June 26, 1963: U.S. President John F. Kennedy gives his famous “Ich bin ein Berliner” speech, underlining American support for democratic West Germany after the Soviet-supported erection of the Berlin Wall. The speech is widely considered one of Kennedy’s best, as well as being a notable moment during the Cold War. It was a great morale boost for West Berliners, who were isolated in the socialist area of East Germany and feared occupation. Kennedy exclaimed to an audience of 450,000: “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!” There is a common misconception that with this use of “ein”, Kennedy referred to himself as a “jelly doughnut”, rather than as a “citizen of Berlin”, but the use of the indefinite article was in fact correct. Last week President Obama made a speech at the Brandenburg Gate in the city, but received a slightly more muted welcome following revelations about the U.S. government spying on European citizens.
Also on June 26:
- 1945 – the United Nations Charter is signed in San Francisco. It is the foundational treaty of the international organisation and includes a call for the maintenance of peace, security and respect for human rights.
- 1948 – the Western allies begin an airlift to Berlin after the Soviet Union blockades West Berlin.
- The International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, to express solidarity with and support for the hundreds of thousands of victims of torture throughout the world.
Born on June 26:
- 1913 – Aimé Césaire, Francophone poet, author and politician, and one of the founders of the négritude movement in Francophone literature.
- 1955 – Mick Jones, English musician, best known for his work as the guitarist in the Clash until his dismissal in 1983.