What were Ronald Reagan's last words

Former US President : In the footsteps of Ronald Reagan in Berlin

A Republican railed against the establishment and chased away unloved Democrats as an outsider - that happened before, back in 1980: Ronald Reagan's triumph over Jimmy Carter came as a surprise as Donald Trump's victory over Hillary Clinton. Reagan was considered a third-rate actor at the time who would exacerbate the Cold War. Today, 26 years later, he is one of the greats of German reunification - and an honorary citizen of the city of Berlin.

Through his four visits to Berlin, Reagan always had a special history in common with the capital. This is exactly what Jens Schöne, historian and deputy state commissioner for the Stasi documents, traced in his publication “Ronald Reagan in Berlin”. On the occasion of the publication, contemporary witnesses and historians tried to get a little closer to the former US President on Thursday evening in the Allieren Museum in Berlin. In front of around 100 visitors, Berlin's former mayor Eberhard Diepgen, Sabine Bergmann-Pohl as the last GDR head of state and history professor Manfred Görtemaker from the University of Potsdam discussed and remembered the author of the 56-page booklet. How is this Reagan to be assessed? As a politician, as a person and as part of Berlin history? A film was shown, the new book was presented and the visitors were taken on a little journey into the past.

The Trump of the 1980s

The podium agreed on one thing: Yes, Reagan was in parts the Trump of the 1980s. He was an underdog. He wasn't taken seriously. He polarized. And yet he was somehow different from Trump. “Reagan was more open to alternatives and advice. He listened, ”says author Schöne. "He had a lot of political experience and was a professional through and through," adds Görtemaker.

“He was able to win over people, was charming and funny. And he was able to delegate, ”says ex-Mayor Diepgen, who increasingly comes out as a Reagan fan that evening. Those present will particularly remember the historic appearance in front of the Brandenburg Gate in 1987, the eleven words that Reagan addressed to Gorbachev: “Mister Gorbachev, open this gate! Mister Gorbachev, tear down this wall! "

Learning from Reagan's reign

The then President Bergmann-Pohl recalls: “It was a glimmer of hope. Even if no one believed anything would change. They had settled in. ”“ His speech was future-oriented, against the zeitgeist, ”says Diepgen. In addition to reunification, the then US President also spoke out in favor of the economic strengthening of all of Berlin and the Olympic Games in divided Berlin. What was then dismissed as “impossible formulations” turned out to be wise words years later. Reagan, it seemed, was ahead of his time. “It was an important element of a complex development,” Jens Schöne sums up. The podium remains divided on the extent to which changes were only conceivable at that time and were not possible for his predecessor due to political circumstances.

Finally, Diepgen points out that the entire political and social discourse then as now was too one-sided. He warns against judgments being passed too quickly. “What we can learn is not to go too far in public.” There is applause from the audience.

Now new: We give you Tagesspiegel Plus for free for 30 days! To home page