Tuesday, October 5, 2010

John F. Kennedy: Ich bin ein Berliner

Fig. 1. 19 May 2008 (The Times).

"Let them come to Berlin." This famous line used in John F. Kennedy's speech to West Berlin, in 1963, is a response to those that believe that communism and democracy can coexist in the world. However, West Berlin is direct proof that the chance for freedom can and will win out over communism, as it is impossible for the two to manage together peacefully in the world. Berlin demonstrated this notion during the Berlin Crisis. The communistic country of the Soviet Union tried to starve the American sector of Berlin into becoming communists by disallowing food and supplies to reach Berlin. America then proceeded to airlift supplies to West Berlin. Although the West Berliners were skeptical of America's intentions at first, the chance for freedom became more important than food or supplies. John F. Kennedy's speech delivered to West Berlin not only commemorated the Berliners on their fight over communism but also inspired his audience to put an end to communism in all parts of the world. Kennedy's passionate tone and his ability to connect with his audience influenced the Berliners and nations to hope for a free world without the constraints of communism.

Kennedy successfully captures the attention of his audience in his first paragraph by the use of words such as: "proud," "distinguished," "fighting spirit," "democracy," "freedom," and "progress." These words automatically instill the feeling of honor among the Berliners. Kennedy is able to demonstrate his respectful stance towards the Berliners through these strong words. Kennedy also reaches his audience by the phrase, "…to come here in the company of my fellow American, General Clay, who has been in this city during its great moments of crisis and will come again if ever needed." General Clay had been the administrator in Germany during the Berlin Crisis and helped to make the Berlin Airlift possible while encouraging Berlin's fight for democracy. Kennedy was successful in connecting with his audience through the mention of Clay because most of his audience lived during the Berlin Airlift and think very highly of Clay and his role in Berlin's deliverance. As a result of these techniques, the Berliners received Kennedy and his ideas about communism and democracy much more readily.

Kennedy's response, "Let them come to Berlin," to different communist theories about society demonstrates his passionate and inspirational tone. By this phrase, he commemorates West Berlin on its achievement over thwarting communism. Kennedy's purpose during this part of his speech is to inspire other countries to fight communism. For those that doubt a world without communism, they need only to come to Berlin to witness the effects of communism and the power of democratic spirits.

Towards the end of his speech, Kennedy connects Berlin's situation to the situation of the rest of the world. He highlights Berlin as a prime example of a city currently divided by the oppressions of communism, by a wall dividing the East and West divisions, but argues that Berlin and the rest of the world should not give up hope for a free world. His passionate tone fills reader and listener alike with feelings of freedom and the need to change the world for the better, to rid the world of communism.

John F. Kennedy's speech, Ich bin ein Berliner, successfully inspires the audience to embrace democracy to its fullest. To beat communism would be the greatest achievement of all for the world, but to be a Berliner is to be the model for the free world.

Work Cited

Kennedy, John Fitzgerald. "Ich bin ein Berliner." West Berlin, Germany. 26 June
1963. American Rhetoric. Web. 1 Oct. 2010.

Work Consulted

Cherny, Andrei. The Candy Bombers: the Untold Story of the Berlin Airlift and America's Finest Hour." New York: Penguin Group, 2008. Print.