Analysis of Kennedy's "Ich Bin Ein Berliner"

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Analysis of the speech “Ich bin ein Berliner” by John F. Kennedy

John Fitzgerald Kennedy was the 35th President of the United States of America, from 1956 to 1963. He was the youngest president elected for the Democratic Party in a time of a worldwide conflict between communism in wide parts of the world and capitalism, mainly represented by the NATO states. Due to his father’s work as an ambassador in Great Britain, he gained access to British politicians and subsequently wrote his senior Thesis at Harvard University on why “Great Britain was unprepared for war with Germany” (jfklibrary.org, 2012). Thus was his involvement in European politics as the American president inevitable.

The main context of the speech “Ich bin ein Berliner” is the cold war, with its ever-present threat of escalating into a nuclear war disaster. In public speeches, especially politicians had to pay attention to what words they are using and how these could be perceived, in order to keep up the peace between the USSR and NATO. Politics in this time have been aggressively supporting the own view, while distancing itself from the opposing views. Kennedy does that already in the geographic location of giving the speech. He is at the front line of the cold war, West-Berlin, but gives his speech far in the western part Berlin, not to directly provoke and indirectly address the eastern German population, - and with it the communist system - but to identify with the inhabitants of West Berlin. Red flags, blocking the view through the Brandenburg gate embodied the provocation perceived by the East German government (and with it all communist states), which accompanied Kennedy’s visit right at the front line of the cold war was perceived as a The audience for Kennedy’s speech consists primarily of the inhabitants of West Berlin, though through television broadcasting and press coverage the whole ‘western’ society is addressed. In a few explicit lines, such as “the people of West Berlin […]...
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