Analysis 'Ich Bin Ein Berliner'

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Spoken and Written English Discourse

Speech: ‘Ich bin ein Berliner’
John F. Kennedy

Name: Maaike Wittebrood
Class: 2ME-2B
Student number: 112418
Lecturer: Anita Maessen


The author of the speech is John F. Kennedy. He was in 1963 the president of the United States of America. John F. Kennedy became president on 20 January 1961 until his assassination on 22 November 1963. Kennedy was against everything that was associated with communism. He was also a very important person in the ‘Cold War’. Kennedy also was seen as de icon of the Western world of freedom and democracy.


The speech was given at June 26, 1963 in West-Berlin. During that time Germany was split up in West-Germany and East-Germany. West-Germany and West-Berlin were in the hands of England, France and the USA. East-Germany and East-Berlin in the hands of the Soviet-Union. Because Berlin was located in East-Germany, West-Berlin was also automatically located in the part of the Soviet-Union. This made West-Berlin isolated from the ‘Western World’. With the use of planes West-Berlin was provided with food and materials. In June 1963 John F. Kennedy, as the ‘Icon of Western Freedom’, came to West-Berlin.


The audience of the speech were almost only citizens who lived in West-Berlin. Also the speech was mainly mend for them. Because John F. Kennedy also says negative things about the communism like; ‘Freedom has many difficulties and democracy is not perfect, but we have never had to put a wall up to keep our people in, to prevent them from leaving us.’ (John F. Kennedy, ‘Ich bin ein Berliner’. 1963) You could also look at this as a message for the communism, and in that case the speech would be mend for them. In the previous quote John F. Kennedy compares freedom and democracy (the Western ideology) with communism. The audience for example this quote can be looked at from different perspectives. So the quote can be mend for the Western World and the West-Berliners to show them that democracy and freedom is not ‘forced’. Also the quote can be mend for the Soviet-Union to show them how the Western World sees them, and that freedom and democracy is better than communism. Still the main audience of the speech were the West-Berliners.


The main purpose of the speech is to make sure that West-Berlin was not given up, and to show the support from the USA. As mentioned West-Berlin was surrounded and isolated, so John F. Kennedy wanted to give the West-Berliners a sort of ‘boost’ to make sure that they will keep their heads high and don’t have any fear for occupation. With the famous quote: ‘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!’ (John F. Kennedy, ‘Ich bin ein Berliner’. 1963) This famous quote was actually a huge compliment for the West-Berliners and it showed the main message of the whole speech; the USA who supported a democratic West-Berlin. Structure:

In my opinion the speech has a good structure. The speech on itself is not that long, but it is a very powerful speech though. The speech starts with Kennedy saying that he is proud to be in ‘The Federal Republic with your distinguished Chancellor who for so many years has committed Germany to democracy and freedom and progress’ (John F. Kennedy, ‘Ich bin ein Berliner’. 1963) That is the introduction part of the speech. The further the speech goes, the more Kennedy goes to the core of the information and he reveals the main message that he wants to bring across. The middle part of the speech starts after Kennedy says the famous words: ‘Ich bin ein Berliner’. After that he starts comparing the freedom and democracy with the communism. Kennedy ends the speech with saying...
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