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Berlin's Brandenburg Gate: Backdrop to Decades of US-Europe Ties

  • Alex Villarreal

U.S. President Barack Obama is visiting Berlin this week, where he will speak at the historic Brandenburg Gate. The gate is not just one of Germany's emblematic symbols; it also chronicles the recent history of the European relationship with the United States.

It has been the backdrop of U.S. presidential speeches in Germany for decades.

The Brandenburg Gate is one of Berlin's most famous landmarks. Built in the late 1700s as a monument to peace, Germany's fall in World War II turned it into a symbol of Cold War division.

At the gate in 1987, Ronald Reagan famously called for Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin Wall - that concrete divide separating Soviet-controlled, Communist East Germany from the American, British and French-controlled West.

It was the place where John F. Kennedy stopped for a visit before his famous 1963 "I am a Berliner" speech where the Soviets blocked his view into the East with red banners.

Brandenburg Gate, Berlin, Germany

Brandenburg Gate, Berlin, Germany

Where in 1994, Bill Clinton called the gate a "gateway" to a united post-Cold War Europe.

Where in 2008, then-presidential candidate Obama was to speak, only to change venues after German Chancellor Angela Merkel objected to using the Brandenburg Gate for campaigning.

And now, where Obama speaks as president, nearly a quarter century after the gate reopened, following the fall of the Berlin Wall.

The Brandenburg Gate, sometimes a "tower of tyranny" as Clinton called it, but now back to its original purpose as a symbol of peace.
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