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

May 01, 1973

Mr. Chancellor, Mr. Vice President, and all of our very distinguished guests from the Federal Republic and from the United States:

We hope that you agree with what the Chancellor just said that he always hopes that the Army will be used for playing violins.

In my brief remarks presenting our very distinguished guests to this company, all of whom respect him and most of whom have met him, I have told him that they want to hear from him and not from me, and so, therefore, I will be quite personal and, I hope, perhaps to the point.

I was thinking how much we have in common. I was thinking, for example, that my wife's mother was born in Germany. I was thinking, for example, her father is Irish. I remember that another German Chancellor, Chancellor Adenauer, once a rival of our present guest, said to me that the most beautiful combination of woman was Irish and German, and I agree.

I was thinking, too, of how much my wife and my very lovely dinner partner, Madam von Staden--who is the wife of the German Ambassador we have just received today and his credentials--how much they have in common. They attended the same school, of course a few years apart--she in 1937, my wife, and Madam von Staden in 1950--but the same man was president of the University of Southern California, Rufus von Kleinstaid, and when I think of him and of them, I think of what we owe to those of German background who have given so much to America.

I think, too, of how much the Chancellor and I have in common. We were remarking that we were born in the same year. But then they looked at him, how young he was, and I said, "Mr. Chancellor, what month were you born in?" I was born in January and he was born in December, so he is much younger than I am.

I was thinking, too, that our political careers have been somewhat the same. As a matter of fact, on my first visit to the Federal Republic as President, there was a small dinner when a member of the other party was then Chancellor, and the present Chancellor was present, and in a rather jocular mood, looking across at the then leader of the opposition, I said, "Well, Mr. Brandt, don't give up. You know, you can come back. I am the expert on coming back." [Laughter]

So here we are, Chancellor of the Federal Republic, President of the United States, and each of us in office until 1976. And I think of all that can happen in those 3 1/2 years. I think how much depends upon the German-American alliance and on the dedication of the leaders of these two countries to the same goals-the goals of strength, of maintaining the strength of this great alliance that has brought us to where we are now, where we can now discuss the possibilities of mutual balanced force reductions. I think, too, of the fact that there have been occasions in the past when our two nations-and no blame is attached in this respect to either side--were not friends. And I think that together, as we are together and will always be in the future, we can do everything.

That is what the German alliance means and that is what this visit means, because as the Chancellor and I, in our long discussions today, which will continue tomorrow, agreed, we have domestic problems that we will wrestle with, problems of inflation and the economy and others, but his goal and mine, above everything else, is to build a world in which our children, our children's children, can grow up in peace.

And the key to that peaceful world, if there is a key, more than anyplace else in the world, is for the strong, resilient, able people that he represents, and the strong, able, dedicated people that I am proud to represent for us to work together.

I can assure you--this company and all the American people tonight--that the Chancellor of the Federal Republic and the President of the United States have as their goal for the year 1976, doing everything that we can to build a new structure of peace, not just in Europe, not just in the Atlantic community, but in the Mideast, all over the world. And these two great peoples--the German people, the American people--we can, we will do it together.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is in that spirit that I know that all of you proudly will raise your glasses to the Chancellor, Willy Brandt.

To Willy Brandt, Chancellor Brandt.

Note: The President spoke at 9:50 p.m. in the State Dining Room at the White House. See also Item 138.

Chancellor Brandt responded as follows:

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

I thank you, Mr. President, for the cordial welcome you have extended to me and my delegation. We consider the hospitality shown to us here tonight, shown to us in these days, anything but an act of routine, because we know that you, Mr. President, had to settle, in addition to receiving us here in Washington, problems of a domestic nature, as we all have to deal with from time to time.

By the way, the story about soldiers playing violins was the President's and not mine. [Laughter]

Last year, you, Mr. President, were given an impressive confirmation by your fellow countrymen and you were able to exert particularly strong influence on international affairs.

In the meantime, it may be said that the cease-fire in Vietnam has brought the world nearer to peace. We also share the joy over the return of the prisoners of war, and we join you in the hope that in the tormented countries of Southeast Asia, arms will at long last become silent.

At the beginning of this year, Mr. President, you had thorough talks here with our British friend, Edward Heath, and only 2 weeks ago, our Italian partner, Signor Andreotti, was given a cordial reception in this house. And not very long from now you will be meeting President Pompidou. None of us meets you any longer solely as the representative of his own country but at the same time already, to a certain degree, as a representative of the European Community as well.

So, I, too, am here not as the spokesman of Europe, but definitely as a spokesman for Europe.

I have spoken about a new feeling of European impatience among our nations, but I think I can put this more affectionately in the words of the first President of the United States, George Washington, who said, "We have the surprising luck to discover that apples will make pies."

Seriously speaking, we do have the right already today to speak of the personality of Europe in about the same way that General de Gaulle spoke of the personality of nations.

The declared aim on this and on the other side of the Atlantic has been and, as I am confident, is equal partnership. We realize that this requires Europe to assume a larger amount of responsibility as regards both regional self-responsibility and the share in world responsibility.

New problems have come to confront us, the very products of a peace that is no longer as much threatened as it used to be. In this "Year of Europe," as you have called it, we must begin to seek solutions based on principles which will guide our Atlantic zone of partnership for long periods to come. For this, you, Mr. President, have had an orientation indicated as the European summit conference tried to do last fall.

Security, trade, monetary affairs, noneconomic cooperation--there is certainly no lack of common tasks. Helsinki and Vienna: Chances of the relations between East and West begin to become clearer. But without the American commitment, this will not become a reality.

By means of the treaties of Moscow and Warsaw and especially by means of our treaty with East Germany, the Federal Republic of Germany has played its part in order to open the way for multilateral efforts toward detente. The efforts of our so-called Ostpolitik are indeed, as Secretary of State, Mr. Rogers, and Dr. Kissinger have underlined, in perfect harmony with your own worldwide peace diplomacy, Mr. President.

We shall face all challenges in the spirit of your own words, Mr. President: Courage, you once said, or putting it more accurately, lack of fear is the result of discipline.

We are confident that we shall succeed in organizing European peace in the course of establishing the balance of world power which you have described. And this is where the words of an author may come true, who is not entirely unknown to those present here this evening, and who wrote power could be transformed into "an instrument of self-control?'

Yet we should not deceive ourselves. Organized peace will not be a period of social immobility. This would be neither possible nor desirable for our nations. European Europe has begun the search for common answers to these problems, too, conscious that for our nations a good overall policy can no longer be kept separate from the dynamics of developments in the social field.

Though the process of European union is by far not complete, you will, I am sure, sense the reality of our desire that this Europe be approached already now in such a way that it will be the one big important partner. I perceive of the courage to face the reality of tomorrow the most dependable guarantee for our belonging together.

I am most grateful for the talks today, Mr. President, and also grateful that you have given me the chance to say that it is not only a great honor, but it is just as if a soldier is put into the most important task, that you ask me to join in this common fight to make peace safer together, the two of us, and together with our partners.

Thank you very much.

I propose a toast, ladies and gentlemen, to the health of the President of the United States, to the health of Mrs. Nixon, to the future of what ties Europe and America together, and hence to the happiness of our peoples. To the President of the United States.

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

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