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-   -   Mr Gorbachev Tear Down That Wall! (https://www.fodors.com/community/europe/mr-gorbachev-tear-down-that-wall-712496/)

PalenQ Jun 12th, 2007 07:47 AM

Mr Gorbachev Tear Down That Wall!
 
It was 20 years ago today (well a few days ago really) that Sgt Reagan told the Soviet leader Gorbie to "Tear Down That Wall" whilst standing in front of the wall by the Brandenburg Gate.

And the rest is history

One of the things i find fascinating about Berlin is tracking down the relatively few remnants of the infamous Berlin Wall.

My favorite stretch is the East Side Gallery along the banks of the Spree River near the Ost Bahnhof train station.

Here about a mile-long stretch of wall remains intact and colorful murals done recently by artists, some quite famous, brighten it up. And on the other side of the wall facing the Spree are several novel enterprises - make shift beaches with plastic palm trees, 'seaside' cafes, etc.

A most interesting place to check out.

DAX Jun 12th, 2007 10:27 AM

Most of us have the american perspective of the event but Europeans told me that it was a meaningless rhetoric from Reagan. The Europeans credited Gorbachev's wisdom for allowing the wall to come down not Reagan. They clarified that the wall didn't come down due to Reagan's empty rhetoric.

Some of us are also surprised that Berliners didn't carve Kennedy's "Ich bin ein Berliner" on stone anywhere to celebrate his visit to Berlin. That was not too long after the air bridge that helped the West Berliners.

PalenQ Jun 12th, 2007 10:32 AM

I did not mean to imply that Bonzo was responsible for the wall coming down by that speech - but that it was a famous part in the history of the wall.

Like you say no doubt many other forces caused the inevitable - the break up on the Soviet Union primarily and this has been attributed to Reagan's huge military build up that, when matched by Soviets, perhaps led to the bankruptcy.

But no it was empty rhetoric i agreed and grandstanding, which Ronnie was best at.

rialtogrl Jun 12th, 2007 10:47 AM

Nothing prepared me for actually seeing and touching the Berlin wall when I was there. It is a very moving experience (or at least it was for me.) It was also an odd feeling to be where the wall once stood - like at the Mauerpark, for instance. Very humbling.

waring Jun 12th, 2007 10:51 AM

It was the US's superiority in IT that was the last nail in the coffin, combined with the 'threat' of Star Wars.

Gorby couldn't get the communist party to move fast enough to modernise the USSR, and switched his power base to the State, rather than the Party apparatus.

Putsch, Yeltsin then then whole house of cards then came tumbling down.

I believe "Ich bein ein berliner" means "I'm a donut".

PalenQ Jun 12th, 2007 11:01 AM

actually a 'jam donut' like in German bakeries - a Berliner is a jam filled donut and oh so good.

altamiro Jun 12th, 2007 11:05 AM

>a Berliner is a jam filled donut and oh so good.

Yes, but only in the south(west) and west of Germany.
In Bavaria it is a Krapfen.
In the North and east (including Berlin) it is a Pfannkuchen.
Don't ask ...

waring Jun 12th, 2007 11:06 AM

Aha, I'm English and a doughnut is automatically jammy for me, no jam is a ring doughnut (can't think why I used American spelling)

DAX Jun 12th, 2007 11:13 AM

I'm just glad Kennedy wasn't in Hamburg.

PalenQ Jun 12th, 2007 11:26 AM

high wall: what would you call a person from Berlin if not a 'Berliner'?

don't i see that on beer bottles Berliner for beer brewed in Berlin.

I'm wondering if JFK was wrong only in the parts of Germany you say use the jam donut conotation - bitte what was then the snafu with JFK and Berliner?

Thanks - you are the once source, a German speaker who can clarify this. Thanks

waring Jun 12th, 2007 11:35 AM

Pending Highwall, I believe it's the use of the article

Ich bein berliner=I am a Berliner
Ich bein ein berliner=I am a doughnut

Zeus Jun 12th, 2007 11:38 AM

I just love revisionist history.

Especially all the Lefties that now want to tell us the Soviets were never a threat.

bob_brown Jun 12th, 2007 11:38 AM

Some Germans tell me that Ich bin Berliner means I am from Berlin while Ich bin ein Berliner means I am a jelly donut. Others tell me that the meaning is clear regardless - Kennedy meant he was also a citizen of Berlin.

Many Germans speak English well enough to know what he meant.

To give an example of general understanding, I took a guided backstage tour at the Festspielhaus in Salzburg. The tour started with the guide speaking first in English and then repeating her thoughts in German. The German speakers soon told her to stick to English, that was sufficient.

At Neuschwanstein, about half the people in my English language tour group were not native English speakers. They took the first tour they could find that was in a language they knew. Less waiting that way.


DAX Jun 12th, 2007 11:40 AM

It was a snafu but understandable since it is an irregularity/exception in the German grammar to eliminate ein for a person.

waring Jun 12th, 2007 11:41 AM

"I just love revisionist history."

How do you mean?

bob_brown Jun 12th, 2007 11:41 AM

PS The Mexican wall. I doubt if there is going to be a big call to tear that one down. Too easy to climb over and dig under. Ironic, one Republican calls for a wall to be torn down; another one builds one that is longer and higher.




PalenQ Jun 12th, 2007 11:42 AM

Oops NPR said that today was the 20th anniversary of that 'famous speech' and they were to discuss like we are hear - what effect it had if any.

Soviets never a threat? Anyone with enough firepower to blow up the world has to be a threat.

fnarf999 Jun 12th, 2007 11:43 AM

No one in Germany was confused by his statement, any more than Mexicans thought the Chevy Nova stood for "no go", or an English-speaking person would confuse "therapist" with "the rapist". It's an urban legend.

cruiseluv Jun 12th, 2007 11:45 AM


Per DAX,

"Most of us have the american perspective of the event but Europeans told me that it was a meaningless rhetoric from Reagan. The Europeans credited Gorbachev's wisdom for allowing the wall to come down not Reagan. They clarified that the wall didn't come down due to Reagan's empty rhetoric."

And which Europeans may those be?? Certainly not the ones behind the curtain. Even today, the countries of the Soviet block are thankful to US leadership in those dark times.

Yeah,, right , Thanks Gorbachev.... One big coincidence... LOL!!!

PalenQ Jun 12th, 2007 11:49 AM

As for the walls being built along Mexican/US border and one in Israel and Palestinians and Berlin Wall was that Berlin Wall, part of the Iron Curtain, was to keep people in

whilst the other two are to keep people out. Perhaps just as odious in some ways but a different ball game.

DAX Jun 12th, 2007 11:50 AM

Bob Brown: Interesting comparison with the Mexican wall, one may say it's totally different, but it's still a wall to keep people from getting across. The Austrians put so much effort to build the Schengen wall to keep the Eastern Europeans from coming until the EU was expanded to 25.

DAX Jun 12th, 2007 11:54 AM

Cruiseluv; I agree with you history has a short memory. The European perspective may quickly change when & if Russia (no longer the Soviets) reaims its missiles toward Europe again.

jody Jun 12th, 2007 12:05 PM

And let's not forget the wall we're building in Iraq!

altamiro Jun 12th, 2007 12:10 PM

>No one in Germany was confused by his statement, any more than Mexicans thought the Chevy Nova stood for "no go", or an English-speaking person would confuse "therapist" with "the rapist". It's an urban legend.

Of course not.
In Berlin, "Ich bin ein Berliner" has only one meaning - that one is a citizen of Berlin, with a small grammatical error. Same in Bavaria.
In the South (except Bavaria) or West of Germany, it might mean both - a citizen of Berlin and a jam doughnut. Therefore a lot of puns were made.
Nobody with the least command of the language could take these puns seriously.

PalenQ Jun 12th, 2007 12:11 PM

Something there is that doesn't love a wall

MENDING WALL... ROBERT FROST
Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun,
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But at spring mending-time we find them there.
I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go.
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:
'Stay where you are until our backs are turned!'
We wear our fingers rough with handling them.
Oh, just another kind of out-door game,
One on a side. It comes to little more:
There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, 'Good fences make good neighbors'.
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
'Why do they make good neighbors? Isn't it
Where there are cows?
But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I'd ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence.
Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That wants it down.' I could say 'Elves' to him,
But it's not elves exactly, and I'd rather
He said it for himself. I see him there
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me~
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father's saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, "Good fences make good neighbors."

altamiro Jun 12th, 2007 12:11 PM

>Even today, the countries of the Soviet block are thankful to US leadership in those dark times.

In general - maybe. But nobody except Reagan himself took the theatrical speech seriously. It was just too theatrical for that.

DAX Jun 12th, 2007 12:20 PM

And my daughter used to love saying: Bist du Hamburger oder ein Hamburger?

DAX Jun 12th, 2007 12:22 PM

Altamiro: That's the general feeling I get from people in Europe that we are taking ourselves way too seriously.

waring Jun 12th, 2007 12:40 PM

Never heard the phrase before, and I got a degree in Russian and Eastern European studies.

altamiro Jun 12th, 2007 12:40 PM

>Altamiro: That's the general feeling I get from people in Europe that we are taking ourselves way too seriously.

I don't know about "you" (you, DAX, or you, Americans in general) but already our politicians take themselves way too seriously and the US politicians seem to be even worse in this regard.

Phil Jun 12th, 2007 01:00 PM

>In Berlin, "Ich bin ein Berliner" has only one meaning - that one is a citizen of Berlin, with a small grammatical error

Close, but not precise enough. German is more complex than many people give it credit for:

"Ich bin Berliner" means "I am a citizen of Berlin" or "I am from Berlin"

"Ich bin ein Berliner", said with the correct intonation means "I am one of you, a citizen of Berlin", and that is exactly what Kennedy wanted to get across.

As others said, no one with a command of German would in the least give that sentence the meaning "I am a jelly doughnut".

DAX Jun 12th, 2007 01:01 PM

To me its a cultural/style difference. In the US many of us are used to spice our speech with more confidence, conviction and even exageration. People don't take it so literally and wonder if you seriously mean every word, but abroad people may interpret it as being overly confident or even pompous.

DAX Jun 12th, 2007 01:07 PM

That's a very good point Phil. Emphasizing the intonation on "ein" does mean I am a Berliner or a Politician etc, so it can still be said both ways depending on the context of the conversation.

logos999 Jun 12th, 2007 01:07 PM

Reagen nevertheless was one on the most hated people during that time! The "NATO Doppelbeschluss", "Aufrüstung", "Ostermärsche", "Wir wollen Sonne statt Reagan", "End of the aera Schmidt", etc... Reagan bring up a list rather negative associations of his time and his "work". The "Tear down that wall" statement he made was considered a joke by most.

kleeblatt Jun 12th, 2007 01:11 PM

So, what does a German say living in Paris? Ich bin ein Pariser? :)

logos999 Jun 12th, 2007 01:14 PM

:-) Good one, schuler.

AAFrequentFlyer Jun 12th, 2007 01:16 PM

That's like saying that Europe didn't need US to defeat Hitler.....

WOW!

Amazing how a generation or 2 later people forget the realities....

Study, read and study more history before making asinine statements like the few above.

Reagan administration, John Paul 2 and few other factors did put a final "nail in the coffin" in the Soviet Empire. If you think otherwise you are simply an imbecile.

Soviets and their allies, the Warsaw pact, were going broke, that's true but if not pushed by military, economic and spiritual/religious realities the empire may have survived another 10-20 years. Gorbachov saw the realities and only reacted when there was no other choice. Did many of you forget that he became the communist party leader after a very short stints by 2 very conservative politburo old timers that were elected by it's members? Soviets were in no way ready to "knock down the wall", but as I said earlier, only when faced with the reality of the world and the mighty push by the western powers, (although with many European liberals demonstrating against US and some of their own government in the 80s, accusing US of being capitalist and military pigs), did Gorbachev see the writing on the wall(no pun intended).

Let's not forget that KGB, under Gorbachev rule were still financing the anti-US/Nato demonstrations in western Europe. Now, why would they do that if he intended for the regime to fall?

If Gorbachev was such a great person, why not stop KGB from doing their dirty work in western Europe. Only few years into his administration did he see the reality and only then did he change his tune.

Please read and study history.

thit_cho Jun 12th, 2007 01:19 PM

Will you also commemorate the visit in May 2005 of Ronnie to Bitburg!

DAX Jun 12th, 2007 01:24 PM

logos: I was a bit young at the time, now I'm curious what was the NATO Doppelbeschluess about?

altamiro Jun 12th, 2007 01:25 PM

> People don't take it so literally and wonder if you seriously mean every word, but abroad people may interpret it as being overly confident or even pompous.

Maybe - sounds like a classical "lost in translation" thing.
But then Reagan was playing exclusively to the domestic (US) opinion. Nothing wrong with it - he was US president after all - but his speech and his "evil empire" thing weren't meant of foreign listeners and thus weren't accepted by these.


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