Ich bin ein Berliner!

John F Kennedy Visits The Brandenburg GateOn the 26th June 1963, John F Kennedy made one of the most important speeches of the Cold War - perhaps one of the most famous speeches of history. A 120,000 strong crowd of Berliners gathered in front of the Schoneberg Rathaus to hear Kennedy deliver what was to be a huge boost for West German morale following the recent building of the Berlin Wall. It also communicated to the Soviet Union that the Allies would not be driven out of West Berlin. Read more to see the full text of the speech, and to hear an mp3 recording of this turning point in the Cold War. We've also managed to find some images of the cue cards JFK used whilst delivering his iconic address.

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The Berlin Wall 1961 – 1989: Personal Reflections

Sunday August 13th 1961

Aged 17 and on an exchange visit to Hamburg prior to returning to school for my A Level year, I was awoken early on Sunday 13th August 1961 by Herr Kansdorf, the father of my exchange partner Gerhardt, stating incredulously time and time again, “Berlin abgesperrt, Berlin abgesperrt….” (Berlin barricaded). He had been listening to his local radio station which conveyed the news that in the preceding night, East German frontier guards, in an attempt to stem the flow of would-be migrants to the West had erected barbed wire and concrete barricades. My thoughts went immediately to another family I had met two years previously in another part of Germany. There I had met a member of the family from Magdeburg (formerly in the “Ostzone”), allowed briefly in to the West on compassionate grounds to visit his ailing elderly mother and who had been planning for the day when the whole family might  be re-united in the West. What would happen to that family now?

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