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Toasts of the President and Chancellor Brandt of the Federal Republic of Germany

April 10, 1970

Mr. Chancellor, Mrs. Brandt, all of our distinguished guests:

In this historic State Dining Room over the past 20 years four Chancellors of the Federal Republic of Germany have been honored--Chancellor Adenauer, Chancellor Erhard, Chancellor Kiesinger, Chancellor Brandt. Four American Presidents have presided over dinners in their honor--President Eisenhower, President Kennedy, President Johnson, and the President at the present time.

What is significant to note is that in the case both of the Federal Republic and that of the United States both major parties are represented in their heads of government, and what is particularly significant to note also is that despite the differences in ages and the differences in time and the differences in parties, that one thing remains the same and that is that the friendship, the alliance, between the Republic of Germany and the United States of America is something that we all believe in, that we all work for, and that this visit will help to perpetuate.

Mr. Chancellor, beyond that we welcome you in a private capacity because you have often, as I pointed out when you arrived earlier today, you have been here on several occasions and you know our country well. We know you well. We think of you in many ways.

I was thinking, for example, of the fact that your political career and mine were somewhat similar in one respect. As you may remember at the dinner that was held in 1967 when I was a private citizen and later in 1969 when I returned as President, I pointed out that I had suffered two defeats and then after two defeats for the highest office, finally had won. And many at that dinner in 1969 turned to you and wondered if history would repeat itself in the Federal Republic of Germany, and it did.

Also, as we welcome you, we think of the links between our two countries in other very personal ways. I mentioned the White House Staff and I am surrounded by Germans, not by your CIA--well, maybe they are your CIA [laughter]-Mr. Haldeman, my chief of staff, is German; Mr. Ehrlichman, the head of my Domestic Council, is German; Dr. Kissinger, the head of my National Security Council, is German. To indicate how deep this insidious infiltration into this administration runs, I find that not only was my wife's mother born in Germany, which makes her half German, but that Vice president Agnew's wife's father is half German.

So, within the two First Families, the Vice President and the President of the United States, we find one full German and that is more than we have of any other country in the world.

We are delighted that on this visit you have had a chance to enjoy Camp David, the special place where Presidents have usually stayed and receive only very special guests. And we are particularly happy that tomorrow you will go to see the takeoff of Apollo 13. We are very honored that tonight among our many guests is Wernher Von Braun,1 which reminds us of the debt we owe to those who have helped our space project who are of German background.

I think all of our guests would be interested to know that just before this dinner, at 7: 45 tonight, I called Captain Lovell2 and his colleagues--they were having their last dinner together before the takeoff tomorrow--wished them well, told them that the Chancellor would be there to see the takeoff and they promised much better weather than when I saw it last year.

Incidentally, Mr. Chancellor, I want you to know that I had that call to them placed by the White House operator. The last time I dialed a call myself, the night of the German elections, I dialed the wrong number.3 [Laughter]

On this occasion, I want to close on one very serious note. When we think of the future of our civilization, western civilization, we know that what happens to Western Europe will have an enormous influence on that future and we know that in the heart of Western Europe is the Federal Republic of Germany. We know that it is essential that that heart be strong and vigorous and free if Western Europe and the European Community and the European-American alliance are to be strong and vigorous and free.

Mr. Chancellor, we therefore are deeply grateful for the leadership you have provided as the leader of your country, in maintaining the strength that is necessary to preserve freedom, but yet also pursuing, as you have, a policy of negotiation which we hope will eventually take the place of confrontation in the very heart of Europe.

And so tonight we welcome you as we have welcomed your distinguished predecessors, because you have a great country and a truly great people with whom we have so many bonds. And we also welcome you very warmly and very deeply in a very personal sense as an old, personal friend and as one that we look forward to working with for the cause of freedom which you so deeply believe in and the cause of peace which is essential if we are to be able to enjoy freedom at all.

I know you will all want to rise and join me in a toast to the Chancellor of the Federal Republic, Chancellor Brandt.

1 Dr. Von Braun was Deputy Associate Administrator for Planning, National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

2 James A. Lovell, Jr., Commander of Apollo 13.

3 On the night of September 28, 1969, the President called Chancellor Kiesinger and, on the basis of incomplete election returns, congratulated him for winning the German elections; Chancellor Brandt proved to be the eventual winner.

Note: The President spoke at 9:50 p.m. in the State Dining Room at the White House.

Chancellor Brandt responded as follows:

Mr. President, Mrs. Nixon, ladies and gentlemen:

On behalf of the German delegation and, of course, also on behalf of Mrs. Brandt and myself, I would like to thank you, Mr. President, very cordially for your impressive words. This gratitude goes also for the friendliness with which you received us and the kindness you have shown to me by inviting me to spend a few restful days at beautiful Camp David.

My words of grateful response, Mr. President, are not only meant for the present occasion. They also include appreciation of the fact that you have always favored closer relations between the United States and Europe; that in doing so you have always shown understanding for the affairs of the Federal Republic of Germany, and that last, not least, the vital interests of West Berlin have been and are close to your heart.

When I mention Berlin, let me add without hesitation that the cradle of German-American friendship stood there after World War II. I think we met first in 1954, Mr. President, when I was a member of the Bundestag visiting this great country. When we met again, also that was 12 years ago, February of 1958, you as Vice President, I as Governing Mayor, you presented me with a gavel carved from the old White House wood. With that gavel I have for many years conducted meetings which dealt, in Berlin, with the inspiring work of reconstruction, but also meetings at which grim decisions had to be taken which derived from the ever-deepening division of the city, my city.

Mr. President, your visit to Bonn and West Berlin lives on in our memories. Right at the beginning of your term of office you were given proof of the strength of the confidence which my fellow-countrymen place in you and in the United States. This confidence is part of the capital you cannot weigh or measure which nations invest in history. It bears interest--and it is in the duty of political leaders not to spend such interest frivolously, but to add it as an increment to the capital.

I have come to Washington at a time when it is natural to look back, but necessary to look ahead. Twenty-five years have passed since the end of World War II. The ruins have gone. Hopelessness and despondency have disappeared long ago. This is--and we shall not forget it--largely a result of the American people's willingness to help and of political foresight which are so characteristic of this great country.

I say that, Mr. President, in full awareness of our debt to the men who have paved the way for us, and I am grateful that a number of these men, the fathers of the new relation. ship between our countries, are together with us here tonight, and whose counsel we must still heed today.

But now it is incumbent upon us to seek an ever clearer definition of our concept for the 1970's and to assist, if possible, the young generation in finding an outlook on life in conformity with their aspirations and carrying conviction.

Both in the United States and in Europe there is now-25 years after the end of the war--a new generation; yet, it is a restless one. Although it grew up in relative peace it is highly sensitive to the upheavals of our time. It is searching for convincing answers that hold the promise of the future. We are called upon to meet this challenge, and I believe we can meet it.

If we take the emerging new generations seriously, it would be a disservice to them if we only told them what they want to hear. I think we must tell them that there is no alternative to the long march to achieve reforms and the equally long march to secure peace.

I have said, Mr. President, it is necessary to form an idea of the future, not as wishful thinking but in terms of a world where existing division does not necessarily imply hostile confrontation but could be accepted as a point of departure for the search for patterns of cooperation.

It is certainly no accident that your formula, Mr. President, has met with such response and that there are clear indications in various places of the readiness to set out along that path. If we did not perceive such readiness also outside the Western sphere or thought it at least possible, then some of our efforts would indeed be meaningless.

This is the concept on which my Government's policy is based. We in Germany know that the painful partition of our country can only be cured if the split dividing Europe is healed. We are striving for a structure of peace in Europe under which the countries on either side of the line, which today divides our continent as well as the world powers, will be able to achieve a higher degree of security through a higher degree of cooperation.

In our efforts we must start out from the existing situation, that is to say from realities, in order to arrive at a more normal relationship with our eastern neighbors. We pursue this task free from illusion but with perseverance.

There have been voices that accused the Germans of being willing to plunge into a course of - realpolitik in a questionable sense. They implied that we tried to follow a policy of self-interest in disregard of the moral values which, of course, must also guide international policy.

I am certainly not thinking in terms of that kind of - realpolitik when I speak of the necessity to accept realities. Freedom, democracy, and self-determination are values which we would never renounce. Not only has their significance been borne out by our experience, they also define our moral position in world politics. Because we believe in them we made the Atlantic Alliance a cornerstone of our policy and consider the cultivation of German-American relations an overriding interest of ours.

Mr. President, I have studied with close attention your Report on a New Strategy for Peace which you submitted to Congress on February 18. It contains the statement that the United States can no more disengage from Europe than from Alaska. Let me make it quite clear: This statement works the other way around as well. Today in the second half of the 20th century, Europe can no more disengage from the United States than from herself.

This awareness must inevitably determine our future action and it will again and again make it essential for us to seek common answers to solve the problems--they will sometimes certainly not be easy ones--which are related to the continued and adequate military presence of the United States in Europe without which there can be no security for all of us; to solve the problems with regard to the economic relations between America and Europe which arise from the development and the envisaged enlargement of the Common Market, and to ensure continued close cooperation in our endeavor to relax tensions and to venture peaceful co-existence.

In your report, Mr. President, you enumerated three principles essential in building up a structure of peace: partnership, strength, and willingness to negotiate. My Government wholeheartedly endorses these principles. It will use its best endeavors to bear its due share to the full extent.

As between our two nations, partnership holds paramount rank for us. It is rounded not only on common interests, but even more so on common beliefs.

It is in the spirit of this partnership that I ask you, ladies and gentlemen, to raise your glasses to join me in proposing a toast to the happiness of the American people, to the friendship between our two nations, to your health, Mrs. Nixon, and to the health of the President of the United States.

Richard Nixon, Toasts of the President and Chancellor Brandt of the Federal Republic of Germany Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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