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The Globe and Mail

John F. Kennedy in Berlin, 1963 - and subsequent echoes

The division of Berlin was one of the most enduring marks of the Cold War. U.S. president John F. Kennedy faced that square on with his celebrated address in the Rudolph Wilde Platz in June, 1963. On the speech's 50th anniversary, a look back at Kennedy's visit -- and an acknowledgement of its historical resonance via connections to subsequent U.S. presidents.

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U.S. President John F. Kennedy visits Checkpoint Charlie during his tour of West Berlin, June 26, 1963.


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In this photo released by the Kennedy Museum, President John F. Kennedy, right, is seen at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Germany on June 26, 1963. The day Kennedy visited Berlin, Klaus Schuetz sensed something special was happening as he waited in city hall for the president's arrival. Thousands of people chanting Kennedy's name lined the motorcade route and the square outside. For people of Schuetz's generation, the emotion of that eight-hour visit, on June 26, 1963, lingers after more than 40 years.

WILL MCBRIDE/AP / Camera Work, The Kennedy Museum

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In this photo released by the Kennedy Museum, President John F. Kennedy, left, Willy Brandt, center, then mayor of West Berlin, and West German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer, right, ride in a car at the Brandenburg Gate on June 26, 1963.

WILL MCBRIDE/AP / Camera Work, The Kennedy Museum

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U.S. President John F. Kennedy, left, waves back to a crowd of more than 300,000 persons in the main square in front of Schoeneberg City Hall in West Berlin, June 26, 1963.


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U.S. President Ronald Reagan acknowledges the crowd after his speech in front of the Brandenburg Gate in West Berlin, where he exhorted Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down this wall,” June 12, 1987. Applauding Reagan are West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, right, and West German Parliament President Philipp Jenninger, left.


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Protesters hold up a placard reading “Bush, You Are No Berliner,” alludiing to former U.S. president John F. Kennedy's famous saying: "Ich bin ein Berliner" (I am a Berlin citizen), during an anti-Bush rally in Berlin, 22 May 2002. Thousands of German peace activists rallied to send a message to US President George W. Bush, due in Berlin at the start of a European tour aimed at winning support for his vision of the war on terrorism.


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U.S. President Barack Obama speaks in front of the iconic Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, June 19, 2013. Obama spoke on the Gate’s eastern side, across the old border from where President Ronald Reagan gave his unforgettable ”Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” speech in June 1997. This week also marks the 50th anniversary that President John F. Kennedy confronted Cold War tension in Wall-divided Berlin by telling residents: “Ich bin ein Berliner.”

Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

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