Almost exactly 50 years after the legendary visit of John F. Kennedy to Berlin, Barack Obama is coming to the German capital. On 18 and 19 June the U.S President will be in Berlin following the G-8 summit in Northern Ireland. It is Obama’s first visit as the American president. As candidate for the White House, the Democratic politician was last in Berlin in 2008. His speech at the Victory Column met with an enthusiastic reception. This year Obama will meet with Federal President Joachim Gauck and Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel. On the agenda will be a wide range of bilateral and global issues, including the further deepening of transatlantic relations.
Obama’s visit is in the tradition of memorable appearances of American presidents in Berlin. From 23 to 26 June 1963 the American President John F. Kennedy visited Germany. The high point of the trip was his speech in West Berlin. Almost two years after the building of the Berlin Wall, Kennedy said in his address to the population of the divided city: “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!’” The celebrated speech gave strength and confidence not only to Berliners but to people everywhere.
In June 1987 U.S. President Ronald Reagan visited West Berlin for the 750th anniversary of the city. In the eastern part of the city, Mikhail Gorbachev, then First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, was also visiting on the same occasion. In his speech before the Brandenburg Gate on 12 June, Reagan directly addressed Gorbachev and wrote history: “Come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” In mid-1987 this demand still seemed completely illusory. But only two years later the Berlin Wall was actually torn down.
Visit of the U.S. President Barrack Obama in Berlin on 18 and 19 June