78. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon1


  • Your Meetings with Chancellor Brandt, April 10–11, 1970

You are scheduled to meet with the Chancellor immediately after the arrival ceremony on Friday, beginning about 10:30 a.m. until a little after noon. (He then has a commitment at the National Press Club.) You will then have a final meeting on Saturday from 9:30 a.m. until about 10:15 when he is to leave for the Apollo 13 launch at Cape Kennedy. You will also see him at the White Tie dinner on Friday night.

[Page 209]

Points for your arrival statement and your dinner toast will be sent to you separately.

Background and Setting

You twice saw Brandt last year when he was Foreign Minister in the Kiesinger coalition government—when you visited Bonn and when he was here for the NATO meeting in April 1969. You had originally invited him to come here shortly after he became Chancellor but he preferred to wait several months. The delay was undoubtedly related to his desire to establish himself fully as head of government and not appear to be “running to Washington.”

Meanwhile, he has successfully managed the first party switchover in the Chancellorship since the FRG was founded in 1949. This was a substantial political and psychological achievement given the fact that the SPD remains a minority party and that, with the FDP, he has only a tiny majority in the Bundestag. This majority is still under threat if the small FDP should fall apart.

Meanwhile, also, Brandt has set in train a series of interrelated policies toward both the East and West; his political life depends in important measure (though not exclusively) on his ability to manage these complex policies.

Brandt maintains that he is solidly anchored in the Western alliance and the Common Market and that what he seeks in the East is only “normalization” and not some basic reorientation in German alignment. Nevertheless, his Eastern Policy (“Ostpolitik”) has drawn most attention, caused the toughest opposition at home—though there is currently a substantial popular majority in his favor—and raised the most suspicion among his allies, especially the French. Few people, either inside Germany or abroad, see Brandt as selling out to the East; what worries people is whether he can control what he has started.

For Brandt his US trip and meetings with you are important because they will establish him in the same league as previous Chancellors and as such Western leaders as Wilson and Pompidou. Beyond that, however, Brandt sees his relationship with the US and our policies as crucial elements determining his own success or failure.

Brandt has several concerns or fears about the US. His main current worry is that we will reduce our troops in Europe. He sees these troops as vital to the strength of the Alliance which in turn is the basis on which he wants to conduct his Eastern policy. He fears that if the Soviets see the US as withdrawing and the Alliance as disintegrating, the Soviets will simply sit back and not negotiate seriously with the FRG about the kind of normalization which Brandt thinks will mitigate the division of Germany.

[Page 210]

Related to his concern about our troop levels is his fear that we will demand heavy German financial support as the price for keeping our troops in Europe. This worries him not only because the German budget is taut but because such an arrangement would look like he was paying us money so that he can conduct his Ostpolitik.

Again, stemming from his worry about our troops, Brandt is eager that we agree to enter negotiations with the USSR on mutual troop reductions in Central Europe. He believes—as do many people in Washington—that such an offer would take the wind out of Senator Mansfield’s sails (although, in fact, the Senator wants our troops reduced whether or not the Soviets cut theirs). He also wants to have the Soviets believe that there will be no unilateral US reductions but only agreed and reciprocal ones.2 Brandt also feels that such a proposal would be a constructive response to Eastern pressure for a European Security conference.

Part of Brandt’s worry list has to do with Berlin. He recognizes that the success of his Ostpolitik will be measured importantly in terms of what it accomplishes for West Berlin’s viability. For this reason the FRG has been in the forefront of those pressing for the recently begun talks between the three Western powers and the Soviets. While wanting to maintain fully the four-power status of Berlin, the Germans want the four powers to provide an umbrella for FRGGDR talks on improving access to and movements within the city.

While pressing ahead with his normalization policies toward the East, Brandt has also been active in the West, pressing for enlargement of the Common Market and for improvements within it.3 He has been worried about friction between the US and the Common Market— again, in part, because he feels this undermines his strength in dealing with the East—and favors a US-Common Market commission4 to iron out issues that have arisen (mostly having to do with the Communities’ preferential trade agreements and its internal agricultural policies).

Altogether, therefore, Brandt has a heavy budget of issues on which he seeks reassurance, together with others—such as SALT, Vietnam, the Middle East and, currently, the murder of the German Ambassador to Guatemala—which he wishes to discuss with you. Rightly or wrongly, the Germans see the Brandt visit as a, if not the, major event in Brandt’s tenure as Chancellor thus far because to them Washington is the key to almost everything the Germans are attempting to do in the international arena.

[Page 211]

Your Objectives

In this situation your purpose will be

  • —to allow a far-ranging discussion of the issues that concern Brandt;
  • —to affirm that a solid and frank working relationship exists between the two governments;
  • —to provide Brandt with general reassurance of your understanding and support (for, in the end, the Germans remain fundamentally uncertain and insecure and, regardless of who is in power in Bonn, need a sense of understanding with Washington);
  • —at the same time, to avoid identification with specific elements of German Eastern policy so that we do not end up in the crossfire of German domestic politics;
  • —to encourage Brandt in pursuing his Western policy.

Particular Points to Emphasize or be Alert to

Detailed talking points, incorporating recommendations by Secretary Rogers, are at Tab A.5

1. US Troops in Europe.

The Germans are almost convinced that sooner or later there will be a reduction of US forces in Europe. They acknowledge that you have made no decision to reduce but they have interpreted our statements that we will maintain our forces intact until mid-1971 as meaning that we intend to cut them thereafter. You may wish to stress that

  • —we are serious in wanting the future of NATO strategy and forces examined within the Alliance and have no intention to confront the Europeans with an accomplished fact;
  • —we should then decide together whether, within an agreed strategic concept, the contributions of the several Allies are in the right proportion;
  • —the US is still conducting its own internal studies.

2. Offset and Budget Support

The Germans recognize the need for offsetting the balance of payment outflows produced by the stationing of our forces in Germany, but they have begun to say that it will be much harder for them to [Page 212] purchase US arms in the seventies because their need for such arms is declining. They are more concerned about intimations, including by Senator Percy, that we will ask for budgetary support. Brandt has indicated some willingness to consider this but the idea is highly controversial in Germany. You may wish to make the point that

  • —you have no intention to pressure Brandt for decisions now;
  • —that both of us should look at the financial problems without publicity and fanfare over the next several months;
  • —that in the fall we should perhaps begin considering the issues;
  • —but that in any case financial arrangements should be related to the Review of Strategy and Forces to be undertaken within NATO later this year.

3. Mutual and Balanced Force Reductions (“MBFR”)

As noted above, Brandt will seek your agreement to a more explicit Western proposal to the East that there be negotiations on reciprocal force reductions in Central Europe.6 No one believes there is much prospect of success; the topic is in some ways more complex than SALT because of the major asymmetries between the two sides (e.g., the fact that we would withdraw back to the US while the Soviets would only pull back some hundreds of miles; or that Soviet forces in Eastern Europe are partly there for internal security reasons). But Brandt feels that a US commitment to mutual reductions with the East will reduce the danger of unilateral US cuts.7 You may wish to say that

  • —you understand Brandt’s arguments;
  • —that the subject is extremely complex and that we should make sure that before entering negotiations we know where we are headed;
  • —but that you will consider supporting a more explicit “signal” to the East of our interest in talks on this subject.

4. Ostpolitik

Brandt will wish to give you an account of what has happened so far and what his objectives and expectations are. He has said to others that he has no great hopes for progress. Brandt will seek your endorsement of his policy in part to use it politically against those in the CDU who oppose it. You may wish to

  • —give him the opportunity to set forth his views;
  • —generally endorse the objective of more normal relations between the FRG and the East;8
  • —express appreciation for Brandt’s keeping us and the other Allies informed;
  • —express confidence that Brandt will move cautiously.
[Page 213]

5. A New FRG-Western Agreement

The Germans have advanced a proposal to the Soviets that any agreement between the FRG and the USSR would not affect the treaties that each of them may have with third parties. The intent is to leave four power rights and responsibilities for Germany as a whole and for Berlin intact and to deny the Soviets any legal right to challenge the FRG’s treaties with the Western powers. Brandt may suggest that simultaneously with any FRG-Soviet agreement or renunciation of force, the Western powers and the FRG issue a joint declaration reaffirming the validity of past treaties between them.9 This proposal will have to be examined by legal experts: you may want to say, if Brandt raises the subject that

  • —the Germans should raise the idea formally with the Allies when the time is ripe;
  • —we will meanwhile be prepared to examine it.

6. Berlin

Brandt wishes the Western powers to get an agreement with the Soviets that the FRG and GDR should work out ways of improving access. Brandt is willing to reduce the FRG’s political presence in West Berlin provided the Soviets accept a substantial FRG link to the city. (The French want to maintain sole four power responsibility which they feel would be weakened by FRGGDR dealings.) You may want to note that

  • —as you noted when you were in Berlin, you favor getting improvements in the situation there;
  • —you understand the German position and will seek to meet it as far as possible;
  • —basically, you are not too optimistic that the Soviets and East Germans will be very forthcoming.

7. Common Market

Brandt has advanced the idea of US-Common Market Commission to work out problems. This stems partly from German concern with some recent speeches by US officials who were critical of the Common Market’s preferential commercial agreements with nonmembers.10 You may simply want to note that

  • —these speeches do not reflect your own views;
  • —that the idea of a Commission to deal with points of friction is interesting and will be examined.
[Page 214]

8. Murder of German Ambassador Von Spreti in Guatemala

You may wish to express personally your condolences over the murder of Ambassador von Spreti by Guatemalan terrorists, your condemnation of such crimes and your concern over the growing problem of political kidnapping and its international consequences and security implications. You may also add that we are studying what can be done in international fora, such as the OAS and the UN, as well as in assisting nations bilaterally to improve their internal security capability (Brandt may himself suggest international cooperation).

Should Brandt express his concern that the US did not pressure the Guatemalans to do more, you may wish to say that

  • —we did all we felt we could at the time;
  • —the Guatemalan Government was adamant that it could not yield completely to the kidnappers;
  • —and there was, in our judgment, no more pressure which we could practically and properly exert which would have changed their minds or which they would have accepted.

9. Other Points

In addition to the foregoing matters, most of which Brandt will certainly raise if you do not, you may want to give Brandt

  • —your impressions of President Pompidou;
  • —your basic approach to SALT (this will be treated in greater detail through NATO);
  • —your current assessment of the Vietnam/Laos/Cambodia situation;
  • —your assessment of the Middle East, including your hope that there can be some stabilization in the Western Mediterranean through the cooperation of the countries of that area. (You may in this connection stress the desirability of finding ways to associate Spain with NATO.)

You may also find an opportunity to urge Brandt to support replenishment of the International Development Association (IDA) at the level of $1 billion annually. This is crucial to the new foreign assistance effort. The Germans have preferred a lower replenishment level.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 917, VIP Visits, Chancellor Brandt Visit, April 10–11, 1970 [1 of 3]. Secret; Sensitive; Nodis. Sent for information. No drafting information appears on the memorandum.
  2. Nixon underlined most of this sentence.
  3. Nixon underlined most of this sentence.
  4. Nixon underlined the phrase “US-Common Market commission.”
  5. Attached at Tab A but not printed is an April 3 memorandum from Rogers to the President providing “perspectives” on the Brandt visit and including an enclosed set of talking points. Another copy is in the National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 7 GER W. Rogers suggested that “our principal objective for the visit will be to leave no doubt in Brandt’s mind that an intimate, forthright relationship between our two governments has equal importance for the United States.” Among the specific objectives, Rogers recommended that the administration “demonstrate that we are working as closely and as successfully with the SPD-led government, as we did with its CDU predecessors” and “reaffirm American support for the FRG’s efforts to strengthen and enlarge the European community in the West and to reduce tension through patient negotiations in the East.”
  6. Nixon underlined the phrase “reciprocal force reductions in Central Europe.”
  7. Nixon underlined most of this sentence.
  8. Nixon underlined this point.
  9. Nixon underlined most of this sentence.
  10. Nixon underlined the phrase “critical of the Common Market’s preferential commercial agreements with nonmembers.”