Der Spiegel reported that Erhard wanted the plan to be facilitated by the US government, which would help shuttle $2.5 billion a year for ten years to Moscow. The magazine cited CIA documents that it has seen.
Erhard, who is widely considered the father of Germany's post-war recovery for his work as the country's first economy minister under Konrad Adenauer, assumed the Kremlin would appreciate financial assistance because its economy was struggling.
As chancellor between 1963 and 1966, Erhard hoped the USSR would gradually withdraw from its satellite state, the German Democratic Republic, and eventually allow the East Germans to vote for reunification.
But US diplomats called the plan “ill-conceived and unrealistic” and granted Erhard an “almost zero chance of success,” saying the chancellor was demonstrating “considerable political naivety,” Der Spiegel wrote at the weekend.
Erhard finally dropped the idea after US President Lyndon B. Johnson declined to broach the concept with the Soviets.