American Graffiti Inspires Call For Freedom With AM-Reagan-Germany Bjt
Jun. 12, 1987
WASHINGTON (AP) _ The spray-painted words that lent encouragement to President Reagan's call for the destruction of the Berlin Wall on Friday were written months ago by an American offering a message of hope to West Germans.
Reagan, speaking within yards of the Berlin Wall, speculated that ''perhaps ... a young Berliner'' wrote in black letters on the wall's white side: ''This wall will fall. Beliefs become reality.''
The president continued, ''Yes, across Europe, this wall will fall. For it cannot withstand faith. It cannot withstand truth. The wall cannot withstand freedom.''
William Ozkaptan, 30, a civilian budget analyst now at the Pentagon, said in an interview that the message was his way of bringing hope to Berliners.
He said he painted it in English last Oct. 10, near the end of a 20-month tour of duty with the U.S.-Berlin Command. He signed it, ''W. Oz.''
''I've told many West Germans and Berliners that the wall is going to fall within their lifetime. They never seem to believe it,'' Ozkaptan said.
''I said to them, 'Listen, you have to believe in something for it to come true. You have to see it in your mind. You have to believe it.'''
West Berliners, Ozkaptan said, have grown used to the wall. Some welcome the stability it represents.
But, he said, ''I think we should give up a little stability for change. ... They forget that it's there. They've gotten used to living in the shadow of this monstrosity.''
To reach the wall, Ozkaptan said he climbed a chain link fence and ventured about 40 feet into East German territory. Just out of view of a nearby guard tower, he spent nearly two hours, using letters as high as he could reach, to paint the 20-foot-long inscription.
He chose a prominent section of the wall between the Spree River and the Reichstag, which housed the German legislature until the country was divided after World War II.
''One day when the wall comes down, they're going to keep that section as a memorial,'' he said. '' ... I'm going to be in the group of people that's in the wall-breaking ceremony.''
Ozkaptan, who is of Turkish, Swedish and Danish descent, said he predicted to coworkers that Reagan would notice and mention the spray-painted words in his speech.
''I said this is going to happen and President Reagan is going to read it to the whole world and my belief became reality,'' he said.