The Foreign Relations of the United States series presents the official documentary historical record of major foreign policy decisions and significant diplomatic activity of the United States Government. The Historian of the Department of State is charged with the responsibility for the preparation of the Foreign Relations series. The staff of the Office of the Historian, Bureau of Public Affairs, under the direction of the General Editor of the Foreign Relations series, plans, researches, compiles, and edits the volumes in the series. Secretary of State Frank B. Kellogg first promulgated official regulations codifying specific standards for the selection and editing of documents for the series on March 26, 1925. These regulations, with minor modifications, guided the series through 1991.

Public Law 102–138, the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, which was signed by President George H.W. Bush on October 28, 1991, established a new statutory charter for the preparation of the series. Section 198 of P.L. 102–138 added a new Title IV to the Department of State’s Basic Authorities Act of 1956 (22 U.S.C. 4351, et seq.).

The statute requires that the Foreign Relations series be a thorough, accurate, and reliable record of major United States foreign policy decisions and significant United States diplomatic activity. The volumes of the series should include all records needed to provide comprehensive documentation of major foreign policy decisions and actions of the United States Government. The statute also confirms the editing principles established by Secretary Kellogg: the Foreign Relations series is guided by the principles of historical objectivity and accuracy; records should not be altered or deletions made without indicating in the published text that a deletion has been made; the published record should omit no facts that were of major importance in reaching a decision; and nothing should be omitted for the purposes of concealing a defect in policy. The statute also requires that the Foreign Relations series be published not more than 30 years after the events recorded. The editors are convinced that this volume meets all regulatory, statutory, and scholarly standards of selection and editing.

Structure and Scope of the Foreign Relations Series

This volume is part of a subseries of volumes of the Foreign Relations series that documents the most important issues in the foreign policy of Presidents Richard M. Nixon and Gerald R. Ford. The subseries presents in multiple volumes a comprehensive documentary record of major foreign policy decisions and actions of both administrations. This specific volume documents U.S. policy towards Germany and Berlin, 1969–1972.

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Focus of Research and Principles of Selection for Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, Volume XL

This volume represents a departure in coverage on Germany and Berlin in the Foreign Relations series. Previous volumes covered bilateral relations between the United States and the Federal Republic of Germany in breadth, including documentation on economic and military issues, as well as on matters of politics and diplomacy. Although this volume covers such issues, especially when decision-making was at a high level, more extensive documentation on discussions between Washington and Bonn on international economics and national security has been—and will be—published in other volumes: Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, Volume III, Foreign Economic Policy, 1969–1972; International Monetary Policy, 1969–1972; and Volume XLI, Western Europe; NATO, 1969–1972. This volume examines key issues in German-American relations in more depth, emphasizing two issues in particular: the response of the Nixon administration to Chancellor Willy Brandt and his Eastern policy (Ostpolitik); and the secret negotiations leading to signature of the Berlin quadripartite agreement in September 1971. Moscow was a key player in the diplomacy behind both Bonn’s Ostpolitik and the Berlin agreement. This volume, therefore, also focuses on the Soviet Union, and places bilateral relations between the United States and the Federal Republic in the context of the competition between the two superpowers. This is, in other words, a “cold war” volume—or perhaps, more accurately, a “détente” volume—and thus should be read in conjunction with Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, Volume XII, Soviet Union, January 1969–October 1970; Volume XIII, Soviet Union, October 1970–October 1971; and Volume XIV, Soviet Union, October 1971–May 1972.

Like all recent Foreign Relations volumes, the emphasis of this volume is primarily on policy formulation and on important issues, rather than on the day-to-day implementation of policy. President Nixon and his Assistant for National Security Affairs, Henry A. Kissinger, dominated the policymaking process on Germany and Berlin, especially within the National Security Council system. The two men were initially wary both of Brandt and of his foreign policy. Their suspicions were reflected not only in informal discussions, but also in formal decision-making documents. The White House eventually played an important role in the execution of U.S. policy on Berlin, practicing “backchannel” diplomacy with Moscow and Bonn to negotiate the terms of a Berlin agreement, while pursuing agreements with the Soviets on SALT, a summit meeting, and the Middle East. Kissinger established both a “confidential channel” in Washington with Soviet Ambassador Dobrynin, and a “special channel” in Bonn with Ambassador Rush and German State Secretary Bahr (through a U.S. naval officer in Frankfurt). These secret communications allowed the White House to [Page V] discuss Berlin—and to link progress on a quadripartite agreement to progress with the Soviets on other bilateral and multilateral issues—and to do so without interference from the Department of State. The substance of the agreement was too complicated, however, to ignore the political, legal, and diplomatic expertise of the Department’s officials on Germany and Berlin. This volume, therefore, presents documentation on “front channel” decision-making, as well as on “back channel” diplomacy, examining the respective roles of the White House and the Department of State in negotiating the terms of the 1971 quadripartite agreement.

Editorial Methodology

The documents are presented chronologically according to Washington time. Memoranda of conversation are placed according to the date and time of the conversation, rather than the date a memorandum was drafted. Documents chosen for printing are authoritative or signed copies, unless otherwise noted.

Editorial treatment of the documents published in the Foreign Relations series follows Office style guidelines, supplemented by guidance from the General Editor. The documents are reproduced as exactly as possible, including marginalia or other notations, which are described in the footnotes. Texts are transcribed and printed according to accepted conventions for the publication of historical documents within the limitations of modern typography. A heading has been supplied by the editors for each document included in the volume. Spelling, capitalization, and punctuation are retained as found in the original text, except that obvious typographical errors are silently corrected. Other mistakes and omissions in the documents are corrected by bracketed insertions: a correction is set in italic type; an addition in roman type. Words or phrases underlined in the source text are printed in italics. Abbreviations and contractions are preserved as found in the original text, and a list of abbreviations is included in the front matter of each volume.

Bracketed insertions are also used to indicate omitted text that deals with an unrelated subject (in roman type) or that remains classified after declassification review (in italic type). The amount and, where possible, the nature of the material not declassified has been noted by indicating the number of lines or pages of text that were omitted. Entire documents withheld for declassification purposes have been accounted for and are listed with headings, source notes, and number of pages not declassified in their chronological place. All brackets that appear in the original text are so identified in footnotes. With the exception of Presidential recordings transcribed in the Office of the Historian by the editor(s) of the volume, all ellipses are in the original documents.

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The first footnote to each document indicates the document’s source, original classification, distribution, and drafting information. This note also provides the background of important documents and policies and indicates whether the President or his major policy advisers read the document.

Editorial notes and additional annotation summarize pertinent material not printed in the volume, indicate the location of additional documentary sources, provide references to important related documents printed in other volumes, describe key events, and provide summaries of and citations to public statements that supplement and elucidate the printed documents. Information derived from memoirs and other first-hand accounts has been used when appropriate to supplement or explicate the official record.

The numbers in the index refer to document numbers rather than to page numbers.

Advisory Committee on Historical Diplomatic Documentation

The Advisory Committee on Historical Diplomatic Documentation, established under the Foreign Relations statute, reviews records, advises, and makes recommendations concerning the Foreign Relations series. The Advisory Committee monitors the overall compilation and editorial process of the series and advises on all aspects of the preparation and declassification of the series. The Advisory Committee does not necessarily review the contents of individual volumes in the series, but it makes recommendations on issues that come to its attention and reviews volumes, as it deems necessary to fulfill its advisory and statutory obligations.

Presidential Recordings and Materials Preservation Act Review

At the time that this volume was compiled, under the terms of the Presidential Recordings and Materials Preservation Act (PRMPA) of 1974 (44 U.S.C. 2111 note), the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) had custody of the Nixon Presidential historical materials. The requirements of the PRMPA and implementing regulations govern access to the Nixon Presidential historical materials. The PRMPA and implementing public access regulations require NARA to review for additional restrictions in order to ensure the protection of the privacy rights of former Nixon White House officials, since these officials were not given the opportunity to separate their personal materials from public papers. Thus, the PRMPA and implementing public access regulations require NARA formally to notify the Nixon Estate and former Nixon White House staff members that the agency is scheduling for public release Nixon White House historical materials. The Nixon Estate and former White House staff members have 30 days to contest the release of Nixon historical materials in which they [Page VII] were a participant or are mentioned. Further, the PRMPA and implementing regulations require NARA to segregate and return to the creator of files private and personal materials. All Foreign Relations volumes that include materials from NARA’s Nixon Presidential Materials Staff are processed and released in accordance with the PRMPA.

Declassification Review

The Office of Information Programs and Services, Bureau of Administration, conducted the declassification review for the Department of State of the documents published in this volume. The review was conducted in accordance with the standards set forth in Executive Order 12958, as amended, on Classified National Security Information and other applicable laws.

The principle guiding declassification review is to release all information, subject only to the current requirements of national security, as embodied in law and regulation. Declassification decisions entailed concurrence of the appropriate geographic and functional bureaus in the Department of State, other concerned agencies of the U.S. Government, and the appropriate foreign governments regarding specific documents of those governments. The declassification review of this volume, which began in 2002 and was completed in 2007, resulted in the decision to withhold 1 document in full, excise a paragraph or more in 5 documents, and make minor excisions of less than a paragraph in 20 documents.

The Office of the Historian is confident, on the basis of the research conducted in preparing this volume and as a result of the declassification review process described above, that notwithstanding the number of denied and excised documents, the record presented in this volume presented here provides an accurate and comprehensive account of U.S. foreign policy towards Germany and Berlin, 1969–1972.


The editors wish to acknowledge the assistance of officials at the Nixon Presidential Materials Project of the National Archives and Records Administration (Archives II), at College Park, Maryland. The editors, furthermore, wish to acknowledge the Richard Nixon Estate for allowing access to the Nixon presidential recordings and the Richard Nixon Library & Birthplace for facilitating that access. Diane E. Kaplan of the Sterling Memorial Library at Yale University was also instrumental in providing access to several key documents from the papers of former Secretary of State Dean Acheson.

David C. Geyer collected the documentation for this volume and selected and edited it, under the supervision of David Humphrey and then Edward C. Keefer, chief and acting chief, respectively, of the European and General Division. Unless otherwise noted, Geyer also [Page VIII] translated all of the original German passages into English, in particular, the text of, and excerpts from, Egon Bahr’s “special channel” messages to Henry Kissinger. Susan Weetman, Chris Tudda, and David C. Geyer coordinated the declassification review. Vicki E. Futscher, Renée Goings, and Aaron W. Marrs performed the copy and technical editing. Juniee Oneida prepared the index.

Bureau of Public Affairs

January 2008

Marc J. Susser
The Historian