Opinion: No Brandenburg Gate venue for Obama’s Berlin rally


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The parallels between Barack Obama and John F. Kennedy apparently are getting off-track in Germany.

German reports say that Obama will speak Thursday at Berlin’s Victory Column rather than at the city’s historic Brandenburg Gate a mile-and-a-half away. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, among others, objected to the Democratic presidential candidate using the site for what is essentially a campaign event.

(Update: The Obama campaign confirms that it will skip the Brandenburg Gate site but a venue still hasn’t been chosen for the speech.)


It was near the Brandenburg Gate in June 1963 where President Kennedy was greeted by ecstatic crowds and gave his famous, ‘Ich bin ein Berliner’ speech.

But it’s not just a Democratic venue. The Brandenburg Gate also is where President Reagan, in June 1987, uttered his famous demand to Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to raze the barrier dividing Berlin: “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.”

Obama, who plans to visit Europe and the Middle East to burnish his foreign policy credentials, has said he didn’t want the location of his speech to trigger controversy. So the Victory Column site apparently is becoming the compromise.

And Obama isn’t being snubbed by Merkel, her people now claim. The Associated Press reports she’ll meet Obama in Berlin on Thursday.

--Stuart Silverstein

Reuters photo of Victory Column in 2001 during ‘The Love Parade’ by Fabrizio Bensch