81. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Brandt Visit: Morning Meeting
  • Remarks between President and Chancellor


  • German
    • Willy Brandt, Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany
    • Helmut Schmidt, Minister of Defense
    • Rolf Pauls, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany
    • Egon Karlheinz Bahr, State Secretary (Office of the Chancellor)
    • Georg Duckwitz, State Secretary (Foreign Office)
    • Klaus von Dohnanyi, State Secretary (Ministry of Science and Technology)
    • Hans Noebel, Minister, German Embassy
    • Carl Lahusen, German Embassy
    • Joseph J. Thomas, German Embassy
    • Heinz Weber, Interpreter
    • Wolf Dietrich Schiller, Personal Aide to the Chancellor
  • American
    • The President
    • William P. Rogers, Secretary of State
    • Melvin R. Laird, Secretary of Defense
    • Henry A. Kissinger, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
    • Elliot L. Richardson, Under Secretary of State
    • Nathaniel Samuels, Deputy Under Secretary of State for Economic Affairs
    • Paul A. Volcker, Under Secretary of the Treasury
    • Lee A. DuBridge, Science Advisor to the President
    • Kenneth Rush, Ambassador to the Federal Republic of Germany
    • Martin J. Hillenbrand, Assistant Secretary for European Affairs
    • Anthony Jurich, Special Assistant to the Secretary of Treasury for National Security Affairs
    • Helmut Sonnenfeldt, National Security Council
    • James S. Sutterlin, Director, Office of German Affairs
    • William Newlin, Office of German Affairs

At the conclusion of their private conversations, President Nixon and Chancellor Brandt joined the discussion in the Cabinet Room.2 The [Page 225] President said that he was most grateful for the opportunity to have these important discussions on the major subjects confronting our two countries—East-West relations, relations among the nations of the Alliance, economic problems, the Common Market issues and others.

The President felt that when we look at the European Community, the Federal Republic is “the heart” both geographically and in terms of its survivability. Our policy is based on that assumption. We are fortunate that the relations between the Federal Republic and the United States are close, based upon trust and mutual respect. These discussions have deepened this relationship, a relationship which is determined by the necessity of our mutual interests and the common ideals which we share.

The Chancellor thanked the President for his kindness. He found his private talks with the President, his other talks, and those of the members of his party to have been not only highly useful but most encouraging. They have added to German understanding of the issues and permitted better analyses. Brandt recognized that the U.S. and the FRG would have to keep in close contact on the Alliance, East-West relations and economic questions.

The President noted that on April 15 the United States will resume the discussions with the Russians on SALT in Vienna. He would be meeting with the American delegation in a few minutes. The President saw an analogy between these talks and the talks the Federal Republic was conducting with the East. We Americans, he said, have been very careful to consult our Allies on the SALT talks. It would have been easy not to, but we see that for the Alliance to have meaning, the nuclear deterrent must have credibility. If the United States talked to the Soviets on SALT without consulting with our Allies it would be destructive to the Alliance since the very survivability of the Alliance would be in question. While we are most anxious for an agreement on SALT, we wish to maintain the strength of the Alliance and the confidence of our Allies. The United States does not wish to make new and untested friends if to do so would jeopardize our old and tested friendships.

[Page 226]

The President felt that the same is now the case with the Federal Republic. The United States fully understands the enormous German interest in a stable future for Berlin and improved relations with East Germany. We know the Germans must explore how to develop new paths of progress with the Soviet Union and East Germany. In doing this the Federal Republic is faced with the same problem that confronts the United States. The President said that the Chancellor’s government had very appropriately kept us informed. But it needed to keep in mind, as a vital member of the Alliance, that sure and indispensable friends must not be frightened or made suspicious in the interest of new friends whose reliability is not certain. The President said he was most impressed by the Chancellor’s clear recognition of this fact.

The President noted that the Chancellor and he were both politicians. They both recognized the importance of seeking votes that they did not have, but never at the expense of votes that they did have. To do so would be to cut the umbilical cord and to be left floating and insecure. We view the Alliance in this light. It has kept the peace for 20 years and will continue to do so.

The Chancellor commented that the task was made easier by the fact that he and the President did not have to compete for the same votes in the same country.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 917, VIP Visits, Chancellor Brandt Visit, April 10–11, 1970 [1 of 3]. Secret; Exdis. Drafted by Newlin. The meeting was held in the Cabinet Room at the White House. The memorandum was forwarded to the White House on April 17 and approved without change by Sonnenfeldt on April 20. Another copy of the memorandum is ibid., RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 7 GER W. For a German record of the conversation, see Akten zur Auswärtigen Politik der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, 1970, Vol. 1, pp. 601–604.
  2. According to the President’s Daily Diary, Nixon met Brandt privately in the Oval Office from 9:42 to 10:22 a.m.; the two men then joined their advisers for a discussion from 10:22 to 10:35 a.m. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Central Files) No U.S. record has been found. Brandt prepared a memorandum of the private discussion; see Akten zur Auswärtigen Politik der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, 1970, Vol. 1, pp. 591–595. In a telephone conversation at 11:55 p.m. on April 10, Nixon and Kissinger discussed the Brandt visit: Nixon: “I think we have put our arms around him [Brandt] nicely enough.” Kissinger: “Yes, you have. We have to be careful not to discourage the Christian Democrats. You have not said anything about supporting their politics—you have done that nicely.” Nixon: “I couldn’t believe that person Bahr!!” Kissinger: “You had a chance to say hello to him.” Nixon: “That was enough!!” Kissinger: “Schmidt…” Nixon: “I liked him.” (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 362, Telephone Conversations, Chronological File)