U.S. President John F. Kennedy visits West Berlin (June 26, 1963)
As a symbolic gesture of support, John F. Kennedy had sent his vice president, Lyndon B. Johnson, to Berlin after the Wall was built in August 1961. At the time, he had also ordered 1,500 troops to travel the Autobahn from West Germany to Berlin to reinforce the U.S. garrison already stationed there. In June 1963, the President made a personal visit to the city. On the occasion of Kennedy’s visit, East German border guards suspended large panels of red cloth from the Brandenburg Gate and mounted an English-language propaganda poster directly in front of it. The poster maintained that the denazification and demilitarization of Germany that had been called for in Yalta and Potsdam had only occurred in the GDR. After Kennedy had his photograph taken with West Berlin mayor Willy Brandt and Federal Chancellor Konrad Adenauer in front of the Wall, he delivered his famous “Ich bin ein Berliner” speech before Schöneberg City Hall. Photo by Will McBride.