Ronald reagan and the berlin wall

“Tear Down This Wall”

ronald reagan and the berlin wall

President Reagan at Checkpoint Charlie in West Berlin on June 11, 1982

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Thank you. Thank you very much. Kennedy visited Berlin, speaking to the people of this city and the world at the City Hall. Well, since then two other presidents have come, each in his turn, to Berlin. And today I, myself, make my second visit to your city. We come to Berlin, we American presidents, because it's our duty to speak, in this place, of freedom.

Gorbachev, tear down this wall. Built, and officially closed on August 12, , to prevent disaffected East Germans from fleeing the relative deprivations of life in their country for greater freedom and opportunity in the West, the wall was more than just a physical barrier. It also stood as a vivid symbol of the battle between communism and democracy that divided Berlin, Germany and the entire European continent during the Cold War. Berlin residents at the newly built wall, August Why was the Berlin Wall built?

By the s it had become a symbol of the tense relationship between East and West during the Cold War as well as an enduring symbol of Soviet oppression. On June 12, , U. In , U. President John F. When Kennedy gave his speech, the mortar was barely dry on the edifice. Although many East Germans in still looked to escape, their enthusiasm was tempered by an improved system of fences, barbed wire, watchtowers, and other security measures and by steady handling by a string of hard-line Soviet leaders: Nikita Khrushchev , Leonid Brezhnev , Yury Andropov , and Konstantin Chernenko.

The staging was powerful: a United States president in front of the Brandenburg Gate at the height of the Cold War, with an East Berlin security post visible behind him. On this day 30 years ago, President Ronald Reagan stood behind two panes of bulletproof glass yards from the Berlin Wall and called on the Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev to dismantle it. Gorbachev, open this gate! Gorbachev, tear down this wall!

In , the border between the two countries was closed and by the following year East Germans were prosecuted if they left their country without permission. In August , the Berlin Wall was erected by the East German government to prevent its citizens from escaping to the West. Gorbachev, open this gate. Gorbachev, tear down this wall. Happily for Berliners, though, the speech also foreshadowed events to come: Two years later, on November 9, , joyful East and West Germans did break down the infamous barrier between East and West Berlin. Germany was officially reunited on October 3,

Behind me stands a wall that encircles the free sectors of this city, part of a vast system of barriers that divides the entire continent of Europe. Standing before the Brandenburg Gate, every man is a German, separated from his fellow men. Every man is a Berliner, forced to look upon a scar. As long as this gate is closed, as long as this scar of a wall is permitted to stand, it is not the German question alone that remains open, but the question of freedom for all mankind. General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization, come here to this gate. Gorbachev, open this gate!

Tear down this wall!

The "tear down this wall" speech was not the first time Reagan had addressed the issue of the Berlin Wall. In a visit to West Berlin in June , he stated, "I'd like to ask the Soviet leaders one question [ On the day before Reagan's visit, 50, people had demonstrated against the presence of the American president in Berlin.







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