On This Day 53 Years Ago – Kennedy said: “I am a jelly doughnut!”

On 26th June 1963 John F Kennedy said to the crowd in West Berlin: “2000 years ago the proudest boast was: “Civis Romanus sum.” Today in the world of freedom the proudest boast is: ‘Ich bin ein Berliner!’

Colloquially saying ein Berliner as opposed to Berliner makes the statement mean: “I am a jelly doughnut!” but in this context his audience understood that he meant to show his solidarity to the citizens of West Germany so there was hardly a pause before they cheered wildly!

The director of the John F Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum tells the evocative story behind JFK’s words in his article: The Real Meaning of Ich Bin ein Berliner.

The joke: “I went for a Chinese the other day.  He didn’t do anything, I just went for him!” is an illustration of the low level of ambiguity involved in the understanding of the words that JFK spoke that day! 😉

KN-C29248 26 June 1963 President Kennedy's address to the people of Berlin. Rudolph Wilde Platz, West Berlin, Federal Republic of Germany. Photograph by Robert Knudsen, White House, in the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston.
KN-C29248 26 June 1963 President Kennedy‘s address to the people of Berlin in Rudolph Wilde Platz. Photograph by Robert Knudsen, White House, from the archive in the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.
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