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Toasts of the President and Chancellor Klaus of Austria.

April 10, 1968

Chancellor and Mrs. Klaus, Mr. Vice President and Mrs. Humphrey, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen:

In the dark days before World War II, the writer Stefan Zweig said of the disappearance of Austria from the map of Europe, "Nobody saw that Austria was the cornerstone of the wall and that Europe must break down when it was torn out."

Tonight, ladies and gentlemen, we celebrate what the Austrian people and their leaders have done to put that cornerstone back into the wall--so solidly that all of Europe is much stronger.

A native Austrian--Justice Felix Frankfurter-who became one of America's wisest men of law, liked to say that "there is no inevitability in history--except as men make it."

Perhaps never in the recorded ages of man has that been truer than in the era that we now live in. And perhaps that is both the greatness as well as the trial of our age.

We have seen in our era that men can make their own destiny.

We have seen men shape their destiny in countries that were once only colonies.

We see today the young people everywhere restlessly seeking to have a voice in their own future.

We have seen, on every continent, the unquenchable thirst for self-determination.

Nowhere has this appeared more clearly than in Austria--where a free and a proud people willed themselves a new nation out of the ruins of war.

Our guest this evening has played a leading part in showing that history is not inevitable, but rather responsive to the highest goals of the human spirit. He is a seeker of peace and harmony throughout Europe and around the world.

Mr. Chancellor, I can assure you that your efforts have not gone unappreciated in this city.

Ladies and gentlemen, I ask you to join me this evening in a toast to the people of Austria, the President of the Republic of Austria, and to our most distinguished guest and his lady, Chancellor Josef Klaus.

Note: The President proposed the toast at 10:21 p.m. at a dinner in the State Dining Room at the White House. Chancellor Klaus responded as follows:
Mr. President, Mrs. Johnson, ladies and gentlemen:

Thank you very much, Mr. President, for your kind words. We have been all the more delighted to accept your invitation to pay a visit to the United States since we knew that this is indeed a visit to friends. Between the United States and Austria, there are, happily, no unsolved political problems.

Already one of my predecessors, the late Chancellor Raab, emphasized during a visit to the White House, our gratitude to the American people for the help which was given to us in difficult times. In the extremely difficult postwar years when we were suffering from the consequences of the war, it was the unselfish help of the American people which enabled us to preserve our freedom and reconstruct our country.

We understand, Mr. President, America's problems. We know how heavy the responsibilities are that you have to bear.

Despite our neutrality, we are well aware that we are not living in an isolated island and that international conflicts do affect our country, also.

We are, therefore, always prepared to participate actively in all efforts for maintaining peace in the world. We are always ready to offer our good offices wherever they are needed.

I have had the opportunity to inform you, Mr. President, of our countless little problems; the general slowdown of economic activity in Europe has not spared us, although results have perhaps not been so strong as in some other countries. But its effects were nevertheless reinforced by a strong movement of protectionism in many parts of the world.

May I take the opportunity to thank you, Mr. President, and your administration, for having shown so much understanding for our problems and may I thank you for your efforts to promote world trade.

Your statement, Mr. President, of this morning, was encouraging indeed, to pursue in the future a policy of easing the tensions and a policy of promoting the cooperation among all nations.

I don't have to say how much I appreciate your kindness, Mr. President, in asking me to come to Washington in a time when you are confronted with most important decisions, not only for your country, but for the whole world.

May I assure you that the people of Austria follow very closely the events in East Asia as well as in the United States. The Austrian people welcome your most recent decisions as an essential step toward peace in Vietnam.

I would like to ask you to toast with me to the health of the President of the United States, to Mrs. Johnson, and to the people of the United States. To the President.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Toasts of the President and Chancellor Klaus of Austria. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/237914

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