"In Berlin, his speech is to Europe, not just to Germany," says Dan Hamilton, director of the Center for Transatlantic Relations at the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in Washington. "It used to be that for the US, the problems were Europe's divisions. Today, the challenge is unity. Berlin reflects this in a way no other city in Europe does."
This city, with its plethora of historical sites, reflects many fears and hopes of the new Europe: Berlin has the largest Turkish population outside Turkey. New immigrant groups mean that in some schools, very little German is spoken. Russian-language newspapers abound in the subway press stands. There are fears of a rising China, and, closer to home, angst about rapidly depopulating cities in the old East.
Berlin is special in the American framework, too: the place where fascism peaked and was defeated; ground zero for the fight over the political values of democracy and communism, for Kennedy's "Ich bin ein Berliner" speech, and the fall of the Berlin Wall. Today it is where East meets West in a vastly freer but more complicated world.