Coming up next
Coronavirus updates: Trump extends social distancing guidelines
Singer-songwriter John Prine in critical condition with COVID-19 symptoms
Seattle - Federal Way man fatally shot during dispute over parking, Snohomish sheriff's office says
Trump concedes U.S. coronavirus death toll could be 100,000 or more
L.A. working to bring homeless indoors with more shelters, hotel rooms amid coronavirus pandemic, Garcetti says
Trump Says U.S. Death Rates Likely To Peak In 2 Weeks
Kudlow Says $2 Trillion Relief Package 'May Not Be Perfect'
'Answering the call' - USNS Comfort sets sail for New York
Nashville - Country music star Joe Diffie dies of coronavirus at 61
Tornado rips through Arkansas city, injuring 22 people
The president of I was told the president is going to stand in front of the Berlin Wall. And he'll talk doc for about half an hour and given that setting he ought to talk about foreign policy. That's that was the guidance received from the senior staff. I flew in Let me see. I think it was April April. Yes April I flew to West Berlin with the pre advanced party. That is the there. Were some people from the White House. Press Office who are going to be liaising with German press people from the secret service who would be talking about security arrangements and so forth and I went there with my notebook and the spend a day or a day and a half in Berlin first up was the site where the president was going to speak climbed. A platform looked over the wall from West Berlin and West Berlin was a modern prosperous town full of color people well dressed driving having recent model cars. I was astounded. By the number of Mercedes benzes. Everyone seemed to be doing well. And then you look across the wall down unter den and Lyndon which was the main was the Pennsylvania Avenue the main Zarem oneal a street of old Berlin. And but now you're looking at East Berlin and it was was astonishing. It felt the absence of motion. There were a few soldiers in the near in the foreground marching back and forth. You look down. Auden Linden issued a few more soldiers few people on sidewalks way off in the distance car or two that seems somehow to be going slowly and then the second second. An overwhelming impression was of grayness. Somehow I there was no color. The buildings the building seemed they were gray and Brown they seem to be slumping. They were clearly badly maintained. You could see shell marks these many. Some of these buildings hadn't been repaired. And since the end of the Second World War and this was now nineteen eighty seven more than four decades later. And so there I felt. I actually actually for me. A young speechwriter. Who needed material? The first my impression was that I was really shook me because I thought to myself. I've never been in a place where you could. The air seemed heavy with the weight of history. This was the border. This was the dividing line between the free west color movement activity people enjoying themselves and the communist east all grey array very little activity very little motion. How do I write something that? How can I give President Reagan material that is equal to the sense of to the sense of moment in this spot? Well I talked to various other people in fact I talked to the ranking American diplomat diplomat in Berlin and he was full of ideas about what Ronald Reagan should not say and he said don't make a big deal out of the wall. They've all begun used to it by now but for me. The the big moment moment was that in the evening I broke away from the American party and got in a cab and drove out to a residential suburb of West Berlin. Where a couple of Berliners we we had never met but we had friends in common because the desert else who was his name he had had a career at the World Bank in Washington then he and his wife Ingeborg had just retired back to Germany so they put together they brought together a dozen or fifteen of their friends? A couple of students students there is a physician and professor different walks of life purely the so that I could meet some West Berliners. I've been talking with officials now. This was a chance to meet ordinary people and we talked a little bit about whether in Germany and German wine and so forth and then I said look I was told by the American diplomat. Matt here that you've gotten used to the wall by now but I've seen hat wall how it is that true or you used to it and there was is a silence and I thought Oh my goodness I'm committed just the gaffe that the diplomat wanted to make sure the president didn't commit but then one man. Dan raised his arm and pointed and he said my sister lives just a few kilometers in that direction. And I haven't seen her in more than twenty years. How do you think we feel about this law? And they went around the room and every person told a story about the wall and they hadn't they'd stop talking about it but they hadn't gotten I used to it at all. They all hated it every day. And Ingeborg else lovely woman. I suppose she was in. She just died a couple of years ago. She was charming and kept the conversation light. But at this moment she became angry. And she said if this man Gorbachev is serious with this Talk Glasnost Perestroika. He can prove it by coming here and getting rid of this wall and I knew the moment. She said that that if Ronald Reagan had been there he would responded to that to the decency and power and truthfulness of that remarks that went into my notebook and that became the basis basis for the line. Mr Gorbachev tear down this wall. I didn't get a chance to talk to the then former president after the wall came down but I did talk. Some years slater to Mrs Reagan and asked what what his response was and she said he was very touched that it wasn't corporate but it was ordinary Germans who do with their bare down that wall and I yes and I thought it was very appropriate. That the the inspiration for that line for the call to tear down the wall came from a a German woman. Peter Thank you so much that was incredible by the way the car you saw moving so slowly was undoubtedly trabant and I'm sure the guy had his yes and was flaw. You know he was. He had the he had the accelerator. Mashhad grounded all three cylinders of that piece of crap. We're probably vibrating. Their little hearts up. You've been a friend for a long time mend And I'd love to do this again some time. And it's an absolute pleasure and honor speaking with you today. Bill you just Holler. I'll come running deal on. Needless to say it was a great honor talking to Peter Robinson a man who was actually there and actually made real history. And it's kind of fun to talk about Khamis. Well if you enjoyed that interview with Peter. There's a a lot more to come head on over to apple podcasts or spotify or wherever you listen to podcasts and subscribe to the Cold War what we saw. You won't want to miss throwing second of it..