On September 19, 2012, Mayor Klaus Wowereit of Berlin, Germany, unveiled a plaque commemorating the 25th anniversary of President Ronald Reagan’s call to the Soviets to “tear down” the wall that then divided the city. This plaque is placed at the very spot on which Reagan stood in front of Berlin’s iconic Brandenburg Gate.
Reagan’s 1987 address came at a time when Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev was encouraging reform in the Eastern bloc. In his speech, Reagan said dismantling the Berlin Wall would be a powerful gesture for peace.
Two years later, in November 1989, the East German authorities issued a decree for the wall to be opened, allowing people to travel freely into West Berlin. In some cases, families that had been separated for decades were finally reunited.
The wall was torn down altogether by the end of 1990 upon the collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe and in Soviet Russia itself, marking the end of the Cold War era. Mayor Wowereit presented the bronze plaque on Wednesday saying it reminds Berliners of a “dark time” that has been overcome.
Earlier this year, a similar plaque was placed in front of the Axel Springer Building in Berlin as part of the “Balancing Act” sculpture by Stephan Balkenhol. The 5.70 m high work of art – a man balancing on a wall – is framed by eleven original pieces of the Berlin wall.
The publisher Axel Springer, a leading champion of German reunification, erected his high-rise headquarters directly beside the border of the Soviet occupied sector of Berlin, which in 1961 became the route of the Berlin Wall. For many people his gold-colored tower was a “lighthouse of the free West.”
At that unveiling, U.S. Ambassador Philip D. Murphy said, “President Ronald Reagan with his historic speech at the Brandenburg Gate made an undeniable contribution to the unification of Germany and the end of the Cold War and so changed the world.”
http://www.historyplace.com/speeches/reagan-tear-down.htm – Listen to the speech and read the entire transcript in which President Reagan famously said “Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.”
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WjWDrTXMgF8 – Watch an excerpt from Reagan’s Berlin speech on YouTube. (The famous quote is at 1:55, followed by great applause.)
Did You Know…? Chapman University in Orange, California, is home to a piece of the Berlin Wall, as well as a plaque bearing Ronald Reagan’s quote to “tear down this wall.”