It was Fifty years ago today that President John F. Kennedy made his historic Cold War era speech at the western gate of the Berlin Wall. The speech, highly critical of communism’s restrictions on personal freedom, included the memorable refrain “Let them come to Berlin” and, of course, the famous phrase “ich bin ein Berliner.” President Kennedy’s speech was captured by filmmaker Bruce Herschensohn, who used the speech as the final segment of his 1963 documentary The Five Cities of June.
Produced for the United States Information Agency, The Five Cities of June features five distinct historical events, each taking place in June 1963 in five different cities around the globe. These events include the election and coronation of Pope Paul VI in the Vatican; the launching of a rocket from an unknown Soviet location; skirmishes between North and South Vietnamese in Ben Tuong, South Vietnam; the integration of the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa with the assistance of U.S. Marshals; and President Kennedy’s speech at the Berlin Wall. Charlton Heston provides the narration; Bruce Herschensohn provides the screenplay, music, and direction. The film was nominated for Best Achievement in Documentary Production (Short Subjects).
The Bruce Herschensohn Collection in Pepperdine Digital Collections provides access to a wealth of rare materials related to the production of this film and the events it depicts. This includes correspondence, production notes, artwork, scripts, and ephemera. View, for example, a souvenir postcard from the Berlin Wall signed by President Kennedy bearing a special cancellation mark for the occasion. Click here to browse other materials in the Bruce Herschensohn Collection related to The Five Cities of June. You can view the entire 27-minute film here. Enjoy.