He lived in Berlin as a boy for a time before the Wall was built.
Now as the city prepares to mark 25 years since the Cold War’s most potent symbol came down, US Secretary of State John Kerry has braved steady rain to visit what remains and pay tribute to those who died trying to flee Berlin’s former Communist East.
At least 136 people were killed or died at the Wall, most of them while trying to escape.
Washington’s relations with Berlin are still recovering from the NSA spying scandal but German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier had only praise for America’s input a quarter of a century ago, as the Wall was about to fall.
“Germany’s division had been overcome – and with it the division of Europe,” Steinmeier told a joint news conference.
“And I want to say very explicitly, dear John, this would not have been possible without the unconditional support of the USA. It would have been unthinkable and impossible.”
Momentous images of emotional Germans from the East surging through the newly-opened border stunned the world in 1989 when the Wall came down on November 9. German unification came 11 months later on October 3, 1990.
The Wall’s demise kicked off revolutions against Communist rule throughout the Eastern Bloc that ended the Cold War.
The German capital will mark the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall with a huge street party around the Brandenburg Gate.