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Toasts of the President and Chancellor Ludwig Erhard of Germany

December 20, 1965

Mr. Chancellor, distinguished members of your party, ladies and gentlemen:

The great German writer, Goethe, once said that the formula for a happy life was each day to read a beautiful poem, listen to beautiful music, look at a beautiful painting, and, if possible, say some reasonable thing.

Today, Mr. Chancellor, we may have lacked the beauty of poem, painting, and music. But we did, I believe, say reasonable things to each other.

We are privileged tonight to have in our country and in the first house of our land one of the world's most reasonable and veto satire leaders.

He is a man of many talents: educator, author, amateur musician, economist, politician, and statesman.

As a politician, he can look with great satisfaction to the vote of confidence that the people of West Germany gave him in last September's national election.

As a statesman, he can look with great pride to nearly 20 years of dedicated and effective service to the Federal Republic. The miracle of Germany's economic recovery following World War II stands as a towering monument to his service.

So, Chancellor Erhard, we welcome you this evening, not only as a politician and as an economist, but as a statesman. But really, most of all, we welcome you as a friend. You are aware, I am sure, of the high regard and the deep affection in which I personally hold you. That regard and that affection are reflected throughout America.

And there is no truth to the rumor that your reputation as an economist prompted us to invite you here to visit us at budget time.

In other areas, however, we will not be so reticent in seeking your advice.

We live in a world of change. In that world, nations have much to gain from an open exchange of information--and we have much to lose by ignoring the potential contribution of other peoples.

We have already begun a mutual adventure in space.

Only last summer, our two Governments worked out an agreement whereby we will launch a German-built satellite to probe the inner radiation belts.

Now, we would like to discuss with you-and with others--an even more ambitious plan to permit us to do together what we cannot do so well alone. Examples would be two projects which stand high on the space agenda. Both are very demanding and both are quite complex. One would be a probe to the Sun, and another a probe to Jupiter. To cooperate on such a major endeavor would contribute vastly to our mutual knowledge and to our mutual skills.

So, I propose, early in the year, to send a commission--headed by our able Administrator of NASA, James Webb--to consult with you and other governments of Europe wishing to participate in a joint exploration of space.

In all our efforts we seek to learn as well as to contribute.

And we are now watching with great interest the pioneer work that you in Germany are doing to make your cities more livable. We are especially interested in your antipollution programs, which are said to be among the most effective in all the world. So, I propose sending a working group, headed by our distinguished Secretary of the Interior, Mr. Udall, to West Germany next month to visit with your own Minister of Science and Education and to view some of your accomplishments firsthand.

I am told that some of your air pollution experts feel that the only thing that now stands between them and final success is the daily quota of their Chancellor's cigars.

Mr. Chancellor, in welcoming you to our shores this Christmas season, we are aware that we have much to be thankful for: a stable political system and healthy economies in both our countries; a North Atlantic Alliance that has met every challenge of the past; and an effective relationship that binds our countries together within the framework of an Atlantic partnership. We applaud the role of Germany in these great affairs.

And for our part, the United States is especially grateful for the support which your Government has given to the common cause in Viet-Nam, and which you may give in the days ahead.

The great effort which my country is making tonight in Viet-Nam is in fulfillment of the clear commitment of the American people, the American Congress, and three American Presidents. The people of South Viet-Nam need our support, and they are getting it. The credible commitment of the United States is the foundation stone of the house of freedom all around the world. If it is not good in Viet-Nam, Mr. Chancellor, who can trust it in the heart of Europe? But America's word, I can assure you, is good in Viet-Nam, just as it is good in Berlin.

Our object in Viet-Nam is not war but peace. There will be peace in Viet-Nam the very moment that others are ready to stop their attacks. We will push on every door for peace. We will go anywhere to talk. We set no conditions. We neglect no hopeful step. But, as all of you know, it takes two to talk and it takes two, as well, to stop the fighting.

Meanwhile, we are going to keep this country moving in the spirit of the Great Society and the Formed Society. Though we are defending freedom abroad we must continue to enlarge freedom at home and around the world.

In Europe much remains to be done. The reunification of Germany in peace and freedom is a major goal. We share your hopes for a continued development of a united Europe. The strength of the Atlantic partnership will require the best efforts of both sides of the Atlantic. A just solution to the crisis in Viet-Nam just must be found, and the entire fabric of world peace must be strengthened. As we agreed today, there is work to be done by your country and by ours. There are no easy answers to any of these questions. They will require a new spirit of trust and cooperation among all the nations of the world. That spirit, Chancellor Erhard, is embodied in the friendship of our two great nations.

And so, ladies and gentlemen, in honor of a country whose people and whose future are represented here tonight by my old and dear friend, Chancellor Ludwig Erhard, I now ask you to join me by raising your glasses to the President of the Federal Republic of Germany.

Note: The President proposed the toast at 10:05 p.m. in the State Dining Room at the White House. Chancellor Erhard responded as follows:

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

It is certainly a very great honor for me to be your guest tonight, Mr. President, at such a festive occasion, and I would like to thank you for this reception on behalf of all my fellow countrymen who are here tonight. And we had a very valuable, very enjoyable day today. I consider it always to be a very great distinction to be here and I am fully aware of what the friendship with you, Mr. President, means to me personally, to my country, and to all my fellow countrymen.

Looking back on the past, on the time during which I had to accept and bear political responsibility--and that covers a period of nearly 20 years--on thinking back of the moment when we were completely broken down, facing the collapse of our country, and there the Americans were the first in their generosity to extend to us a helping hand. And this, Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen, is a deed we will never forget.

When we then had to start building up and reconstructing the economy of our country, and I had to take over responsibility for that job, I was looking around for a model. Where was the country adhering to the same ideals, to the same principles, living by these principles and ideals, which we now needed, which I felt we had to live by after the tragedy through which we had gone? And here again the generosity and the cooperation, the help of the United States and the Americans proved itself so immensely helpful. And it was quite obvious that this should become the basis of real friendship.

In those years, we have won friends, and I say, with the feeling of pride and with the feeling of satisfaction, that the friendship that exists between you and me, and our personal relations, is the coronation; it is the crowning of this friendship between our two countries.

You do not know, Mr. President, how much that means to me, and I am not speaking from vanity. I speak sincerely and honestly. And because this is so, because of this friendship, we know how much we still have to do together, our two countries-how much is still to be done.

We have discussed a number of problems today. You have mentioned some of them. We cannot live in a peaceful world unless we stand together, formally and resolutely. We are living in a world economically, socially, politically, where great demands are made on all of us, but particularly on the United States of America, and particularly on you, Mr. President. And all these principles and ideals by which you and the Americans are living are indivisible. No country, however great it may be, is any longer an end in itself. No country, however great it may be, is self-sufficient today. It is necessary today to rely on one's neighbor, to rely on one's friends. And that is one more reason why we have to get more closely together in order to make this world more peaceful.

I think this is a particularly appropriate idea in this Christmas season, which should inspire us with glad and happy hope.

Today and tomorrow we will have another opportunity to continue our talks, and I hope we will be able to bring our talks to fruitful conclusion, to fruitful results.

You, Mr. President, mentioned one particular project which is very close to my heart, and that is: How can the industrialized society of a highly developed country be given a new shape, a new form ?

It is perhaps no accident that at the same time when you, Mr. President, developed your concept of the Great Society, I put forth another concept, that of the Formed Society.

It may be difficult here tonight to explain in detail what we have in mind with these two new concepts. But I think what we have in common, both of us, is the feeling that all the "isms" of the 19th century, be it capitalism, be it socialism, are no longer enough to solve the problems of today. These won't do any more. But what we require is something new.

These two concepts are perhaps not fully identical, but there is this common desire to create something new, which would not lead people astray but would make people live together with their neighbors, with their friends, would establish sound relationships between the people and their environments. And I would particularly welcome close cooperation between our two countries in this particular field, in developing these new concepts.

You also included, Mr. President, in the enumeration of subjects we discussed, cooperation in the field of space research. Of course, we, the Germans, would not like to get too close to the sun because we wouldn't like to burn our wings, but I think such ambitious plans would serve us well because it has been my experience that when you try to achieve only little things, you are very often bound to fail, but if you have a great objective, which will fascinate the imagination of the people, then you will very often succeed, because it arouses the enthusiasm, the support, and the imagination of the people.

Mr. President, we are also in agreement that we need integration, economic cooperation, a sound economy, sound currency, as a basis for our policies. This has become evident again and again in our talks, in our meetings. And this may perhaps constitute the real, the inherent value of the friendship of the alliance to which we both belong.

You also mentioned Viet-Nam, Mr. President. We know that the United States of America is making great sacrifices in Viet-Nam in order to defend the security of the people there. But that is also our security, and if you appreciated our contribution we are making to that effect, I must confess, quite frankly, I feel ashamed, because what we can contribute is very modest compared with what you do.

Mr. President, I am very proud of our friendship, and in going back to Germany, I'll tell the German people that the United States of America is a reliable ally.

You may be convinced that we, on the other hand, will also be ready not to betray this confidence and this trust. The measures and criteria may be different, but the spirit is identical: we must stand together; we must unite.

What would our future have been, what would our faith have been had not the United States and the Americans, in their generosity giving us hope after our collapse, had they not shown the way to us ?

It is perhaps not only incidental that for the second time we have met in this Christmas season. Two years ago we had the pleasure of being your guest after Christmas at the ranch in Texas. Today, we are meeting here under the Christmas tree, so to speak, the shine of the candles. Christmas tree and candles--a symbol of peace, symbol of charity. In all we do, we should be inspired by these auspicious ideals.

If we have to undertake efforts in the military fields, some people may incline to believe that this would be an end in itself and that we wanted to disturb the peace. But this is not true. The fact that we are getting together in this Christmastime, that we are aware of the Christian ideals, is evidence to the contrary. Because we want to serve peace, we want to maintain peace, so that the old message, the tidings may come true--peace on earth and good will to men.

In this spirit, Mr. President, I wish you and Mrs. Johnson Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Let me thank you once again for this wonderful reception, for this wonderful evening you have prepared for us here.

To your health, sir.

Chancellor Erhard had arrived at Andrews Air Force Base at 4 p.m. on Sunday, December 19, where he was greeted by Vice President Humphrey and other officials.

See also Item 660.

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

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