International Department and Egon Bahr of the West German Social
Democratic Party, April 17–19,1968 (Excerpts)
Source: ÚSD, AÚV KSČ, F. 02/1.
This report, prepared by the CPCz CC International Department, summarizes the issues discussed by
a high-ranking representative of the West German Social Democratic Party, Egon Bahr, during a secret
and unofficial visit to Prague on April 17–19. The CPCz-SPD talks clarified the respective positions of
the two sides on a number of issues, including nonproliferation and potential political and economic ties,
but did not achieve any concrete decisions beyond an agreement that relations between the FRG and
Prague "could be improved even without direct diplomatic relations."
The meeting was another step toward improved ties with West Germany that had begun under Novotný
when an FRG trade mission was authorized in Prague. A section in the CPCz CC Action Program explicitly
called for Czechoslovakia to "pursue a more active European policy" and to "promote mutually
advantageous relations with all states." When word of the meeting leaked, however, it prompted fierce
criticism from the other Warsaw Pact countries (with the exception of Romania which established
diplomatic relations with West Germany in 1967). In particular, East German leader Walter Ulbricht
accused the Czechoslovak authorities of having reneged on the commitments undertaken at the April 1967
Warsaw Pact conference at Karlovy Vary when the USSR, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria
and East Germany agreed not to significantly improve relations with the FRG unless the West German
government formally recognized the permanent existence of two German states and accepted the
Oder-Neisse border and the border between the two Germanies as inviolable.
(See also Document No. 19.)
In accordance with a decree adopted by the CPCz CC Presidium in March 1968, meetings were held on an unofficial and confidential basis with an SPD spokesman at the request of the SPD chairman, Willy Brandt. The meetings took place in Prague on 17–19 April 1968. The talks were conducted by Cde. Josef Šedivý, the deputy head of the CPCz CC International Department, who was accompanied by two other ID officials, Cdes. Mikeštík and Janout. The German side was represented by Egon Bahr, a confidant of the SPD chairman and envoy of the Bonn Foreign Ministry, who was accompanied by Hans Bock, an official of the SPD Presidium and former head of the West German mission in Belgrade. Toward the end of the brief discussions with E. Bahr, Cde. O. Kaderka, the head of the CPCz CC International Department, joined the others….
In further comments, Bahr explained the SPD's motives in suggesting that the next state with which there should be talks about the renunciation of the use of force in mutual relations is the ČSSR: Not only is the ČSSR a neighbor of both German states, but its contiguity with the FRG makes a possible treaty especially important. The same applies to the GDR. Because of a series of factors, including the current renewal process in our country, the SPD believes that the ČSSR has a real chance of pursuing a more active policy vis-á-vis its partners in the Warsaw Pact.
The SPD believes the significance of a treaty on the renunciation of the use of force in mutual relations, if it were part of a set of treaties that included the GDR, the ČSSR, Poland, and the USSR, would be mainly in the improvement it would bring in the general atmosphere in Europe and in the progress it would make toward the de facto normalization of relations. By concluding such treaties, the FRG would in fact take a positive and sufficiently convincing stand regarding the existing borders in Europe, including the Oder-Neisse border as well as the borders between the FRG and the GDR. A final settlement of the border issue, however, would be left until a future peace treaty.