On June 12, 1987, President Ronald Reagan declared, 'Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.' He's next to German Chancellor Helmut Kohl (right) and Speaker of the German Parliament Philipp Jenninger (left) at the Berlin Wall in front of the Brandenburg Gate in West Berlin, Germany. (Photo: STR/EPA/Newscom)
One of the most recognizable quotes of Ronald Reagan’s presidency was deemed too controversial and was almost never spoken.
Peter Robinson, a young speechwriter for the Reagan White House, was given the task of drafting the president’s speech to commemorate the 750th anniversary of Berlin on June 12, 1987. After visiting the people of Berlin to understand their exasperated resentment, Robinson drafted numerous copies and countless wordings of the now famous phrase.
“Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall” was almost revised to “This ugly wall will disappear” after a diplomat in Berlin took out the controversial line, fearing it would be too harsh on Gorbachev.
Yet Reagan made his stance well known.
“The boys at State are going to kill me,” Reagan said, “but it’s the right thing to do.”
Twenty-eight years later, we take a look back at the Great Communicator and the cause he helped to advance in Berlin.
Reagan meets with Berlin Mayor Richard von Weizsacker and German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt five years before he would return to make his memorable speech. (Photo: Dieter Hespe/EPA/Newscom)
President Reagan with Chancellor Helmut Kohl and Eberhard Diepgen, arriving to give a speech at the Berlin Wall, Brandenburg Gate. (Photo: Ronald Reagan Library)
President Reagan delivers his speech at the Berlin Wall, Brandenburg Gate. (Photo: Ronald Reagan Library)
The view of the crowd that gathered to hear Reagan speak. (Photo: Ronald Reagan Library)
Reagan at podium with a thumbs up with German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, German political leader Philipp Jenninger and his wife. (Photo: Ronald Reagan Library)
President Reagan and Nancy Reagan depart after remarks at Berlin Wall. (Photo: Ronald Reagan Library)
The Brandenburg Gate at the Berlin Wall in West Berlin. (Photo: Ronald Reagan Library)
President Reagan and German Chancellor Helmut Kohl at the Berlin Wall in West Berlin. (Photo: Ronald Reagan Library)
Border policemen stand next in front of the Berlin Wall and Brandenburg Gate in Berlin days after Reagan’s famous speech. (Photo: Wolfgang Kumm/dpa/picture-alliance/Newscom)
President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev developed a close relationship amid growing tensions between the two superpowers. (Photo: Steve Gottlieb/Stock Connection Worldwide/Newscom)
Graffiti on the Berlin Wall revealed German frustrations and became an outlet for protesters. (Photo: Piero Oliosi/Polaris/Newscom)
President Ronald Reagan, with his wife Nancy Reagan, hammers symbolically at an opening in the Berlin Wall, Sept. 10, 1990. (Photo: Andrew Popper/Polaris/Newscom)
>>> Watch the video of Reagan’s famous line
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