TODAY IN HISTORY: Ich bin ein Berliner (June 26, 1963)
On June 26, 1963, US President John F. Kennedy stood in West Berlin. The Communist government of East Germany had recently erected the Berlin Wall, a barrier to free movement between the East and Western sectors of the city. The President said, in part: Two thousand years ago the proudest boast was civis romanus sum [I am a Roman citizen]. Today, in the world of freedom, the proudest boast is ‘Ich bin ein Berliner‘… All free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Berlin, and, therefore, as a free man, I take pride in the words ‘Ich bin ein Berliner!‘ The speech was warmly received and remains one of Kennedy’s most famous. Urban legend suggests that a grammatical error translated Kennedy’s German into a phrase approximating “I am a jelly doughnut” (“Berliner“) an interpretation largely discounted in Germany.