John F. Kennedy photo

Remarks Upon Arrival in Germany

June 23, 1963

Mr. Chancellor, Mr. Ministers:

I am grateful for your invitation and I am happy to be here. I have crossed the Atlantic, some 3,500 miles, at a crucial time in the life of the Grand Alliance. Our unity was forged in a time of danger; it must be maintained in a time of peace. Our Alliance was founded to deter a new war; it must now find the way to a new peace. Our strategy was born in a divided Europe, but it must look to the goal of European unity and an end to the divisions of people and countries. Our Alliance is in a period of transition, and that is as it should be. Western Europe is no longer weakened by conflict, but is fast becoming a full partner in prosperity and security. Western Europe is no longer the seedbed of world war, but an instrument of unity and an example of reconciliation. And Western Europe, finally, is no longer an area of assistance, but can now be a source of strength to all the forces of freedom all around the globe. I have also come to this country, the most populous in Western Europe, to express the respect of the people of the United States for the German peoples' industry and their initiative, for their culture and their courage.

Here in Western Germany you have achieved a solid framework of freedom, a miracle of economic recovery, and an opportunity to express your political ideals through action in Europe and through the world.

The people of West Germany have freed themselves from the forces of tyranny and aggression. The people of the United States have now freed themselves from the long process of isolation. Together we look forward to a new future. Former foes have become faithful friends. Nations bitterly arrayed against each other have now become closely allied, sharing common values and common sentiments, as well as common interests, working within a growing partnership of equals for peace and the common defense on problems of trade and monetary policy, and on helping the less developed countries, and on building Western unity. Above all, we recognize a duty to defend and to develop the long Western tradition which we share, resting as it does on a common heritage. Economically, militarily, politically, our two nations and all the other nations of the Alliance are now dependent upon one another. We are allies in the only war we seek--the war against poverty, hunger, disease, and ignorance in our own countries, and around the world.

We all know the meaning of freedom and our people are determined upon its peaceful survival and success.

My stay in this country will be all too brief, but in a larger sense the United States is here on this continent to stay. So long as our presence is desired and required, our forces and commitments will remain. For your safety is our safety, your liberty is our liberty, and any attack on your soil is an attack upon our own. Out of necessity, as well as sentiment, in our approach to peace as well as war, our fortunes are one.
Finally, I have also come to Germany to pay tribute to a great European statesman, an architect of unity, a champion of liberty, a friend of the American people--Chancellor Konrad Adenauer. Already he lives in the history he helped to make. I look forward to this visit with Chancellor Adenauer with me, and with the warmth of your greeting already in my memory.

Note: The President spoke at 9:50 a.m. at the Bonn-Cologne airport in response to the following remarks by Chancellor Adenauer: "Mr. President:

"It is with great pleasure that I welcome you here, Mr. President, and your party, in the Federal Republic of Germany. Your visit is most particularly appreciated by us, since it is a mark of the deep friendship which has bound the German and the American peoples together for many years. Your visit, Mr. President, is a political act.

"On the 10th of June, you stated before the American University in Washington that the United States of America stood by its commitment to defend Western Europe and West Berlin. In the same speech, you said, Mr. President, that the United States would make no deal with the Soviet Union at the expense of other nations, and other peoples. You said, too, Mr. President, that not only did America's interests converge with those of its allies, but that there was also an identity of purpose and objectives, namely, the defense of freedom and the surge for peace.

"Could there have been any better way for you to demonstrate such determination than by visiting the Federal Republic and other countries in Western Europe, than by paying a visit to Berlin? We thank you, Mr. President, for coming here. You could not have done anything more effective to strengthen the cohesion within the Alliance. During your visit you will see various towns and districts of Germany, and wherever you go--and I am sure you have felt it already on your arrival and the reception given to you here at this airfield-wherever you go you will become aware of the feelings of gratitude and friendship the Germans have for the American people. I welcome you once again, Mr. President, from the bottom of my heart.
"Thank you."

The President's opening words referred to Chancellor Konrad Adenauer and to members of his Cabinet.

John F. Kennedy, Remarks Upon Arrival in Germany Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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