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Toasts of the President and Chancellor Adenauer

November 14, 1962


I want to express in behalf of all the members of the Government who are here and all Americans our very warm welcome to you, to the Foreign Minister, to the members of your Government, and to tell you how pleased we are that you are visiting us once again.

I think that the instinctive judgment of my predecessors and the members of their Government after the Second War in realizing how essential it was to the security of the West, of the free world, that there should be a strong and independent Germany was matched by the instinctive judgment of the German people that their future lay in a free and expanding and growing Europe. This sense of the future which dominated the political thinking of both of our peoples and their leaders in those days I think will go down as one of the significant decisions in the history of the modern world.

It is our responsibility, Chancellor, that decision having been made, to build upon it and to attempt to move from an increasingly strong and powerful Europe and Atlantic community to an increasingly strong and powerful free world. It seems to me that both the United States and the Federal Republic, and Europe, and, indeed, the whole Atlantic partnership, have a great role to play in the maintenance of freedom all around the globe.

We are very proud to have you here, Chancellor, as one of the architects of this relationship. We had one in Mr. Acheson, who played a most significant role during those days. And those of us who have followed in this country want to assure you that we still regard the close and intimate ties between the Federal Republic and the United States as the strongest possible insurance for the defense of Europe, which is essential to the defense of the United States, and we still believe that this is the base from which those actions must spring which will provide a protection for our vital interests, and, if we are determined to be strong enough, the peace of the world. We welcome you here during a time of very great change in the world, both in the West and in the East. It will be our task, Chancellor, to make those judgments today which will serve the future as well as the judgments which were made and in which you participated a decade or more ago which have so served us at present.

Chancellor, we welcome you here at an important turning point, possibly, in the history of the relations between East and West, and in any case we welcome you as an old, valued and courageous friend.

Ladies and gentlemen, I hope you will join in drinking with me to the Chancellor, to the members of his Government, to the German people, and to the President of the Federal Republic.

Note: The President proposed the toast at a luncheon in the State Dining Room at the White House.

In his response Chancellor Adenauer recalled the collapse of Germany in 1945 and the bonds created by the helpful hand that the victor had extended to the vanquished. "It was not only the material aid and assistance," he continued, "but it was, above all, the human attitude, the human aspect, the human spirit in which this was done which established these inseparable bonds between our two countries."

Noting that he had been in politics only since 1945, Chancellor Adenauer stated that his political memory was still very fresh "because in this connection it is not age that counts but it is the years which you have spent in a political career." He added that in looking back on these years he thought of President Truman and Secretary Acheson "who were the first to take the moves, the initiatives, to establish the close relationships with Germany," and of President Eisenhower and Secretary Dulles. After paying his respects to them he expressed heartfelt thanks to President Kennedy and his associates for having followed the tradition established by President Truman.

The Chancellor stated that he had never judged political discussions by the communiqués issued after the meetings "because in most cases the communique is put on the table right at the beginning of the negotiations." Instead, he said, he judged them by the content of the conversations. In applying this criterion to the conversations already held, he stated that he could say it was going to be a very good meeting, one which was urgently needed "in this very critical situation in which we find ourselves today."

He concluded by congratulating the President and the United States for the firm stand taken on the Cuban question. "I feel," he said, "that this was a very great success for the United States of America, and it was a failure for Mr. Khrushchev. The world once again has seen Mr. Khrushchev as he really is."

In his opening remarks the President referred to Dr. Gerhard Schroeder, German Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs.

John F. Kennedy, Toasts of the President and Chancellor Adenauer Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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