25 years ago today: “Tear down this wall!” was the challenge issued by United States President Ronald Reagan to Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to destroy the Berlin Wall, in a speech at the Brandenburg Gate near the Berlin Wall on June 12, 1987, commemorating the 750th anniversary of Berlin.
Remember what Reagan said on his second visit to Berlin?
“We welcome change and openness; for we believe that freedom and security go together, that the advance of human liberty can only strengthen the cause of world peace. There is one sign the Soviets can make that would be unmistakable, that would advance dramatically the cause of freedom and peace. 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. Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate. [applause]
Mr. Gorbachev, Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”
Reagan challenged Gorbachev, who was then the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, to tear it down as an emblem of Gorbachev’s desire to increase freedom in the Eastern Bloc through glasnost (“transparency”) and perestroika (“restructuring”).
Later in the speech Reagan added, “The wall will fall. Beliefs become reality.”
Peter Robinson, the White House wordsmith who drafted the address, said its most famous line was inspired by a conversation with Ingeborg Elz of West Berlin who had remarked in a conversation with him, “If this man Gorbachev is serious with his talk of Glasnost and perestroika he can prove it by getting rid of this wall.”
Built in 1961, the Berlin Wall became known as a symbol of communist oppression.
Twenty-nine months after Reagan’s speech, on November 9, 1989, after increasing public unrest, East Germany finally opened the Berlin Wall. By the end of the year, official operations to dismantle the wall began. With the collapse of the Communist governments of Eastern Europe and, eventually, the Soviet Union itself, the tearing down of the wall epitomized the collapse for history. In September 1990, Reagan, no longer President, returned to Berlin, where he personally took a few symbolic hammer swings at a remnant of the Berlin Wall.
Source: Wikipedia; thanks to my friend Malcolm for reminding me of this great day.