30+ Years of Freedom of Information Action

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Published: Apr 18, 2018

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During 1967, relations between two close NATO allies, the United States and West Germany, were relatively tense and difficult because Washington was urging Bonn to support the Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), which many conservatives in the ruling coalition opposed. Seeing the treaty as discriminatory by permanently denying West Germany a nuclear defense option, Chancellor Kurt Kiesinger worried about future threats from the Soviet Union. According to a U.S. Embassy message published for the first time today by the [popup title="national Security Archive" format="Testing black" text='Kiesinger’s concern about a “defenseless” Germany was not likely to lessen memories of German aggression and atrocities that shaped thinking in Washington, Moscow, London, Paris, Warsaw, and elsewhere where policymakers saw West Germany as a “special case” that needed to adhere to a nonproliferation agreement. Only a few decades after the end of World War II, public opinion in the West wondered whether West Germany would remain a stable and reliable ally and took for granted that an NPT signature was a necessary sign of dependability. [1]. Leaders of the Soviet bloc held parallel views; at a February 1967 press conference in London Soviet Premier Alexei Kosygin said, according to a State Department translation: “As to the Federal Republic of Germany, I must say that whether she wants this or not, such a document should be signed, because we will not allow the Federal Republic of Germany to possess nuclear weapons.”'] and the Nuclear Proliferation International History Project, Kiesinger told William C. Foster, director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA) that even if Moscow did not “intend to use threats or blackmail against Germany, the situation could change” and Germany “must consider ‘how we could defend ourselves being ourselves defenseless.’”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kiesinger’s concern about a “defenseless” Germany was not likely to lessen memories of German aggression and atrocities that shaped thinking in Washington, Moscow, London, Paris, Warsaw, and elsewhere where policymakers saw West Germany as a “special case” that needed to adhere to a nonproliferation agreement. Only a few decades after the end of World War II, public opinion in the West wondered whether West Germany would remain a stable and reliable ally and took for granted that an NPT signature was a

of dependability. [1]. Leaders of the Soviet bloc held parallel views; at a February 1967 press conference in London Soviet Premier Alexei Kosygin said, according to a State Department translation: “As to the Federal Republic of Germany, I must say that whether she wants this or not, such a document should be signed, because we will not allow the Federal Republic of Germany to possess nuclear weapons.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Notes

[1]. See Susanna Schrafstetter, “The Long Shadow of the Past: History, Memory and the Debate over West Germany's Nuclear Status, 1954-69,” History & Memory 16 (2004): 118-145.