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.
“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.”
“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.”
‘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.