Full Citation

  • Title Berlin crowds give Nixon hero's welcome
  • Author Barber, Stephen
  • Publication Title The Daily Telegraph
  • Collection The Daily Telegraph
  • Date Friday,  Feb. 28, 1969
  • Issue Number 35408
  • Page Number 25
  • Place of Publication London, England
  • Language English
  • Document Type Article
  • Publication Section News
  • Source Library Telegraph Media Group
  • Copyright Statement © Telegraph Media Group Limited.
Berlin crowds give Nixon herd's welcome By STEPHEN BARBER With the Nixon party in Rome and Berlin PRESIDENT NIXON scored a personal triumph yesterday, being given a hero's welcome by the people of West Berlin who turned out in huge numbers despite freezing grey weather, snow and slush to cheer him. He responded to their unexpectedly enthusiastic adulation —something that has eluded him in his own country during most of his political career—by strongly reiterating America's pledge to defend West Berlin's freedom. " One of the great symbols of the age is this city," he told thousands ot workers at the Siemens Electrical plant. " And what you do here is done for free men everywhere. Your courage in the face of deliberate and constant challenge fortifies the courage of all those who love liberty." Like President Kennedy, who enjoyed a similar ecstatic welcome under summer skies in 1963. Mr. Nixon praised the Berliners for their " steady fortitude in resisting remarkable pressures " by their " day-by-day bravery." " Unmistakable " proof He then echoed Mr. Kennedy's line—" Ich bin ein Berliner "—by saying that all free men were Berliners in spirit. He was careful to add, however, that he was not saying this " in any spirit of bravado or belligerence." His own presence in Berlin, hard on the heals of Mr. Wilson, g was also symbolic. " It is a way of demonstrating unmistakably our long-standing commitment to the people of West Berlin. '* Let there be no miscalculation: no unilateral move, no illegal act, no form of pressure from any source will shake the resolve of the Western Powers to defend their rightful status as protectors of the people of free Berlin," he said, amid frenzied applause. He hoped that in the new era of East-West negotiations which he hopes soon to open with Russia " a peaceful solution to the problem of a divided Germany " would be found. " When we say that we reject any unilateral alteration of the status quo in Berlin we do not mean that we consider the status quo to be satisfactory— far from it. Nobody benefits from a stalemate, least of all the people of Berlin." Fears unjustified A German commented that Mr. Nixon thus appears to share the views of Dr. Adenauer, the late German Chancellor, that the solution to the German problem would be found only through negotiations and detente. President Nixon's visit to West Berlin was undertaken only after considerable pondering at the White House. Some advisers were against it and there were many reports of serious pians by Leftwing student demonstrators and others to disrupt it. In the event, however, their fears were unjustified and as one American remarked with more than a little accuracy: " The President is safer in this city than he would be in any in America today. How he must wish these people could have voted for him last year." As Mr. Nixon's procession wound its way some 20 miles through the city, pausing at the Wall and at the Charlottenburg Palace where he signed the Mayor's golden book, the President horrified his Secret Service bodyguard by repeatedly jumping out of his Cadillac to shake hands. He stood on the bonnet of the car a half dozen times, eventually coaxing Dr. Kiesinger. the Chancellor, and Herr Brandt, Foreign Minister, to join him as he wav^d his arms over his head like a victorious boxer. His escorts must have been very worried for he often presented an easy mark for any sniper. He was in range of East Berlin on several occasions and his progress was watched with interest by border guards on the inter-zonal overhead railway,, some of them taking snaps with cameras. Paint thrown There was only one minor incident. As the cavalcade crossed the centre of the city, a group of anti-American students threw red, yeilow and blue paint "bombs" which burst on the sides of a poiice escort car and a photographers' lorry. One American cameraman was bruised on the head by a flying stone and required first aid. Nothing hit the car in which the President and Chancellor were riding. There were also a few scuffles between pro- and anti-American youngsters and a number of arrests made. The crowds obviously relished the visitor's fortitude. Mr. Nixon is not noted for seeking popular adulation, preferring, as he has said, to " earn people's respect." He did very well yesterday and even those who oppose him politically were ready to admit it. Observers who were present for both the Kennedy and Nixon visits to Berlin said yesterday that the mood was subtly different. The Berliners feel themselves to be embattled once again because of the row with East Germany over elections but there is also now an acceptance of the reality that America wants to negotiate with Russia in order to slow down the mutually ruinous trend to a new nuclear arms race. Permanency sought The President was delighted with his four hours in Berlin, American officials said last night in Rome, where he continues his European tour. The Americans want to find a way to a more permanent arrangement on the German problem, officials said. Mr. Nixon was not throwing down a challenge but rather letting the Russians know that he is willing to begin an era of negotiation instead of confrontation. As for his talks with the West German Government in Bonn, American officials said last night that Mr. Nixon felt they had been very successful. It is clear, however, that the discussions were more philosophical than concrete. President Nixon ackn vledging the cheering crowd as he stood on the boot of hi* his three-hour visit to West Berlin yesterday.