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Home » Food History

“Ich Bin Ein Berliner”

Submitted by on April 24, 2013 – 7:51 amNo Comment

berlinerIt was a half-century ago that United States President John F. Kennedy made his historic statement in what was then the partitioned city of Berlin, Germany.

Standing in front of Berlin’s Rathaus Schöneberg, he proclaimed: “Ich bin ein Berliner”.

Why is this noted in a foodie blog? Because some insist that JFK famously misspoke on 26 June 1963. Instead of saying “I am a Berliner” (“Ich bin Berliner”), by adding the definite article, he declared, “I am a jelly-filled doughnut”. Purists debate this distinction (especially since a Berliner is better known as a Pfannkuchen or Krapfen in Berlin).

Yeah, ein Berliner is what your Road Trips Foodie (who grew up in Chicago) knew as a bismark: a kind of doughnut (without a central hole) made from sweet yeast dough fried in fat or oil, with a marmalade or jam filling and usually icing, powdered sugar or conventional sugar on top. They’re especially popular in Germany and Central Europe.

Even with this supposed “grammatical error”, Berlin fell in love with JFK. During the “hot” phase of the Cold War, Kennedy underscored American support for the divided Germany 22 months after East Germany erected the Berlin Wall. To this day, the most famous words ever spoken by a U.S. President on German soil still resonate deeply with Berliners and are regarded as the basis of the strong bond between the citizens of Berlin and the USA.

From 30 April through 29 June 2013, a city-wide program will highlight the historic visit, including the photo exhibition “Kennedy in Berlin” at the Wall Memorial, and the special exhibition “’Ich bin ein Berliner’- Kennedy’s Germany visit in June of 1963,” shown at the museum The Kennedys. Special events at the Allied Museum, the Checkpoint Charlie Foundation, the U.S. Embassy and other location will complement the program.

From 1949 until the reunification of Germany and Berlin in 1990, Schöneberg city hall was the seat of the Berlin mayor. Kennedy gave his 1963 speech front of the former city hall on the square which was later named after him and to this day remains the “John-F-Kennedy Platz”.

The Kennedy anniversary events lead up to the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, which will be celebrated in 2014. Click here for more information on visiting Berlin.

(Photo from Wikipedia Commons)

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