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Gorbachev, Kohl and Reagan named honorary citizens of Berlin

BERLIN -- Three years to the day after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the city Monday named Mikhail Gorbachev, Ronald Reagan and Helmut Kohl honorary citizens in recognition of the key roles they played in tearing down the Iron Curtain.

'Old and new wounds are being healed,' former Soviet President Gorbachev said at a ceremony in the Reichstag, the old German parliament building.

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Gorbachev made history in Berlin when he told the hard-line Communist East German authorities a few weeks before the Nov. 9, 1989 opening of the wall that 'History punishes those who come too late.'

He issued a call for reform in a televized speech during celebrations marking the 40th anniversary of the East German state. His visit coincided with and fueled pro-democracy protests which culminated in the downfall of the Communist government.

Reagan did go to Berlin for the ceremony but in a statement read on his behalf said that 'a free and unified Berlin shows the world how free people can work together for freedom and prosperity.'

The former U.S. president won the hearts of many Berliners in June, 1987, when, standing at the wall, challenged Gorbachev to 'tear down this wall.'

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'Ronald Reagan, Mikhail Gorbachev and (Germsan Chancellor) Helmut Kohl made history and the German capital thanks them for winning back its unity', said Berlin Mayor Eberhard Diepgen after awarding honorary citizenship of the united city to the three, who were added to the list of Berlin's honorary citizens.

The roll of Berlin's honorary citizens has expanded and contracted during the last two centuries, reflecting dramatic shifts in German history. One of the names scratched from the list -- almost five decades ago -- was that of Adolf Hitler.

But his name and his reign of terror were recalled Monday as Germans marked the grim anniversary of the Nov. 9, 1938 Reichkristallnacht -- the night of the broken crystal -- when Nazis rampaged through Germany, attacking Jews and burning down synagogues in a night of violence that foreshadowed the Holocaust.

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