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Berlin mayor tells Trump: 'Don't build this wall!'

January 28, 2017

Berlin's mayor has turned Reagan's famous Cold War plea to Gorbachev to tear the wall down into a plea for Trump not to build one. A proposed wall along the US-Mexico border has strained bilateral relations.

Donald Trump Portest Berlin
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/M.Sohn

The mayor of Germany's once divided capital invoked the memory of the Berlin Wall on Friday to condemn US President Donald Trump's proposed border wall with Mexico.

The state's press department issued a dramatic plea from Michael Müller referencing the city's infamous Cold War era divide.

"We Berliners know best how much suffering was caused by the division of an entire continent with barbed wire and concrete," he wrote.

Michael Mueller in Berlin
Michael Mueller, an SPD politician, has been mayor of Berlin since 2014Image: Reuters/H. Hanschke

"Berlin, the city of a divided Europe, the city of a free Europe, cannot stay silent when a country plans to erect a new wall"

"In the end we the people overcame this division, and it is one of the 20th century's star-studded hours when, at the Brandenburg Gate, the most important symbol of the division, people conquered the Wall and then tore it down piece by piece.

"Now, at the beginning of the 21st century, we can't just accept it if all our historical experiences are tossed aside by those to whom we largely owe our freedom, the Americans."

"I appeal to the President of the United States not to go along this tortuous path of isolation and exclusion. Wherever such borders still exist today in Korea, in Cyprus, they create a lack of freedom, and suffering."

"I call to the American President: Think of your predecessor Ronald Reagan. Remember his words: 'Tear down this wall.' And so I say: Dear Mr. President, don't build this wall!"

Müller's comments referenced former US President Ronald Reagan's 1987 challenge to then Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to demolish the wall that divided the city from 1961-1989.

East Side Gallery, Berlin
Thousands of people braved death to attempt to cross the border, which stood as a symbol for the Iron CurtainImage: Fotolia/creedline

Anti-Facist Protective Wall

The first phase of the Wall, known as the "Anti-Fascist Protective Wall" in the Soviet-controlled German Democratic Republic was erected by East German troops overnight. It completely cut off West Berlin from surrounding East Germany and immediately halted the flood of defectors to West Germany. Over its lifespan thousands of people attempted to escape with hundreds dying in the process.

In a speech at the Brandenburg Gate commemorating the 750th anniversary of the city, Reagan called for freedom and peace.

"General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization, come here to this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this Wall," he said.

Mueller's plea came two days after Trump signed an executive order for the "immediate construction of a physical wall on the southern border," to counter illegal immigration from Mexico.

The two countries were facing their biggest diplomatic rift in decades over Trump's insistence that Mexico pay for construction of a wall along their 3,200-kilometer (2,000-mile) border.

The dispute prompted President Enrique Pena Nieto to scrap a meeting with Trump in Washington next week after the American President posted on Twitter that it would be better to cancel if Mexico wasn't willing to pay for his proposed wall.

People in Mexico were debating how to fight back against Trump's aggressive stance on trade and immigration.

Prominent political figures suggested the country could expel US law enforcement agents, stop detaining Central American migrants or no longer inspect northbound trucks for drug shipments.

aw/bw (dpa, AFP, AP)

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