Tuesday, June 25, 2013


June 25, 2013


Wiesbaden, Germany (JFK+50) President John F. Kennedy concluded remarks at a reception held in the Kurhaus in Wiesbaden*, West Germany 50 years ago today, June 25, 1963, by saying...

"When I leave the office of the White House, whenever that may be, I am going to leave an envelope in the desk for my successor.  And it will say, 'To be opened only in saddest moments.'

So it will have only the words written, 'Go visit Germany.'"

                            The Kurhaus
                   Wiesbaden, Germany
        Photo by Benjamin Dahlhoff (2011)

*The Kurhaus is the spa house and convention center in Wiesbaden, the capital of Hesse, Germany.  The building, designed by Friedrich von Thiersch was built 1905-1907 and dedicated by Kaiser Wilhelm II.

Earlier in the day, JFK made an appearance at City Hall in Frankfurt where he was presented with a letter written by Major Andrew Jackson Donelson** dated August 15, 1848.

After signing the Golden Book, President Kennedy spoke at the Romer***.  He told his audience that he last visited Frankfurt in 1948.  

JFK said that the people of the city "have proved their courage (and) commitment to freedom."

**Andrew Jackson Donelson (1799-1871) was born in Nashville, Tennessee and moved to the Hermitage at the age of 5 to live with his aunt Rachel and uncle Andrew Jackson.

AJD was a graduate of West Point and served in the Seminole Indian Wars with Major General Jackson.  He was envoy to the revolutionary government in Frankfurt, Germany in 1848 and candidate for Vice-President of the United States on the American Party ticket in 1856.

***The Romer is a medieval building known as one of the most important landmarks in Frankfurt.  It has served as city hall for 600 years.  The complex includes 9 houses and 6 courtyards.

               The Romer's eastern facade
                  Photo by Mylius (2007)

Then the President spoke in Assembly Hall at the Paulskirche****where he said...

"No other building in Germany deserves more the title of 'cradle of German democracy.'"

JFK continued...

"We are partners for peace.  Our goals are the same:  peace and freedom for all men, for all time, in a world of abundance, in a world of justice.

We must seek a world of peace...where peace incentive to the creative energies of humanity."

****The National Assembly met at St. Paul's Church Assembly Hall, or the Paulskirche," in 1848 to create a German constitution and to achieve German unification.

        Frankfurt National Assembly
Painting by Ludwig von Elliott (1848)