Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
As Helmut Schmidt, the chancellor of West Germany, walked into the White House Wednesday night, a Marine Corps band struck up "Ode to Joy" from Beethoven's Ninth Symphony.
Schmidt, known as a hard-headed economist but certainly not as a bandleader, suddenly seized the baton from the startled conductor. Lt. Col. Jack Kline. Using very spartan gestures but obviously relishing the spotlight Schmidt finished the last measures of the music.
Standing beside the band. President and Mrs. Carter, who themselves only a few minutes before had danced alone in the foyer, looked delighted with their visitor's spontaneity.
The buoyant first moments of Wednesday's State Dinner at the White House for the Schmidt contrasted sharply with the withspread notion a few months ago that the two men would clash.
A German news magazine pictured Carter with Schmidt's head in a half nelson, then rumors of an idealogical rift circulated before the London economic summit last May. But when that meeting was over, the two leaders appeared to be friends.
In his toast Wednesday, President Carter traced the cordiality back to the time when Carter was governor of Georgia. "He took me in when I was not known," said Carter adding later in his remarks. "I have strengthened my own resolves knowing I can consult Helmut Schmidt about the growth of communism in other countries because he's wise and because he's been there I listen to him."
Later in the evening a news report that an American helicopter had been shot down over North Korea could have dampened the upbeat spirits, but it was kept from the guests. Zbigniew Brzezinski, the President's National Security Affairs adviser, pulled Press Secretary Jody Powell aside and both huddled by the edge of the South Portico steps. Powell looked preoccupied but waited until after the dinner to tell Carter.
Wednesday when the Schmidts arrived, Carter said, "There are no differences between us," but the United States and West Germany have recently squabbled over nuclear proliferation, especially West Germany's recent nuclear equipment sale to Brazil. Outside the White House Wednesday night, 12 members of the group called Potomac Alliance, all dressed in black robes and jeans, carried banners saying. "Stop Nuclear Exports," in both English and German.
All unpleasantries were left outside the gates. Within, the mood was festive highlighted by an after-dinner concert on the South Lawn of songs from "Carousel," Carter's favorite American musical. Also the air was heavy with the sweet aroma of crape myrtle, a flowering tree Hannelore Schmidt admired on her visit here last year. The White House had decorated the tables and every corner with the magenta-shaded buds.
Where last years state dinner for the Schmidt's given by the Fords, had a bevy of Hollywood types. Wednesday's was more businesslike, with a mix of German and American industrialists and high-ranking officials from both countries, including Secretary of State Cyrus Vance and his West Germany counterpart, HansDietrick Genscher.
For the truly American meal of glazed ham, corn pudding, green squash and lemon chiffon pie, the President and Schmidt sat with their wives and Sen. Sam Nunn (D-Ga.), Mayor Richard Hatcher of Gary, Ind., and Gary Williamson, who the President identified as "a Georgia-born friend and my first supporter in North Dakota."
Vice President Walter Mondale arrived late for the dinner and came directly to Carter's table to report that the Senate had retained funds for the neutron bomb in the public works appropriation bill. Later, when Schmidt proposed his toast. Mondale stood with the Germans and then quipped; "It must be the Fritz in me."
During his remarks Schmidt was applauded for his reference to human rights. "We have the common belief that the superiority of freedom of the individual can only prevail if the dignity of the individual and his or her civil rights, or as we call it in our constitution, basic rights, are protected."
After the dinner Brzezinski, who had shed his tuxedo jacket in the 90-degree heat on the South Lawn, said he didn't think the Schmidt visit had been overshadowed by continuing emphasis on U.S. Soviet relations and the anticipation of the visit of Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin next week. "This visit is very important," he said "because Europe is an important part of our primary policy and Germany is a constructive part of our policy."
For the steamy summer night with heat lighting flashing through the sky. "Carousel" was the perfect music. At that point Amy Carter joined the guests for the time, sitting next to her grandmother, Miss Lillian.
Composer Richard Rodgers, 75, cried as the performers from the Metropolitan Opera Company sang "You'll Never Walker Alone." As he made his way slowly to the stage to join the Carters, Rodgers received a standing ovation.
After the guests departed about 11:30 p.m., the President and Chancellor Schmidt went back inside the White House for private talks.