Primary Sources

Telephone Call from Chancellor Helmut Kohl of the Federal Republic of Germany to President George H. W. Bush


After the historic and spontaneous dismantling of the Berlin Wall in November 1989, East and West Germany were on the verge of reuniting. Helmut Kohl, the West German chancellor and later chancellor of the reunited Germany, and George H. W. Bush, president of the United States, engaged in ongoing conversations in the months leading up to reunification, which eventually took place on October 3, 1990. In their telephone conversation from February 13, 1990, initiated by Kohl, the two leaders discussed a variety of issues, including the entrance of East Germans in West Germany, discussions with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) membership, reunification, and the upcoming meeting at Camp David in the United States. This document points to the involvement of the West, in particular West Germany and the United States, in the collapse of communism in the region.


Helmut Kohl, conversation with George H.W. Bush, 13 February 1990, Cold War International History Project, Documents and Papers, CWIHP (accessed May 14, 2008).

Primary Source—Excerpt

...Chancellor Kohl: ... [East German] Prime Minister [Hans] Modrow is here today. The situation continues to be dramatic. Between the 1st of January and today, 80,000 have come from the GDR [East Germany] to the Federal Republic [West Germany]. That is why I suggested a monetary union and an economic community....

Your support is invaluable.

Let me say a few words about my talks in Moscow. Gorbachev was very relaxed.... But the problems he faces are enormous--nationalities, the food supply situation--and I do not see a light at the end of the tunnel yet.

You know the text we published jointly on the German Question. It was highly satisfactory. We will go in that direction now, and in a parallel way on security policy. We also discussed the same points Jim Baker had been discussing, that the two German states should be working together with the Four Powers--the U.S., the UK, France, and the USSR.... At Camp David, this is one thing we will have to discuss thoroughly: the future of NATO and the Warsaw Pact. I feel we will find a solution, but it will be hard work. I told Gorbachev again that the neutralization of Germany is out of the question for me.

The President: Did he acquiesce or just listen? How did he react?

Chancellor Kohl: My impression is that this is a subject about which they want to negotiate, but that we can win that point in negotiations. The modalities will be important, but I do believe we can find a solution.

The President: We must find a solution. The Camp David meeting will be very important, and I am delighted you are able to come. When I heard your comments from Moscow and heard that Mr. Gorbachev had removed a longstanding obstacle to unification, I was thinking of you as a friend. It must have been an emotional moment for you. The German people certainly want to be together.

Chancellor Kohl: That is quite true. This is a great moment for us....

The President: ...We have been supporting your stated position that NATO membership would be appropriate. We won't move away from that, but we do need to talk and see where we need to be more flexible and where we need to be more firm....

How to Cite this Source

Helmut Kohl and George H. W. Bush, "Telephone Call from Chancellor Helmut Kohl of the Federal Republic of Germany to President George H. W. Bush." Making the History of 1989, # 530.

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