Ronald Reagan Gave His Famous ‘Tear Down This Wall’ Speech 32 Years Ago

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On June 12, 1987, former President Ronald Reagan delivered one of the most famous speeches in world history.

In his speech, Reagan ordered Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin Wall, which had divided communist East Germany and capitalist West Germany for nearly three decades from 1961 to 1987.

During those years, “at least” 171 people died trying to get over, under or around the Wall, according to History.com. The ‘Death Strip’ behind the East Germany side of the wall was “a gauntlet of soft sand (to show footprints), floodlights, vicious dogs, trip-wire machine guns and patrolling soldiers with orders to shoot escapees on sight.”

By the end of the Cold War, Reagan called for the Wall to be destroyed as a way to celebrate the unification of not only East and West Germany but other countries across the world.

“Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate,” Reagan said in his address. “Mr. Gorbachev… Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”

The Wall would come down two years later, and the Cold War would officially be over.

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