Digitized Photographs from President John F. Kennedy’s Trip to Germany

(A version of this post was published on our previous blog on 12/17/2016.)

By Laura Kintz, Archivist for Photographic and Textual Digitization

For those interested in President Kennedy’s trip to Germany in June of 1963, we are pleased to say that all White House Photographs documenting that visit are available online.

These photographs, covering June 23 to June 26, 1963, document President Kennedy’s only official trip to what was then a divided Germany. He spent four days in West Germany, also known as the Federal Republic of Germany, inaugurating a 10-day trip to Europe that also included visits to Ireland, England, and Italy. During those four days, the President visited several cities and towns, including Bonn, Cologne, Hanau, Frankfurt, and West Berlin. He delivered remarks, met with government officials, signed cities’ “Golden Books” for distinguished guests, visited with U.S. Embassy employees and members of the U.S. military, and greeted German well-wishers. Occurring during a contentious time in Germany’s history, President Kennedy’s visit represented the United States’ commitment to supporting West Germany and its leaders, including Chancellor Konrad Adenauer and President Heinrich Lübke.

JFKWHP-KN-C29231. 23 June 1963
President John F. Kennedy Arrives at Wahn Airport in Bonn, Germany. Chancellor of West Germany, Konrad Adenauer, stands right of President Kennedy.
JFKWHP-ST-C230-33-63. 23 June 1963
President John F. Kennedy’s Motorcade in Cologne, Germany.
JFKWHP-KN-C29295. 23 June 1963
President John F. Kennedy Speaks at Old City Hall in Bonn, Germany.
JFKWHP-KN-C29312. 24 June 1963
President John F. Kennedy with President of West Germany, Dr. Heinrich Lübke, at Villa Hammerschmidt in Bonn, Germany.
JFKWHP-ST-C230-42-63. 25 June 1963
President John F. Kennedy at City Hall in Frankfurt, Germany.

Among President Kennedy’s numerous speeches in Germany was one given at the signing of the charter for the German Development Service, an organization equivalent to the Peace Corps. The President’s sister Eunice Kennedy Shriver and Secretary-General of the International Peace Corps, Richard Goodwin, were also present at the ceremony.

JFKWHP-ST-C230-41-63. 24 June 1963
President John F. Kennedy Speaks at Signing of Charter Establishing German Development Service in Bonn, Germany. Secretary-General of the International Peace Corps, Richard Goodwin, stands near center right.
JFKWHP-KN-C29301. 24 June 1963
President John F. Kennedy at Signing of Charter Establishing German Development Service in Bonn, Germany. Eunice Kennedy Shriver stands at center, wearing yellow.

President Kennedy also took the time to visit American troops stationed at Fliegerhorst Kaserne, a military base in the town of Hanau. He viewed military displays and had lunch in the mess hall, where military cooks presented him with a cake in the shape of PT-109, the boat that the President commanded during World War II.

JFKWHP-KN-C29255. 25 June 1963
President John F. Kennedy Inspects Military Troops and Equipment at Fliegerhorst Kaserne in Hanau, Germany.
JFKWHP-ST-C230-28-63. 25 June 1963
President John F. Kennedy Inspects Military Troops and Equipment at Fliegerhorst Kaserne in Hanau, Germany.
JFKWHP-KN-C29386. 25 June 1963
PT-109 Cake to Commemorate President John F. Kennedy’s Visit to Fliegerhorst Kaserne in Hanau, Germany.

Of significance during President Kennedy’s trip to Germany were his remarks delivered at Rudolph Wilde Platz outside West Berlin’s city hall, Rathaus Schöneberg, on June 26. In this speech, the President famously declared, “Ich bin ein Berliner,” or “I am a Berliner.” One photograph from this event was previously cataloged, but newly-available photos provide different vantage points of the large crowds who gathered for the occasion.

JFKWHP-ST-C230-17-63. 26 June 1963
President John F. Kennedy at Rudolph Wilde Platz in Berlin, Germany.
JFKWHP-KN-C29217. 26 June 1963
Crowds Gather for President John F. Kennedy’s Address at Rudolph Wilde Platz in Berlin, Germany.

West Berlin was not the only site where crowds converged to see President Kennedy. The entire trip was characterized by throngs of people who took to the streets and plazas of West Germany to see the President, either as his motorcade passed by or as he delivered remarks. These photographs provide evidence of the sheer volume of people who gathered for the President’s visit.

JFKWHP-ST-C230-15-63. 23 June 1963
President John F. Kennedy Speaks at City Hall in Cologne, Germany.
JFKWHP-ST-C231-19-63. 1963
President John F. Kennedy’s Motorcade in Frankfurt, Germany.
JFKWHP-KN-C29246. 26 June 1963
Crowds Gather for President John F. Kennedy’s Address at Free University in Berlin, Germany.

One notable result of cataloging these photographs was that metadata catalogers were able to identify numerous people who had previously been unidentified in the White House Photographs collection. Using both textual and audiovisual resources within the Kennedy Library’s collections, as well as contemporary newspaper accounts, Ancestry.com, and other resources, we were able to add 19 names to the Kennedy Library’s database of personal name browsing terms. Among them are: Director of Radio in the American Sector (RIAS) in Berlin, Robert Lochner, who served as President Kennedy’s translator for much of the trip; several members of the United States Armed Forces who were stationed in Germany, including Commander in Chief of the U.S. Army in Europe, General Paul L. Freeman, Jr., Commander in Chief of U.S. Air Forces in Europe, General Truman H. Landon and U.S. Army in Europe Project Officer, Colonel Frank Meszar; and Rector of Free University in Berlin, Ernst Heinitz, who conferred an honorary citizenship award upon the President on his last day in Germany.

JFKWHP-KN-C29242. 23 June 1963
President John F. Kennedy Speaks at City Hall in Cologne, Germany. Director of Radio in the American Sector (RIAS) in Berlin and translator for President Kennedy, Robert Lochner, stands on platform at right.
JFKWHP-ST-C230-8-63. 25 June 1963
President John F. Kennedy Inspects Military Troops and Equipment at Fliegerhorst Kaserne in Hanau, Germany. General Truman H. Landon and General Paul L. Freeman, Jr., stand right of President Kennedy. Colonel Frank Meszar stands in background at center (face partially obscured).
JFKWHP-KN-C29292. 26 June 1963
President John F. Kennedy at Free University in Berlin, Germany. President Kennedy receives an honorary citizenship award from University Rector, Ernst Heinitz.

President Kennedy’s trip to Germany represented a significant diplomatic venture of his presidency. The photographs from the trip, long available for viewing onsite at the Kennedy Library, may now be found by online users all over the world. In addition to the inclusion of browsing terms for individual people, other terms have been added to the photographs to aid in searching for specific subjects, places, and organizations. The images offer insight into President Kennedy’s travels to a much broader audience as a result.

Browse all photos from President Kennedy’s trip to Germany:

Germany, Bonn: Arrival, Konrad Adenauer, Chancellor of West Germany pictured

Germany, Cologne: Kölner Rathaus (City Hall)

Germany, Cologne: Motorcade, Cathedral

Germany, Bonn: City Hall, ceremonies and remarks

Germany, Bonn: Address at the American Community Theater before the American Embassy staff

Germany, Bonn: Villa Hammerschmidt, Peace Corps Ceremony

Germany, Bonn: President Kennedy gives a press conference

Germany, Bonn: President Kennedy with Heinrich Lübke

Germany, Bad Godesburg, U.S. Ambassador’s Residence: President Kennedy signs Golden Book

Germany, Hanau: Arrival at Fliegerhorst Kaserne, address, and inspection of troops and equipment

Germany, Hanau: President Kennedy has lunch with U.S. enlisted troops and their officers at Fliegerhorst Kaserne

Germany, Hanau: Departure from Fliegerhorst Kaserne

Germany, Frankfurt: Frankfurt Rathaus

Germany, Frankfurt: President Kennedy gives address in Roemerberg Square

Germany, Frankfurt: President Kennedy at Paulskirche

Germany, West Berlin: President Kennedy arrives at Tegel Airport

Germany, West Berlin, President Kennedy views the Berlin Wall at the Brandenburg Gate

Germany, West Berlin: President Kennedy at Checkpoint Charlie

Germany, West Berlin: President Kennedy addresses crowd at Rathaus Schöneberg

Germany, West Berlin: President Kennedy in motorcade with Willy Brandt, Mayor of West Berlin and Konrad Adenauer, Chancellor of West Germany

Germany, West Berlin: President Kennedy addresses Free University

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.