The U.S. Embassy in Berlin announced it plans to reveal a 7-foot tall statue of former President Ronald Reagan on Nov. 9 after Berlin’s left-wing government refused to erect one.
In cities and countries that were once dominated by the Soviet Union, the man who once told Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev during a speech in Berlin to “tear down this wall” is considered something of a hero.
There is a statue of Reagan in Budapest, a Reagan memorial in Warsaw and a street named after Reagan in Prague. All of these countries did not need any prodding either, with each one honoring Reagan on their own initiative.
Berlin is an exception to the general Reagan lovefest seen in former Soviet occupation zones, with the traditionally leftist city refusing to celebrate Reagan despite his role in helping end the Soviet Union’s stranglehold on the east of the city.
The relationship was not always so rocky, with crowds in Berlin cheering Reagan during his June 12, 1987 speech in front of the historic Brandenburg Gate calling for an end to communist rule of Eastern and Central Europe. Two years later, the wall would fall in a moment that led to jubilant crowds from east and west meeting to destroy the symbol of communist oppression.
The Wall Street Journal reported that Berlin’s opposition to building a Reagan statue may have arisen from far-left activists who still fault the former president’s decision to replace nuclear missiles in Germany in the 1980s with upgraded, Pershing ll versions.
After ten years of trying, U.S. Ambassador Richard Grenell pitched the idea of the embassy erecting its own statue of Reagan to the Trump Administration, which agreed with the idea.
The embassy’s Twitter page notes that the statue will arrive in Berlin on Nov. 8 and be erected on the embassy’s roof.
Coming November 8 pic.twitter.com/XUbGYBS1Wu
— US-Botschaft Berlin (@usbotschaft) November 5, 2019
The Berlin ceremony is in marked contrast to a similar ceremony that occurred in Budapest in 2011, in which Prime Minister Viktor Orban was in attendance to commemorate a 7-foot statue of Reagan in Budapest’ Freedom Square.
In a speech he gave in Reagan’s honor, Orban said he “changed the world and created a new world for Central Europe. He tore down the walls which were erected in the path of freedom in the name of distorted and sick ideologies.”
Reagan is celebrated in Hungary due to the general view that he helped inspire Hungary’s opposition movement, which led to the peaceful overthrow of the occupying Soviets in 1989.
After World War ll, many countries in Central and Eastern Europe, including Eastern Germany, Hungary and Poland, were occupied by the Soviet Union. As eastern citizens, particularly those from communist Germany, increasingly fled to the West in search of freedom and economic opportunity, Soviet authorities erected a massive wall to prevent their escape.