President Kennedy’s speech begins with the words “I am proud.” These three words reappear two more times in the introduction of the speech. Kennedy uses the phrase to honor and gain the favor of his audience. This result is achieved by first praising their city and its Mayor, then their country and its Chancellor. President Kennedy further honors West Germany and its place in the free world by comparing it to ancient Rome.
The second section of the speech features much repetition of “Let them come to Berlin.” Kennedy unites the citizens of the divided city against their common enemy: Communism. In this section, Kennedy suggests that after witnessing the situation in Berlin, it would be impossible for a person not to condemn Communism. In doing this, Kennedy sympathizes with the citizens of West Berlin while also highlighting their importance in the fight for freedom and democracy.
After identifying the common enemy and West Berlin’s importance in the fight against it, Kennedy proceeds to concede that democracy is not perfect. Following this statement, he praises West Berlin’s prolonged fight and faith in democracy despite the wall dividing their city. President Kennedy calls for West Berlin to look towards a hopeful future where freedom abounds.
President Kennedy next claims that all free men are citizens of Berlin. This claim unites West Berlin with the rest of the free world despite being physically surrounded by communist East Germany. Using this logic, Kennedy then identifies himself, a free man and leader of the free world, as a citizen of Berlin with the famous phrase, “Ich bin ein Berliner.”
I am a citizen of Berlin. That was the intended meaning of the phrase. Berliner is also the name of a doughnut-like jelly filled pastry. This mistake may not have caused a huge stir at the time the speech was given, but today the speech is known as the “Ich bin ein Berliner,” speech. Many people are drawn in by the seemingly humorous title and screw up of the legendary JFK. A simple mistake continues the legacy of the most memorable speech of the Cold War.