General Eisenhower and President Truman en route to the Potsdam Conference
Photo: General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower (foreground, left) chats with President Harry S. Truman (foreground, second from right) and Secretary of State James F. Byrnes (right) at an airfield in Brussels, Belgium en route to Potsdam, Germany for the Potsdam conference. United States Ambassador to Belgium Charles Sawyer is in the background on the left. 7/15/1945.
-from the Truman Library
“Ich bin ein Berliner”
President John F. Kennedy’s Remarks at the Berlin Rathaus Reading Cards June 26, 1963
50 years ago on June 26, 1963, President John F. Kennedy delivered one of his most memorable speeches that electrified an adoring crowd gathered in the shadow of the Berlin Wall. Almost 2 years after the construction of the Berlin Wall and 15 years after the Berlin Airlift, Kennedy paid tribute to the spirit of Berliners with his pronouncement of solidarity: “Ich bin ein Berliner” (I am a Berliner).
Although Kennedy deviated from his notes and improvised much of his speech, he spelled out his pivotal phrase phonetically on this note card.
We love learning about how iconic speeches like this one came to be. Check out excerpts from the papers of JFK’s National Security Advisor McGeorge Bundy for more insights into the trip to Berlin and the origins of that famous line:
“On the way up to Berlin in the airplane in the morning the President kept right on working both at his arrival statement and still more at the Rathaus speech. It was on this trip that he conceived the idea of talking about civis Romanus sum and Ich bin ein Berliner … Indeed, now that I think about it, I think those two or three German lessons were what gave him both the idea of Ich bin ein Berliner and the courage, in the end, to use the phrase himself.”
50 years ago - JFK in Berlin
On June 26, 1963, John F. Kennedy stood at Rudolph Wilde Platz (now John F. Kennedy Platz) in West Berlin to deliver one of his most well-known speeches. His visit to the divided city followed appearances across Germany, from Bonn to Cologne, to Frankfurt. In Berlin, 120,000 people gathered to listen to President Kennedy deliver his remarks:
"Freedom is indivisible and when one man is enslaved, all are not free. When all are free, then we can look forward to that day when this city will be joined as one and this country and this great Continent of Europe in a peaceful and hopeful globe…
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’”
From the JFK Library
President Kennedy’s visit to Frankfurt, Germany, June 25, 1963.
Credit: Cecil Stoughton/JFK Library
“The mission of this Allied Force was fulfilled at 0241, local time, May 7th, 1945.
Top secret document sent by General Eisenhower to his superior officers to inform them that his mission was fulfilled - Germany was defeated and the war in Europe was over.
-from the Eisenhower Library
Truman and Stalin, in Color
Another great color photo of President Truman with someone you might not expect – Joseph Stalin.
Truman and Stalin met while attending the Potsdam Conference in Germany in July of 1945, shortly after the end of World War II in Europe.
History happened here - Watch JFK deliver his famous Berlin speech in Rudolph Wilde Platz.
“Ich bin ein Berliner” - JFK, Berlin, 6/26/63
On June 26, 1963, President John F. Kennedy delivered a speech that electrified a crowd gathered in the shadow of the Berlin Wall. As he paid tribute to the spirit of Berliners and to their quest for freedom, the crowd roared with approval upon hearing the the President’s dramatic pronouncement, “Ich bin ein Berliner” (I am a Berliner).
President Kennedy used this handwritten note card while delivering his speech. On it, he phonetically spelled German phrases from his speech, including “Ish bin ein Bearleener.” Read More
The Unconditional Surrender of German
On May 7, 1945, the European conflict of World War II ended when Germany signed an unconditional surrender at Allied headquarters in Rheims, France.
In this photo, Colonel General Gustaf Jodl, German Chief of Staff signs the documents of unconditional surrender, under which all remaining forces of German Army are bound to lay down their arms.
On Jodl’s left is General Admiral Von Friedeburg of the German Navy, on his right is Major Wilhelm Oxenius of the German General Staff.
-from the FDR Library
The Fall of The Berlin Wall
"I’ve just arrived from Berlin. It is like witnessing an enormous fair. It has the atmosphere of a festival. The frontiers are absolutely open. At certain points they are literally taking down the wall and building new checkpoints. At Checkpoint Charlie, thousands of poeple are crossing both ways."
On November 9, 1989, the East German government announces that border crossings into Western Europe will once again be allowed. Unexpectedly, checkpoint guards open the gates allowing crowds from both sides of the divided city to celebrate together.
The images of happy people from East and West embracing and celebrating around the Berlin Wall still resonate as the moment of German Unity. In fact, the fall of the wall raised more questions about German unity than answers. No one knew whether West Germany’s allies and protectors would allow a reunited and fully sovereign Germany or whether the Soviet Union would tolerate a united Germany in NATO. The task of integrating East Germany’s command economy with West Germany’s social market system was fraught with challenges.
Despite the uncertainty, the unification process was worked out in the next year, and East and West Germany officially became one on October 3, 1990.
These images show the west-side of the Berlin Wall, circa 1988.
-from the George Bush Library