Americans after the Berlin Airlift presente s a Liberty Bell /Freiheitsglocke ) to the people of Berlin (1950). It was a poignant symbol of the fight for freedom against communism being waged in Europe. The epiccenter of that fight was of course Berlin. The Bell was of course inspired by the American Liberty Bell in Philidelphia, butit was not a replica of the American bell. The bell was installed at the Rathaus Schöneberg, the former city hall.
The idea for the symbolic gift was a project sponsored by the Crusade for Freedom and its sponsor, the National Committee for a Free Europe which also operated Radio Free Europe. World War II hero, General Dwight D. Eisenhower launched the campaign to give a bell to Berlin (Labor Day, 1950). At his side was General Lucius D. Clay who master-minded the Berlin airlift. The stated purpose was to give every American an opportunity to play a personal part in the "free world's determination to resist Communist aggression."
The Governing Mayor of West Berlin, Ernst Reuter (SPD), spoke at the presentation creemonies and pledged that Germany "will never rest or relax until freedom will shine over the countries of Eastern Europe that are at present forced to live in slavery". Unlike the American original, the Germans ring their bell is daily at noon, and at midnight on Christmas Eve and on New Year's Eve. We note the Schoeneberger Saengerknaben appearing with the Bell. A recording of the ringing was broadcast by the American radio in West Berlin (RIAS) every Sunday just before noon. These broadcasts have been continued by Deutschlandradio Kultur. In the radio broadcasts, the ringing of the bell is followed by an excerpt from the text of the "Declaration of Freedom" in German, read by important dramatic actors. The Germans rung their bill on several important occasions: 1) East Berlin workers uprising (June 17, 1953), 2) the Hungarian Uprising (1956), 3) the construction of the Berlin Wall (1961) and 4) the reunification of Germany (1990). Most recently the bell was rung when Islamic terrorists attacked America (September 11, 2001 ). Thousands of Berlin citizens assembled to pay their respect at John-F.-Kennedy-Platz in front of the former city hall where the Bell is housed.
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