FAS | Government Secrecy | State HAC || Index | Search | Join FAS


U.S. Department of State
Office of the Spokesman

For Immediate Release April 29,1999
#99/370

Release of Foreign Relations Volume on Germany and Berlin, 1964-1968

The Department released today Foreign Relations of the United States, 1964-1968, volume XV, Germany and Berlin. This volume, part of the ongoing official published record of American foreign policy, presents the documentary record of U.S. policy toward Berlin and Germany during the administration of President Lyndon B. Johnson. During this period Germany adopted a more activist and more European policy and searched for a new relationship with the Soviet Union and the states of Eastern Europe that would lay the groundwork for eventual reunification. The documentation demonstrates how, in supporting this new German policy, the United States reinforced some of its own major policy objectives, including improving relations with the Soviet "bridge building" to the East, a reduction of tensions over Berlin, continued European integration, and the reorganization of Western defenses.

German reunification continued to be an overriding goal of both German and U.S. policymakers. The volume documents the lowering of tensions over Berlin, Allied discussions on possible approaches to the Soviet Union, and differences among the Western Allies over German reunification and Berlin. In 1966 Willy Brandt became German Foreign Minister and expanded and intensified his contacts with Soviet representatives in Berlin. The documents presented in the volume demonstrate that the Johnson administration was generally favorable to initiatives that would reduce Cold War barriers between the two Germanies.

Another major U.S.-German issue was the bilateral negotiation of the level of German "offset" payments in order to reduce the burden on the United States of stationing U.S. troops in the Federal Republic. The final agreement on off-set costs in the fall of 1967 reinforced the relationship that had been solidified during President Johnson's visit to Germany to attend the funeral of Konrad Adenauer. The volume contains extensive documentation of the talks he held with senior German officials.

Two other questions assumed importance in 1967 and 1968. The first was the long and ultimately successful U.S. effort to persuade Germany to agree to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which the United States, United Kingdom, and Soviet Union finally negotiated in July 1968. The second was the crisis in Czechoslovakia, which led to the military intervention of Warsaw Pact forces in that country in August 1968. West German and U.S. officials agreed on the need to condemn the Soviet action, not only to show disapproval of the incursion but also to warn the Soviet Union about the dangers of tying to increase pressures on Berlin.


Office of the Historian
Bureau of Public Affairs
United States Department of State
April 29,1999

Foreign Relations of the United States
Germany and Berlin, 1964-68

Between 1964 and 1968, the administration of President Lyndon B. Johnson was a participant in what Ambassador George C. McGhee called the creation of a new Germany. In the field of foreign affairs, German leaders adopted a more activist and more European policy, including the search for a new relationship with the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, which, they hoped, would lay the groundwork for eventual reunification. Foreign Relations, 1964-1968, volume XV, Germany and Berlin, released today by the Department of State, documents how in supporting this new German policy, the United States reinforced some of its own major policy objectives, including improving relations with the Soviet Union, "bridge building" to the East, a reduction of tensions over Berlin, continued European integration, and the reorganization of Western defenses.

The key to Germany's new activism in foreign affairs was the decline of East-West tensions over Berlin. The Christmas 1963 agreement permitting family visits across the divided city allowed German leaders an opportunity to address the future of the divided nation. Under insistent German prodding, the skeptical Westem Allies discussed approaches that could win Soviet agreement to eventual reunification. The volume traces ultimately fiuitiess Allied discussions on this matter. Interested in winning German support for a number of important European policy initiatives, U.S. policyrnakers were willing to accommodate the West German Government on the issue of reunification.

For domestic political reasons, U.S officials also felt they needed to secure an increase in the level of German "offset" payments in order to reduce the burden on the United States of stationing U.S. troops.in the Federal Republic. President Johnson maintained a warm personal relationship with Chancellor Erhard, whom he kept informed on U.S.-Soviet dealings on German-related matters.

A widening series of disagreements and clashes between the United States and France impaired Allied efforts to agree on German reunification policy. French efforts to undercut the U.S. role in Germany led Secretary of State Dean Rusk bluntly to inform French leaders that the United States would continue to be an "essential participant in all matters affecting German reunification and Berlin." Germany's parallel problems with a Gaullist France and issues related to offset payments dominated Chancellor Erhard's 1965 discussions with President Johnson.

In 1966 Willy Brandt, the Social Democratic Mayor of Berlin, emerged as an active proponent of a new policy-approach to East Germany. As a first stage, he expanded and intensified his contacts with Soviet representatives in Berlin. Johnson administration policymakers were generally favorable to initiatives that would reduce Cold War barriers between the two Germanies. Meanwhile, the previously smooth relationship between the Johnson and Erhard governments ran into serious turbulence over the question of continued West German funding of the occupation. Washington was incensed at Erhard's public explanation of Germany's position on this issue. Deadlock between the two sides undermined the Chancellor's domestic position, and following an unsuccessful September 1966 meeting with Johnson, Erhard soon resigned. A "grand coalition" comprising the Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union and the Social Democratic Party, led by Kurt Georg Kiesinger with Willy Brandt as Vice Chancellor and Foreign Minister, took over. Brandt arrived in Washington in February 1967 for discussions about East-West relations and the U.S. desire to win German approval for the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). A long-delayed Presidential visit followed a few weeks later when President Johnson attended the funeral of Konrad Adenauer and held talks with senior German officials that solidified the U.S.-German relationship. The agreement on occupation costs reached in the fall of 1967 reinforced the relationship. During the first half of 1968, Brandt's Ostpolitik, the Non-Proliferation Treaty, differences with France over policy toward Germany, and concerns about possible Soviet moves against Allied rights in Berlin dominated the Johnson administration's agenda.

In June new difficulties arose in Berlin, sparked by East German desire to limit West German access rights. During the Czech crisis in August 1968, West German and U.S. officials agreed on the need to condemn the Soviet action, not only to show disapproval of military intervention in Czechoslovakia but also to warn the Soviet Union about the dangers of trying to increase pressures on Berlin. No intervention was, however, ever contemplated.

The Office of the Historian has prepared a summary of the volume. For further information, contact David S. Patterson, General Editor of the Foreign Relations series, at (202) 663-1127; fax: (202) 663-1289; e-mail: [email protected]. The texts of the volume, the summary, and this press release win soon be available on the Office's Web site, www.state.gov/www/about_state/history/index.html. Copies of volume XV can be purchased from the Government Printing Office.




FAS | Government Secrecy | State HAC || Index | Search | Join FAS