56. Message From the German State Secretary for Foreign, Defense, and German Policy (Bahr) to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1

After this round of talks in Moscow, I have the impression that for the first time the Soviets are seriously considering the possibility of a renunciation-of-force agreement. The Politburo is holding internal discussions on the matter.
My interlocutors were obviously prepared for an open debate. I do not know what situation I will find during the next round in Moscow; it is scheduled to begin on the first of March. It will then involve an agreed position of the Soviet leadership and no longer an informal exchange of views.
The goal of the next round would be to arrive at a working paper that both governments will study. If both sides accept it, then we will begin the actual negotiations to draft the text of a renunciation-offorce agreement. I expect a stay of at most two weeks but have become cautious in such predictions.

On the subject of Berlin in response to Gromyko ’s questions, I pointed out that the Federal Government cannot negotiate on Berlin; this is also in accordance with the Soviet position. We have wishes, however, that we would coordinate with the three powers:

If there is to be détente in Europe, Berlin must not remain a relic of the Cold War; that is, arrangements must be made through which civilian access cannot be disturbed; the reality of economic and other ties with West Germany must be respected; the same goes for the representation of West Berlin abroad by the Federal Government (with the approval of the three powers whose original rights will not be infringed thereby); the use of Federal passports for West Berliners.

Gromyko asked for specific clarifications but did not react to any of the points. It is in our common interests, I think, that the position of the three powers vis-à-vis the Soviets in the Berlin talks should not be less than what the German side has said to the Soviets in Moscow.

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We are preparing a paper on this that the Federal Chancellor will transmit in the course of the next week in a message to the three heads of state (or government).

During the next week I will be available for any questions and hope in April to report personally several interesting insights on the working habits of the Soviet leadership.2


Egon Bahr

P.S. I leave for Moscow again on 1 March.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 60, Country Files, Europe, Egon Bahr, Berlin File [3 of 3]. Top Secret; Eyes Only. The message, in German, was sent by backchannel and forwarded to Haig on February 21. Kissinger wrote the following instructions: “Sonnenfeldt: Acknowledge—These Bahr cables should always be acknowledged immediately.” (Ibid.) Sonnenfeldt, however, explained that since Bahr had gone back to Moscow, the response could wait until he returned to Bonn in 2 weeks. Kissinger approved this suggestion on March 3. (Memorandum from Sonnenfeldt to Kissinger, undated; ibid.) This message, except the original English postscript, was translated from German by the editor. For the German text, see Akten zur Auswärtigen Politik der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, 1970, Vol. 1, pp. 299–300.
  2. On March 16 Haig approved the following reply to Bahr on Kissinger’s behalf: “I regret that I was unable to reply to your interesting message of February 20 before you left Bonn to return to Moscow. In the meantime, the Chancellor and the President have been in communication with each other on the Berlin question, and the Bonn group is actively considering the Western position for the talks with the Soviets. I have followed with interest the reports from your government concerning the FRG’s conversation with the Eastern countries and will be interested in your further impressions. As I told Ambassador Pauls last week, we are greatly looking forward to the Chancellor’s visit next month and the full discussions that will be held at that time. With best regards, HAKissinger.” (Ibid.)