Summary of "Brezhnev visits West Germany"

Summary of

Brezhnev visits West Germany

By Dennis Sandole and Hugo van der Merwe

This Article Summary written by: Mariya Yevsyukova, Conflict Research Consortium

Dennis Sandole and Hugo van der Merwe, "Brezhnev visits West Germany," 1972. 

In 1972 Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev visited West Germany. It was the first visit by a Soviet leader since the end of the World War. During this visit, Brezhnev met with West German leader Helmut Schmidt. At an informal dinner, Brezhnev began recounting stories of German Army atrocities in Russia during the War. Schmidt listened respectfully. When Brezhnev finished Schmidt responded by sharing his personal experience of being a soldier on the Russian front, including his own feelings of guilt and anxiety regarding Germany's invasion of Russia.

In his memoirs Schmidt identifies this incident as a moment of emotional sharing and conciliation. While Schmidt offered no explicit apology, and Brezhnev offered no explicit forgiveness, Schmidt nevertheless believed this instance lay the groundwork for mutual respect between the two leaders.