Ich bin ein Berliner

" I am a Berliner " is a famous quote from a speech by John F. Kennedy on June 26, 1963 in front of the Rathaus Schöneberg in Berlin, on the occasion of the 15th anniversary of the Berlin Airlift and the first visit of a U.S. president after the Wall in 1961, with whom he wanted to express his solidarity with the people of West Berlin.

Occurrence of saying

In the original text of the speech is the utterance came twice before:

After the first time he thanked the interpreters ironic for the translation of his German words. After the second time, his speech was ended and he went on the lectern.

More foreign-language components of the speech

Kennedy wrote down the sentences:

  • " Civis Romanus sum" (English: "I am a Roman citizen " )

He previously held with the journalist Robert H. Lochner these passages in the office of the Governing Mayor Willy Brandt and had to write down a transcription.

The phrase " Let them come to Berlin" comes in Kennedy's speech to four times when he warns against the trivialization of communism. The fourth time, Kennedy speaks the sentence directly to German "Let them come to Berlin. "


  • During the Yugoslav wars in the 1990s, the American politician Madeleine Albright spoke these words, probably NOTING that she did not act immodestly with regard to Kennedy, but refer to the historical parallel: " Ja sam Sarajevka! " (Eng. " I am Sarajevoerin! ")
  • João Ubaldo Ribeiro, the Brazilian author ends the first chapter of his book A Brazilian in Berlin with the phrase " Ich bin ein Berliner, how ever told anyone ."

Misunderstanding in the English speaking

In the U.S. in the 1980s was a urban legend, according to which Kennedy had made unclean by use of the German grammar the laughing stock of Berliner. According to legend, had the grammatically correct sentence "I am Berliner " must be called (without the indefinite article ), and Kennedy's phrase was understood by Berliners as " Ich bin ein Berliner ( pancakes) ," to which great laughter broke out. Although this assertion is not true, it still enjoys great popularity in the U.S. and is quoted with great regularity mostly as " I am a jelly ( - filled) donut ".

The oldest known reference of this modern legend is the 1983 published novel Berlin Game ( German: Brahms four, 1984) by British author Len Deighton, but in which the claim is probably not serious. However, it was taken up in the review of the book in the New York Times and held there probably true. In an article in the New York Times from 1988, the claim appears detached from this source for the first time. She was also still rumored in reputable media like the BBC, The Guardian or NBC.

Besides the fact that the indefinite article is correctly used in German to nouns that occur as a representative of a class, was the term " Berlin " for the donuts in Berlin in the 1960s as good as unknown as this there just " pancake" means. The set is so accurate and has been tested according to well before the speech.

After the first occurrence ( with American accent ) breaks out cheers. The next sentence there is beginning a chant of a small group, Kennedy continues several times, and then thanked the interpreters (who is not heard in the recording is ): " I appreciate my interpreter translating my German! " ("I am the interpreter grateful that he translated my German. " ) Then the following laughter involved. In the German translation of the U.S. Embassy on the same day this set is easily changed into: "I am the interpreter grateful that he has my German even better translated. "