Tuesday, 26 June 2018

ich bin ein berliner

On the fifteenth anniversary of the start of the Berlin Airlift (previously) in response to the Soviet blockade of the West German exclave, on this day in 1963 US president John Fitzgerald Kennedy addressed an assembled crowd and the wider world from the portico of Rathaus Schöneberg, nearly two years after the Wall was built to stem mass-immigration from the East to the West.
Inviting Soviet officials to work with NATO allies rather than continue this tense stand-off and posturing, Kennedy intoned, “Two thousand years ago, the proudest boast was civis romanus sum. Today, in the world of freedom, the proudest boast is ‘Ich bin ein Berliner!’ …All free men, wherever they live, are citizens of Berlin, and therefore as a free man, I take pride in the words ‘Ich bin ein Berliner.’” Outside of the German Sprachraum, it seems quite baffling that there’s a misconception that it would have been understood that Kennedy was proclaiming himself a jelly doughnut—though the article is superfluous and the regionalism exists, Pfannkuchen is the term employed in the Berlin area. Kennedy’s speech is considered to be among the most powerful appeals of the Cold War and would go on the influence and inform many politicians to follow.