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West Berlin


  • Originally published 06/27/2013

    Indelible memory of Kennedy's speech in Berlin

    A pair of slippers awaits visitors at the entrance of a cozy two-room apartment in Berlin's Westend district -- the kind one might expect in one of Berlin's many old palaces and villas. But those looking for any valuable antiques here will be disappointed. Instead, every inch of wall space is covered with old photographs. The centerpiece of the collection is a black-and-white shot of John F. Kennedy waving from an open limousine.The day Werner Eckert took the snapshot is still vividly engrained in his mind. It was one of the most influential events of the 81 year old's life. On June 26, 1963, the 35th American president came to visit West Berlin in a demonstration of solidarity with the people living in the divided city."There was never anyone like Kennedy before," Eckert says, recalling the visit. "You had a feeling you could immediately become friends with him. He may have been the most powerful man in the world, but his charisma immediately made you lose any reservations."...

  • Originally published 06/26/2013

    Ted Widmer: Ich Bin Ein Berliner

    Ted Widmer is assistant to the president for special projects at Brown University. He recently edited “Listening In: The Secret White House Recordings of John F. Kennedy.”The last of John F. Kennedy’s extraordinary troika of speeches in June 1963 occurred on this day, 50 years ago.With each, he broke new ground. On June 10, at American University in Washington, he sketched a vision of coexistence with the Soviet Union, strikingly at odds with the more bellicose messages of 1961 and 1962. On June 11, in a televised address, he endorsed the civil rights movement and promised a bill, far in advance of what any president had done, and in advance of where he himself was a few months earlier.On June 26 he came to Berlin, on one of the most frenzied days in the history of the Cold War. A huge crowd — estimated at 1.1 million, or 58 percent of Berlin’s population — came out to see him.