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National Exhibit
National Exhibit
Ronald Reagan

Arriving in Berlin on June 12, 1987, President and Mrs. Reagan were taken to the Reichstag, where they viewed the wall from a balcony. Reagan then made his speech at the Brandenburg Gate at 2 PM, in front of two panes of bulletproof glass protecting him from potential snipers in East Berlin. About 45,000 people were in attendance; among the spectators were West German president Richard von Weizsäcker, Chancellor Helmut Kohl, and West Berlin mayor Eberhard Diepgen.

That afternoon, Reagan said,

“ 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. Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”

Later on in his speech, President Reagan said, "As I looked out a moment ago from the Reichstag, that embodiment of German unity, I noticed words crudely spray-painted upon the wall, perhaps by a young Berliner, 'This wall will fall. Beliefs become reality.' Yes, across Europe, this wall will fall. For it cannot withstand faith; it cannot withstand truth. The wall cannot withstand freedom."

Another highlight of the speech was Reagan's call to end the arms race with his reference to the Soviets' SS-20 nuclear weapons, and possibility of "not merely of limiting the growth of arms, but of eliminating, for the first time, an entire class of nuclear weapons from the face of the Earth."

At the time, the speech received "relatively little coverage from the media." Communists were also unimpressed by the speech,and the Soviet press agency Tass accused Reagan as giving an "openly provocative, war-mongering speech." Twenty-nine months later, after intense East German protest, Gorbachev allowed Berliners to destroy the wall, and the Soviet Union collapsed soon
afterward, hence tearing down the wall epitomized the collapse for history.

In September 1990, former President Reagan returned to Berlin, where he personally took a few symbolic hammer swings at a remnant of the Berlin Wall. Former West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl said he would never forget standing near Reagan when he challenged Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin Wall. "He was a stroke of luck for the world, especially for Europe."

Although there is some disagreement over how much influence, if any, Reagan's words had on the destruction of the wall, the speech is remembered as an important moment in Cold War history.

(Source: Wikipedia)

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[East] Germany
Location:  Central Europe
Capital:  [East] Berlin
Communist Rule:  1949-1990
Status:  03.10.90 - German reunification
Victims of Communism:
70 000