Friday, June 26, 2009

June 26th in Transatlantic History

Dear Friends,

This Friday again I will direct your attention to a historical event(s) related to the transatlantic relations that happened on the same date.

On June 26th in 1945 – The United Nations Charter is signed in San Francisco.
The United Nations Charter is the treaty that forms and establishes the international organization called the United Nations. It was signed at the United Nations Conference on International Organization in the Veterans Auditorium (now the Herbst Theatre) of the War Memorial Veterans Building in San Francisco, California, United States, on June 26, 1945, by 50 of the 51 original member countries (Poland, the other original member, which was not represented at the conference, signed it later).

On June 26th 1963 – John F. Kennedy speaks the famous words "Ich bin ein Berliner" on a visit to West Berlin.

"Ich bin ein Berliner" ("I am a Berliner") is a quotation from a June 26, 1963 speech by U.S. President John F. Kennedy in West Berlin. He was underlining the support of the United States for West Germany 22 months after the Soviet-supported Communist state of East Germany erected the Berlin Wall as a barrier to prevent movement between East and West.

The speech is considered one of Kennedy's best, and a notable moment of the Cold War. It was a great morale boost for West Berliners, who lived in an enclave deep inside East Germany and feared a possible East German occupation. Speaking from the balcony of Rathaus Schöneberg, Kennedy said,

'Two thousand years ago the proudest boast was civis Romanus sum [I am a Roman citizen]. Today, in the world of freedom, the proudest boast is 'Ich bin ein Berliner'... 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!'

Kennedy came up with the phrase at the last moment, as well as the idea to say it in German. Kennedy asked his interpreter Robert H. Lochner to translate "I am a Berliner" only as they walked up the stairs at the Rathaus (City Hall). With Lochner's help, Kennedy practised the phrase in the office of then-Mayor Willy Brandt, and in his own hand made a cue card with phonetic spelling (the cue card).

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