who was president when the berlin wall came down

who was president when the berlin wall came down

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On June 12, 1987 — more than 25 years after the Berlin Wall first divided the city’s East and West — U.S. President Ronald Reagan gave a famous speech in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, challenging his Soviet counterpart Mikhail Gorbachev by declaring, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.”

Only a few years later, on Nov. 9, 1989, it was not Mr. Gorbachev but the German people who finally tore down the barrier. The story of the Berlin Wall is one of division and repression, but also of the yearning for freedom — and the events that led up to its toppling are no exception.

who was president when the berlin wall came down
who was president when the berlin wall came down

The Wall Rises

Following World War II, at the Yalta and Potsdam peace conferences, it was determined among the war’s victors that Germany’s territories would be split into four “Allied occupation zones.” The eastern part of the country went to the Soviet Union, while the western part went to the United States, Great Britain and eventually France. Berlin, as the capital, would be likewise split.

On May 23, 1949, the three Allied zones became the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) while the former Soviet occupation zone became the German Democratic Republic (GDR) on Oct. 7, 1949.

Because the city of Berlin was located entirely within the Soviet zone of occupation, West Berlin became an island within Communist East Germany. The economy in West Germany, as a result of the help provided by its occupying forces, quickly grew. The opposite occurred in East Germany. Valuable assets were shipped back to the Soviet Union and economic recovery was slow and stagnant. With many East Berliners fleeing that situation, a physical barrier between the two sides of Berlin, known as the Berlin Wall (die Berliner Mauer), was built starting in August of 1961. It became an ugly scar on the German landscape and a symbol of division in the country.

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who was President Ronald Reagan?

Ronald Reagan initially chose a career in entertainment, appearing in more than 50 films. While in Hollywood, he worked as president of the Screen Actor’s Guild and met his future wife, Nancy (Davis) Reagan. He later served two terms as governor of California. Originally a liberal Democrat, Reagan ran for the U.S. presidency as a Republican and won two terms, beginning in 1980, ultimately becoming a conservative icon over the ensuing decades. Having suffered from Alzheimer’s disease in his later years, Reagan died on June 5, 2004.

who was president when the berlin wall came down
who was president when the berlin wall came down

Early Life and Education

Ronald Wilson Reagan was born on February 6, 1911, in Tampico, Illinois, to John Edward “Jack” Reagan and Nellie Wilson Reagan.

His father nicknamed him “Dutch,” saying he resembled “a fat little Dutchman.” During Reagan’s early childhood, his family lived in a series of towns,

finally settling in Dixon, Illinois, in 1920, where Jack opened a shoe store. In 1928,

Reagan graduated from Dixon High School, where he was an athlete and student body president and performed in school plays.

During summer vacations, he worked as a lifeguard in Dixon.

Enrolling at Eureka College in Illinois on an athletic scholarship, Reagan majored in economics and sociology.
There, he played football, ran track, captained the swim team,served as student council president
and acted in school productions. After graduating in 1932, he found work as a radio sports announcer in Iowa.

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who was president when the berlin wall came down
who was president when the berlin wall came down

Hollywood Career and Marriages

In 1937, Reagan signed a seven-year contract with the movie studio Warner Bros. Over the next three decades, he appeared in more than 50 films. Among his best-known roles was that of Notre Dame football star George Gipp in the 1940 biopic Knute Rockne, All American. Another notable role was in the 1942 film Kings Row.

in which Reagan portrays an accident victim who wakes up to discover his legs have been amputated.

In 1940, Reagan married actress Jane Wyman, with whom he had daughter Maureen and adopted a son, Michael. The couple divorced in 1948. During World War II.

Reagan was disqualified from combat duty due to poor eyesight and spent his time in the Army making training films. He left the military ranked as a captain.

 

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