Migration NewsFrom the Stars and Stripes archives
Berlin bell's toll heard by world
October 25, 1950
BERLIN, Oct. 24 — Berlin, once a symbol of tyranny and now a symbol of resistance to tyranny, held the attention of the non-Communist world today when Gen Lucius D. Clay, at the conclusion of the most impressive ceremony in the city's postwar history, rang the world Freedom Bell.
The tones of the great bronze bell were carried to millions of listeners by radio networks covering much of the non-Soviet world, and set bells throughout the free world ringing to a simultaneous salute to freedom.
It was officially estimated that 450,000 Berlin residents gathered in the vast market place fronting the West-sector city hall to witness the historic ceremony.
During the ceremony, the United Nations flag flew from atop the city hall. It was the first time a UN flag had flown over a German city.
Not since the Potsdam conference of 1945 had so many ranking representatives of so many nations gathered in this city.
Dignitaries from more than a score of countries were present at the bell's dedication.
Just before the ringing of the bell at noon, Clay said: "In a moment, I will throw the switch that will ring the Freedom Bell. As it sends forth its message of freedom and faith, let all of us — wherever we may be — rededicate ourselves, and join together in a silent prayer 'that this world, under God, shall be free.' "
Custodianship of the Freedom Bell by the city of Berlin was accepted by Mayor Ernst Reuter, who declared in part:
"The sound of this bell will not only be heard in Berlin and throughout Germany; It will ring not only over the ocean to the great American people; it will also clearly be heard in the East.
"We know that the peoples of Warsaw, Prague, Budapest and Sofia are longing to listen to this sound of hope. Moreover, we are sure that even the Russian people would be in accord with us if they could freely express their will."
High Commissioner John J. McCloy preceded Reuter on the speakers' rostrum.
"In the name of all those who cherish freedom," McCloy said, "I have the honor to entrust this bell of freedom to the people of Berlin."
McCloy further said that, "Today, with the spectacle of Nazi tyranny still clear, we see the some techniques reapplied — concentration camps, forced labor, deportations, grotesqueries of propaganda called elections, marching youth. We hear the words peace and unity again misused."
"Those who misuse these words by applying totalitarian techniques will fail today and in the future just as the Nazis failed five years ago."
Introductory remarks were made by Maj Gen Maxwell Taylor, U.S. Berlin commander, who declared:
"The days of adversity (in the face of Communist pressure) have won for Berlin an acclaim which it never achieved in the glory of empire."
The pealing of the 10-ton Freedom Bell, in the tower of the Berlin City Hall, was joined by thousands of other bells throughout Europe and America, including bells in all U.S. Army chapels and installations throughout the U.S. Zone.
The Freedom Bell arrived here Saturday after passing through the Soviet Zone by rail. It had just completed a tour of 26 major American cities under the auspices of the Crusade for Freedom.
Funds raised on this tour will be used to strengthen Radio Free Europe, which broadcasts daily to the citizens of Iron Curtain nations.
"Our greatest task today," Clay said at the dedication, "is to build a world of free nations and free men, living and working together in peace. The people of the free world are dedicated to this task. The responsibility falls upon each of us.
"It gives me great pride, therefore, to be able to tell you that millions of my fellow countrymen ... have accepted this responsibility and are taking part in a great moral crusade for freedom.
"They have placed their names on a declaration of freedom and have sent it here, together with the Freedom Bell, as a testimony of their belief."
Clay dedicated the bell to the "eternal honor of all those who have given their lives in the cause of freedom."
"May the voice of the bell," Clay said, "lift the hearts of freedom-loving people everywhere. From this day forward, as it rings, may it strike a note of warning to all oppressors, a sound of confidence and courage to those called upon to defend their freedom, a message of hope and sympathy to those who are enslaved.
"Though parts of the world are barricaded against it, its voice cannot be kept out. It will be heard. It will be heard wherever there are human beings who yearn to live and work and worship as free men."
Among the Allied officials who accepted invitations to today's ceremony were:
Sir Ivone Kirkpatrick, British high commissioner; Andre Francois-Poncet, French high commissioner; Maj Gen George P. Hays, deputy U.S. high commissioner; Gen Thomas T. Handy, EUCOM commissioner; Lt Gen John K. Cannon, CG, USAFE; Lt Gen Manton S. Eddy, CG, USAREUR; Rear Adm John Wilkes, commander, U.S. Naval Forces Germany; and Lt Gen Sir Charles S. Keightley, commander, British Forces. Germany.
Others were James C. Dunn, U.S. ambassador to Italy; Robert D. Murphy. U.S. ambassador to Belgium; Milton Katz, roving ECA ambassador to Europe; the four U.S. land commissioners in Germany and several British and French land commissioners.
German dignitaries present included, in addition to Adenauer and Reuter, Jacob Kaiser, minister for all-German affairs; Hans Muhlenfeld, of the Deutsche Partei in the Bundestag; Helene Wessel, Bundestag Centrum Partei leader; the minister-presidents of the West German states and the mayors of the West Berlin boroughs.