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Toasts of the President and Chancellor Kiesinger of Germany

August 15, 1967

Mr. Chancellor, Mrs. Kiesinger, Mr. Vice Chancellor, Mrs. Wentzel, ladies and gentlemen:

Mrs. Johnson and I welcome you to this house tonight on your first visit as Chancellor.

While preparing this toast, Mr. Chancellor, I asked an aide to find an appropriate phrase from an illustrious German leader. He came back a few minutes later with the following words of Bismarck: "Not by speechifying and counting majorities are the great questions of the time to be solved .... "I stopped him right there. It was obvious that neither he nor Bismarck had very much experience in running for office.

Mr. Chancellor, we are so honored and so pleased that we can have your charming daughter as a resident of our Capital. We are very much in your debt for the extremely able service that is rendered to our Government-and to your country--by your most unusual and competent Ambassador, Ambassador Knappstein and his delightful wife.

Mr. Chancellor, our talks today were immensely valuable to the peoples of our two countries. I deeply appreciate your coming here and counseling with me, and the good advice you gave me this morning which was both candid and understanding. This is a means of better and stronger relations between our two countries.

Germany's vitality and eminence among all of the world's democratic nations today is clear to all knowing people. Mr. Chancellor, we feel that your own contribution to its progress has been indispensable. The German people have every right--indeed, an obligation--to be quite proud of the very unusual accomplishments and achievements that have been theirs in recent years.

I should like for you to say to your countrymen that we find both pride and comfort in our friendship with your people. We look forward to our continuing partnership in the great tasks that will face all of us in the months and years ahead.
The goals that we all seek together are quite clear. There is little difference between them. We all want a stable Europe, a world at peace, and freedom for all men to better the quality of their lives. Charting the paths to those goals is going to be exacting and require the very best that is in all of us. It will test our patience, our tolerance, and our understanding.

Borrowing a quotation from one of your great poets, Goethe, we shall proceed, Mr. Chancellor, "without haste--but without rest."

Mr. Chancellor and Mrs. Kiesinger, we are very happy that you are in our city. Nothing would please us more than to know that you enjoyed your visit here, that you profited and learned something about our people, and that you would like to come back to see us sometime again soon.

So, ladies and gentlemen, those of you who have come here from across the country, we want to tell you how happy we are that you could be with us and get to meet this great leader.

Now we should like to invite you to rise and join me in a toast to the Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany.

Note: The President spoke at 10:15 p.m. at a dinner in the State Dining Room at the White House. In his opening words he referred to Chancellor and Mrs. Kurt Georg Kiesinger, Vice Chancellor Willy Brandt, and the Chancellor's daughter Mrs. Volkmar Wentzel. As printed this item follows the text released by the White House Press Office.

Chancellor Kiesinger responded as follows:

Mr. President, Mrs. Johnson, Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen:

Mrs. Kiesinger and I--I may also here speak on behalf of the Vice Chancellor--are deeply and cordially grateful to you for this festive and beautiful reception you have been extending to us.

You have been giving us the opportunity of seeing many old friends again. I may also say that during the hours we have spent together with you here, Mr. President, we felt very happy, indeed.

Naturally--as you did--Mr. President, I was looking for quotations for my speech. You got to Bismarck and I got to de Tocqueville, who wrote the history of the United States of America. When he wrote about the history of democracy and discussed Parliament, he ridiculed those people who ran for Parliament.

He said, "They are traveling about in their constituency trying to get the votes of the people, making speeches and canvassing there." He said, "Well, what is it all about?" He stayed at home and he said, "I wait to be elected. I don't do anything." And he was elected.

Well, those were good times, indeed. How long ago that was.

And, of course, when I was looking for quotations, I also came across Goethe. Of course, you always find something suitable with Goethe. I remember these lines he wrote about America when he apostrophized America as the new continent which was much better off than our old continent.

But I wonder, is this still true? When Goethe wrote his lines, the United States of America counted only a few million people. Today, it is the most powerful nation in the world. This country which once was far away from all the quarrels and the conflicts of the world had found its happiness in becoming the home country of the free, self-sufficient, and a proud nation, has become committed, today, all over the globe by the mere power and strength of its existence.

Today this country has to carry the burden of a gigantic responsibility on its shoulders.

No one who is entering this house here, which is the center of decisions, can escape feeling that with all intensity.

Mr. President, you have found very warm, cordial, and encouraging words for us. Let me thank you for that from the bottom of my heart, as the whole German people wants to thank the American people for the saving and salutary help and assistance we have been receiving from this country in very difficult years.

During the long years the friendship between our two countries has stood the test. We agreed today, Mr. President, in our talks that it is our duty to preserve and to strengthen this precious friendship.

We had very frank and friendly talks today, for which I am grateful. I admired the fine clear-sightedness you showed for the situation, for conditions, and for the problems--the feeling of responsibility you showed.

This filled me with hope and confidence for the future of our two countries, for the future of Europe, and for peace and justice in the world.

Mr. President, I wish you and the American people the strength and the good luck which must combine to enable you to fulfill your great mission in the world.

Ladies and gentlemen, will you join me in a toast to the health of the President of the United States.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Toasts of the President and Chancellor Kiesinger of Germany Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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