Ronald Reagan’s “Berlin Wall” Speech Summary, Text, & Analysis

February 28, 2023

15 min read

If you are looking for Ronald Reagan’s “Berlin Wall” speech summary, text, and analysis, one has been provided for you. The fall of the Berlin Wall marked a momentous event in history, symbolic of the end of the Soviet Union. President Ronald Reagan’s speech predating this event is most notably remembered for the following line:

""Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!""

The former president’s address to the nation marked a key moment in his presidency during a time of conflict.

Ronald Reagan’s “Berlin Wall” Speech Summary

  • Thanking Chancellor Deakin and Mayor Call for hosting the event
  • Recalling two other Presidents who visited Berlin before.
  • Expressing admiration for the courage and determination of Berliners.
  • Recognizing that many Berliners have experienced restrictions on their freedoms.
  • Describing the successful economic and physical rebuilding of Berlin since World War II.
  • Challenging the Soviet Union to make changes for the sake of freedom.
  • Highlighting the benefits of increased economic cooperation between East and West Berlin.
  • Proposing to host international events and summer exchange programs in Berlin.
  • Suggesting the possibility of holding the Olympic Games in Berlin in the future.
  • Announcing that the West is committed to defending itself yet also seeks peace.
  • Encouraging Berliners to remain optimistic in the face of difficult circumstances.
  • Thanking the audience and wishing them God’s blessing.

Ronald Reagan’s “Berlin Wall” Speech Text

The Yoodli AI-powered speech coach generated this text for President Reagan’s “Berlin Wall” speech:

"Thank you. Thank you very much. Chancellor call governing Mayor Deakin. Ladies and gentlemen, 24 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. 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 are 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 Greenwald and the Tear Garden, most of all by your courage and determination, perhaps the composer Paul Linky understood something about American presidents. You see, like so many presidents before me, I come here today because wherever I go, whatever I do, Esha, Hyman, coffer in Berlin <laugh> our gathering today as 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 goodwill 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, 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 guard towers farther south, there may be no visible novis wall, but the 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 in the television screen have imprinted this brutal division of a continent upon the mind of the world.

/Standing before the Brandon Berg gate, every man is a German, separated from his fellow men. Every man is a Berliner forced to look upon a scar. President ER has said the German question is open as long as the Brandon Berg gate is closed today. 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 display commemorating this 40th anniversary of the Marshall Plan. I was struck by a sign, a 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 in economic miracle. The Ver Shs, Vanaire, Adenauer, Erhart, Earhart writer 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 businessmen enjoy economic freedom. The German leaders, 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 was the greatest industrial output of any city in Germany, busy office blocks, fine homes and apartments, proud avenues and the spreading lawns of Parkland 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 Kuan <unk> from devastation, from utter ruin. You Berliners have in freedom rebuild a city that once again ranks as one of the greatest on earth. And the Soviets may have had other plans, but my friends, there were a few things the Soviets didn’t count on.

Berliner, Hertz bar, Hoor, Berliner, Schauer, <laugh>. In the 1950s. In the 1950s, Cru Jeff predicted we will bury you. But in the West today we see a free world that has achieved a level of prosperity and wellbeing, unprecedented in all human history. In the communist world, we see failure, technological, backwardness, declining standards of health, even one and now. Now the Soviets themselves may in a limited way becoming 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, 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 Gorbachov, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union in Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization, come here to this gate.

Mr. Gorbachov, open this gate. Mr. Gorbachev. Mr. Gorbachev teared 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 pre 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 counter deployment 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 re prepared to go forward with its counter deployment.

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 remain strong, the Soviets came back to the table. Because we remain 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 his 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 red 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 with our French, 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 cooperations. 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 is 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 in noble, and you may 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? Thank you. 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 sediment. 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 and 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 towers 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 overall 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, 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 for 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. Thank you."

Ronald Reagan’s “Berlin Wall” Speech Analysis

Word Choice

President Reagan scored well overall in this category. He had a total of 15 repetitions throughout his speech. In addition, Yoodli detected the use of various key words, including “city”, which was used a total of 22 times! The free AI speech coach also found 16 weak words throughout the speech.

From further analysis, Yoodli also provided suggestions for more inclusive language appropriate for the general public. Rather than Reagan’s use of the terms “ladies and gentlemen” as well as “mankind”, Yoodli offers the alternatives “everyone” and “humankind”.


President Reagan maintained a relaxed tone throughout his speech. In addition to Yoodli detecting the president’s use of pauses, the AI-powered speech coach also provides analysis of the speaker’s facial expressions, including smiling and eye contact.

Wrapping Up


Start practicing with Yoodli.

Getting better at speaking is getting easier. Record or upload a speech and let our AI Speech Coach analyze your speaking and give you feedback.

Get Yoodli for free