Jun 06, 2013
“I vividly recall Kennedy’s visit, the mood among the crowd. After all, it was a major event at the time. I saw Kennedy not once, not twice, but three times on the day of his visit: Once at the Schöneberg city hall, when I heard his speech, then again, when he was driving by along the Unter den Eichen boulevard, and finally again, on Garystrasse, in Dahlem. I even still have pictures of him driving by!
We also felt that his visit was long overdue, two years after the Wall went up; some people had definitely started to hold the long delay against him. And not just him, but Adenauer, too.
But Kennedy gave us hope in the end – and he gave us courage: the courage to keep going, the courage to endure our fate as a locked-in city. ‘Ich bin ein Berliner,’ he said that day, and we knew what he meant: I’m one of you!”
About the witness
Dietrich Weitz, 75, studied law at Freie Universität from 1957 to 1961. Growing up in the “Soviet-occupied zone,” as he still calls it, he couldn’t gain admission to secondary school – the authorities wanted to give Weitz, the son of an academic, a hard time.
“So I moved to Berlin by myself once I was done with 8th grade,” he explains. He enrolled in an academic secondary school in the Steglitz district in hopes of earning a diploma that would get him into a university. “I was a country boy alone in the big city; it was tough at first,” he says.
But he struggled through it, and throughout his studies and his later career in law – among other things, he served as a judge at the Regional Court, where he decided construction cases valued in the millions – he never lost touch with friends and acquaintances in the East.
Now, in retirement, Weitz’s world looks different. He organizes day trips to the surrounding area – and he enjoys his role as an active grandfather and sought-after companion to his many grandchildren, who live all over the world, from Barcelona to Singapore.