State Visit to Europe

Summer 1963
"There are some who say that Communism is the wave of the future. Let them come to Berlin." — President John F. Kennedy, Berlin, Germany, June 26, 1963

About the Exhibit

Ten days after announcing a potential breakthrough in American-Soviet efforts to negotiate a groundbreaking nuclear test ban treaty, President Kennedy departed for Europe with stops in West Germany, Ireland, Great Britain, and Italy. His speeches had been carefully crafted to reassure America's European allies of continued U.S. support against Soviet aggression, while avoiding any provocation that would upset the delicate negotiations with the Soviets. Highlights of this exhibit gallery include film footage, photographs, and artifacts from Ireland that bring President Kennedy's state visits to life.

JFK was not prepared for the overwhelmingly emotional reception he received in West Germany and West Berlin. Throughout his presidency, Kennedy had stayed true to his word to protect West Berlin, and during his visit there, he was hailed as a hero. On June 26, with throngs of cheering people lining the streets, the President toured the city in an open car during which he had his first view of the Berlin Wall. The adoration of the crowds and the desolation of the Wall - and those who lived on the other side - affected him visibly. The visit marked a high point of his presidency and his leadership on the world stage.

From West Germany, the President flew to Ireland. For four days, he traveled the country where he was hailed, honored, and feted, immersed in the historical and literary heritage of Ireland that had helped form him. On his departure, JFK said, "I want to thank you for a visit that has been one of the most moving experiences of my life."