Certainly not totally unaware of these – in the long term irrefutable – dangers, the GDR leadership was focused on one main goal that day in Erfurt and afterwards: full recognition of the GDR under international law by the Federal Republic, and thus the contractual safeguarding of the existing situation (the status quo) in Germany and Europe.
GDR minister president Willi Stoph on the evening after the meeting with Willy Brandt: “There is no way to take a detour around establishing normal, equal relations between our two countries on the basis of international law and around recognizing the European borders and the outcome of the Second World War.”
Walter Ulbricht, chairman of the GDR Council of State and head of the SED, on the following day in the Thuringian city of Suhl, said: “This is why the people of the German Democratic Republic urgently, and with total justification, demand of its state leadership that agreements on partial aspects of the normalization be assured by means of an internationally valid treaty of basic principles on equal, nondiscriminatory relations.”
Not until such a treaty is concluded, according to Ulbricht, “will we without a doubt be willing to engage in discussion on some partial issues and find agreement with regard to many concerns.” It remains open, however, whether he interprets that the same way that Bonn would like to have it understood (ranging from humanitarian travel relief to a pan-German soccer tournament) or possibly raises the demand that Bonn would have to pay 100 billion marks compensation for refugee migration in the years before the Wall was built.
[ . . . ]
Source: “Wo wären wir” [“Where We Would Be”], Der Spiegel, March 23, 1970, pp. 29-32.
Translation: Allison Brown