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Toasts of the President and Former Chancellor Erhard of Germany

July 11, 1967

Dr. Erhard, distinguished guests:

It is always a pleasure to welcome old friends to Washington, but this is a very special day for us, to welcome Chancellor Erhard back to this house.

Dr. Erhard is known to the world as the architect of the German economic miracle, and the distinguished leader of a great nation at a very critical period in our history.

But to all Americans he is much more. He is an old and very trusted friend.

I am reminded of the words of George Eliot who wrote, "Friendships begin with liking or gratitude."

And even though our friendship began through official contact, it has evolved into the simple liking of one man for another.

It is a friendship that outlasts official position and special responsibilities, and one that will live as long as the men who hold it.

Mr. Chancellor, we are all indebted to Wartburg College and the University of Michigan for bringing you back to our shores. We all know that you richly deserve the honors that they are about to bestow.

We know that you will receive a warm welcome wherever you go. You are visiting a particularly interesting part of our country, one that I always enjoy.

Today, as so often in the past, you and I talked over the state of the world and we exchanged views on the major issues of the day.

I am grateful, as I have been many times before, for your wise counsel, and I am always strengthened by your understanding and your support.

In this room today from the Government, the executive department, the Congress, and from private life, men have come here who are your friends. They all join me in welcoming you back to America.

Gentlemen, I ask you to join me in a toast to the President of the Federal Republic of Germany.

Note: The President proposed the toast at 2:02 p.m. at a luncheon in the State Dining Room at the White House. As printed this item follows the text released by the White House Press Office.

Former Chancellor Ludwig Erhard responded as follows:

Mr. President, gentlemen:

I am very happy indeed to again be here in the United States, and in particular to be in this circle that I see around me.

I would like to emphasize that this friendship and these ties with you are genuine. They do not just spring from official positions and official contacts.
I want to emphasize that the roots are deep.

I have not fallen into a vacuum after leaving my office as Chancellor, and the convictions that I have held for 20 years, and longer, are just as much with me, and with me in my political activity today as they have been in the past. These I see reemphasized by the people that I see around me here. I saw them emphasized also yesterday when I met with the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.

The faces I have seen there and I am seeing here are not just old acquaintances; they are the faces of friends, the faces of people that share the same convictions. These are not just the diplomatic niceties that I am telling you, but it is a genuine expression of my feelings.

I was very glad to hear that the President expressed a similar thought, that it was not the official connection between us but that there are human ties that bind us together. I realize that there are many problems to be solved between the countries, that there are many problems that will require much further discussion.

Among them are, I believe, the question of the reduction of the military budget in the Federal Republic. Among them is definitely the current insecurity about the status and future of NATO.

How Europe will shape up in the future should be added to this list as a particular concern also.

I have always said in the past, and I am still saying so today, that in this modern world, no country, no matter how strong or how weak, can stand alone and can presume to decide its own destiny alone and on its own terms.

I believe if our countries stand together on the basis of that inner conviction, not together in order to plot something that would be beneficial for both of us, but stand together for the peace in the world and for the sake of freedom, I believe that then we need not have much concern about the future of Europe or the future of other countries.

I have always been convinced and I have always emphasized that in particular the friendship between our country and the United States--and I mean here not just the personal friendship between us, Mr. President, but the genuine friendship that exists between the people of the United States and the German people--will have to continue and will have to be the foundation for the future benefit of both countries.

This has been the case, this friendship has existed, since the very beginning of our meetings. I would be a bad German if I would have any desire but to see this friendship continue just as deeply and just as firmly under the present administration in my country. I believe that this will be the case.

I will always, during my trip in this country, do everything in my power to emphasize the necessity of cooperation between our two countries. I hope that my visit here will be able to make a small contribution towards this end.

I always have held the conviction, and I have stated this quite often, that the basis of what has developed positively in Europe has very much been found not so much in other events as in the Marshall Plan for one thing, which was the big stimulating factor that has sustained Europe and that has brought us in the direction of European unity. European unity is what is necessary, what I firmly believe in, and everything in my power, in my present political surroundings, I will do in order to further this aim and to prevent dissension and disunity to take over in Europe.

The Marshall Plan has shown not just the political strategy but the genuine desire on the part of the American people to help another people attain life and freedom, to step across the shadows of the past, extending the hand of genuine friendship. This shall never be forgotten.

The Marshall Plan, then, and this policy of European unity, have been the factors that have been motivating everything that has moved in a positive direction. What has happened in between more or less have been alternative solutions that were dictated by the moment, but they will not alter the fact that without this spirit as represented by the Marshall Plan, as represented by the OECD, without this friendship and cooperation between our people real progress cannot be made.

I am very happy indeed, Mr. President, to be here again and to be your guest, and very grateful for your hospitality.

I would hope that the ties that have connected us in the past will continue in the future, despite the fact that I find myself in different surroundings now.

I can assure you that my personal affection and friendship for you are just as deep as ever.

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

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