Ten Curious facts about the Berlin Wall — Part 3


And finally part three of the three part series sharing the most curious facts about the Berlin Wall… Check out Part 1 and Part 2 to get up to speed!

7. JFK did not in fact tell Berliners that he was a “jelly doughnut”

The iconic phrase “Ich bin ein Berliner” is famous throughout the world. President Kennedy famously uttered those words on June 26, 1963 to a massive crowd at the Berlin Wall. The words were meant to show solidarity with those who lived in Berlin. Some critics say that because he added the article “ein” he was in fact actually calling himself a jelly doughnut, known as a Berliner in many parts of Germany.

Linguists, however, say JFK was spot on and did no in fact refer to himself as a sugary baked good. Rather the “ein” is a necessary part of the sentence when the speaker is saying something figuratively (i.e. about a certain nationality, as was true in the case of the president). As well, in Berlin the jam-filled pastry is actually called “pfannkuchen” so listeners would have no problem understanding what JFK meant.

8. The East German government called the wall the “Antifascist Bulwark”

In an effort to reassure East Germans, the government insisted that the wall itself was not to keep citizens in, but rather to keep the Western fascists, spies and polluted ideas out. Two weeks after East German leader Walter Ulbricht ordered the construction of the wall he famously proclaimed to citizens, “We have sealed the cracks in the fabric of our house and closed the holes through which the worst enemies of the German people could creep.”

9. The iconic Brandenburg Gate was once part of an 18th-century wall

No the Berlin Wall wasn’t actually the city’s first. In fact, Prussian King Frederick William II ordered the famous arch to straddle East and West Berlin. This would also serve as iconic backdrops for speeches and events. When it was finished in 1791, the Brandenburg Gate was incorporated in the city’s original Customs Wall, which guarded the city from the early 1730s.

10. You can find a piece of the Wall in a Las Vegas casino’s bathroom

Yes, really. When official demolition took place in the summer of 1990, many sections of the Wall were repurposed to be used as building materials for reconstruction projects in Germany. A few hundred sections were auctioned off and now remain spread across the globe. One of those is located in the men’s room of the Main Street Station Casino in Las Vegas. Urinals are mounted to a graffiti-laden segment protected by glass.