265. Memorandum for the President’s File by the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1


  • Meeting with Chancellor Willy Brandt of the Federal Republic of Germany on Tuesday, May 1, 1973 at 10:45 a.m. to 12:25 p.m.


  • The President
  • Chancellor Brandt
  • Egon Bahr, Minister without Portfolio
  • Dr. Henry A. Kissinger

President Nixon greeted Chancellor Brandt. Domestic problems, he pointed out, were not so decisive as big play. He suggested they first go over the agenda for the meetings. Minister Bahr suggested that the Middle East should be discussed. The Chancellor deferred to the President, who suggested they start with Europe.

Chancellor Brandt [much more cryptic than in the past] suggested they take up West-West relations first, including Japan. The President agreed, and stressed his view that nothing would be a greater mistake than economic warfare between Europe and the United States. But Japan must be part of it. The Chancellor agreed. He noted that NATO was first priority. “I hope you can keep your determination not to cut forces unilaterally,” the Chancellor stated. He then went over various topics raised by Dr. Kissinger’s speech. The Chancellor accepted that there is linkage but not that one field should block the other. He hoped that in trade both of us would instruct our experts so that there would be more political direction.

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France was still more inward-looking, the Chancellor remarked. But at the end of the decade France would be as powerful industrially as the Federal Republic of Germany. This may make them more outward-looking. So would Britain be. How would the US deal with Europe then? Would it deal with national governments or institutions?

The conversation turned to President Nixon’s planned visit to Europe in the fall. The Chancellor thought that the President should meet with heads of government at NATO. “Should we go to NATO first or last?”, the President asked. “Last”, replied the Chancellor, “so that we can have considerable preparation.” There was also the question whether the President should meet with the foreign ministers of the Community. The Chancellor asked if we could make sure that Rogers and Scheel are told not to plan a Foreign Ministers’ meeting. There would be a meeting with NATO.

Regarding the East-West treaties, the Chancellor continued, Germany was near the end of the bilateral business. Soon there would be a treaty with Czechoslovakia; it was likely to be finished before the Foreign Ministers’ conference at the CSCE. Brandt then described his agenda for the summit meeting with Brezhnev. It would deal mostly with bilateral technical matters, and would call for more political consultation. Brezhnev also had sent a note calling for a meeting of heads of state for the finale of the European Security Conference. Chancellor Brandt was dubious about the desirability of this. The President remarked that he was dubious about the Security Conference. The Chancellor said he believed they have proceeded not too badly. The Conference had an integrating effect in bringing Europeans together.

The President then referred to his difficulties domestically. This would not affect his foreign policy, he said. We must be tough internationally, but speak softly. The way to détente was through strength, not a naive soft-headed approach. Let them not divide Europe and the United States.

Chancellor Brandt then offered two remarks—one on public opinion. The President should know that there was anti-Americanism in Germany. A recent public opinion poll showed a major change from 1967 in European sympathy for America. Only 57 percent said relations were good; 36 percent said they were normal. But the problem should not be exaggerated. There were protests in Nuremberg, which had more to do with the environment issue than with anti-Americanism.

The objective of Brezhnev, the Chancellor continued, may be to divide the US and Europe. But the alliance was our top priority. We should not allow our Summits to undo it. NATO was a guarantee for the stability of the Warsaw Pact, however, because ending NATO would also mean the end of the Warsaw Pact. Minister Bahr commented that the Soviets now accept the US role in Europe. They now [Typeset Page 826] accepted the US as an organic part of European Security Conference, and in MBFR, etc.

The President asked for the Chancellor’s views on MBFR. The Chancellor said he didn’t know too much about it but he favored cutting some indigenous forces together with stationed forces.

The conversation turned to Yugoslavia. The Chancellor thought that Tito was looking better. The President should know that the events were moving in a bad direction in the Middle East. Sadat may lose control. Moscow was willing to send troops. Libya was dangerous. There were more weapons, and more radicalism. All this should be a reason to try to influence things in a positive direction. The President replied, “Let’s leave it to Bahr and Kissinger!” He emphasized that he considered a Middle East settlement as the highest priority in the year of 1973. We were not Israel’s lawyer. Israel should make its deal now, the President felt, before the Arabs engulfed it. Israel could lick the whole Arab world, except for Soviet intervention. Israel had had it without US support. Israel couldn’t count on the United States to fight a world war for Israel. The US would not risk confrontation with the Russians over the Middle East—it was as clear as this. For us, the Middle East now had top priority. The Israelis were the ablest people in the world, the President said. He admired them, but felt they were totally wrong in their strategy.

Chancellor Brandt then asked the President’s views on energy. He had liked the President’s message on energy. Dr. Kissinger explained that the message had dealt only with the domestic aspect. The White House was organizing itself to handle the foreign policy aspect. The President said there were too many companies and nations fighting with each other.

  1. Summary: Kissinger reported on a meeting among Nixon, Brandt, Bahr, and himself.

    Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Special Files, Staff Member & Office Files, President’s Office Files, Memoranda for the President, Box 91, Beginning April 29 (1973). Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only. All brackets are in the original. The memorandum contains two sentences that were partially deleted by means of correction fluid; sufficient text remains to decipher them. The first appears at the end of the sixth paragraph: “[He was rambling almost incoherently.]” The second appears at the end of the tenth paragraph: “[A long anti-Israel speech.]” Nixon and Brandt entered the Oval Office, where this meeting took place, at 10:44 a.m.; Kissinger and Bahr joined them at 10:50 a.m. (Ibid., White House Central Files, President’s Daily Diary) A tape recording of the full meeting, from 10:44 a.m. to 12:24 p.m., is ibid., White House Tapes, Oval Office, Conversation 908–13. Nixon and Brandt met again on May 2; no memorandum of conversation on this meeting was found, but a tape recording of the talk is ibid., Conversation 909–25. Memoranda of conversation on the talks between Scheel and Rogers are ibid., RG 59, Central Files 1970–1973, POL 7 GER W.