Posted by: ingogulde | April 21, 2010

What Reagan’s Speech Tear down this wall Meant for East Germans

“Tear down this wall!” At the time, I did not quite understand the significance of former US president Reagan’s words. In my childlike eyes, everything was going very well in East Germany. After all, we had a good life. But his speech also raised questions in my mind: Why is he asking the Soviets to open the gate? Why did we erect this wall? How would life be like without the wall?

Reagan gave that speech on June, 12 1987 in front of the Brandenburg Gate. He addressed former Soviet leader General Secretary Gorbachev with his famous words “Tear down this wall!” Whether or not to use this sentence in the speech was controversial because it bore the risk of offending the Soviets and further increase tensions between the East and the West. Reagan decided to include the sentence. And with it, his speech made history.

Some people doubt that Reagan’s speech had an actual impact on subsequent historical events. I personally believe, that his speech made a huge difference. It raised some very critical questions in the minds of the East Germans and gave hope to those opposing the totalitarian system. It brilliantly captured the zeitgeist and made America’s position and support for a unified Germany very clear. Until today, it remains an important milestone and event in the German history.

Fast forward to 1:55 min to listen to these famous words: “Tear down this wall!”:
Click here for the complete transcript of the speech. Learn more about the speech on Wikipedia.


  1. […] parts off the wall, hugging each other, and feeling overjoyed. Finally, Reagan’s call “Tear down that Wall” came […]

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