Reagan challenges Gorbachev
On this day in 1987, in one of his most famous Cold War speeches, President Ronald Reagan challenges Soviet Leader Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down” the Berlin Wall, a symbol of the repressive Communist era in a divided Germany.
In 1945, following Germany’s defeat in World War II, the nation’s capital, Berlin, was divided into four sections, with the Americans, British and French controlling the western region and the Soviets gaining power in the eastern region. In May 1949, the three western sections came together as the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany), with the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) being established in October of that same year. In 1952, the border between the two countries was closed and by the following year East Germans were prosecuted if they left their country without permission. In August 1961, the Berlin Wall was erected by the East German government to prevent its citizens from escaping to the West. Between 1949 and the wall’s inception, it’s estimated that over 2.5 million East Germans fled to the West in search of a less repressive life.
With the wall as a backdrop, President Reagan declared to a West Berlin crowd in 1987, “There is one sign the Soviets can make that would be unmistakable, that would advance dramatically the cause of freedom and peace.” He then called upon his Soviet counterpart: “Secretary General Gorbachev, 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.” Reagan then went on to ask Gorbachev to undertake serious arms reduction talks with the United States.
Most listeners at the time viewed Reagan’s speech as a dramatic appeal to Gorbachev to renew negotiations on nuclear arms reductions. It was also a reminder that despite the Soviet leader’s public statements about a new relationship with the West, the U.S. wanted to see action taken to lessen Cold War tensions. Happily for Berliners, though, the speech also foreshadowed events to come: Two years later, on November 9, 1989, joyful East and West Germans did break down the infamous barrier between East and West Berlin. Germany was officially reunited on October 3, 1990.
Gorbachev, who had been in office since 1985, stepped down from his post as Soviet leader in 1991. Reagan, who served two terms as president, from 1981 to 1989, died on June 5, 2004, at age 93.
GUCCI GUILTY EAU: A SMOOTH AND LIGHT INTERPRETATION OF THE SIGNATURE GUILTY WOMEN’S AND MEN’S FRAGRANCES
Promoted by Gucci Guilty Eau
ALSO ON THIS DAY
After suffering a devastating defeat on June 3, Union General Ulysses S. Grant pulls his troops from their positions at Cold Harbor, Virginia, and moves south.
In the driveway outside his home in Jackson, Mississippi, African American civil rights leader Medgar Evers is shot to death by white supremacist Byron De La Beckwith.During World War II, Evers volunteered for the U.S. Army and participated in the Normandy invasion. In 1952, he joined the National Association for...
Indira Gandhi, the prime minister of India, is found guilty of electoral corruption in her successful 1971 campaign. Despite calls for her resignation, Gandhi refused to give up India’s top office and later declared martial law in the country when public demonstrations threatened to topple her administration.Gandhi was the daughter...
Gen. John D. Lavelle, former four-star general and U.S. Air Force commander in Southeast Asia, testifies before the House Armed Services Committee. He had been relieved of his post in March and later demoted after it was determined that he had repeatedly ordered unauthorized bombings of military targets in North...
ALSO ON THIS DAY
- 1987 Reagan challenges Gorbachev
- 1776 Virginia adopts George Mason’s Declaration of Rights
- 1940 Edsel Ford agrees to manufacture Rolls-Royce engines for war effort
- 1862 J.E.B. Stuart rides around the Union army
- 1864 Grant pulls out of Cold Harbor
- 1987 Reagan challenges Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin Wall
- 1994 Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman murdered
- 1897 Deadly quake hits India
- 1898 Philippine independence declared
- 1963 Medgar Evers assassinated
- 1975 Indira Gandhi convicted of election fraud
- 2003 Gregory Peck dies
- 1942 Anne Frank receives a diary
- 1971 Honey Cone earns a #1 hit with “Want Ads”
- 1876 Journalist headed for Little Big Horn files dispatch
- 1924 George Herbert Walker Bush is born
- 1944 John F. Kennedy receives medals
- 1920 Big Red sets record at Belmont Stakes
- 1965 South Vietnamese premier resigns
- 1972 Lavelle testifies before Congress
World War I
- 1917 King Constantine of Greece abdicates
World War II
- 1940 Paris on the verge of invasion