Introduction

The ‘Great Transformation’ of European politics: a holistic view

Authored by: José M. Magone

Routledge Handbook of European Politics

Print publication date:  January  2015
Online publication date:  December  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415626750
eBook ISBN: 9781315755830
Adobe ISBN: 9781317628361

10.4324/9781315755830.ch1

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Abstract

‘Ich bin ein Berliner.’ The famous statement made by US President John F. Kennedy in front of the Rathaus Schöneberg building (City Council of West Berlin at the time) on 26 June 1963, now over 50 years ago, remains an important turning point in European politics. Although Kennedy directed some belligerent language towards the Communist regime in the German Democratic Republic and the Berlin Wall erected in 1961 by the East German leadership, this had only rhetorical significance in the context of the bond established between West Berlin and the United States. Kennedy clearly sought to express his solidarity with West Berlin – or rather, as Andreas Daum calls it, America’s Berlin, thus named since the famous airlift of 1948 countered the Soviet blockade of the Western half of the city (Daum 2008: 39). In reality, Kennedy was pursuing a new policy of détente with the Soviet leader Nikita Krushchev; the questions of Berlin and Germany were secondary to the overall global Cold War between the two superpowers, the US and the Soviet Union. This policy of détente was expressed on the same day in Kennedy’s speech after receiving an honorary doctoral degree from the Free University of Berlin (Daum 2008: 156–65).

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