Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

Complete list of 8,000+ Thatcher statements & texts of many of them

1982 Oct 29 Fr
Margaret Thatcher

Remarks at the Berlin Wall ("One day they will be free")

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Venue: Potsdamer Platz, Berlin
Source: BBC Sound Archive: OUP transcript
Journalist: David Smeeton, BBC, reporting
Editorial comments: Between 1525 and 1542? BBC indexes also record MT commenting that she had not realised how deep the wall was with the ruined area of no man’s land. “One day they will be free”.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 526
Themes: Foreign policy (USSR & successor states)

BBC Commentator

According to reports of the visit received here, Mrs. Thatcher had earlier hinted at the possibility of import controls being imposed by Britain. I asked our man in West Berlin, David Smeeton about this.

David Smeeton, BBC

Well, what she did at the press conference in Bonn before she left to come to Berlin was to say that there was a need for an open world trading system but it had to be genuinely open and genuinely competitive, and she referred—without actually naming names or incidents—that other countries weren't being genuinely open and competitive, so the implication was I … Britain don't want protectionism, but there was a warning there that other countries have got to play fair too.

BBC Commentator

What sort of day has she had there? Has she been greeted well?

David Smeeton, BBC

Well at Berlin it was, it began with a military salute at Gatow Airport, then a car drive through Berlin streets, people and children waving at the corners, in marked contrast to when President Reagan was here earlier, and then she arrived at the Reichstag—that's the former German Parliament building—it overlooks a section of the Wall and a section of the River Spree, where East Germans have tried to swim to freedom and she laid flowers there. And then she turned and side-stepped her security patrol and dived into a crowd of Berliners who were absolutely ecstatic, shaking her hands and chatting with her, and it became a bit of a melee with television cameras forward and Herr Kohl, the Chancellor, extracted her and took her over to the river and started pointing out things on the other side—all the entanglements to stop people getting across. And again cameraman were actually standing, you know in, inside the East as it were and the Prime Minister was only two or three yards from the East itself. She turned to me and said “What I've seen so far, it's horrific, absolutely horrific”. Well, then it was up on to a viewing platform at Potsdamer Platz which looks over a very wide section of the prohibition zone. She came down with, some people say, tears in her eyes as she turned to come away and as she came down the steps I asked her for her reaction, and this is what she had to say:

MT

I think it's even worse than I imagined, but you need not only to drive alongside it but to get up and see right across because then, you see, there's a colossal no-man's-land, em, with concrete piles, with dogs patrolling, I'm told with mines, and the great big no-man's land and then another wall. And I don't see how anyone could, could possibly venture across there, and that's what they do to stop people from coming to freedom. [end p1]

David Smeeton, BBC

You laid flowers on the crosses of young people …

MT

I laid flowers. There was one young girl, she was only 18. Three of them came and two of them got across and she was just caught climbing the wall and they shot her. And … they do these terrible things and they flaunt it publicly, it just shows you the atrocities and barbarism of that system.