21 - 22 September 2016
REAGAN, Ronald (1911-2004). His signature ("Ronald Reagan") accomplished in black felt-tip pen on the surface of a sizable graffiti-strewn fragment of the Berlin Wall. Measures approximately 25 inches long, 13 inches tall and 2 inches thick.
AN EVOCATIVE RELIC SYMBOLIZING ONE OF PRESIDENT REAGAN'S GREATEST FOREIGN POLICY ACHIEVEMENTS: A SIGNED FRAGMENT OF THE BERLIN WALL.
On June 12, 1987, with the Brandenburg Gate in the background, President Reagan implored Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev: "if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization, come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" That address became a rallying cry for ending the Cold War and dismantling the Iron Curtain that had divided Europe since the close of the Second World War.
Reagan delivered his famous exhortation to Gorbachev amidst a warming relationship with his Soviet counterpart, who upon coming to power in 1985, introduced the polices of glasnost ("openness") and perestroika ("restructuring"). The Soviet leader's new direction convinced Reagan to revise his confrontational foreign policy of his first term and embrace diplomacy as a means of promoting improved relations between two superpowers. By the time President Reagan left office in January 1989, the two had held four major summit meetings, had signed the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), and laid the groundwork for the START I Treaty.
Ten months after President Reagan left office, the Iron Curtain began to crumble – first in Hungary, then in Czechoslovakia – events that placed tremendous pressure on the East German government to open its own borders as thousands of Germans fled the country. When East German authorities finally announced that their frontiers would be open to all, enormous crowds began to form around the Berlin Wall demanding that the gates be opened immediately. On the evening of November 9, 1989, East German authorities opened the gates and over the next several weeks, Berliners began to dismantle what had come to be simply called die Mauer ("the wall"). Today, only small sections of the infamous barrier remain standing.
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