In the summer of 1963, President John F Kennedy visited Europe, including West Berlin, where he made his anti-communist ‘Ich bin ein Berliner’ speech. As the Guardian’s Hella Pick explained at the time, the trip was a personal rescue attempt of the Atlantic alliance

President Kennedy could scarcely have chosen a worse moment for his European trip. The White House makes few bones about that. Nevertheless Mr Kennedy has never wavered from his decision to go. To cancel it at the last moment would only have created further embarrassment abroad. He has not been deterred by the civil rights crisis at home, Britain’s political troubles, the untimely elections in the Vatican. or the long drawn-out efforts to find a new Italian Government. There has been strong advice against the trip. Civil rights advocates consider the President must give all to the battle, including his continuous presence. Some of his own officials believe that the President may unwittingly only add to political confusion in Britain and Italy, and have argued that the trip at best will yield nothing positive and at worst will draw attention to the bankruptcy of America’s European policy, which is still reeling from the impact of General de Gaulle.

Related: 1.5 million West Berliners greet Kennedy, June 1963

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Read More Why Mr Kennedy is in Europe – archive, June 1963

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