I Am Not a Jelly Donut* (Obama in Berlin, A Slideshow)

Spilling more ink about Barack Obama’s speech in Berlin would be akin to spitting into the ocean. But that won’t stop us, particularly since we noticed coverage of the event was delivered mainly from the perspective of the speaker’s podium.

We bring you the other perspective from where we were: in the in the midst of the 200,000 people gathered in Berlin’s Tiergarten.

American Flags at Obama's Speech - Berlin, Germany
American Flags at Siegessaule (Victory Column), Berlin.

We traveled by car four hours each way from our current post in Prague, Czech Republic to Berlin, Germany. A significant time investment considering Obama’s speech would be drowned in a sea of punditry worldwide, but – like everything else on this journey – we wanted our own glimpse.

Despite the long security lines, the mood was jovial and excited, as if attendees were waiting to see their favorite band. American expatriates manned voter registration tables, and like any political event, there were single-issue fanatics including those in polar bear suits holding “Stop Global Warming” signs.

Cameras Poised for Barack Obama - Berlin, Germany
Obama speaking in Berlin, July 2008.

Like a summer rock festival, beer and sausage trucks lined the way through the streets bordering the Tiergarten. Towards the Siegessäule (Victory Column) where the podium stood, vendors hawked Obama t-shirts and clever pins (including our favorite “Obamafest” featuring Obama carrying giant beer mugs a la Oktoberfest). Obviously, entrepreneurial opportunism doesn’t stop short at political and diplomatic rallies.

And yes, every now and then you could hear an accented voice say “Yes we can!”

We found ourselves no more than seventy meters away from Obama’s podium, in an all-ages but youthful crowd. The audience, it seemed, came from across Europe and North America: Germany, Netherlands, France, Canada and America – and this was just within earshot. American flags were only outnumbered by cell phones and cameras hoisted high to capture a piece of history.

Ours, too. Enjoy the slideshow below. Or, view the photo set here.

*Oh, and for those unfamiliar, here’s a full explanation of the jelly donut reference, featuring John F. Kennedy’s “Gaffe That Never Was.”

Update, July 31, 2008: You can see for yourself that there were no free beer and bratwurst signs at the Tiergarten. And trust us, if free beer and bratwurst were available, we’d have been the first to find it.

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  1. says

    I instantly related it to the Oreo Cookie, even though you used a donut, Which means a White Person on the inside and black on the outside. If Obama becomes the President of the USA, I am quite positive the Black population will make extremely selfish request up “their” black President, and when he does not the words “Oreo” or “Uncle Tom” will result if he is the President of the USA, and not President of the Blacks.

    It will be fun to watch, I kind of want Obama to be Presidents just to see the Oreo, Uncle Tom and Riots as I suspect black people will feel he betrays them. I think he has a white mother, this also will make him not a black person.

    When the kid gloves come off, they the real life will reveal itself.
    Andy an American Citizen, I want to vote, None of the Above

  2. says

    For clarification and contrast, the jelly donut reference is a play on the reaction and rumor surrounding a phrase in John F. Kennedy’s speech in Berlin in 1963. Our use of the phrase “jelly donut” was in no way related to Obama’s appearance or race. JFK’s opening “Ich Bin Ein Berliner”, well-known to those who have visited Berlin, is explained at length in the site linked at the bottom of our article (at the asterisk *).

  3. says

    A reader wrote in asking whether the following internet buzz was true: Barack Obama lured people to watch his speech with offers of free beer and sausage. We can definitively debunk this rumor – beer was 3.50 Euros ($5.30) and sausages were the same price. There was no free dinner in Berlin.

  4. Daisy says

    Just a note regarding Andy the American Citizen. I read and reread his post, not quite believing what I saw. Not sure where he came up with that stuff as a result of this article about Senator Obama, but it obviously says much more about him than it does about the Senator. I guess folks see what they want to see.
    Thanks Audrey and Dan for the quality blogs an photos. I appreciate being provided glimpses of peoples and cultures I’ll likely never experience.

  5. says

    Daisy, glad we are able to bring events and experiences to you through our photos and writing! We’re sorry the title of this piece has been taken in the wrong way – the thought never came to mind when we wrote it. Thanks for the support!

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