On Berlin Wall anniversary, Merkel urges Europe to defend `democracy, freedom`


Jens Schmidt, who fled East Germany before the fall of the Wall by driving his Trabi to Hungary and then across the open border to the West, said the club has many young members for whom learning to fix the simple but sturdy vehicles can be a lesson in history and civics, too."The team spirit", he said.

"It urges us to do everything in our power to defend freedom and democracy, human dignity and the rule of law".

Trump, for his part, has issued a statement commemorating the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

"The Berlin Wall, ladies and gentlemen, is history and it teaches us: No wall that keeps people out and restricts freedom is so high or so wide that it can't be broken down", she said.

During the ceremony, Steinmeier and the presidents of the four Eastern European nations placed roses in a small gap in the remains of the wall at the memorial.

During a solemn ceremony in a church standing on the former "death strip" that divided East and West, Merkel said that the Berlin Wall reminds "us that we have to do our part for freedom and democracy".

Speaking on Saturday, President Frank-Walter Steinmeier paid tribute to Germany's neighbours, saying: "Without the courage of the will to freedom of the Poles and Hungarians, the Czechs and Slovaks, the peaceful revolutions in Eastern Europe and Germany's reunification would not have been possible".

A generation later, in 1987, as Mikhail Gorbachev had begun to make reforms in the old Soviet Union, President Ronald Reagan came to the Brandenburg Gate near the wall and said, "There is one sign the Soviets can make that would be unmistakable, that would advance dramatically the cause of freedom and peace". We look to that moment as we see the battle for democracy enter a new phase.

'Tor auf!' ('Open the gate!') roared the crowds gathered at the Berlin Wall on this evening in 1989, ' it said. In addition, photos and videos document his commitment to opposing the division of Germany, his surveillance by the East German secret service, and his disrespectful attitude towards then-East German leader Erich Honecker. Border guards eventually opened the barriers - leading to thousands rushing through, and breaking the wall with hammers and pickaxes.

For four decades, East German propaganda touted the existence of a thriving workers' paradise on their side of the wall. In doing so, they accelerated the process of Soviet Communism's collapse. It dramatized some of the differences between East and West in sharp, concrete terms.

This time, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's visit ended Friday, while Macron is only planning a flying visit on Sunday. "We were wrong", Pompeo said.

'For 35 years, I experienced the official opinion as different from my own, ' Merkel said, referring to the former communist east. His comments followed sharp criticism from French President Emmanuel Macron, who warned this week in an interview with The Economist that North Atlantic Treaty Organisation was becoming "brain-dead" in the absence of US leadership.