27 Years Ago Today: Ronald Reagan Proclaims "Tear Down This Wall!"

Posted: Jun 12, 2014 3:00 PM

Two full years before the Berlin Wall would fall -- and 27 years ago today -- President Reagan stood at the Brandenburg Gate with a simple message for the leader of the Soviet Union: “General Secretary Gorbachev,” he said, “if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization: Come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”

The Berlin Wall was constructed on August 13, 1961 by the communist regime in East Germany. Heavily fortified with barbed wire, explosives and armed gunmen, the wall was not built to keep people out per se, but, rather, to keep people in. All told, an estimated 2.7 million souls attempted to escape East Germany from 1949 until the wall was formally constructed in 1961. After it was, at least a hundred people died trying to escape. Reagan’s speech, then, was a message of hope and solidarity to East Berliners -- and to those living under the yoke of communist tyranny in the Soviet satellite states -- who longed for freedom, liberty, and opportunity:

You can read President Reagan’s full remarks here.