Berlin – “Break down this wall” -33 years ago the speech that changed the history of the world

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It was June 12, 1987 when the then President of the United States of America Ronald Reagan uttered this phrase during a speech at the Brandenburg Gate, intended to be a motto against all forms of racist ideology: “Tear down this wall” , or rather, “Break down this wall” (About 24 years after the famous “Ich bin ein Berliner”, “I am Berliner” by John F. Kennedy). It was an exhortation to the Secretary of the CPSU Michail Gorbachev to break down the wall.

“We welcome change and openness, because we believe that freedom and security go together, that the progress of human freedom can only strengthen the cause of peace in the world. There is only one action that the Soviets can do that would be unmistakable, which would dramatically advance the causes of freedoms and peace. Secretary General Gorbachev, if you are looking for peace, if you are looking for prosperity for the Soviet Union and for Eastern Europe, if you are looking for liberalization, come here. Mr. Gorbachev open this door. Mr. Gorbachev, Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall! ”

The speech received relatively modest media coverage: from the eastern part of the “iron curtain” (expression coined and used for the first time by Winston Churchill in a long speech held on March 5, 1946 in Fulton, Missouri – Usa)
the reception was cold: the Soviet news agency TASS called the visit a “warmongering provocation”. The New York Times and Washington Post themselves, the day after Reagan’s speech in Berlin, did not publish the news on the front page.

2 years later, on 9 November 1989 the Berlin wall fell.
Günter Schabowski (official of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany) communicated: “People who wish to leave definitively can present themselves at all the border posts between the GDR and federal Germany or in West Berlin. As far as I know, the new law applies immediately, from now on ”.
In September of the following year, Reagan, now ex-president, returned to Berlin and gave symbolic hammers to a piece of wall still standing.

Former West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, recalling that iconic moment during his speech in 1987, said: “It was a stroke of luck for the world, especially for Europe”.

Twenty years later, the German newspaper Bild said that that speech changed the world. “There is only one Berlin.”

Antonietta Della Femina



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