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Ich Bin Berliner – Update for 2013 …

  • June 26th, 2013
  • Posted by EU Australia

Ich bin BerlinerRESIZE2Fifty years on, the American President Barack Obama quoted his predecessor JF Kennedy, at the Brandenburg Gate, 19.6.13 .

Brandenburg ObamaHe recalled the well-remembered words  – “I am a Berliner” –  as right for the time of the cold war conflict, facing the Berlin Wall; and stressed that Mr Kennedy had said more:

 “‘Let me ask you,’ he said to those Berliners, “let me ask you to lift your eyes beyond the dangers of today … to the day of peace with justice, beyond yourselves and ourselves to all mankind…’

 Brfandednburg JFK“His words are timeless because they call upon us to care more about things than just our own self-comfort, about our own city, about our own country. They demand that we embrace the common endeavour of all humanity.”

That was taken in Berlin as a pointer to what Barack Obama wanted.

The visit followed the meeting of the G8 leading economic powers, at Enniskillen in Northern Ireland, 17-18.6.13, where the heads of government discussed the crisis in Syria, taxation, and a host of issues extending to keeping foreign workers safe in zones prone to kidnap and assassination.

Going to Berlin could be seen as a wise gesture to the largest, richest and most powerful European ally.    

Mr Obama’s speech, sharing the platform with the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, was read most widely as a call for more involvement by Germany in the wider world community.

Brandenburg reaganThe change in historical circumstances had been symbolically marked by another Presidential declaration at the same place, in the California drawl of Ronald Reagan, 12 June 1987, calling on the reformist leader of the Soviet Union:

“Mr Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”

He had sensed a seismic shift that saw the fast-unravelling of communist rule in Eastern Europe, the Wall come down, 9.11.89, and Germany reunified in the framework of the Western side, the Federal Republic.

On the speech this time, by Barack Obama, the theme of the United States asking for more active partnership with Germany was articulated in a commentary from the German Marshall Plan in the United States – a research agency promoting collaboration between the US and Europe.

“The differences between U.S. and German approaches to the euro crisis, the Middle East, and other issues reflect Germany’s evolution into an autonomous and sovereign country, which is now the most powerful in Europe yet seems reluctant to assume the responsibilities that come with this power”, it said.

“The U.S.-Germany relationship is no longer a Eurocentric one, but part of a global partnership in a time when rising powers may reshape the world in ways that threaten Western values. Obama’s long list of challenges is global and his call was for a new relationship centred on economic strength and values rather than on military power.”



Top, handwritten speaking note by President Kennedy. Long debate over whether he used properly grammatical German ended up with general consensus that he had. See EUAustralia Online, ‘JFK didn’t say he was a donut’, 15.8.07.


The Guardian, Manchester, Barack Obama’s Berlin speech – full text, 20.6.13., (26.6.13).

Stephen Szabo, Obama’s Berlin Speech Delivered the Right Message, (Weblog), The German Marshall Plan in the United States, Washington, 25.6.13., (26.6.13).