Elliot Fernandez

The Brandenburg Gate in Berlin

Built by Carl Gotthard Langhans between 1788 and 1791, in the 20th century the Brandenburg Gate was the symbol of the division of the city.
Elliot Fernandez
Elliot Fernandez
He has a degree in History from the Autonomous University of Barcelona (2009) and a Master's in World History from Pompeu Fabra University (2011).
Post on 2020-07-27 | Updated on 2022-10-01

The Brandenburg Gate was built by the architect Carl Gotthard Langhans between 1788 and 1791. This monument became the iconic image of the division of the city in two. On the one hand, East Berlin, the capital of the communist GDR. On the other, West Berlin, in the hands of the capitalist German Federal Republic.

With the construction of the Berlin Wall, the Brandenburg Gate remained on the Soviet side from 1961 to 1989. The construction of the wall isolated the gate in no man's land.

The Cold War years were particularly intense in Berlin. There is an interesting collection of images from 1982 to see how it was lived in those years.

Puerta de Branderburgo 1982
The Brandenburg Gate, in a 1982 image made from the western side. Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/ 41306854 @ N00 / 3781789316 /
Puerta de Branderburgo 2009
The Brandenburg Gate, at present (2009).
Source: Elliot Fern√°ndez

The Brandenburg Gate during the Cold War

During the Cold War years, the Gate became a political symbol. In 1963 the President of the United States of America, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, visited Berlin. He stood in front of the Gate. There the Soviets hung large red banners to keep him from looking east.

In the 1980s the mayor of West Berlin, Richard von Weizsäcker, made an important speech. In it, he denounced the existence of the two German states as a consequence of the Gate:

"The German question will be open as long as the gate remains open."

On June 12, 1987, U.S. President Ronald Reagan visited Berlin. There he spoke to the people of West Berlin from the gate. He demanded that the Berlin Wall be torn down. Addressing the CPSU Secretary General Michail Gorbachev, Reagan said:

"Gorbachev's secretary general, if he seeks peace, if he seeks prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if he seeks liberalization, should come here. Mr. Gorbachev, open this door. Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"

Finally, in 1989, it was time for the wall to disappear. Germany was reunited. The citizens of Berlin were able to walk through the gate freely.