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Jimmy Carter: Berlin, Federal Republic of Germany Remarks at a Wreathlaying Ceremony at the Airlift Memorial
Jimmy Carter
Berlin, Federal Republic of Germany Remarks at a Wreathlaying Ceremony at the Airlift Memorial
July 15, 1978
Public Papers of the Presidents
Jimmy Carter<br>1978: Book II
Jimmy Carter
1978: Book II

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Chancellor Schmidt, Governing Mayor Stobbe, distinguished officials from the United States and from the Federal Republic of Germany and the great and free community of West Berlin:

I bring greetings to you from 220 million Americans and a pledge of our total commitment to you for the freedom of us all.

Thirty years ago this week, President Harry Truman was renominated by the Democratic Party, the first Marshall plan loan was made to Europe, and in this square one sound was heard above all others—the sound of Allied airplanes landing at this terminal behind us, one every 3 1/2 minutes, carrying supplies for the free people of Berlin.

I have just met four brave men who participated in that airlift: Jack Bennett and Miller Hayes from the United States of America, Roy Jenkins and Keith Hepburn from Great Britain. And I would like for you to give them an expression of your appreciation for what they did 30 years ago.

That was the time when people everywhere began to understand that the dispute over Berlin was not a local issue, but a great defense of freedom and democracy, with permanent worldwide interest and significance.

That was the week when the people of Berlin gathered in mass rallies to cheer Ernst Reuter and other brave leaders who declared their willingness to stand fast for a better, more peaceful, more democratic world.

That was the week when the people of the Western Zones of Germany added their resources to the Allied Airlift and sent tens of thousands of gift parcels to their countrymen here in Berlin.

That was the week when German Communists visited shops in the western part of this city and warned the owners that unless they joined the party, they would lose their shops when the Western powers left Berlin. That has never happened; that will never happen.

And that was the week when the Soviet Union responded to our demand to end the blockade with the assertion, and I quote, "Berlin is in the center of the Soviet Zone and is part of that Zone." With the courage of Berliners and the determination of the people of the West, we gave the answer: Berlin bleibt frei. Berlin stays free.

I am sobered but proud to be with you today at this historic time, to pay my respects to the 78 Americans, Britons, and Germans who lost their lives in the Airlift and who are honored by this simple but eloquent memorial.

This effort, which it commemorates, was the beginning of the commitments, including the Atlantic Alliance, which have to this day maintained the freedom and the security of Berlin, the Federal Republic, Western Europe, and the United States.

Five American Presidents have upheld the commitments that Harry Truman made in those crucial times, and today I tell you that my Nation still upholds this commitment to freedom.

I have spent this morning visiting troops, both German and American, who are stationed in the Federal Republic as part of the NATO Alliance. The United States has 300,000 military personnel in Europe to guarantee the freedom of this Continent and our own land.

During my visit to the Federal Republic, I've seen for myself the strength of the ties that bind the Federal Republic and the United States together. And here in Berlin, the presence of our troops and the readiness of Tempelhof both bear witness to our unshakable devotion to the people of this great city.

Berlin and the Quadripartite Agreement are symbols not only of the values that can never be compromised nor negotiated but also of the practical improvements that can be achieved by those who are willing patiently to negotiate.

When the Berlin blockade was lifted in 1949, Governing Mayor Reuter declared that, "... much can be gained by peaceful means if one has a clear understanding of what is politically possible and . . . if one has a firm will politically."

The human benefits that have brightened the lives of Berliners, West and East, as a result of the 1971 Quadripartite Agreement are proof of what can be accomplished through detente.

Looking back over the years, we can learn from the experience here in Berlin the conditions for maintaining freedom and for reducing international tension by negotiation.

First, we must be determined to maintain our essential interests and objectives. Among these are the basic human rights to which the United States is and always will be committed.

Second, those human beings who are defended must themselves be committed to freedom, just as Berliners have so amply proven that you, being free, are committed to freedom.

Third, we must be willing to understand the perspective of others in the course of negotiating agreements which maintain our own interests.

In the 30 years that have elapsed since this Airlift began, Berliners and Americans have grown ever closer together. Every American who visits here finds not only allies in the cause of freedom but personal friends as well. We have not forgotten the aid that you sent to Americans suffering from the cold winter early last year, and we will continue to preserve, through such instruments as the Airlift Memorial Scholarships, close contact between generations that had not yet been born when our fates were first bonded together.

The Bible says a city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. What has been true of my own land for 3 1/2 centuries is equally true here in Berlin. As a city of human freedom, human hope, and human rights, Berlin is a light to the whole world; a city on a hill—it cannot be hidden; the eyes of all people are upon you. Was immer sei, Berlin bleibt frei. (No matter what happens, Berlin will stay free.)

NOTE: The President spoke at 2:23 p.m. at the memorial following his arrival at Tempelhof Field, where he reviewed American troops.
Citation: Jimmy Carter: "Berlin, Federal Republic of Germany Remarks at a Wreathlaying Ceremony at the Airlift Memorial," July 15, 1978. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=31086.
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