Speeches Masterpieces from ArtTalkers / John F. Kennedy, Ich bin ein Berliner

John F. Kennedy, “Ich bin ein Berliner”

The speech was composed and delivered long time ago, back in 1963

This time, we draw our attention to a prominent orator of past days. Five months before his murder, US President John Kennedy was talking to 450,000 citizens of Western part of Berlin on 26th of June, 1963. During that time, Soviets were finishing construction of a wall,  3.6 meters  high,  dividing  the city  physically, and  thus  preventing citizens of East Germany fleeing to the Western part of the country. John Kennedy  came to voice support of US to the Federal Republic of Germany.

This speech could be a good example how the speech, delivered once,  can  develop  into a new piece  later.  The phrase “Ich bin ein Berliner”, which is the same as “I am a citizen of Berlin”, stems from one of the previous speeches done by Kennedy a year before in New Orleans, when he expressed pride of being a “citizen of United States”.

Things to notice:
– Kennedy is static, so the essence of his speech is in words (the 4th project, which helps to learn how you should say your speech);
– Kennedy extensively uses anaphora – repetition of phrase “Let them come to Berlin” to stress his point. The same tool, used later by Martin Luther King in his “I have a Dream” speech;
– Kennedy  even tried to say  “Lass’ sie nach Berlin kommen”, to show  that  he is close to Berlin citizen, triggering feelings of trust among the public;
– He talks about everybody’s pain – divided families, friends and a nation;
– He doesn’t mention that the leaders of German  nation  two decades before  wanted to enslave all the Europe around.

Funny case – translation problems
John Kennedy said “Ich bin ein Berliner” with an indefinite article “ein”, which automatically meant non-Berlin citizen,  but  a  jelly  doughnut  (ein  Berliner  =  jelly  doughnut,  Berliner  = citizen  of Berlin).  The  negligence  of interpreters, who helped Kennedy to prepare his speech, gave birth to plenty of jokes and caricatures.

You can see the speech itself here:

Word to learn:
– To besiege – осаждать, окружать;

Kind regards, Roman Topolyuk,
President of ArtTalkers Toastmasters Club