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Berlin celebrates 75 years of the Airlift and 60 years of Kennedy's visit

Vor 60 Jahren war Kennedy ein Berliner

The former U.S. President John F. Kennedy stands in front of Schöneberg Town Hall in Berlin on June 26, 1963.

Berlin is organizing a festival on Saturday for a double occasion: the Tempelhof-Schöneberg district is commemorating the start of the Airlift 75 years ago and the visit of U.S. President John F. Kennedy 60 years ago.

The festive event on John-F.-Kennedy-Platz in Schöneberg has the motto "Ich bin ein Berliner". It is based on the famous quote with which the American president surprised his audience in front of Schöneberg City Hall on June 26, 1963. Kennedy's speech is to be seen and heard again on Saturday on a big screen.

Festival celebrates German-American friendship

The public celebration starting at 5 p.m. is reportedly dedicated to German-American friendship. Among others, Berlin's Governing Mayor Kai Wegner (CDU), U.S. Ambassador Amy Gutmann and District Mayor Jörn Oltmann (Greens) will speak about the significance of Kennedy's visit and the Airlift, with which West Berlin was supplied with food and coal for ten months from the end of June 1948, mainly by American pilots. But it will not be a speech marathon, Oltmann assured. Music is also planned.

Berlin welcomed Kennedy "with open arms"

Kennedy was met with great enthusiasm during his drive through West Berlin 60 years ago, Oltmann told the DPA: "People welcomed him with open arms." The U.S. president's visit to the divided city and his speech sent a clear signal: "West Berlin can count on being part of our community." And that, Oltmann said, was how his famous phrase "Ich bin ein Berliner" should be understood: "He used these words to make it clear that he stands by West Berlin," the district mayor said.

Kennedy's speech in Berlin was historic milestone

"With this event, we also want residents to recall Kennedy's visit to Berlin. It was an important milestone in the history of Berlin." Tens of thousands of Berliners came to Kennedy's speech in front of Schöneberg Town Hall. It won't be quite like that at the festival, Oltmann suspects. "But I still assume that the square will be full."

Author: dpa/
Publication date: 20 June 2023
Last updated: 20 June 2023

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