A new exhibit at Berlin's Checkpoint Charlie Museum is dedicated to the Gipper





A few blocks from where the Wall stood is the Checkpoint Charlie Museum, which commemorates the more than 1,000 people who died trying to cross the deadly East German border. A group of important Berliners gathered over the weekend to inaugurate a new exhibit on the Gipper and his famous efforts to end the division of Berlin.

The collection tells a fascinating story of just how focused Ronald Reagan was on tearing down the Wall. He first visited Berlin in November 1978, and spent many minutes surveying the wall's "death strip" from the penthouse offices of the conservative Axel Springer publishing house that stood right on the border between the two cities. "You could tell from the set of his jaw and his look," recalls former aide Peter Hannaford, "that he was very, very determined that this was something that had to go."

Reagan, then a private citizen, asked if he could visit East Berlin. Told that he needed only a one-day visa and to exchange a certain amount of Western currency for almost worthless Ost Marks, he said: "Let's go." One of the places they visited was East Berlin's central department store, "a K Mart but with almost no inventory." Upon leaving, they were confronted with a scene of two East German "Vopo" policemen roughing up a young man. "We've got to find a way to knock this thing down," Reagan said...


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