On June 26 Everyone In The World Is Ein Berliner
Filed in Politics
The date of June 26, 1963 may not be a day that stays in the mind of many people these days. However, for those living in West Berlin at the time, this marked the day that everyone in the world was with them in mind and spirit. This was the date when the US President John Fitzgerald Kennedy stood in front of the City Hall and spoke these words: “Ich bin ein Berliner.”
Let’s go back a bit before this speech to see why it resonated so much with the citizens of Berlin.
Twenty-two months before this famous visit, one of the monstrosities of modern time was erected in the city of Berlin. This was, of course, the reviled Berlin Wall, which divided the city as well as families and friends by a huge block of concrete and barbed wire.
Berlin, for those who haven’t yet visited our lovely country, was situated in the middle of former East Germany, which was under the power of the Soviet Union.
As occupied Berlin was split into four zones, those who lived within the Soviet area soon found that the repressive nature of the Soviet Union was working its way into their beloved city. And so, they began to flee into the western half of the city.
Naturally, the USSR did not appreciate this drain on their population and built the Wall to prevent such freedom of movement. However, they claimed that the Western part of Germany had not yet been properly “de-Nazified” and that the Wall was really for the protection of East German citizens. They called it the “Anti-Fascist Protection Rampart.”
Meanwhile, citizens living in West Berlin felt like they were surrounded by the enemy, who was hoping to take control of the rest of Berlin and fully incorporate it into East Germany.
And so, we can imagine the feeling of these West Berliners when the US President reminded them that they were not alone, and that they were not forgotten.
This speech is regarded as one of Kennedy’s best and is still well-remembered in the United States and around the world to this day. The famous words were repeated twice as the President said:
“Two thousand years ago the proudest boast was civis Romanus sum [I am a Roman citizen]. Today, in the world of freedom, the proudest boast is ‘Ich bin ein Berliner!’… All free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Berlin, and, therefore, as a free man, I take pride in the words ‘Ich bin ein Berliner!'”
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