Berliners Jam Park to Hear, Touch Obama in Concert Atmosphere

Patrick Donahue, Bloomberg, July 24, 2008

Berlin’s city center took on the atmosphere of a rock concert as more than 200,000 people jammed the German capital’s Tiergarten park to hear U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama.

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“He’s extremely charismatic—I’ve never seen anybody like this,” said Wolfgang Zuchowsky, a 73-year-old retired police officer from Berlin. “It’s much better than what we’ve seen from the American style in the last few years, quite a bit more intellectual than the current president.”

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“I thought he was very good,” said Julian Metz, a 27-year- old architecture student in Berlin who shook Obama’s hand after the speech. “It was a great feeling to touch him.”

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‘Man of Goodwill’

The Berliners of 2008, for their part, wanted as much of Obama as possible. Sixty-two percent of Germans want him to be the next U.S. president, according to a Gallup poll released yesterday.

“He’s young and he’s a boy with integrity,” said Annegret Boesken, 60, a retiree from the western German town of Pruem. “I think he’s a man of goodwill. Especially from my generation, it’s a change for a new chapter in U.S.-German relations.”

Earlier in the day, thousands thronged behind barriers in front of the Hotel Adlon to try and get a glimpse of him.

The daily Berliner Zeitung’s headline ran: “Obama ist ein Berliner—fuer einen Tag,” or “Obama is a Berliner, for a day.” In the tabloid Bild-Zeitung the headline, “Do an Obama for Us,” was meant as a demand to German politicians to adopt Obama’s charisma as well as his cropped coif.

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