Document 26. Memorandum of Conversation (1)

Washington, June 4, 1965, 12:30 p.m.

SUBJECT
Viet-Nam

PARTICIPANTS

US
The President
Harry Obst--Interpreter

German Chancellor Erhard
Herman Kusterer--Interpreter

The President asked the Chancellor about the attitude of the German people with regard to South Viet-Nam. Did they understand what was going on there or was it for them just a faraway country?

The Chancellor replied that, although not everybody was concerned with it, Viet-Nam was important to most Germans because they regarded it as a kind of testing ground as to how firmly the US honors its commitments. In that respect there existed a parallel between Saigon and Berlin. He assured the President of his sympathies and understanding and stressed that the Federal Republic would always work closely together with the US and stand by it on these problems.

The President thanked the Chancellor for his understanding attitude. He observed that the US had serious commitments under the SEATO Pact and other treaties, and that it would raise serious doubts in other parts of the world if the US did not stand by its commitments in SE Asia. He told the Chancellor he could go home and tell his people that the US would firmly stand by its commitments.

Ludwig Erhard, chancellor of West Germany, visits President Johnson at his ranch in December, 1963. Photograph by Yoichi R. Okamoto, courtesy Lyndon Baines Johnson Library
Ludwig Erhard, chancellor of West Germany, visits President Johnson at his ranch in December, 1963. Photograph by Yoichi R. Okamoto, courtesy Lyndon Baines Johnson Library.

Footnotes:

(1) Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 27 VIET S. Secret. Drafted by Harry Obst of the Office of Operations/Language Services Division and Robert Kent of EUR/GER and approved in the White House on June 29. The meeting was held in the President's Office.

Copyright Digital History 2016