Senior aides to West German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt said privately today that Schmidt believed the Western alliance should avoid any precipitous actions on events in Poland that might seem to raise the stakes and escalate tensions even more.
As if to dramatize that belief, the West German leader carried on with the final day of a state visit to Communist East Germany, including a previously scheduled news conference and a tour through this city of about 37,000 people near the Baltic Coast.
At the news conference and in a television interview, Schmidt said that he and his host, East German President and Communist Party leader Erich Honecker, had discussed Poland, and that both hoped the Polish people would succeed in bringing about agreement among the conflicting forces there. Schmidt said he wanted to stress the main principle of Bonn's policy toward the situation, namely, that there be no interference from the outside.
Asked if Honecker agrees with that, Schmidt said to ask Honecker -- who does not hold news conferences -- but added, "I have the feeling he shares my hopes."
Schmidt's three-day trip here is the first such full-scale summit between the leaders of divided Germany in 11 years, when then-West German chancellor Willy Brandt traveled to Erfurt, East Germany, to meet then-prime minister Willi Stoph.
The Brandt-Stoph meeting was the first between German leaders since World War II left the nation divided. The crowds in Erfurt surged with emotion toward the popular Western leader and pushed past police guards shouting, "Willy, Willy," at Brandt.
Today, it was clear that East Germany's current leadership had no intention of allowing a similar outburst. For his first two days here, Schmidt saw nobody except Honecker and his aides, with the meetings held at isolated guest houses in the woods 35 miles north of East Berlin.
Schmidt's tour of this city today, a three-hour drive farther north, with Honecker accompanying him, apparently was designed to be the complete opposite of the Erfurt meeting. In effect, it illustrated starkly the huge political gap that has been etched between the two Germanys after 36 years of separation.
Schmidt entered what seemed to be a cardboard town. Hundreds of police officers, standing three feet apart, lined the streets coming into the town, giving an initial impression of overwhelming military presence rather than hospitality. Similarly, police cars were parked on every exit and entry ramp of the 120-mile highway leading here, and other security forces were scattered in the woods all along the snow-covered route.
The crowd of a few thousand people that lined the town square seemed to have been screened for ideological purity. There may have been one or two shouts of "Helmut," but no more.
At the front of the crowds, which did not need to be held back, were youth club members, who all wore the same brown jackets, adding to the uniformity and military cast of the event.
West German television reporters who had spent the morning here said that the city had been virtually empty, and that busloads of people had been brought in. There was no way to confirm this officially, but interviews with those in the crowd produced uniform expressions of praise for Honecker and statements that the spectators were for "peace."
Asked why so few children were in the crowd with a nearby Christmas marketplace lighted up so invitingly, one leader of the brown-jacketed youths said it was too cold. The temperature was well below freezing.
Schmidt literally broke the ice a bit when he and Honecker came out on a balcony at the city hall to pose for photographers and television crews down below. Schmidt looked down, casually gathered some snow from the balcony railing and pelted the cameramen. Honecker, hearing the laughter, then did the same thing.
In these three days, Schmidt spent more than 15 hours with the East German leader. The chancellor said it was one of the most intensive exchanges of political opinion he has ever had, and he said he wanted to emphasize how good the atmosphere was.
He said the talks brought a new element of calculability and even confidence into his relationship with the East German leader, and added that he hoped that by next year it would be possible to discern more clearly that solutions had been found on a number of issues, which he did not identify.
There were no echoes here today of Honecker's speech yesterday, in which he indicated that inter-German relations could not improve "under the shadow" of new U.S. nuclear-tipped missiles. The West contends the missiles are meant to balance hundreds of Soviet missiles already deployed.
In his conversations with Honecker, Schmidt said he felt as if he had diminished some of the misunderstandings and exaggerated fears that Honecker had with respect to the Western position of rearmament and arms control.