Please note! This essay has been submitted by a student.
On June 12, 1987 a voice echoed throughout the city of Berlin. The 40th president of The United States of America Ronald Reagan gave his speech at the gate of The Berlin Wall. At the court outside of the Brandenburg gate a message rang out to every Berliner, but its words left their mark on the world. President Reagan’s ‘Tear Down This Wall’ speech was impactful because of its introduction to global unity, improvement of American nationalism, and its impact on the Cold War.
War is constantly raging around the world. At the Brandenburg Gate “Tear Down This Wall” left is impression. Reagan made sure to include a plea for global peace which in terms of Berlin is peace between the West and East. “There is one sign the Soviets can make that would be unmistakable, that would advance dramatically the cause of freedom and peace,”(Reagan). Reagan sends a message in his build up to his most famous quote, He is saying that one action would prove the Soviets want global peace. “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,”. Following World War 2 there is the Yalta conference which according to History.com, “the Soviets promised to allow free elections in all territories in Eastern Europe,”. Reagan uses the history of past leadership in the USSR to form this quote subtlety saying, if you (Soviets) want to end the stigma of communism in the western world.
The sectoring of Berlin came with extra tension when the debate over capitalism vs communism began to arise. The wall was constructed over night and was heavily guarded, “making it much harder for people to cross from “Communist” to “free” Europe,”(Blakemore). This basis is what set President Reagan up for an ear shattering quote a definitive call for peace. “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). This is his most famous quote, and rightfully so. The tension in Berlin created by the wall caused a huge cut in Berlin’s economy. Trade is undoubtedly one of the biggest sources of income for a country. The wall cut off trade between the two countries, ruining Eastern Berlin’s economy. “It will take at least one generation to remove the effect of political borders on trade,”. This idea is a lasting effect of the Berlin wall. However, with the fall of the wall and time the effects of the West versus East border have been masked.
The definition of human rights has and likely will always be an ongoing issue in the world. Reagan in an older speech mentions key factors of his fight for Berliners and for all mankind. “he asked: Do Soviet leaders want to be remembered for a prison wall, ringed with barbed wire and armed guards, whose weapons are aimed at their own civilians?’ Although this is a quote from an older speech it creates an image of a prison, that human beings, living in innocence, struggle behind a barrier separating them from a free world. Coming back to 1989, Reagan radiates his belief on what the basic rights for all humanity is. His words go as follows, “for we believe that freedom and security go together,”(Reagan). The definition of freedom is the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint. And security is the state of being free from danger or threat. Individually, the words are powerful but combining them changes their meaning. By pleading for human rights he takes another jab at the Soviet Union yet again.
Furthermore, the impact directly onto the Soviet Union was tremendous. Communism was scary to most of the wealthy capitalist democratic nations of the world. Berlin seemed to be the epicenter of this political debate of Capitalism vs Communism. As much as the nations of the west believed in human rights they also believe in creating a prosperous civilization. In “Tear Down This Wall” Reagan makes claims against the Soviets and Communism as a whole, “In the Communist world, we see failure, technological backwardness, declining standards of health, even want of the most basic kind–too little food.” This claim is remarkable yet true, Reagan paints an image to the world of the truth of what the lives of these people actually are. Using one of Reagan’s most famous quotes, “tear down this wall,” we see him portraying many ideas to Berlin and the world. Most notably he physically mean remove the Berlin wall and allow the East and West Berlin to simply become Berlin. Looking closer this is yet another way Reagan so meticulously speaks to get his message to the Soviets that he wants freedom and safety for everyone, especially Berliners. “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,” (Reagan). Germany will be free, and he means freedom and social power. He gives hope to people who may not feel that they, in their lifetime will ever be opened into the Western world. Reagan seeks to instill the will of freedom into Berlin and have them fight for freedom together. He gives them a pride in being one of the greatest cities, and telling them they have something the USSR does not. He tells Berliners that The Soviets may want to submit to the Tyranny of their leader, but Berlin will not. He builds the idea that Berliners are Berlin and challenges the beliefs of Communism and subtly focuses the attention with a global challenge to the Soviet Union.
The Cold War lasted from the end of World War 2 to 1991. It’s called the cold war because there was never a physical battle thus being “cold.” Gorbachev was the leader of the USSR and the face of Communism following Joseph Stalin’s death. Reagan and Gorbachev had had previous meetings in the past. Reagan put his friendship to the side while delivering his speech. “we were of the opinion that it was an absurd demonstration by a cold warrior — but also a provocation that fundamentally weighed on Gorbachev’s willingness to reform,”(Herskovits). This quote goes to show the pressure put Gorbachev under. After not only calling out Communism he put the Soviet leader under all that strain as well. As Herskovits said above it “weighed on his willingness to reform.” This was a major blow the Soviet leader, his friend and major rival calling out his actions and beliefs in front of the world. The fall of the Berlin wall was the beginning to an end. “Thousands of East Berliners flooded toward border crossings along the Wall, where confused guards eventually opened the gates,” (Blakemore). When the wall fell it made a path for the world to discredit communism and its expansion, and when that happened in 1991 the Cold War was over. The end of the war Reagan’s words that Berliner are Berlin echo and we pave the way into a better future. “As East Berliners pushed through, tens of thousands of West Berliners met them in a massive outpouring of emotion and celebration. As they celebrated with champagne, music, and tears, Berliners began to literally tear down the wall with sledge hammers and chisels,”(Blackmore). The wall fell and by 1990 Germany was reunified and the war was completely over. The end of the cold war lead to many things including nationalism in america. “International cooperation has hit serious roadblocks, and nationalism became the dominant creed. So far, nationalism has turned out to be much more powerful,”(Soros). Soros depicts the nationalism as more powerful than “International Business,” however the boom of nationalism brings Americans together which has never ceased to increase moral and the economy. We have seen this in many instances most notably after world war 2. Nationalism and very powerful and is what ended the Great Depression and help drive America in not only a military world power but a technological one as well.
At the delivery of his speech in 1989 there was not much initial impact that was noticeable. However, as time progressed the efforts of Ronald Reagan showed through and the Berlin Wall collapsed. Reagan will not only go down as one of history’s greatest communicators, but as the spear head to driving America out of the Cold War. “Tear Down This Wall” has created a lasting image through its ideas of global peace and efforts to effectively end the Cold War and its effect on American nationalism.