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Vote of No Confidence (April 1972)

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The other side is willing to discuss questions that have fundamental and practical significance for the coexistence – and then hopefully some day the cooperation – of both states and the people living in them. The details of the agreement still have to be worked on. All of its aspects will bring essential relief.

Relatives and, in the future, acquaintances from the Federal Republic will be permitted to enter the GDR not only once but multiple times per year. Analogous to the Berlin Agreement, it will be possible to receive entry permits for religious, commercial, cultural, or athletic reasons if the corresponding invitations are presented. Trips for purposes of tourism will be possible if both governments conclude an agreement on that. I especially welcome the fact that in family emergencies the authorities on the other side will enable trips to the Federal Republic. Others talk about step-by-step plans. We are actually progressing step by step in the interest of the people, peace, and the nation.

You might want to ask about the framing of the Transit Agreement: so what does it accomplish? What does it accomplish, if we look at it together with the Berlin regulations? I say, where were we up to just a few years ago? And I ask in all seriousness, do you want, do we want to risk all of this? I can’t imagine that.

As regards German unity, Colleague Kiesinger, it is in fact about the question: Should we keep on talking or should we do something? Do something, on the one hand, for Berlin (that was mentioned) and the people (that was also mentioned) and, on the other hand, for change in the relations between West and East in Europe – even if this takes a long time – so that this will offer the German people, the whole German people, a chance for a good future. That’s the way, it’s the only way! As important as trips otherwise are, Colleague Schröder, you will not find the key to German unity at the Great Wall of China.

[ . . . ]

The opposition is really playing – albeit unintentionally, of course – with the danger of isolating the Federal Republic. We cannot let this danger come to pass, which over the ages and under other circumstances Adenauer worked against in his way and before that Bismarck in his way. We cannot merely talk of peace. We have to ask: What can Germany contribute to this process? German interests are only noticed if the development is not going on around us or even over our heads. Everyone should please remember that.

[ . . . ]

Source: Willy Brandt, Speech before the German Bundestag, Bulletin (Press and Information Office of the Federal Republic), no. 62, April 28, 1972, pp. 861-64.

Translation: Allison Brown

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