The presumptive Democratic presidential candidate, often hailed as the new John F. Kennedy, is on a foreign tour, which will bring him to Germany on Thursday. He will meet Chancellor Angela Merkel and other top German politicians before making a public speech.
Until now the potential site of his speech has been a matter of speculation and controversy, with Merkel’s office knocking back initial plans to have him speak at the Brandenburg Gate, saying it would be inappropriate for the US election campaign to play out at the famous landmark.
Obama’s team decided against Tempelhof airport – the site of the Berlin airlift – and opted for the Siegessäule.
Although the victory column may seem an easy win for the team, it has been criticized by some Berlin politicians such as Fainer Brüderle, deputy chairman of the liberal party FDP.
“The Siegessäule in Berlin was moved from the Reichstag to its current position by Adolf Hitler,” he told the Bild am Sonntag. “It was a symbol for German supremacy and victorious wars against Denmark, Austria and France.”
He said he questioned, “if Barack Obama has been well advised to use it as the site of a speech outlining his vision of a world of cooperation.”
Berlin authorities expect Obama to begin his speech at around 7 pm on Thursday, and say they are planning for up to a million people to show up to the Straße des 17. Juni between the Brandenburger Gate and Siegessäule to see him.
Security measures are being planned to create an Obama ‘fan mile’ similar to that set up for hundreds of thousands of people to watch European Championship football matches on big screens in the same area.