Tear Down This Wall, Ronald Reagan, 1987
1. Chancellor Kohl, Governing Mayor Diepgen, ladies and gentlemen: Twenty-four years ago,
2. President John F. Kennedy visited Berlin, speaking to the people of this city and the world
3. at the City Hall. Well, since then two other presidents have come, each in his turn, to Berlin.
4. And today I, myself, make my second visit to your city.
5. ...We come to Berlin, we American presidents, because it's our duty to speak, in this place,
6. of freedom. But I must confess, we're drawn here by other things as well: by the feeling of
7. history in this city, more than 500 years older than our own nation; by the beauty of the
8. Grunewald and the Tiergarten; most of all, by your courage and determination. Perhaps the
9. composer Paul Lincke understood something about American presidents. You see, like so many
10. presidents before me, I come here today because wherever I go, whatever I do: Ich hab noch
11. einen Koffer in Berlin. [I still have a suitcase in Berlin.] ...I join you, as I join your fellow
12. countrymen in the West, in this firm, this unalterable belief: Es gibt nur ein Berlin.
13. [There is only one Berlin.]
14. Behind me stands a wall that encircles the free sectors of this city, part of a vast system
15. of barriers that divides the entire continent of Europe. From the Baltic, south, those barriers
16. cut across Germany in a gash of barbed wire, concrete, dog runs, and guard towers. ...It is
17. here in Berlin where the wall emerges most clearly; here, cutting across your city, where
18. the news photo and the television screen have imprinted this brutal division of a continent
19. upon the mind of the world. Standing before the Brandenburg Gate, every man is a German,
20. separated from his fellow men. Every man is a Berliner, forced to look upon a scar.
21. ...As long as the gate is closed, as long as this scar of a wall is permitted to stand, it is not
22. the German question alone that remains open, but the question of freedom for all mankind.
23. Yet I do not come here to lament. For I find in Berlin a message of hope, even in the shadow
24. of this wall, a message of triumph.
25. In this season of spring in 1945, the people of Berlin emerged from their air-raid shelters
26. to find devastation. Thousands of miles away, the people of the United States reached out
27. to help. And in 1947 Secretary of State--as you've been told--George Marshall announced
28. the creation of what would become known as the Marshall Plan. Speaking precisely 40 years
29. ago this month, he said: "Our policy is directed not against any country or doctrine, but against
30. hunger, poverty, desperation, and chaos."
31. ...Japan rose from ruin to become an economic giant. Italy, France, Belgium--virtually every
32.nation in Western Europe saw political and economic rebirth; the European Community was
33. founded. In West Germany and here in Berlin, there took place an economic miracle, the
34. Wirtschaftswunder. ...Where four decades ago there was rubble, today in West Berlin there
35. is the greatest industrial output of any city in Germany — busy office blocks, fine homes and
36. apartments, proud avenues, and the spreading lawns of parkland. Where a city's culture
37. seemed to have been destroyed, today there are two great universities, orchestras and
38. an opera, countless theaters, and museums. Where there was want, today there's abundance
39. — food, clothing, automobiles — the wonderful goods of the Ku'damm.
40. ...The Soviets may have had other plans. But my friends, there were a few things the Soviets
41. didn't count on — Berliner Herz, Berliner Humor, ja, und Berliner Schnauze. [Berliner heart,
52. Berliner humor, yes, and a Berliner Schnauze.] ...And now the Soviets themselves may, in a
53. limited way, be coming to understand the importance of freedom. We hear much from Moscow
54. about a new policy of reform and openness. Some political prisoners have been released.
55. Certain foreign news broadcasts are no longer being jammed. Some economic enterprises
56. have been permitted to operate with greater freedom from state control.
57. Are these the beginnings of profound changes in the Soviet state? Or are they token gestures,
58. intended to raise false hopes in the West, or to strengthen the Soviet system without changing
59. it? ...There is one sign the Soviets can make that would be unmistakable, that would advance
60. dramatically the cause of freedom and peace. General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace,
61. if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization: Come
62. here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!...
Reagan, Ronald. "Tear Down This Wall." Brandenburg Gate, West Berlin. 12 June 1987. Historyplace.com. Web. 26 Apr. 2016.
The author uses phrases in German, instead of English, (lines 10-11) primarily because