Wednesday, 13 June 2007

"Mr Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"

Anyone over thirty should still remember this moment with goosebumps. Twenty years ago today -- after seven years of resolute opposition to the Soviet dictatorship -- US President Ronald Reagan stood at Berlin's Brandenburg Gate, beside the Berlin Wall, the dividing line between an ideology of darkness and one of freedom, and with these words he called on his Soviet counterpart to end a half-century of imprisonment of a whole swathe of humanity: "Mr Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"
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!
It was an historic moment. Within two years the East German state was toppling, and by November 1989 the wall was down -- blasted through by forces too strong to be kept imprisoned for so long.

That wall and the division that it symbolised and made possible set up an unlikely laboratory experiment. One one side the semi-free west; on the other the totalitarians who once declared, "Whether you like it or not, history is on our side. We will bury you." They didn't. PJ O'Rourke celebrated the day they didn't, and we did.
We won, and let's not anybody forget it. We, the people, the free and equal citizens of democracies, we living exemplars of the rights of man tore a new asshole in international communism. Their wall is breached. Their gut-string is busted. The rot of their body-politic fills the nostrils of the Earth with a glorious stink. ... The privileges of liberty and the sanctity of of the individual went out and whipped butt.
Reagan's fortitude and this speech played a large part in that victory. The speech in full can be seen here. The words themselves were delivered to the people of West Berlin, and intended to be heard -- and were -- over the wall.

The voices of appeasement who wished the speech were not delivered get their say here.

NB: LEST WE FORGET. Is there a more fitting reminder of the oppressive nature of communism than the Berlin Wall itself?

And is there anything more lemming-like than today's young anti-globalisation protestors? Don't it always seem to go, that you don't know what you've got when it's yours ...


  1. Reagan , Thatcher, Roosevelt , Churchill are my political heros of all time.

  2. I was tidying up my study room the other day and I found this piece of a rock that looks like rubbish to me ad was about to put it into the bin, until the rightful owner alerted me that it is not rubbish, but it is part of history. A history that Ronald Reagan helped to end in East Europe.

  3. ...piece of rock that looks like rubbish to me...

    A piece from the Berlin Wall.

  4. I think I might have given that piece to the rightful owner ... or was that her own piece?

    PS: Roosevelt??!!! What are you on, man?!

  5. Pity it could not be put to good use--like heaving it through the 9th floor window. See Tim Selwyn for technique..

  6. I think I might have given that piece to the rightful owner

    Yeah, I had been informed that the piece came from you.

  7. I was fortunate enough to be in Berlin when the wall came down in 1989. It was fantastic - one of the highlights of my life. The only bad thing was that my wallet and camera were stolen by the German girl I spent the night with!

    I currently work with a young guy who spent his first 16 years living in East Germany. Making sure all the windows were shut before talking about politics, or listenign to West German radio, shortages of food and basic supplies, being forced to wave flags in support of people who were repressing you. He said to me that noone who lived under communism really looks back with regret at its passing.

    Brian Smaller

  8. "Roosevelt??!!! What are you on, man?!"

    Sorry, FF. That's what I thought, too!

    "The only bad thing was that my wallet and camera were stolen by the German girl I spent the night with!"

    Ah, BS .. that'll teach you to (do more than just) talk to strangers! :)

    You brought back memories. I was living in the SF Bay area & meeting someone for dinner in town that evening. Came out of the pkng bldg & saw dozens of people crowded around an appliance store window watching live TV. I asked what was going on and several said - almost in awe - "the wall's coming down!" & let me through to the front. Couldn't believe my eyes.

    Floated to the restaurant on cloud nine.

  9. "Ah, BS .. that'll teach you to (do more than just) talk to strangers! :)"

    One of life's lessons - lock your wallet in the room safe before removing trousers.

    Brian Smaller


1. Commenters are welcome and invited.
2. All comments are moderated. Off-topic grandstanding, spam, and gibberish will be ignored. Tu quoque will be moderated.
3. Read the post before you comment. Challenge facts, but don't simply ignore them.
4. Use a name. If it's important enough to say, it's important enough to put a name to.
5. Above all: Act with honour. Say what you mean, and mean what you say.