Le Mur de Berlin a été construit dans la nuit du 12 au 13 août 1961. Il a été détruit le 9 novembre 1989. 28 ans de honte et d’entrave à la liberté. Pendant ces 28 ans, tous les présidents des Etats-Unis sont allés à Berlin au moins une fois et se sont adressés aux Berlinois avec des formules restées célèbres.
La séparation de Berlin en Berlin Est et Berlin Ouest s’insère comme une poupée russe dans la séparation de l’Allemagne en deux pays. La division de l’Allemagne en République fédérale allemande et République démocratique allemande remonte à 1949. La réunification elle est un processus qui va d’octobre 1989 à octobre 1990. La loi Beitritt der DDR im Grundgesetz der BRD (Entrée de la RDA dans la Loi fondamentale de la RFA) a été votée le 3 octobre 1990 par le parlement de la RDA.
- Le 26 juin 1963, John Kennedy va à Berlin pour exprimer son soutien et sa compassion aux Berlinois. Sa déclaration Ich Bin Ein Berliner est passée à la postérité. C’est la première déclaration d’un président américain à Berlin après la création du mur.
- Le 12 juin 1987, Ronald Reagan parle devant la porte de Brandebourg et son interpellation à Gorbatech est restée tout aussi célèbre : “General Secretary 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!”
- Le 10 novembre, juste après la chute du mur, George Bush père s’adresse à la National Association of Realtors à Dallas, Texas et profite de l’occasion pour faire la première déclaration sur le sujet. “Before going into my main remarks, let me just say a word about the momentous events in East Germany (…) And then today, just on the plane coming down, I read a report where 18 new border crossings would be made in the wall in the near future. And to be honest, I doubted that this would happen in the very first year of this administration. Twenty-eight years after the desperate days of 1961, when tanks faced off at Checkpoint Charlie and that terrible barrier was built — now the East German Government has responded to the wishes of its people. And while no one really accurately predicted the speed of the changes underway in Eastern Europe — and certainly I didn’t”.
Remarks in the Rudolph Wilde Platz, Berlin
June 26, 1963
I am proud to come to this city as the guest of your distinguished Mayor, who has symbolized throughout the world the fighting spirit of West Berlin. And I am proud to visit the Federal Republic with your distinguished Chancellor who for so many years has committed Germany to democracy and freedom and progress, and to come here in the company of my fellow American, General Clay, who has been in this city during its great moments of crisis and will come again if ever needed.
Two thousand years ago the proudest boast was “civis Romanus sum.” Today, in the world of freedom, the proudest boast is “Ich bin ein Berliner.”
I appreciate my interpreter translating my German !
There are many people in the world who really don’t understand, or say they don’t, what is the great issue between the free world and the Communist world. Let them come to Berlin. There are some who say that communism is the wave of the future. Let them come to Berlin. And there are some who say in Europe and elsewhere we can work with the Communists. Let them come to Berlin. And there are even a few who say that it is true that communism is an evil system, but it permits us to make economic progress. Lass’ sic nach Berlin kommen. Let them come to Berlin.
Freedom has many difficulties and democracy is not perfect, but we have never had to put a wall up to keep our people in, to prevent them from leaving us. I want to say, on behalf of my countrymen, who live many miles away on the other side of the Atlantic, who are far distant from you, that they take the greatest pride that they have been able to share with you, even from a distance, the story of the last 18 years. I know of no town, no city, that has been besieged for 18 years that still lives with the vitality and the force, and the hope and the determination of the city of West Berlin. While the wall is the most obvious and vivid demonstration of the failures of. the Communist system, for all the world to see, we take no satisfaction in it, for it is, as your Mayor has said, an offense not only against history but an offense against humanity, separating families, dividing husbands and wives and brothers and sisters, and dividing a people who wish to be joined together.
What is true of this city is true of Germany-real, lasting peace in Europe can never be assured as long as one German out of four is denied the elementary right of free men, and that is to make a free choice. In 18 years of peace and good faith, this generation of Germans has earned the right to be free, including the right to unite their families and their nation in lasting peace, with good will to all people. You live in a defended island of freedom, but your life is part of the main. So let me ask you, as I close, to lift your eyes beyond the dangers of today, to the hopes of tomorrow, beyond the freedom merely of this city of Berlin, or your country of Germany, to the advance of freedom everywhere, beyond the wall to the day of peace with justice, beyond yourselves and ourselves to all mankind.
Freedom is indivisible, and when one man is enslaved, all are not free. When all are free, then we can look forward to that day when this city will be joined as one and this country and this great Continent of Europe in a peaceful and hopeful globe. When that day finally comes, as it will, the people of West Berlin can take sober satisfaction in the fact that they were in the front lines for almost two decades.
All free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Berlin, and, therefore, as a free man, I take pride in the words “Ich bin ein Berliner.”
Lyndon B. Johnson
Toasts of the President and Mayor Willy Brandt of Berlin.
May 18, 1964
Mayor Brandt, gentlemen:
I am very happy, Mayor Brandt, to welcome you here not only as the famous mayor of a free city and a flourishing country but as a good, long-time friend, too. I recall most pleasantly that you first visited my State more than 10 years ago, and I shall never forget my return to your country in 1961. You and I have a great deal in common, not the least of which is the fact that while journalism gave both of us a start in life, it has more recently given us many starts and little serenity. In fact, Mayor Brandt, when Bismarck said, “We Germans fear God but nothing else in the world,” I can only conclude that there were no magazines in Germany in those days.
So, it is a pleasure to have you in our city, in our country, in our house, and to greet you and, through you, the brave people of Berlin. I will never forget my visit there 3 years ago when your people demonstrated again as they have done so often the strength of their devotion to liberty. The fortitude of a lesser people might well have collapsed when the wall went up in Berlin in 1961, but your people met this challenge with good sense, with uncommon courage, and today West Berlin has taken on new meaning as a thriving industrial city, a busy metropolis, a center for education, culture, and research.
I want to assure you, Mr. Mayor, that the inequities and injustices of a divided Berlin in a divided Germany continue to be of major concern to our people in the United States. Our purpose is constant–a united Berlin within a united Germany, united by self-determination in peace and freedom. Until the objective is achieved, there can be no real and lasting peace in Europe or, indeed, in the rest of the world.
Berlin remains a symbol of hope, not only for a unified Germany but also for the cause of freedom everywhere; and with persistence and constructive efforts by men of good will everywhere, that hope will be realized some day. So, gentlemen, I ask you to raise your glasses in a toast to the Governing Mayor of Berlin and through him, to the courageous people that he serves so well. Mayor Brandt.
Message to Chancellor Kiesinger on the Situation in Berlin.
June 17, 1968
On June 11, 1968, as reported in the press, new travel regulations were imposed by East Germany on routes to West Berlin, including a visa and passport requirement, a higher transport fee for use of the autobahn, and a surtax on freight carried through East Germany by West German carriers.
Kurt Georg Kiesinger, Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany
My dear Mr. Chancellor:
It is a matter of great regret to me that while the Federal Republic and we are pursuing objectives that I believe all mankind shares, namely to live in peace with our neighbors, Berlin is once again threatened.
Our government and yours, along with the British and French, are consulting on this latest totally unprovoked and unjustified aggravation of the situation. I want to express to you on this “Day of German Unity” that our support of free Berlin and the goal of a German people united in peace remains as firm as ever.
The message was released at Austin, Texas.
Remarks at the Signing of the Golden Book at the Charlottenburg Palace, West Berlin.
February 27, 1969
Mr. Mayor, Mr. Chancellor, Mr. Vice Chancellor, Mr. Secretary of State, all of the distinguished guests who are here in this room:
I speak to you at a time when I have experienced a very moving occasion, to travel through this city and to realize again what Berlin means to all the people of the world.
We have seen here a wall. A wall can divide a city, but a wall can never divide a people. A wall can divide physically but it cannot divide Berlin spiritually because the spirit of freedom that I saw on the faces of thousands of Berliners today is the spirit that will continue to survive and will continue to receive support by those who are free throughout the world.
As I went through the city, too, I realized that those who have indicated that this city was a dying city were wrong because I saw the young faces, the children, the workers, smiling–people who realize that this city does have hope, that it does have a future.
Finally, Mr. Mayor, as one who has traveled to many cities in the world and many in the United States, I am somewhat of an expert in looking at crowds and also an expert in the signs that people in the crowds carry.
In some cities in the world and in some cities in the United States I have seen signs that say “Nixon come back” and other signs that say “Nixon go home.” But here in Berlin most of the signs that really have meaning, the expression on the faces of people said: “Welcome. We stand with you. We stand for peace. We stand for freedom.”
And I well recall that as we were riding in the car the Mayor and the Chancellor translated some of the signs and one in particular seemed to repeat over and over again. It said: Viel Glueck! So I say to the people of Berlin: Good luck!
Four Power Summit Meeting Joint Declaration on Berlin.
May 9, 1977
The four heads of state and of government of France, the United States, the United Kingdom and the FRG have reviewed questions relating to the situation in Germany and particularly Berlin.
The four governments expressed their satisfaction at the positive effect which the Quadripartite Agreement of 3 September 1971 has had on the situation in and around Berlin. They agreed that the strict observance and full implementation of the Agreement, which are indispensable to the continued improvement of the situation, are essential to the strengthening of detente, the maintenance of security and the development of cooperation throughout Europe. The governments of France, the United States and the United Kingdom noted that detente would be seriously threatened if any one of the four signatory powers to the Quadripartite Agreement were not to respect fully the undertakings confirmed by the signatory powers in the Agreement and in the Quadripartite Declaration of November 1972.
The three Powers recalled that the Quadripartite Agreement was based explicitly on the fact that quadripartite rights and responsibilities and the corresponding wartime and post-war four Power agreements and decisions were not affected. They reaffirmed that this status of the special area of Berlin could not be modified unilaterally. The three Powers will continue to reject all attempts to put in question the rights and responsibilities which France, the United States, the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union retain relating to Germany as a whole and to all four sectors of Berlin.
The four governments recalled that one of the essential elements in the Quadripartite Agreement is the affirmation that the ties between the Western Sectors of Berlin and the FRG should be maintained and developed in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Agreement. This conforms with the interests and wishes of the people directly concerned. In this regard, the three Powers took special note of efforts by the Federal Republic of Germany, taking into account the provisions of the Quadripartite Agreement relevant to its responsibilities for representing the interests of the Western Sectors of Berlin abroad, to enable the Western Sectors of Berlin to profit from the practical benefits of East-West relations.
The four governments pledged their cooperation in maintaining a political situation conducive to the vitality and prosperity of the Western Sectors of Berlin. The three Powers expressed their appreciation of the efforts of the Federal Republic of Germany and the Senate of Berlin to ensure that the Western Sectors remain an attractive place in which to invest and to work. They reaffirmed their commitment to the city’s security, which is an indispensable prerequisite for its economic and social development.
Note: The Four Power summit meeting was held at 10 a.m. at 10 Downing Street, London. Participants were: President Carter, Valery Giscard d’Estaing, President of the Republic of France, Helmut Schmidt, Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, and James Callaghan, Prime Minister and First Lord of the Treasury of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Berlin, Federal Republic of Germany Remarks at a Wreathlaying Ceremony at the Airlift Memorial
July 15, 1978
Chancellor Schmidt, Governing Mayor Stobbe, distinguished officials from the United States and from the Federal Republic of Germany and the great and free community of West Berlin:
I bring greetings to you from 220 million Americans and a pledge of our total commitment to you for the freedom of us all.
Thirty years ago this week, President Harry Truman was renominated by the Democratic Party, the first Marshall plan loan was made to Europe, and in this square one sound was heard above all others – the sound of Allied airplanes landing at this terminal behind us, one every 3 1/2 minutes, carrying supplies for the free people of Berlin.
I have just met four brave men who participated in that airlift: Jack Bennett and Miller Hayes from the United States of America, Roy Jenkins and Keith Hepburn from Great Britain. And I would like for you to give them an expression of your appreciation for what they did 30 years ago.
That was the time when people everywhere began to understand that the dispute over Berlin was not a local issue, but a great defense of freedom and democracy, with permanent worldwide interest and significance.
That was the week when the people of Berlin gathered in mass rallies to cheer Ernst Reuter and other brave leaders who declared their willingness to stand fast for a better, more peaceful, more democratic world.
That was the week when the people of the Western Zones of Germany added their resources to the Allied Airlift and sent tens of thousands of gift parcels to their countrymen here in Berlin.
That was the week when German Communists visited shops in the western part of this city and warned the owners that unless they joined the party, they would lose their shops when the Western powers left Berlin. That has never happened; that will never happen.
And that was the week when the Soviet Union responded to our demand to end the blockade with the assertion, and I quote, “Berlin is in the center of the Soviet Zone and is part of that Zone.” With the courage of Berliners and the determination of the people of the West, we gave the answer: Berlin bleibt frei. Berlin stays free.
I am sobered but proud to be with you today at this historic time, to pay my respects to the 78 Americans, Britons, and Germans who lost their lives in the Airlift and who are honored by this simple but eloquent memorial.
This effort, which it commemorates, was the beginning of the commitments, including the Atlantic Alliance, which have to this day maintained the freedom and the security of Berlin, the Federal Republic, Western Europe, and the United States.
Five American Presidents have upheld the commitments that Harry Truman made in those crucial times, and today I tell you that my Nation still upholds this commitment to freedom.
I have spent this morning visiting troops, both German and American, who are stationed in the Federal Republic as part of the NATO Alliance. The United States has 300,000 military personnel in Europe to guarantee the freedom of this Continent and our own land.
During my visit to the Federal Republic, I’ve seen for myself the strength of the ties that bind the Federal Republic and the United States together. And here in Berlin, the presence of our troops and the readiness of Tempelhof both bear witness to our unshakable devotion to the people of this great city.
Berlin and the Quadripartite Agreement are symbols not only of the values that can never be compromised nor negotiated but also of the practical improvements that can be achieved by those who are willing patiently to negotiate.
When the Berlin blockade was lifted in 1949, Governing Mayor Reuter declared that, “… much can be gained by peaceful means if one has a clear understanding of what is politically possible and . . . if one has a firm will politically.”
The human benefits that have brightened the lives of Berliners, West and East, as a result of the 1971 Quadripartite Agreement are proof of what can be accomplished through detente.
Looking back over the years, we can learn from the experience here in Berlin the conditions for maintaining freedom and for reducing international tension by negotiation.
First, we must be determined to maintain our essential interests and objectives. Among these are the basic human rights to which the United States is and always will be committed.
Second, those human beings who are defended must themselves be committed to freedom, just as Berliners have so amply proven that you, being free, are committed to freedom.
Third, we must be willing to understand the perspective of others in the course of negotiating agreements which maintain our own interests.
In the 30 years that have elapsed since this Airlift began, Berliners and Americans have grown ever closer together. Every American who visits here finds not only allies in the cause of freedom but personal friends as well. We have not forgotten the aid that you sent to Americans suffering from the cold winter early last year, and we will continue to preserve, through such instruments as the Airlift Memorial Scholarships, close contact between generations that had not yet been born when our fates were first bonded together.
The Bible says a city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. What has been true of my own land for 3 1/2 centuries is equally true here in Berlin. As a city of human freedom, human hope, and human rights, Berlin is a light to the whole world; a city on a hill—it cannot be hidden; the eyes of all people are upon you. Was immer sei, Berlin bleibt frei. (No matter what happens, Berlin will stay free.)
Statement on the Twentieth Anniversary of the Berlin Wall
August 13, 1981
Twenty years ago the city of Berlin was divided by barriers erected to seal off East Berlin from the rest of the city. Those barriers were soon replaced by a massive concrete wall—a wall that today symbolizes the imprisonment of millions of Germans under Communist rule.
Although this wall stopped the flow of more than 3,000 persons a day who were escaping just before it was built, it could not completely stifle the human longing for freedom—tragically, more than 70 people have lost their lives trying to climb across the Berlin Wall to safety and freedom.
The Berlin Wall is a dramatic example of the desperate and cruel extremes to which totalitarian regimes will go to deny their subjects contact with other Europeans. From the Baltic Sea to Southeastern Europe, a murderous barrier of minefields and barbed wire, manned by guards who shoot to kill, stands as a monument to the inhumanity of those who would make the individual the servant of the state.
All who treasure freedom and human dignity should never accept nor take for granted this lethal barrier to freedom that stands today in the heart of Europe.
The regimes responsible for the barrier must be constantly reminded that their elaborate efforts to stifle human freedom with walls, mines, gunfire, and barbed wire are a colossal admission of failure.
What can the world think of rulers who must build prison walls around their own nation? What can the world think of leaders who fear that their own people will flee their homeland at the first opportunity?
Today throughout the world men and women who cherish freedom pray for the day when the Berlin Wall and other such monuments to tyranny are only a bitter memory—a day when the people of East Europe can once again enjoy free contact with their neighbors in the West.
Remarks to the People of Berlin
June 11, 1982
Mr. Governing Mayor, Mr. Chancellor, Excellencies, you ladies and gentlemen:
It was one of Germany’s greatest sons, Goethe, who said that “there is strong shadow where there is much light.” In our times, Berlin, more than any other place in the world, is such a meeting place of light and shadow, tyranny and freedom. To be here is truly to stand on freedom’s edge and in the shadow of a wall that has come to symbolize all that is darkest in the world today, to sense how shining and priceless and how much in need of constant vigilance and protection our legacy of liberty is.
This day marks a happy return for us. We paid our first visit to this great city more than 3 years ago, as private citizens. As with every other citizen to Berlin or visitor to Berlin, I came away with a vivid impression of a city that is more than a place on the map—a city that is a testament to what is both most inspiring and most troubling about the time we live in.
Thomas Mann once wrote that “A man lives not only his personal life as an individual, but also consciously or unconsciously the life of his epoch.” Nowhere is this more true than in Berlin, where each moment of everyday life is spent against the backdrop of contending global systems and ideas. To be a Berliner is to live the great historic struggle of this age, the latest chapter in man’s timeless quest for freedom.
As Americans, we understand this. Our commitment to Berlin is a lasting one. Thousands of our citizens have served here since the first small contingent of American troops arrived on July 4th, 1945, the anniversary of our independence as a nation. Americans have served here ever since— not as conquerors, but as guardians of the freedom of West Berlin and its brave, proud, people.
Today I want to pay tribute to my fellow countrymen, military and civilian, who serve their country and the people of Berlin and, in so doing, stand as sentinels of freedom everywhere. I also wish to pay my personal respects to the people of this great city. My visit here today is proof that this American commitment has been worthwhile. Our freedom is indivisible.
The American commitment to Berlin is much deeper than our military presence here. In the 37 years since World War II, a succession of American Presidents has made it clear that our role in Berlin is emblematic of our larger search for peace throughout Europe and the world. Ten years ago this month, that search brought into force the Quadripartite Agreement on Berlin. A decade later, West Berliners live more securely, can travel more freely and, most significantly, have more contact with friends and relatives in East Berlin and East Germany than was possible 10 years ago.
These achievements reflect the realistic approach of Allied negotiators, who recognized that practical progress can be made even while basic differences remain between East and West. As a result, both sides have managed to handle their differences in Berlin without the clash of arms, to the benefit of all mankind.
The United States remains committed to the Berlin agreement. We will continue to expect strict observance and full implementation in all aspects of this accord, including those which apply to the eastern sector of Berlin. But if we are heartened by the partial progress achieved in Berlin, other developments make us aware of the growing military power and expansionism of the Soviet Union.
Instead of working with the West to reduce tensions and erase the danger of war, the Soviet Union is engaged in the greatest military buildup in the history of the world. It has used its new-found might to ruthlessly pursue it goals around the world. As the sad case of Afghanistan proves, the Soviet Union has not always respected the precious right of national sovereignty it is committed to uphold as a signatory of the United Nations Charter. And only one day’s auto ride from here, in the great city of Warsaw, a courageous people suffer, because they dare to strive for the very fundamental human rights which that Helsinki Final Act proclaimed.
The citizens of free Berlin appreciate better than anyone the importance of allied unity in the face of such challenges. Ten years after the Berlin agreement, the hope it engendered for lasting peace remains a hope rather than a certainty. But the hopes of free people—be they German or American-are stubborn things. We will not be lulled or bullied into fatalism, into resignation. We believe that progress for just and lasting peace can be made, that substantial areas of agreement can be reached with potential adversaries when the forces of freedom act with firmness, unity, and a sincere willingness to negotiate.
To succeed at the negotiating table, we allies have learned that a healthy military balance is a necessity. Yesterday, the other NATO heads of government and I agreed that it is essential to preserve and strengthen such a military balance. And let there be no doubt: The United States will continue to honor its commitment to Berlin.
Our forces will remain here as long as necessary to preserve the peace and protect the freedom of the people of Berlin. For us the American presence in Berlin, as long as it is needed, is not a burden; it is a sacred trust.
Ours is a defensive mission. We pose no threat to those who live on the other side of the wall. But we do extend a challenge, a new Berlin initiative to the leaders of the Soviet bloc. It is a challenge for peace. We challenge the men in the Kremlin to join with us in the quest for peace, security, and a lowering of the tensions and weaponry that could lead to future conflict.
We challenge the Soviet Union, as we proposed last year, to eliminate their SS—20, SS-4, and SS-5 missiles. If Chairman Brezhnev agrees to this, we stand ready to forgo all of our ground-launched cruise missiles and Pershing II missiles.
We challenge the Soviet Union, as NATO proposed yesterday, to slash the conventional ground forces of the Warsaw Pact and NATO in Central Europe to 700,000 men each and the total ground and air forces of the two alliances to 900,000 men each. And we challenge the Soviet Union to live up to its signature its leader placed on the Helsinki treaty, so that the basic human rights of Soviet and Eastern Europe people will be respected.
A positive response to these sincere and reasonable points from the Soviets, these calls for conciliation instead of confrontation, could open the door for a conference on disarmament in Europe.
We Americans—we Americans are optimists, but we are also realists. We’re a peaceful people, but we’re not a weak or gullible people. So, we look with hope to the Soviet Union’s response. But we expect positive actions rather than rhetoric as the first proof of Soviet good intentions. We expect that the response to my Berlin initiative for peace will demonstrate finally that the Soviet Union is serious about working to reduce tensions in other parts of the world as they have been able to do here in Berlin.
Peace, it has been said, is more than the absence of armed conflict. Reducing military forces alone will not automatically guarantee the long-term prospects for peace.
Several times in the 1950’s and ’60’s the world went to the brink of war over Berlin. Those confrontations did not come because of military forces or operations alone. They arose because the Soviet Union refused to allow the free flow of peoples and ideas between East and West. And they came because the Soviet authorities and their minions repressed millions of citizens in Eastern Germany who did not wish to live under a Communist dictatorship.
So, I want to concentrate the second part of America’s new Berlin initiative on ways to reduce the human barriers—barriers as bleak and brutal as the Berlin Wall itself-which divide Europe today.
If I had only one message to urge on the leaders of the Soviet bloc, it would be this: Think of your own coming generations. Look with me 10 years into the future when we will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Berlin agreement. What then will be the fruits of our efforts? Do the Soviet leaders want to be remembered for a prison wall, ringed with barbed wire and armed guards whose weapons are aimed at innocent civilians—their own civilians? Do they want to conduct themselves in a way that will earn only the contempt of free peoples and the distrust of their own citizens? Or do they want to be remembered for having taken up our offer to use Berlin as a starting point for true efforts to reduce the human and political divisions which are the ultimate cause of every war?
We in the West have made our choice. America and our allies welcome peaceful competition in ideas, in economics, and in all facets of human activity. We seek no advantage. We covet no territory. And we wish to force no ideology or way of life on others.
The time has come, 10 years after the Berlin agreement, to fulfill the promise it seemed to offer at its dawn. I call on President Brezhnev to join me in a sincere effort to translate the dashed hopes of the 1970’s into the reality of a safer and freer Europe in the 1980’s.
I am determined to assure that our civilization averts the catastrophe of a nuclear war. Stability depends primarily on the maintenance of a military balance which offers no temptation to an aggressor. And the arms control proposals which I have made are designed to enhance deterrence and achieve stability at substantially lower and equal force levels. At the same time, other measures might be negotiated between the United States and the Soviet Union to reinforce the peace and help reduce the possibility of a nuclear conflict. These include measures to enhance mutual confidence and to improve communication both in time of peace and in a crisis.
Past agreements have created the hot line between Moscow and Washington, established measures to reduce the danger of nuclear accidents, and provided for notification of some missile launches. We are now studying other concrete and practical steps to help further reduce the risk of a nuclear conflict which I intend to explore with the Soviet Union. It is time we went further to avert the risk of war through accident or misunderstanding.
We shortly will approach the Soviet Union with proposals in such areas as notification of strategic exercises, of missile launches, and expanded exchange of strategic forces data. Taken together, these steps would represent a qualitative improvement in the nuclear environment. They would help reduce the chances of misinterpretation in the case of exercises and test launches. And they would reduce the secrecy and ambiguity which surround military activity. We are considering additional measures as well.
We will be making these proposals in good faith to the Soviet Union. We hope that their response to this Berlin initiative, so appropriate to a city that is acutely conscious of the costs and risks of war, will be positive. A united, resolute Western Alliance stands ready to defend itself if necessary. But we are also ready to work with the Soviet bloc in peaceful cooperation if the leaders of the East are willing to respond in kind.
Let them remember the message of Schiller that only “He who has done his best for his own time has lived for all times.” Let them join with us in our time to achieve a lasting peace and a better life for tomorrow’s generations on both sides of that blighted wall. And let the Brandenburg Gate become a symbol not of two separate and hostile worlds, but an open door through which ideas, free ideas, and peaceful competition flourish.
My final message is for the people of Berlin. Even before my first visit to your city, I felt a part of you, as all free men and women around the world do. We lived through the blockade and airlift with you. We witnessed the heroic reconstruction of a devastated city, and we watched the creation of your strong democratic institutions.
When I came here in 1978, I was deeply moved and proud of your success. What finer proof of what freedom can accomplish than the vibrant, prosperous island you’ve created in the midst of a hostile sea. Today, my reverence for your courage and accomplishment has grown even deeper.
You are a constant inspiration for us all-for our hopes and ideals, and for the human qualities of courage, endurance, and faith that are the one secret weapon of the West no totalitarian regime can ever match. As long as Berlin exists, there can be no doubt about the hope for democracy.
Yes, the hated wall still stands. But taller and stronger than that bleak barrier dividing East from West, free from oppressed, stands the character of the Berliners themselves. You have endured in your splendid city on the Spree, and my return visit has convinced me, in the words of the beloved old song that “Berlin bleibt doch Berlin”-Berlin is still Berlin.
We all remember John Kennedy’s stirring words when he visited Berlin. I can only add that we in America and in the West are still Berliners, too, and always will be. And I am proud to say today that it is good to be home again.
God bless you. Danke schon.
Statement on the 25th Anniversary of the Berlin Wall
August 13, 1986
Twenty-five years ago one of the world’s great cities was torn in two, its people divided and a unity that had lasted for more than 700 years brutally destroyed. Overnight a wall was thrown up around the western sectors of Berlin by East Germany in collusion with the Soviet Union. As thousands of persons desperately sought to flee, fences of barbed wire and armed men blocked the exits and turned them back. Often the soldiers, themselves, threw down their weapons and vaulted over the first crude barriers, choosing freedom in the West at the risk of their lives.
After 25 years, the Berlin Wall remains as terrible as ever: watched night and day by armed guards in towers, the ground between barriers floodlit and patrolled by dogs. Those seeking freedom still attempt to cross the death strip in a burst for liberty. The Berlin Wall is tragic testimony to the failure of totalitarian governments. It is the most visible sign of the unnatural division of Germany and of Europe—a division which cruelly separates East from West, family from family, and friend from friend.
The horror of the wall can easily overwhelm us. But this anniversary reminds us, too, of the Berliners who, in resisting tyranny, proved and still prove their courage and their passion for freedom. They have made Berlin a thriving metropolis, a showcase of liberty which will invite the world to join in its 750th anniversary next year. The United States is proud to fulfill, with its British and French allies, its solemn commitment to the Berliners and to their great city. Western strength and cohesion protected Berlin in the past; they are the only basis on which future improvements are possible.
Those who built and maintain the Berlin Wall pretend it is permanent. It cannot be. One day it—and all those like it—will come down. As long as the wall stands, it can never be porous enough for free men and women in the West, and freedom-loving men and women in the East, to tolerate it. Freedom, not repression, is the way of the future. Dividing Europe, defying the will of its people, has brought tension, not tranquillity. True security for all requires that Europeans be able to choose their own destiny freely and to share their common heritage.
Berlin’s division, like Europe’s, cannot be permanent. But our conviction must be more than a distant hope; it must be a goal toward which we actively work. Let us rededicate ourselves to new efforts to lower the barriers dividing Berlin. Before another anniversary has passed, I hope that this problem can be the subject of renewed thought and serious discussion between East and West.
750th Anniversary of Berlin, 1987June 8, 1987
By the President of the United States of America
Berlin, one of the world’s great cities and the largest German city, this year observes its 750th anniversary. This is cause for celebration for Berliners and for all Germans, and also for the people of the United States and the rest of the world.
The history and character of Berlin and its people give powerful testimony about human nature and its capabilities. After three-quarters of a millennium and many shocks and reversals through the ages, Berlin is yet a young city—young with all the capacity of the human spirit to renew itself, to strive and to seek, to build anew and create, and, most of all, to hope. Time and again, Berlin has overcome desolation and isolation with will, energy, and courage. Even now, its spirit towers over the wall that presently divides the city.
Today Berlin remains close to the spiritual center of the Western world. Americans have a special affinity for Berlin that goes beyond formal political or economic ties, because we feel a kinship with its spirit of strength and creativity and because we see our own hopes and ideals mirrored in the deep attachment of its people to freedom and its blessings. Thousands of Americans-scholars, service men and women and their families, business people, diplomatic personnel, and so on—live in Berlin and make vital contributions to the life of the city. We have helped Berlin grow, and we have shared its spirit.
As we near the end of the 20th century, we see that Berlin, though ancient, is a city of the future. We know that the courageous and freedom-loving spirit that has guided so much of Berlin’s past will help ensure a future of freedom for all mankind in the years to come. “Berlin bleibt doch Berlin-Berlin is still Berlin.”
Now, Therefore, I, Ronald Reagan, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby recognize Berlin’s 750th Anniversary, 1987. I call upon the people of the United States to join in celebrating and honoring Berlin’s 750th anniversary with appropriate ceremonies and activities.
In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this eighth day of June, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and eightyseven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and eleventh.
Remarks on East-West Relations at the Brandenburg Gate in West Berlin
June 12, 1987
Thank you very much. Chancellor Kohl, Governing Mayor Diepgen, ladies and gentlemen:
Twenty four years ago, President John F. Kennedy visited Berlin, speaking to the people of this city and the world at the city hall. Well, since then two other presidents have come, each in his turn, to Berlin. And today I, myself, make my second visit to your city.
We come to Berlin, we American Presidents, because it’s our duty to speak, in this place, of freedom. But I must confess, we’re drawn here by other things as well: by the feeling of history in this city, more than 500 years older than our own nation; by the beauty of the Grunewald and the Tiergarten; most of all, by your courage and determination. Perhaps the composer, Paul Lincke, understood something about American Presidents. You see, like so many Presidents before me, I come here today because wherever I go, whatever I do: “Ich hab noch einen koffer in Berlin.” [I still have a suitcase in Berlin.]
Our gathering today is being broadcast throughout Western Europe and North America. I understand that it is being seen and heard as well in the East. To those listening throughout Eastern Europe, I extend my warmest greetings and the good will of the American people. To those listening in East Berlin, a special word: Although I cannot be with you, I address my remarks to you just as surely as to those standing here before me. For I join you, as I join your fellow countrymen in the West, in this firm, this unalterable belief: Es gibt nur ein Berlin. [There is only one Berlin.]
Behind me stands a wall that encircles the free sectors of this city, part of a vast system of barriers that divides the entire continent of Europe. From the Baltic, south, those barriers cut across Germany in a gash of barbed wire, concrete, dog runs, and guardtowers. Farther south, there may be no visible, no obvious wall. But there remain armed guards and checkpoints all the same–still a restriction on the right to travel, still an instrument to impose upon ordinary men and women the will of a totalitarian state. Yet it is here in Berlin where the wall emerges most clearly; here, cutting across your city, where the news photo and the television screen have imprinted this brutal division of a continent upon the mind of the world. Standing before the Brandenburg Gate, every man is a German, separated from his fellow men. Every man is a Berliner, forced to look upon a scar.
President von Weizsacker has said: “The German question is open as long as the Brandenburg Gate is closed.” Today I say: As long as this gate is closed, as long as this scar 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. Yet I do not come here to lament. For I find in Berlin a message of hope, even in the shadow of this wall, a message of triumph.
In this season of spring in 1945, the people of Berlin emerged from their air raid shelters to find devastation. Thousands of miles away, the people of the United States reached out to help. And in 1947 Secretary of State–as you’ve been told–George Marshall announced the creation of what would become known as the Marshall plan. Speaking precisely 40 years ago this month, he said: “Our policy is directed not against any country or doctrine, but against hunger, poverty, desperation, and chaos.”
In the Reichstag a few moments ago, I saw a display commemorating this 40th anniversary of the Marshall plan. I was struck by the sign on a burnt-out, gutted structure that was being rebuilt. I understand that Berliners of my own generation can remember seeing signs like it dotted throughout the Western sectors of the city. The sign read simply: “The Marshall plan is helping here to strengthen the free world.” A strong, free world in the West, that dream became real. Japan rose from ruin to become an economic giant. Italy, France, Belgium–virtually every nation in Western Europe saw political and economic rebirth; the European Community was founded.
In West Germany and here in Berlin, there took place an economic miracle, the Wirtschaftswunder. Adenauer, Erhard, Reuter, and other leaders understood the practical importance of liberty–that just as truth can flourish only when the journalist is given freedom of speech, so prosperity can come about only when the farmer and businessman enjoy economic freedom. The German leaders reduced tariffs, expanded free trade, lowered taxes. From 1950 to 1960 alone, the standard of living in West Germany and Berlin doubled.
Where four decades ago there was rubble, today in West Berlin there is the greatest industrial output of any city in Germany-busy office blocks, fine homes and apartments, proud avenues, and the spreading lawns of park land. Where a city’s culture seemed to have been destroyed, today there are two great universities, orchestras and an opera, countless theaters, and museums. Where there was want, today there’s abundance–food, clothing, automobiles-the wonderful goods of the Ku’damm. From devastation, from utter ruin, you Berliners have, in freedom, rebuilt a city that once again ranks as one of the greatest on Earth. The Soviets may have had other plans. But, my friends, there were a few things the Soviets didn’t count on Berliner herz, Berliner humor, ja, und Berliner schnauze. [Berliner heart, Berliner humor, yes, and a Berliner schnauze.] [Laughter]
In the 1950’s, Khrushchev predicted: “We will bury you.” But in the West today, we see a free world that has achieved a level of prosperity and well-being unprecedented in all human history. In the Communist world, we see failure, technological backwardness, declining standards of health, even want of the most basic kind-too little food. Even today, the Soviet Union still cannot feed itself. After these four decades, then, there stands before the entire world one great and inescapable conclusion: Freedom leads to prosperity. Freedom replaces the ancient hatreds among the nations with comity and peace. Freedom is the victor.
And now the Soviets themselves may, in a limited way, be coming to understand the importance of freedom. We hear much from Moscow about a new policy of reform and openness. Some political prisoners have been released. Certain foreign news broadcasts are no longer being jammed. Some economic enterprises have been permitted to operate with greater freedom from state control. Are these the beginnings of profound changes in the Soviet state? Or are they token gestures, intended to raise false hopes in the West, or to strengthen the Soviet system without changing it? We welcome change and openness; for we believe that freedom and security go together, that the advance of human liberty can only strengthen the cause of world peace.
There is one sign the Soviets can make that would be unmistakable, that would advance dramatically the cause of freedom and peace. General Secretary 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!
I understand the fear of war and the pain of division that afflict this continent–and I pledge to you my country’s efforts to help overcome these burdens. To be sure, we in the West must resist Soviet expansion. So we must maintain defenses of unassailable strength. Yet we seek peace; so we must strive to reduce arms on both sides. Beginning 10 years ago, the Soviets challenged the Western alliance with a grave new threat, hundreds of new and more deadly SS-20 nuclear missiles, capable of-striking every capital in Europe. The Western alliance responded by committing itself to a counterdeployment unless the Soviets agreed to negotiate a better solution; namely, the elimination of such weapons on both sides. For many months, the Soviets refused to bargain in earnestness. As the alliance, in turn, prepared to go forward with its counterdeployment, there were difficult days–days of protests like those during my 1982 visit to this city–and the Soviets later walked away from the table.
But through it all, the alliance held firm. And I invite those who protested then–I invite those who protest today–to mark this fact: Because we remained strong, the Soviets came back to the table. And because we remained strong, today we have within reach the possibility, not merely of limiting the growth of arms, but of eliminating, for the first time, an entire class of nuclear weapons from the face of the Earth. As I speak, NATO ministers are meeting in Iceland to review the progress of our proposals for eliminating these weapons. At the talks in Geneva, we have also proposed deep cuts in strategic offensive weapons. And the Western allies have likewise made far-reaching proposals to reduce the danger of conventional war and to place a total ban on chemical weapons.
While we pursue these arms reductions, I pledge to you that we will maintain the capacity to deter Soviet aggression at any level at which it might occur. And in cooperation with many of our allies, the United States is pursuing the Strategic Defense Initiative-research to base deterrence not on the threat of offensive retaliation, but on defenses that truly defend; on systems, in short, that will not target populations, but shield them. By these means we seek to increase the safety of Europe and all the world. But we must remember a crucial fact: East and West do not mistrust each other because we are armed; we are armed because we mistrust each other. And our differences are not about weapons but about liberty. When President Kennedy spoke at the City Hall those 24 years ago, freedom was encircled, Berlin was under siege. And today, despite all the pressures upon this city, Berlin stands secure in its liberty. And freedom itself is transforming the globe.
In the Philippines, in South and Central America, democracy has been given a rebirth. Throughout the Pacific, free markets are working miracle after miracle of economic growth. In the industrialized nations, a technological revolution is taking place–a revolution marked by rapid, dramatic advances in computers and telecommunications.
In Europe, only one nation and those it controls refuse to join the community of freedom. Yet in this age of redoubled economic growth, of information and innovation, the Soviet Union faces a choice: It must make fundamental changes, or it will become obsolete. Today thus represents a moment of hope. We in the West stand ready to cooperate with the East to promote true openness, to break down barriers that separate people, to create a safer, freer world.
And surely there is no better place than Berlin, the meeting place of East and West, to make a start. Free people of Berlin: Today, as in the past, the United States stands for the strict observance and full implementation of all parts of the Four Power Agreement of 1971. Let us use this occasion, the 750th anniversary of this city, to usher in a new era, to seek a still fuller, richer life for the Berlin of the future. Together, let us maintain and develop the ties between the Federal Republic and the Western sectors of Berlin, which is permitted by the 1971 agreement.
And I invite Mr. Gorbachev: Let us work to bring the Eastern and Western parts of the city closer together, so that all the inhabitants of all Berlin can enjoy the benefits that come with life in one of the great cities of the world. To open Berlin still further to all Europe, East and West, let us expand the vital air access to this city, finding ways of making commercial air service to Berlin more convenient, more comfortable, and more economical. We look to the day when West Berlin can become one of the chief aviation hubs in all central Europe.
With our French and British partners, the United States is prepared to help bring international meetings to Berlin. It would be only fitting for Berlin to serve as the site of United Nations meetings, or world conferences on human rights and arms control or other issues that call for international cooperation. There is no better way to establish hope for the future than to enlighten young minds, and we would be honored to sponsor summer youth exchanges, cultural events, and other programs for young Berliners from the East. Our French and British friends, I’m certain, will do the same. And it’s my hope that an authority can be found in East Berlin to sponsor visits from young people of the Western sectors.
One final proposal, one close to my heart: Sport represents a source of enjoyment and ennoblement, and you many have noted that the Republic of Korea–South Korea–has offered to permit certain events of the 1988 Olympics to take place in the North. International sports competitions of all kinds could take place in both parts of this city. And what better way to demonstrate to the world the openness of this city than to offer in some future year to hold the Olympic games here in Berlin, East and West?
In these four decades, as I have said, you Berliners have built a great city. You’ve done so in spite of threats–the Soviet attempts to impose the East-mark, the blockade. Today the city thrives in spite of the challenges implicit in the very presence of this wall. What keeps you here? Certainly there’s a great deal to be said for your fortitude, for your defiant courage. But I believe there’s something deeper, something that involves Berlin’s whole look and feel and way of life–not mere sentiment. No one could live long in Berlin without being completely disabused of illusions. Something instead, that has seen the difficulties of life in Berlin but chose to accept them, that continues to build this good and proud city in contrast to a surrounding totalitarian presence that refuses to release human energies or aspirations. Something that speaks with a powerful voice of affirmation, that says yes to this city, yes to the future, yes to freedom. In a word, I would submit that what keeps you in Berlin is love–love both profound and abiding.
Perhaps this gets to the root of the matter, to the most fundamental distinction of all between East and West. The totalitarian world produces backwardness because it does such violence to the spirit, thwarting the human impulse to create, to enjoy, to worship. The totalitarian world finds even symbols of love and of worship an affront. Years ago, before the East Germans began rebuilding their churches, they erected a secular structure: the television tower at Alexander Platz. Virtually ever since, the authorities have been working to correct what they view as the tower’s one major flaw, treating the glass sphere at the top with paints and chemicals of every kind. Yet even today when the Sun strikes that sphere–that sphere that towers over all Berlin–the light makes the sign of the cross. There in Berlin, like the city itself, symbols of love, symbols of worship, cannot be suppressed.
As I looked out a moment ago from the Reichstag, that embodiment of German unity, I noticed words crudely spray-painted upon the wall, perhaps by a young Berliner, “This wall will fall. Beliefs become reality.” Yes, across Europe, this wall will fall. For it cannot withstand faith; it cannot withstand truth. The wall cannot withstand freedom.
And I would like, before I close, to say one word. I have read, and I have been questioned since I’ve been here about certain demonstrations against my coming. And I would like to say just one thing, and to those who demonstrate so. I wonder if they have ever asked themselves that if they should have the kind of government they apparently seek, no one would ever be able to do what they’re doing again.
Thank you and God bless you all.
Statement on the Anniversary of the Berlin Wall
August 12, 1989
Twenty-eight years ago, a barrier of steel and stone was erected in the heart of Berlin. It stands there still — now more than ever a relic of a bygone era and a failed philosophy. The barbed wire that severed a great city also proclaimed in stark, inhuman terms the unnatural division of Europe. Beyond its tragic human cost over the years, rending families and friends, the Berlin Wall has affronted the free world with an alien vision of closed societies where basic freedoms are denied.
The courageous people of West Berlin tend the precious fire of freedom as an example for us all. The city prospers and benefits from their innovative spirit and from expanding international ties. Its cultural diversity, economic vigor, and political pluralism are the fruits of boundless imagination at work in a democratic community. The United States is proud to have contributed to Berlin’s freedom and vitality. We remain firm in our commitment to assure the city’s security and well-being. In a year which marks the 40th anniversary of the airlift, such historic bonds between Americans and Berliners carry special meaning.
The United States is also committed to improving the lives of Berliners and to bringing closer the day when the city is again united. Together with our British and French allies, we have put forward an initiative to make such progress a reality. We want Berlin to enjoy greater access to the world through expanded air links, to be a center of international meetings and sports events, and to foster more human contacts which lead to better understanding. As I said in Mainz on May 31, we want Berlin to be a place of cooperation, not a point of confrontation. We have asked the Soviet Union, as part of its four-power responsibilities for Berlin, to join us in achieving these goals. We still await what we hope will be a positive response.
We observe this sad anniversary with renewed determination to overcome the division of Berlin and of Europe. On behalf of the people of the United States, I reaffirm this nation’s commitment to Berlin’s freedom and prosperity. The tide of history has turned, and we look to a future Europe whole and free. As we now mark the day the wall was built, so shall we inevitably celebrate a day when it no longer divides Berlin, the German people, and the nations of Europe.
German-American Day, 1989
October 5, 1989
By the President of the United States of America
In 1683, a small group of men, women, and children set out from their homes in Germany in search of religious freedom in the New World. These 13 families, who came ashore near Philadelphia more than 3 centuries ago, were the first of seven million German immigrants to come to this country. Today, almost 60 million Americans are the descendants of these brave and industrious people. Their proud ethnic heritage represents not only a great treasure passed to each generation, but also a rich source of strength and pride for the entire United States.
Throughout our Nation’s history, German immigrants and their descendants have stood on the front lines in the defense of freedom. From the heroic efforts of General Friedrich von Steuben during the Revolutionary War to the courageous leadership of General Eisenhower during World War II, their courage and patriotism have been unquestionable. In times of peace, as well as times of strife, generations of German-Americans have faithfully upheld the principles upon which this Nation was founded.
Following the Second World War, the United States, together with its allies, helped to restore the conditions in which German democracy, guided by leaders such as Konrad Adenauer, could take root and flourish. Today, there can be no doubt that Europe is stronger — and the world is safer — because the Federal Republic of Germany is free, sovereign, and democratic.
While we proudly acknowledge our friendship with the people of the Federal Republic of Germany, we also note with sadness that many Germans continue to be denied the right to self-determination. The United States thus remains firmly committed to promoting freedom and democratic government in all of Germany and all of Eastern Europe. We will not waver in our efforts to foster respect for human rights throughout Eastern Europe; to advance political reform; and to eliminate the barriers that still divide Berlin.
Our great Nation is strong because we Americans are united by our common belief in individual liberty and the rule of law, as well as by faith and family ties. Today, as we celebrate the many contributions that Americans of German descent have made to our country, let us rededicate ourselves to promoting that same kind of unity in their ancestral homeland.
In honor of all German-Americans, the Congress, by Senate Joint Resolution 118, has designated October 6, 1989, as “German-American Day” and has authorized and requested the President to issue a proclamation in observance of that day.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE BUSH, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim October 6, 1989, as German-American Day. I urge all Americans to learn more about the contributions German-Americans have made to the life and culture of the United States and to observe this day with appropriate ceremonies and activities.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this fifth day of October, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and eighty-nine, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and fourteenth.
Premier discours official après la chute du mur
Remarks to the National Association of Realtors in Dallas, Texas
November 10, 1989
Thank you, Ira. I know I speak for everyone here today when I salute you for serving so ably as the president of the National Association of Realtors. And my best wishes to your successor, Norm Flynn. And let me also recognize — rerecognize, if you will — the man who is doing such wonderful work, bringing vision to HUD, putting through the tough new reforms that ensures that his agency serves people in need, my outstanding Secretary of HUD, Jack Kemp. I am so proud he’s with me here today. And of course, an old friend and a fine Member of Congress who traveled down on Air Force One with Barbara and Jack and me today, Dallas’ own Congressman Steve Bartlett. And of course, I’m delighted that the mother of the Texas Rangers boss is here today, my wife, Barbara, the “Silver Fox.”
Before going into my main remarks, let me just say a word about the momentous events in East Germany. I was moved, as you all were, by the pictures of Berliners from East and West — standing atop the wall with chisels and hammers — celebrating the opening of the most vivid symbol of the Iron Curtain. And then today, just on the plane coming down, I read a report where 18 new border crossings would be made in the wall in the near future.
And to be honest, I doubted that this would happen in the very first year of this administration. Twenty-eight years after the desperate days of 1961, when tanks faced off at Checkpoint Charlie and that terrible barrier was built — now the East German Government has responded to the wishes of its people. And while no one really accurately predicted the speed of the changes underway in Eastern Europe — and certainly I didn’t. But last May, right here in Texas, over at Texas A&M, I noted hopeful, indeed, remarkable signs of a Soviet break with the cycles of the past. And I called upon the Soviet Union to support self-determination for the nations of Eastern and central Europe and to tear down the Iron Curtain. And now we’re seeing it happen. And when I visited Poland and Hungary in July, I sensed that historically important events there held the seeds for even more dramatic change.
And this played a big part in the decision last July made, really, at the G – 7 meeting in Paris. On the way back, I proposed a face-to-face meeting with President Gorbachev before next spring’s summit. And the Malta meeting, given recent events, takes on, I think, even more importance than when I conceived the idea 3 1/2 months ago.
The changes in recent months make clear that the process of reform initiated by the Eastern Europeans and supported by Mr. Gorbachev and by America and by our allies is real, offers us all much hope, and deserves our continued encouragement. We’re living in fascinating times, and we will seize every opportunity to contribute to a lasting peace and to extend democracy. And in doing so, I will conduct the foreign policy of this great country with the prudence that these fascinating times, times of change, demand — and with the imagination. The 1980’s has been the decade of American renewal. And I believe that around the world, the 1990’s will inevitably be the decade of democracy.
Address to the German People on the Reunification of Germany
October 2, 1990
It is with great pleasure that I congratulate Chancellor Kohl and the German people at this historic moment. And it is my distinct honor to address the people of the united Germany.
In Berlin and Bonn, from Leipzig in the east to western towns along the Rhine, people are celebrating the day that all of Germany has been waiting for, for 45 long years. For the world, those 45 years were a time of tension and turmoil. For your nation, fate was particularly cruel. For 45 years, at the heart of a divided continent stood a divided Germany, on the fault line of the East-West conflict, one people split between two worlds.
No more. Today begins a new chapter in the history of your nation. Forty-five years of conflict and confrontation between East and West are now behind us. At long last the day has come: Germany is united; Germany is fully free.
The United States is proud to have built with you the foundations of freedom; proud to have been a steady partner in the quest for one Germany, whole and free. America is proud to count itself among the friends and allies of free Germany, now and in the future. Our peoples are united by the common bonds of culture, by a shared heritage in history. Never before have these common bonds been more evident than in this past year as we worked in common cause toward the goal of German unity. Today, together, we share the fruits of our friendship.
In this past year, we’ve witnessed a world of change for the United States, for the united Germany, for the Atlantic alliance of which we are a part. Even as Germany celebrates this new beginning, there is no doubt that the future holds new challenges, new responsibilities. I’m certain that our two nations will meet these challenges, as we have in the past, united by a common love of freedom. Together, building on the values we share, we will be partners in leadership.
This day, so full of meaning for Germany, is full of meaning for the world. Meters away from the walls of the Reichstadt, scene of the first session of the newly united German Parliament, stood the Berlin Wall, the stark and searing symbol of conflict and cold war. For years, free men and women everywhere dreamed of the day the Berlin Wall would cease to exist, when a world without the Wall would mean a Germany made whole once more — when Germany, united and sovereign, would contribute in full measure as a force for peace and stability in world affairs.
Today the Wall lies in ruins, and our eyes open on a new world of hope. Now Germany is once more united. Now the Wall no longer divides a nation and a world in two. The last remnants of the Wall remain there at the heart of a free Berlin, a ragged monument in brick and barbed wire, proof that no wall is ever strong enough to strangle the human spirit, that no wall can ever crush a nation’s soul.
Today the German nation enters a new era; an era, in the words of your national anthem, of “unity and justice and freedom.” At this moment of celebration, as we look forward with you to a future of hope and promise, let me say, on behalf of all Americans, may God bless the people of Germany.
Remarks to the Citizens of Berlin
July 12, 1994
Citizens of free Berlin, citizens of united Germany, Chancellor Kohl, Mayor Diepgen, Berliners the world over, thank you for this wonderful welcome to your magnificent city.
We stand together where Europe’s heart was cut in half and we celebrate unity. We stand where crude walls of concrete separated mother from child and we meet as one family. We stand where those who sought a new life instead found death. And we rejoice in renewal. Berliners, you have won your long struggle. You have proved that no wall can forever contain the mighty power of freedom. Within a few years, an American President will visit a Berlin that is again the seat of your government. And I pledge to you today a new American Embassy will also stand in Berlin.
Half a century has passed since Berlin was first divided, 33 years since the Wall went up. In that time, one-half of this city lived encircled and the other half enslaved. But one force endured, your courage. Your courage has taken many forms: the bold courage of June 17th, 1953, when those trapped in the East threw stones at the tanks of tyranny; the quiet courage to lift children above the wall so that their grandparents on the other side could see those they loved but could not touch; the inner courage to reach for the ideas that make you free; and the civil courage, civil courage of 5 years ago when, starting in the strong hearts and candlelit streets of Leipzig, you turned your dreams of a better life into the chisels of liberty.
Now, you who found the courage to endure, to resist, to tear down the Wall, must found a new civil courage, the courage to build. The Berlin Wall is gone. Now our generation must decide, what will we build in its place? Standing here today, we can see the answer: a Europe where all nations are independent and democratic; where free markets and prosperity know no borders; where our security is based on building bridges, not walls; where all our citizens can go as far as their God-given abilities will take them and raise their children in peace and hope.
The work of freedom is not easy. It requires discipline, responsibility, and a faith strong enough to endure failure and criticism. And it requires vigilance. Here in Germany, in the United States, and throughout the entire world, we must reject those who would divide us with scalding words about race, ethnicity, or religion. I appeal especially to the young people of this nation; believe you can live in peace with those who are different from you. Believe in your own future. Believe you can make a difference and summon your own courage to build, and you will.
There is reason for you to believe. Already, the new future is taking shape in the growing chorus of voices that speak the common language of democracy; in the growing economies of Western Europe, the United States, and our partners; in the progress of economic reform, democracy, and freedom in lands that were not free; in NATO’s Partnership For Peace where 21 nations have joined in military cooperation and pledge to respect each other’s borders.
It is to all of you in pursuit of that new future that I say in the name of the pilots whose airlift kept Berlin alive, in the name of the sentries at Checkpoint Charlie who stood face-to-face with enemy tanks, in the name of every American President who has come to Berlin, in the name of the American forces who will stay in Europe to guard freedom’s future, in all of their names I say, Amerika steht an ihrer Seite, jetzt und fuer immer. America is on your side now and forever.
Moments ago, with my friend Chancellor Kohl, I walked where my predecessors could not, through the Brandenburg Gate. For over two centuries in every age, that gate has been a symbol of the time. Sometimes it has been a monument to conquest and a tower of tyranny. But in our own time, you, courageous Berliners, have again made the Brandenburg what its builders meant it to be, a gateway. Now, together, we can walk through that gateway to our destiny, to a Europe united, united in peace, united in freedom, united in progress for the first time in history. Nothing will stop us. All things are possible. Nichts wird uns aufhalten. Alles ist moeglich. Berlin ist frei. Berlin is free.