76. Memorandum for the Record1


  • Luncheon Conversation Between Henry Kissinger and Egon Bahr, April 8, 1970

At lunch, Bahr began by giving his general impressions of Moscow and Soviet working habits and style. He noted the slowness with which the Soviets move, Gromyko’s frequent delays in order to obtain instructions, the probability that everything has to be decided on by all Politbureau members, etc.

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Bahr felt that the basic Soviet motivation in dealing with the FRG is to get peace and quiet in the West because of the Chinese problem. Bahr recounted instances of Soviet concern and sensitivity about China which he encountered while in Moscow. At the same time, Bahr felt the Soviets had few coherent ideas on how to deal with the China problem. Mr. Kissinger concurred in the view that the Soviets were deeply disturbed by China.

Bahr then recounted the general course of his talks with Gromyko. He said, in reply to a question, that no papers were being exchanged but that he and Gromyko were each holding in writing formulations that had been discussed. There were three of these as far as the renunciation of force agreement is concerned. The first formulation dealt with renunciation of force itself; the second with “respect” for (not recognition of) all European frontiers and the third with the proposition that the agreement would not have any effect on the bilateral or multilateral treaties which either party had with third parties. The last point was designed to preserve intact the four-power status of Germany as a whole and of Berlin. Bahr noted that no agreement had been reached on Germany’s insistence that the Soviets explicitly accept the FRG’s commitment to reunification as their ultimate goal. The idea of this proposal is to prevent later Soviet claims that the reunification goal contravenes the other clauses. The first point involves a commitment by each side that their relations will be based on Article II of the UN Charter. In the German view this vitiates Soviet intervention claims under Articles 53 and 107.

Bahr said he talked about Berlin a good deal but only by giving his views not in terms of negotiation. The latter could only be done by the four powers. Bahr stressed German need for progress on Berlin as a crucial element in their Eastern Policy. They want a package whereby the four powers would authorize FRGGDR negotiations on improving access modalities, the FRG would represent West Berlin in foreign affairs and the FRG would then reduce the official activities of its constitutional organs in West Berlin.

Bahr said Brandt would be asking the President to consider a reaffirmation by the Three Allies together with the FRG of the validity of the Paris Agreements2 and other valid agreements. This would be issued simultaneously with the completion of a Soviet-German agreement.

In response to Mr. Kissinger’s question as to what the Germans expected from the Soviets in return for giving them peace and quiet in the West, Bahr indicated that he was looking for a response mainly in [Page 206] the area of GDRFRG relations. That is, the Soviets would exert pressure on Ulbricht to work toward normalization of relations, including improvements on Berlin access. Bahr stressed at various points that the FRG will not grant international recognition to the GDR to exchange Ambassadors and that normalization would have to occur within those limits. This German position is, of course, a consequence of maintaining unification as an eventual goal. Bahr stressed, and recounted several examples from his talks in Moscow, how he had insisted on the “special” nature of the FRGGDR relationship. He said he illustrated his point by citing relationships among Soviet republics that are UN members (Ukraine and Byelorussia).

Bahr recounted what he construes to have been the Soviet role in bringing about the Erfurt meeting between Brandt and Stoph over East German objections. He noted his impression that the GDR had not kept the Soviets fully informed of the FRGGDR preliminary talks and had been rather taken aback when he, Bahr, had given them a complete readout. In this way the Soviets had discovered East German obstructionism and moved in to unblock the talks. (Bahr recounted instances of boorishness by East Germans in the USSR.)

Bahr gave the German position in favor of stronger NATO signal on MBFR in May. He agreed that more Western substantive homework is needed, however. He denied that the Germans envisage MBFR as an agenda item for a European conference; they want it to stand on its own merits.

On Offset, Bahr stressed the need for early renegotiation of the present agreement. He was skeptical about burden-sharing. Mr. Kissinger stressed that we would exert no pressure and that there was no need to begin negotiations on Offset now. Mr. Kissinger noted that there has been no decision on US troop cuts and that the President’s reference, in his Report to the Congress,3 to our maintaining our forces through mid-1971 did not mean there would be cuts thereafter. He referred to the proposed NATO Review of Strategy as the means for considering the question of force contributions by the allies. Bahr said Germany could not increase its forces in any case.

It was agreed that there would be no communiqué at the end of the Brandt visit.

Mr. Kissinger stressed the need for cooperation between the German and US press officers so that the unfortunate incidents of previous occasions would not be repeated. Mr. Kissinger stressed that Ziegler must be the one who reports on what the President says. Bahr said he understood.

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It was agreed that Bahr would accompany Mr. Kissinger to Camp David by helicopter the following day.

Bahr reported that a Soviet, who might have been talking out of turn, told him there were 6000 Egyptians in training in the USSR every six months on “rockets.” The training area seemed to be near the Caspian. Bahr said he could not tell whether this referred to SAMs or other rockets.

Bahr referred to Israeli approaches to the FRG concerning the possibility of the FRG making available German funds held by the US as part of Offset for Israeli arms purchases in the US. It was agreed that this should not be pursued unless the FRG itself felt it wished to do so. It was agreed that this would not be raised with the President by Brandt.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 683, Country Files, Europe, Germany, Vol. IV. Secret; Nodis. Sent for information. Drafted by Sonnenfeldt. Copies were sent to Haig and Lord. Kissinger initialed the memorandum, indicating that he approved it.
  2. Reference is to the Protocol on Termination of the Occupation Regime in Germany, signed in Paris on October 23, 1954; see Documents on Germany, 1944–1985, pp. 424–438.
  3. See footnote 5, Document 75.