Monday, October 4, 2010

Kennedy's "Ich bin ein Berliner" Speech

On June 26, 1963 President John F. Kennedy traveled to West Berlin and gave a speech in Rudolph Wilde Platz before two hundred thousand citizens as shown in figure 1. This speech came at a time when West Berlin was facing the Cold War battle against the Berlin Wall and a divided Germany. The Berlin Wall had recently been constructed and West Berlin was under democratic rule while East Berlin was under communism. Berliners were fighting to get away from the communist views oppressing them and to reunite their country and families. Kennedy's speech addressed via radio and television the people of Berlin. President Kennedy gave his "Ich bin ein Berliner" speech hoping to raise the morale by showing America’s support of the West Berliners and to motivate the world to take notice of what is happening in other countries and form a united front against communism.Fig. 1. John F. Kennedy:Ich bin ein Berliner 1963 Book On eBAY. Rose, Matthew; Store Front Windows; 2008; Photograph

Kennedy addresses the Berlin people as his primary audience with "I am proud to come to this city as the guest of your distinguished Mayor, who has symbolized throughout the world the fighting spirit of West Berlin." He uses this phrasing to give encouraging words to the people of Berlin and motivate them to keep up their fighting spirit. Later in his speech Kennedy points out that he knows of no other country that was besieged for eighteen years and still has the livelihood and hope that Berlin does and that because of this ability to persevere they deserve their freedom. The main point picked up on in Kennedy’s speech is the phrase “Ich bin ein Berliner” which translates to “I am a Berliner.” He uses this phrase a number of times to relate to Berliners by using their own language and by saying that it is the proudest boast. He also claims that as a free man he is proud to use this phrase, showing that free men should be proud of Berlin and be aware that one day they will join the United States in its freedom. Kennedy speaks as if he is carrying on a conversation with the Berlin people, encouraging them and addressing them as people, not as just as audience but as individuals who are worth something. When he spoke it is said that he spoke so boldly and loudly that he could be heard over the Berlin wall.

The "Ich bin ein Berliner speech also was used to motivate the world to take notice of other countries problems and form a united front. He states many things that other countries think they know about Berlin such as: what are the issue between communists and the free world, communism is the wave of the future, communism can be worked with and that communism permits economic progress. Then Kennedy proposed that if people are so sure of what they know then “lass' sie nach Berlin kommen” or “let them come to Berlin.” By saying this he is challenging the public to get involved with other countries affairs. He also compares Berlin to the United States saying that the U.S. never had to put a wall up to keep people in or from leaving. This helped Americans feel empathy towards Berlin and made them want to take action. Kennedy also stresses as a final point that “freedom is indivisible, and when one man is enslaved, all are not free.” He continues on about how if everyone worked together to fight communism everyone could look forward to a future peaceful and hopeful globe. By Kennedy stating this he tries to find ties between the Berliners and Americans so that they will want to unite and help each other so the truth about communism could be revealed.

"Ich bin ein Berliner" is a successful speech. Kennedy is able to motivate the people of Berlin to keep up their lively spirits by learning some of the German language and showing America's support. He also sparked interest in other countries to end communism and become allies. His speech was met with cheers after every line spoken. This speech helped combat communism and keep Berlins hopes alive until the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

Work Cited

"American Rhetoric: John F. Kennedy - Ich bin ein Berliner ("I am a Berliner") (6-26-63)." American Rhetoric: The Power of Oratory in the United States. .Web. 4 Oct. 2010.

Works Consulted

Termine, Jordan. "On This Day: President Kennedy Declares “Ich bin ein Berliner.” Finding Dulcinea. 26 June 2010. Web. 1 Oct 2010.