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

2164. Subj: Bahr Presentation to Allied Ambassadors Regarding Berlin.

This message contains a summary of Bahr’s remarks to UK and US Ambs and French First Secretary (Amb Seydoux absent) in Feb 26 presentation of Brandt letter to the President and German working paper on Berlin soundings (septel).2 In essence, Bahr recommended that the Allied soundings with the Soviets focus on an effort to obtain Soviet acceptance of economic, financial, cultural and legal ties between the FedRep and Berlin.
Bahr said he expected a harder time in his next meeting with Gromyko in Moscow because Gromyko will have tried out on Ulbricht Bahr’s arguments from the first session of the talks and would be equipped with Ulbricht’s replies. The first round of talks with Gromyko had not been easy. The discussion had been tough but the atmosphere had not been personally unpleasant. The most important positions on both sides remained unchanged. Gromyko categorically rejected inclusion in a renunciation of force agreement of any reference to German reunification, self-determination or unity. He demanded that the FRG accept post-war borders and that it explicitly state its intention never to make changes in these borders.
Bahr said he had told Gromyko that these Soviet demands were unacceptable. The Basic Law would not permit them nor would Federal German commitments to the three Western Powers in the settlement convention. He had told Gromyko that any renunciation of force agreement should include a passage which stated that the agreement itself did not affect or weaken the agreement of either party with third parties.
Bahr said he had the impression that there was some movement in the Soviet position on Articles 53 and 107 of the UN Charter. Gromyko had not found himself in a position to make a strong case [Page 161] against the argument that if relations with the FRG were normalized in the renunciation of force agreement, this normalization should extend to the Charter articles as it had in the case of FRG agreements with the three Western Powers.
Berlin had taken a good deal of time in the discussion with the Soviets. Gromyko had raised it, insisting that Berlin would have to be discussed in the context of a renunciation of force agreement with the FRG. Bahr had replied that he could discuss Berlin but not negotiate on it as it was within the Four Powers area of competence as the Soviets would no doubt agree.
Bahr said he then expressed FRG desires with regard to Berlin. His formulations had not been restrained and he had expected a Soviet explosion in return. This had not taken place.
Bahr said he told Gromyko the Soviet Union must recognize the economic, financial, and legal ties between Berlin and the Fed Rep. If there were to be a relaxation of tensions, then Berlin must also be included; Berlin could not be an island of the cold war in an area of relaxed tensions. This meant cessation of difficulties and disturbances on civilian access to Berlin. The Soviets should accept FRG representation of Berlin interests abroad as the Western Allies had done without relinquishing their ultimate supreme rights over Berlin. Furthermore West Berliners should be able to travel to the East on Federal German passports.3 Gromyko had made absolutely no reaction to this presentation one way or the other.
In a second round on Berlin, Gromyko had said that there was a four-power competence for Berlin but FRG should in any agreement on renunciation of force nonetheless specifically acknowledge the territorial integrity of West Berlin which was a separate international entity. The FRG was also attempting to absorb Berlin. Bahr said this [Page 162] viewpoint was wrong. If Gromyko meant that the FRG should not send German military personnel to Berlin, Bahr agreed. If Gromyko meant that all connection between Berlin and the FedRep should cease, this viewpoint could not be accepted.
Bahr said he thought it was highly desirable that he should report on these talks to the three Ambassadors and that all four Allies should work towards a common view on the Berlin soundings. It was obvious that Gromyko was consulting with Ulbricht on this subject and the Soviets could not take amiss consultations between the FRG and the Allies on this topic.4
Bahr pointed out that the inclusion of Berlin in the FedRep was anchored both in the FRG Basic Law and in the West Berlin consitituion. The Allies had suspended the application of this part of the constitution. The FRG accepted this situation. This is the way the matter should stay until there was an ultimate resolution of the overall German question. Bahr said he was aiming at reaffirmation of Four Power rights for all of Berlin, but that once done he hoped it would be possible for both sides to agree that each side should respect what each is doing within their own sector and not seek to interfere with it.
Speaking personally, UK and US Ambs expressed general understanding for the main lines of Bahr’s presentation. Amb Rush pointed out that Bahr seemed to be operating with two separate and conflicting definitions of the status quo, the Soviet one and the Western one. Bahr agreed, but said he believed the object of the negotiation with the Soviets should be to reach a synthesis.
Suggest Dept may wish to request White House agreement to redesignate this message Limdis and repeat to field posts with need to know.
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 28 GER B. Secret; Priority; Exdis.
  2. An English translation of the Brandt letter was transmitted in telegram 2161 from Bonn, February 26 (ibid.); see also Document 62. An English translation of the German working paper was transmitted in telegram 2160 from Bonn, February 26 (National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 28 GER B); see also the excerpts in footnotes 3 and 4 below. For the full texts in German of the working paper and the Brandt letter, see Akten zur Auswärtigen Politik der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, 1970, Vol. 1, pp. 308–313.
  3. The German working paper included the following list of “improvements in the practical situation” of Berlin: “(A) If a series of agreements on renunciation of force were concluded, Berlin should not remain apart as the apple of discord; this means that the principles of renunciation of force should apply for Berlin as well. (B) There will be no independent political entity of ‘West Berlin’; neither the Berliners nor the FRG nor the three powers would accept this. (C) The status of Berlin should not be changed; one cannot on the one hand speak of the status quo in Europe and on the other hand wish to change the status quo in Berlin. (D) Berlin (West) has been brought into the economic, financial, cultural, and legal system of the FRG with the approval of the three powers. The Federal Government has been given the responsibility for balancing the budget of West Berlin; all of this has happened without objection by the Soviet Union. (E) The representation of Berlin (West) abroad by the Federal Republic must be assured; it concerns both the areas of validity of international agreements as well as the protection of the consular and economic interests of Berlin (West). For example, in this category belongs recognition of the passports which are issued in Berlin. (Comment: FRG passports) (F) There should be no further complications in civilian traffic.”
  4. The working paper stated the German position on the quadripartite soundings as follows: “The Federal Republic does not wish to evade the desire expressed by the Soviet Government to extend the renunciation of force to Berlin also. The Soviet counter-commitment could contribute to stabilization of the situation in Berlin. It therefore appears all the more important to the Federal Government that the three powers enter soon into their own exchange of views with the Soviet Union in order that these centrally important negotiations can be carried out concurrently with our Moscow and East Berlin talks. In no event should a situation arise in which the Soviet Union can play off the three powers and the Federal Republic against each other or can operate with differing Western starting positions.”