retaliatory action. In a recent conversation, even Birrenbach had recognized this fact of life.
Asked about the relation of the Allied sounding of the Soviets to all this, Bahr said it should go ahead in parallel fashion. He felt, however, that the Allied sounding would get nowhere; the Soviets will simply say that it is none of their business.
Asked about a separate subject, Western European integration, Bahr was very discouraging. He saw no motivations at work in Western Europe to bring about any progress. Fear played no role any longer; the Europeans were quite content to remain under the American nuclear umbrella.
On still another subject, completion of WEU action on building submarines for Greece, Bahr said the FRG has decided to go ahead. This issue had been hanging fire within the grand coalition for six months. Even though FRG relations with the present Greek regime were far from the best, Brandt had decided to proceed anyway because the project is important to NATO. Bahr characterized Brandt’s decision to go ahead with this matter as an example of his intent to be a decisive Chancellor. “Brandt has decided to be a Chancellor who decides,” he said.
Because German policy on this topic is the subject of intense domestic controversy, we believe the above views and those of van Well (septel)4 should not be discussed with other nations at this time. For background see also A–499, May 22, 1969 (notal).5
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 15 GER W. Secret; Priority; Limdis. Repeated to Berlin, USNATO, London, Paris, and Moscow.
  2. See footnote 4, Document 39.
  3. Although establishing relations at the consular level on August 3, 1970, India did not extend full diplomatic recognition to East Germany until October 8, 1972.
  4. In telegram 14539 from Bonn, November 5, the Embassy reported that van Well confessed that he had been “somewhat shaken by some of the wording in Brandt’s government declaration on policy toward East Germany of which he had made the original first draft, later worked over by Egon Bahr, Brandt himself, and to a lesser extent FonMin Scheel. Nevertheless, he considered the end result a worthwhile formulation.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL GER E–GER W) The second part of the conversation with van Well on FRG policy toward the GDR was reported in telegram 14540 from Bonn, November 5. (Ibid.)
  5. Not printed. (Ibid.)