No, he actually said he was a Berliner:
“All free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Berlin. And therefore, as a free man, I take pride in the words: Ich bin ein Berliner!”
And you´re right that his words are not understood in a “pastry context”. A jelly-filled doughnut is called “Berliner” only in West Germany. In Southern Germany it´s called “Krapfen” and in the East they name it “Pfannkuchen” - all three words describe the same thing.
Thanks, I’m sure you’re correct. I heard the speech contemporaneously and in context, though I knew almost no German or Latin at the time. The Latin and German meaning was obvious, in context.
Kennedy made an explicit analogy of Berlin to ancient Rome. I don’t think the German crowd understood half of his Boston accented English, but they went wild when he spoke those words, “Ik (sic) bin ein Berliner.” (Kennedy clearly said “Ik”, not “Ich”.)
Like I said, Germans whom I’ve spoken to are divided, but I suspect the ones who claim he said he was a pastry are carping.