Ich Bin Ein Berliner Speech Analysis

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With the constant threat of nuclear war overshadowing everyday life, the construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961 not only divided Germany, but manifested as a physical division between “the free world” and “the Communist world”, as termed by President John F. Kennedy. Two years later, he delivered his famous “Ich bin ein Berliner” speech at the Brandenburg Gate. Through heavy emotional appeal and an encouraging tone, Kennedy not only offers American solidarity to West Berlin, but instills confidence in the crusade for democracy across the globe.
Speaking to an audience of Germans, the American president’s first priority is building sympathy with his foreign audience. This is best seen through his diction as he begins by directly addressing
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His diction is overwhelmingly positive, repeating words such as “true,” “peace,” “right,” “good,” and “free” when projecting his hopes for the future of Europe. He then directly addresses the audience with a metaphor, that they live on a “defended island of freedom,” but their lives are “part of the main.” His appeal is unifying, and allows him to transition from flattering and sympathizing with the audience to persuading them. He emphasizes the word “beyond,” which precedes each appeal to the greater good: beyond the city of Berlin, or even the country of Germany, beyond the wall, beyond ourselves. Kennedy redirects his listeners away from the harsh realities of their daily lives to the pursuit of freedom for all, similar to Lincoln’s crusade for America as an example of democracy in his Gettysburg Address. He goes on that “when one man is enslaved, all are not free”, through which he asserts his credibility. As an American, he hails from a country that once suffered under slavery for hundreds of years. The optimism in his tone is evident as he points out things the audience may look forward to: on a smaller scale, the reunification of their city, and a global scale, peace throughout. He instills confidence in the cause in saying, “When that day comes, as it will,” and acknowledges that the people of West Berlin
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