Hoppe: On election night, Willy Brandt called to request that I come to a meeting yesterday at 3:00 pm in the Baracke.* At the start of this conversation yesterday at 3:00 pm, he noted that the executive committee of the SPD had once again made the entire course of the election and the election results, together with the conclusions to be drawn, the topic of an in-depth consultation, also giving consideration to the critical remarks Wehner made about the FDP on election night, and that the committee had unanimously decided to pursue an SPD-FDP coalition. He told me in this conversation that the SPD wants to take the plunge and enter into this coalition, with all its consequences, to make clear that it wants to take full advantage of this chance – which had not been taken advantage of in 1966, leading to accusations that the SPD had passed on a chance to change German politics. He said it was the unanimous will of the SPD to go this route. Therefore, in the conversation at 3 pm, he asked me, in consideration of the importance of the FDP’s decision as the corresponding party, to arrange an informational meeting between him and our party chairman prior to the negotiations in the FDP executive committees, since he was of the opinion that it was important for Scheel, that it was important for the FDP, to be fully informed by the SPD beforehand.
So then I contacted Mr. Scheel in Düsseldorf and brought the two gentlemen together yesterday afternoon in the Berlin bureau. In the Berlin bureau, in a conversation among the three of us, the SPD party chairman again informed Mr. Scheel officially of this position, this decision by the SPD leadership. He explained that the coalition the SPD is striving to achieve should, in the SPD’s opinion, be pursued and prepared by setting up negotiation commissions – the SPD’s had already been formed and we were told the names of the members right then and there – that would quickly try to come to an agreement on a substantive program for joint government work. Mr. Brandt specifically indicated that the undoubtedly difficult and crucial issue of economic and financial policy would have to be subject to particularly thorough discussions, so that a solid, well-prepared, joint work-program could prevent possible difficulties from emerging later on during practical cooperation. Such difficulties would have to be ruled out through solid preparation in the form of a discussion of substantive issues.
Additionally, they hinted that they believe that, should we come to an agreement on substantive issues – and based on the declarations we made in our election campaign and the SPD’s ideas, the SPD had no doubt that the process of arriving at a solid common platform would go smoothly – the integration of coalition personnel would have to involve the FDP chairman moving to the Foreign Office as vice chancellor. Furthermore, they deem it necessary to reduce the number of ministries through a reform of the cabinet. Additionally, all other personal questions should be decided by the two party chairmen after the substantive issues have been dealt with.
That was the essence of the informational meeting in the Berlin bureau. That is the way in which the conversation with the comprehensive information from Mr. Brandt proceeded.
For the sake of the good old days in Berlin, I also had a conversation – I can venture that here – with Mr. Spangenberg, the undersecretary in the office of the federal president, and I took advantage of the opportunity to see the federal president himself, too, and talked with him. He told me and reported to me that Mr. Kiesinger had just been there to see him at 4:30 pm, and he asked me how I would assess the FDP’s level of unity and its capacity to act. Mr. Kiesinger had just revealed to him in conversation that he had great expectations of becoming chancellor, since the FDP was a very fragile party, and that he could assume with certainty that there was enough support for him, Kiesinger, as chancellor within the FDP. – In response to his question, I told Mr. President that I thought I knew the FDP better than Mr. Kiesinger did and that Mr. Kiesinger should not engage in such speculation; I said that the CDU had lost that gamble in the past.
That is all I can add to the report.
*Baracke refers to the SPD headquarters in Bonn – trans.