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Toasts of the President and Chancellor Adenauer

November 21, 1961


I know that you join me in expressing our great pleasure in having the Chancellor here once again in the United States. We are particularly glad that he has come accompanied by the Foreign Minister and the Minister of Defense, and that in the company of our friend, the Ambassador, and the other members of his party we are extremely glad to have him back on our shores once again.

The Chancellor occupies a very special position in this country, and it is a source, I know, of satisfaction to him that he has enjoyed the confidence of three different Presidents in recent years, and four Secretaries of State--President Truman, President Eisenhower--Secretary Acheson, Secretary Dulles, Secretary Herter, and Secretary Rusk. And I think that in spite of the changes which have taken place in this country from party to party and from administration to administration, they have recognized the Chancellor as being committed, as we are, to the defense of the West and the strengthening of Europe.

He has been generous enough to say that Americans are good Europeans, and he has demonstrated not only that he is a great European, but that also the people of the Federal Republic not only look to the day when Germany can be unified, but also to the West and the development of Europe, in the close association between the Atlantic Community and its members in other parts of the world.

So, Chancellor, there are some in this room who admire you because of your political success, which is extraordinary, and there are others, in fact all, who admire you for the long view that you have taken in the interests of your country. In the confidence which you have had in the United States--which we hope is still maintained-and the recognition which you have had from the beginning, the United States and the Federal Republic must move in harmony together, not only in the forties and fifties, but in the sixties.

I think an alliance is an extremely difficult system to operate. The interests of all must be considered. It is far easier for our adversaries to move with speed, commanding as they do their satellites. We are all sovereign and allied, and we are therefore interdependent as well as independent. And I would therefore consider it most advantageous that you were generous to come and see us again, in order that we might renew our friendship, the friendship which exists between the members of the government and also between the people of our countries.

So I hope that all our guests will join me in drinking to one of the transcendent figures of our time--the Chancellor.

Note: The President proposed the toast at a luncheon in the state dining room at the White House.

Chancellor Adenauer responded (through an interpreter) as follows:

"Mr. President, gentlemen:

"This is my tenth visit to the United States of America in my capacity as Federal Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany. After the breakdown of my country as a result of the last war, it was very clear to me and to my friends that there was only one way out of this ruin and chaos for my country; namely, to establish inseparable links with the countries of the Free World, and in particular with the United States of America. And my trust and my confidence in the United States of America has never been disappointed. '

"I have always considered it to be one of the greatest deeds of the people--the United States of America--that after having won this victory in 1945, under the leadership of the United States of America, that the victors did not rebuff the vanquished, but on the contrary they extended a helping hand to the vanquished--they helped them get back on their feet.

"That, I think, was a great action--a great deed-and rare in history.

"Mr. President, I thank you very much for the very kind words you said, and I also thank you for • the spirit which inspired your words, and for the attitude you have always shown towards me.

"You may be sure, Mr. President, that the close ties that existed between your predecessor and myself will continue between you and myself; because we consider both you and your predecessor to be great Americans. And I may assure you, Mr. President, of the great veneration, the great love, and the great affection which the German people have for you.

"I now propose a toast to you, sir, and to the indissoluble friendship between the people of the United States of America and of Germany."

In the first paragraph the President referred to Gerhard Schroeder and Franz Josef Strauss, Foreign Minister and Minister of Defense of the Federal Republic of Germany, respectively, and Wilhelm G. Grewe, German Ambassador to the United States.

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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