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Did Margaret Thatcher Celebrate the Fall of the Berlin Wall?

Former US President Ronald Reagan often gets the credit for precipitating the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, which led to the eventual restoration of a united Germany. Reagan is well known for the 1987 speech in which he urged Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down this wall.” But not all of Reagan's Cold War allies wanted to see East and West Germany reunified. British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was staunchly opposed to the whole idea.

“We do not want a united Germany,” Thatcher said in 1989, two years after Reagan's speech but before the Berlin Wall came down. “This would lead to a change to post-war borders, and we cannot allow that because such a development would undermine the stability of the whole international situation and could endanger our security,” she explained.

Pop culture and the fall of the wall:

  • Musician David Bowie performed “Heroes” in West Berlin in 1987, a song about two lovers, one from East Berlin and one from West Berlin. East Germans, listening on the other side of the wall, soon began to chant: “The wall must go!”
  • In 1988, Bruce Springsteen performed in East Berlin, attracting the largest gathering of East Berliners prior to the actual fall of the wall. “I’m not for or against any government,” he said in German. “I came here to play rock and roll for you.”
  • "Looking for Freedom,” David Hasselhoff’s cover of Marc Seaberg’s 1978 hit, was released in West Germany in 1989, but was banned in East Germany until after the fall of the wall.
Discussion Comments
By maj — On Jun 05, 2016

Reply to anon995839. That is a half truth. It is true that the USSR could not afford to keep East Berlin, of the rest of its overextended empire, afloat. The reason it could not do so was that the rapid build up of U.S. armed forced instituted under Reagan caused the USSR to deplete resources in the attempt to keep up with the U.S. The USSR may, or may not, have eventually gone bankrupt; the Reagan Doctrine sealed the deal, and for decades the world was safer.

By anon995839 — On Jun 01, 2016

The real reason the wall came down, was because the USSR could no longer afford to keep east Berlin afloat. Regan had nothing to do with it.

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