Excerpts from "the first rough draft of history" as reported in
The Washington Post on this date in the 20th century.
Two of communism's greatest foes, President Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II, shared the front page when they made their historic challenges for an end to oppression and the start of political reform. Two excerpts from The Post of June 13, 1987:
Washington Post Staff Writer
EAST BERLIN, June 12 --
President Reagan stood today before the Brandenburg Gate, the symbol of Europe's harsh division, and challenged Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to create a new era of freedom by dismantling the Berlin Wall.
"Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate," said Reagan in a forceful voice. "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this Wall."
About 500 persons gathered in East Berlin to try to hear Reagan's speech, but police lines kept them several hundred yards from the Wall where his words were inaudible, West German television reported.
Passages of Reagan's speech today appeared to be addressed personally to Gorbachev, whom he met at a summit in Geneva in 1985 and again last year in Reykjavik, Iceland.
Observing that Gorbachev had relaxed some controls and hinted at "a new policy of reform and freedom," the president called upon the Soviet leader to show that the changes amounted to more than "token gestures." He then said that tearing down the Wall would be the "one sign the Soviets can make that would be unmistakable, that would advance dramatically the cause of freedom and peace."
"Today ... represents a moment of hope," Reagan said. "We in the West stand ready to cooperate with the East to promote true openness -- to break down the barriers that separate people, to create a safer, freer world. And surely there is no better place than Berlin, the meeting place of East and West, to make a start."
By Jackson Diehl and Loren Jenkins
Washington Post Foreign Service
GDANSK, Poland, June 12 --
Riot police charged a demonstration of thousands of praying supporters of the banned Solidarity union movement tonight after Pope John Paul II emotionally endorsed the organization in a mammoth outdoor mass in this volatile Baltic port.
Defying a police deployment unprecedented in size since the end of martial law four years ago, more than 10,000 people marched beneath Solidarity banners through Gdansk following the mass in the working class neighborhood of Zaspa. ...
Looking out over a sea of Solidarity banners, the pope gave communion to Solidarity leader Lech Walesa and his wife and drew cheers as he insisted that the 1980 Gdansk agreements that created the Solidarity union were "a task to be fulfilled."
"I pray for you every day in Rome, I pray for my motherland and for you workers," the pope said in a series of emotional, extemporaneous comments at the close of the mass. "I pray for the special heritage of Polish Solidarity."
The declaration, before a crowd of more than 750,000 persons including Solidarity activists, climaxed five days of escalating calls by the pope for political reform of Poland's communist system and respect for the nonviolent struggle of its opposition.