Römerberg Frankfurt

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Rede auf dem Frankfurter Römerberg

(Frankfurt, 25. Juni 1963)

Mr. Mayor, President-Minister, Minister Erhard, ladies and gentlemen:

Coming as I do from the oldest major city in the United States, I am proud to come to this city. I drove from Hanau to Frankfurt. All along the way the Minister-President pointed out those people along the street who belong to the SPD, while Minister Erhard pointed out all those who belonged to the CDU. Even though I have been here for almost 3 days, I am yet unable to make the distinction or see the difference. In any case, I see friends.

I was in this city in 1948. I therefore have some idea what the people of this city have done to rebuild Frankfurt so it is now a vital place in a free Germany. There is an old saying that only in winter can you tell which trees are evergreen. I think the people of this city have proved not only their character and their courage, but also their commitment to freedom and opportunity to live together with their fellow Germans in a free and peaceful society.

People from Europe came to my country for three reasons: either because of famine and a denial of opportunity, or because of their desire for religious freedom, or because of their desire for political freedom. It was mostly the citizens of Germany and of Frankfurt who came to our country because of their desire in the mid-19th century for political freedom, and therefore they have been among the most independent, the most responsible, and the most progressive of our citizens. Today in our far-off country of the United States, in 20 States of the Union, there are cities with the name of Frankfurt which were founded by citizens of this city who carried with them to the new world the strong commitment to freedom of this city and the old.

Political leaders come and go. What I hope remains between the United States and Germany is not only a strong feeling of sympathy and friendship, but also a recognition in this great struggle in which we now exist, this great struggle to which we have devoted our lives: the struggle to maintain freedom and expand it throughout the world. It is my hope that this country and my own will work in partnership and harmony in the years ahead. That is the best insurance for not only our survival, not only the peace of the world, but also for the maintenance of that commitment to freedom which I think gives hope of having it spread throughout the globe.

Abraham Lincoln, in the dark days before the Civil War in my own country, said, "I know there is a God. I see a storm coming. If he has a part and a place for me, then I am ready." No one can tell in the future whether there is a storm coming for all of us, but what we can be sure of is that no matter what happens, we believe in God and we are ready.
Thank you very much. Danke schön. ♦

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Peter W. Klages