East-West Little Man vs. Big Man

Honecker encounters a chilly reception in Bonn

When foreign dignitaries visit Bonn, West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl usually greets them like a jolly innkeeper, slapping backs and exchanging jokes. But last week, as Erich Honecker's 18-car motorcade pulled up outside the Chancellery, Kohl could barely contain his distaste for the historic occasion, the first time a top East German leader had set foot in West Germany. After glumly shaking hands with the East German Communist Party chief, he bluntly waved away photographers asking for a replay. Said Kohl: "We've already done it."

Kohl's irascibility reflected the deep ambivalence that attended Honecker's five-day visit. Polls showed that three out...