Quote of the Moment: John Kennedy, June 26, 1963 (Encore Post)


Rare color photograph of President John Kennedy addressing a crowd in the then-divided city of Berlin, June 26, 1963

Rare color photograph of President John Kennedy addressing a crowd in the then-divided city of Berlin, June 26, 1963

From the Smithsonian Magazine site:

June 26, 1963: “Ich bin ein Berliner”

In West Berlin, President John F. Kennedy delivers the famous speech in which he declares, “Ich bin ein Berliner.” Meaning literally “I am a citizen of Berlin,” the statement shows U.S. solidarity with democratic West Berlin, surrounded by communist territory.

View a video of President Kennedy’s speech at American Rhetoric, Top 100 Speeches.

Photo of President Kennedy addressing Berlin’s citizens, photographer unidentified; from American Rhetoric site.

[end of encore post]

Kennedy’s entire speech was good. It was well drafted and well delivered, taking advantage of the dramatic setting and the dramatic moment. John Kennedy well understood how to give a speech, too.

Below is most of the speech, nearly five minutes’ worth, from a YouTube file — another indication that schools need to open up their filters to allow at least some of the best YouTube material through:

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6 Responses to Quote of the Moment: John Kennedy, June 26, 1963 (Encore Post)

  1. [...] Quote of the moment: John Kennedy, June 26, 1963 [...]

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  2. Onkel Bob says:

    Hannah and Toby, imagine if this was held in Frankurt, (am Main or an der Oder) Ich bin ein Frankfurter…

    Ich bin aus… order Ich bin… are the proper statements.
    I am from… I ama citizen of

    It’s not an uncommon error for second language spekers. German has those weird declinations. Consider:
    Ich gibt dir meinem bier – I give to you my beer
    du hast mein bier getrankt – You drank my beer
    wo sind mein bier – Where is my beer

    all have different tenses on “das bier.” If the second one was who drank my beer, it would be “wer hat meines bier getrankt”

    As for the Germans not being cynical it’s true. But a cynic as the late George Carlin pointed out would say well people are dying in our Pintos, but the cost of litigation is cheaper than re-engineering so lets keep selling them. They were simply having fun, and I never met a German that didn’t find humor in that famous mis-spoken quote. They understood what he wanted to say, as well as what he said.

    Mind you, they had a blast with Reagan and his greeting to Chancellor Kohl. I can’t recall the whole exchange but ol’ RR called Herr Kohl, Harr Kohl, or fuzzy cabbage in Koln dialect. It was fodder for the radio for weeks.

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  3. HannahJ says:

    Toby, I’ve heard about that too (and I’m about 80% German, so I should be ashamed if I didn’t know!); there are definitely some instances where the presence or absence of an article (“ein” = “a” usually) makes much difference. Normally (quirkily), to say “I am a Berliner,” for example, one would, for whatever reason, leave off the article and say “Ich bin Berliner.”

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  4. Ed Darrell says:

    Yes, I love that story, both for the “rest of the story” quality, and for the way it shows people understand what is meant and aren’t as cynical as many claim. I discussed it in another post — feel free to go comment!
    http://timpanogos.wordpress.com/2006/08/13/berlin-walls-45th/

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  5. toby says:

    There is an anecdote that a “Berliner” is a name for a doughnut and the Germans thought he was comparing himself to a popular breakfast treat.

    However, I have it on good authority from Berliners who were there that they had absolutely no doubt what Kennedy meant.

    This may have been Kennedy’s greatest speech, and meant much more at the time than Reagan’s “Tear down this wall” effort. Despite some debunking of Kennedy’s reputation, Germans (especially Berliners) still remember him with great affection.

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  6. [...] speech making a stand, drawing if you will a line in the sand … which the left refuses to do today oddly [...]

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