- United States President Ronald Reagan gave this speech on June 12, 1987 in West Berlin. The speech was televised globally (including East Berlin) with the Brandenburg Gate and the Berlin wall as a key backdrop. President Reagan announced to the German people that he joined them as their fellow countrymen and firmly believed that there is only one Berlin. He stated, “as long as this gate is closed, as long as this scare 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.” The President saw the Berlin wall essential to the future of not only Berlin, but also Europe as a whole.
- President Reagan denounced the communist world for its failure, technological backwardness, declining standards of health, and starvation. He then compared the failures of communism to the successes of the Western world. Reagan concluded, “freedom leads to prosperity,” and that the West welcomes change and openness of the East to progress toward world peace.
- Reagan acknowledged the rapid economic growth and progress happening in Europe. He saw the Soviet Union needed to decide whether to join in on the prosperity or remain isolated and become obsolete. President Reagan ultimately demanded General Secretary Gorbachev of the Soviet Union to tear down the Berlin wall and join the West in their hopes of advancement of world freedom and peace.
- How is President Reagan approaching Gorbachev and the Soviet Union in this speech?
- What do you think would have happened if the wall did not come down? How would this have affected the outcomes of the Cold War?
- It is interesting to note that while Reagan proposed trust between the Soviet Union and the United States, we seem to be at a crossroads on this issue today.