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There is one world leader who is not coming to Berlin to mark the 20th anniversary of the Berlin Wall’s fall -U.S. President Barack Obama. Much to the chagrin of the German government that spent months trying to get him, Obama won’t be here. It’s turned into a bit of a political controversy in the United States.
But it’s also intriguing to Germans and German media. Why isn’t Obama here? Berlin loves (most) American presidents — going back to John F. Kennedy’s “Ich bin ein Berliner” speech. Is there more than meets the eye to Obama’s decision not to come?
Obama, of course, wanted to speak at the Brandenburg Gate in July 2008, when he was only the Democratic candidate. Merkel intervened to prevent that from happening — he ended up giving the speech a few km away at the Victory Column. Tomorrow, Obama could have spoken at the Brandenburg Gate.
Obama did come back to Berlin after that speech in front of 200,000 spectators as presidential candidate (www.reuters.com) last year — but only as a wax figure at Madame Tussauds (photo) The life-like creation was included at Madame Tussauds in Berlin, just a few blocks east of the Brandenburg Gate, in January.