He also used classical Latin pronunciation of civis romanus sum , with the c pronounced [ k ] and the v as [ w ]. There is a widespread misconception outside German-speaking countries that the phrase was not used correctly and actually means "I'm a doughnut", referring to the Berliner doughnut. It has even been embellished into an urban legend, including equally incorrect claims about the audience laughing at this phrase. Initially governed in four sectors controlled by the four Allied powers United States, United Kingdom, France and the Soviet Union , tensions of the Cold War escalated until the Soviet forces implemented the Berlin Blockade , which the Western allies relieved with the dramatic airlift.
From , the border between East and West was closed everywhere but in Berlin. Hundreds of thousands of East Germans defected to the West via West Berlin, a labour drain that threatened East Germany with economic collapse. In , the East German government under Walter Ulbricht erected a barbed-wire barrier around West Berlin, officially called the antifaschistischer Schutzwall anti-fascist protective barrier.
The East German authorities argued that it was meant to prevent spies and agents of West Germany from crossing into the East. However, it was universally known as the Berlin Wall and its real purpose was to keep East German citizens from escaping to the West. Over a period of months the wall was rebuilt using concrete, and buildings were demolished to create a "death zone" in view of East German guards armed with machine guns.
The Wall closed the biggest loophole in the Iron Curtain, and Berlin went from being one of the easiest places to cross from East Europe to West Europe to being one of the most difficult. The West, including the U. Officially, Berlin was under joint occupation by the four allied powers, each with primary responsibility for a certain zone.
Kennedy's speech marked the first instance where the U. On July 25, , Kennedy insisted in a presidential address that the U. The Ich bin ein Berliner speech is in part derived from a speech Kennedy gave at a Civic Reception on May 4, , in New Orleans ; there also he used the phrase civis Romanus sum by saying "Two thousand years ago the proudest boast was to say, "I am a citizen of Rome.
CITIx60: Berlin (German Edition)
Anyone can say it. But Americans who serve today in West Berlin—your sons and brothers --[ Such transcriptions are also found in the third draft of the speech in Kennedy's own handwriting , from June The final typed version of the speech does not contain the transcriptions, which are added by hand by Kennedy himself. In practice sessions before the trip, Kennedy had run through a number of sentences, even paragraphs, to recite in German; in these sessions, he was helped by Margaret Plischke, a translator working for the US State Department; by Ted Sorensen , Kennedy's counsel and habitual speechwriter; and by an interpreter, Robert Lochner , who had grown up in Berlin.
It became clear quickly that the president did not have a gift for languages and was more likely to embarrass himself if he was to cite in German for any length.
But there are differing accounts on the origin of the phrase Ich bin ein Berliner. According to Daum, Kennedy was affected by seeing the Berlin Wall, so that he "falls back on the most memorable passage of his New Orleans speech given the year before, changing pride in being an American in being a Berliner. The crowd was estimated at , people.
He was followed by Konrad Adenauer, who spoke briefly and introduced the president. Kennedy was accompanied not by Robert Lochner, but by Heinz Weber of the Berlin mission; Weber translated the president's speech to the audience. Besides the typescript, Kennedy had a cue card on which he himself had written the phonetic spelling, and he surprised everyone by completely disregarding the speech, which had taken weeks to prepare.
Instead, he improvised: "He says more than he should, something different from what his advisers had recommended, and is more provocative than he had intended to be. The speech culminated with the second use in the speech of the Ich bin ein Berliner phrase: "Today, in the world of freedom, the proudest boast is Ich bin ein Berliner!
Weber translated this compliment also. According to Daum, after this first successful delivery, "Kennedy, who fiddles a bit with his suit jacket, is grinning like a boy who has just pulled off a coup. While the immediate response from the West German population was positive, the Soviet authorities were less pleased with the combative Lass sie nach Berlin kommen. Only two weeks before, Kennedy had spoken in a more conciliatory tone , speaking of "improving relations with the Soviet Union": in response to Kennedy's Berlin speech, Nikita Khrushchev, days later, remarked that "one would think that the speeches were made by two different Presidents.
Ronald Reagan would evoke both the sentiment and the legacy of Kennedy's speech 24 years later in his " Tear down this wall! Kennedy School and the John F. A large plaque dedicated to Kennedy is mounted on a column at the entrance of the building and the room above the entrance and overlooking the square is dedicated to Kennedy and his visit. The original manuscript of the speech is stored with the National Archives and Records Administration. There is a widespread belief that Kennedy made an embarrassing mistake by saying Ich bin ein Berliner.
By not leaving out the indefinite article "ein," he supposedly changed the meaning of the sentence from the intended "I am a citizen of Berlin" to "I am a Berliner " a Berliner being a type of German pastry, similar to a jelly doughnut , amusing Germans throughout the city. While the phrase "Ich bin ein Berliner" can be understood as having a double meaning, it is neither wrong to use it the way Kennedy did nor was it embarrassing.
A further part of the misconception is that the audience to his speech laughed at his supposed error. They actually cheered and applauded both times the phrase was used. They laughed and cheered a few seconds after the first use of the phrase when Kennedy joked with the interpreter: "I appreciate my interpreter translating my German. A reference to this misconception appears in Len Deighton 's spy novel Berlin Game , published in , which contains the following passage, spoken by Bernard Samson :.
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It was a joke. A Berliner is a doughnut. The day after President Kennedy made his famous proclamation, Berlin cartoonists had a field day with talking doughnuts. In Deighton's novel, Samson is an unreliable narrator , and his words cannot be taken at face value.
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However, The New York Times ' review of Deighton's novel appeared to treat Samson's remark as factual and added the detail that Kennedy's audience found his remark funny:. Here is where President Kennedy announced, Ich bin ein Berliner, and thereby amused the city's populace because in the local parlance a Berliner is a doughnut.
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Four years later, it found its way into a New York Times op-ed :. It's worth recalling, again, President John F. Clear explanations of natural written and spoken English. Word Lists. Choose your language.
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