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Historian and researcher Tim Geiger from the Institute of Contemporary History in Germany says the Reagan-era nuclear arms buildup, in particular, still troubles many Germans.

“He was always seen as the cowboy who would shoot faster than he thought,” Mr. Geiger said. “[So] a negative connotation still remains in the collective German memory.”

Nicole Ludwig, a member of Berlin’s Green Party who voted against renaming Joachimstaler Platz after Reagan, said she clearly remembers hearing planes roaring over her bedroom as a teenager in East Berlin and fearing that one of those planes was carrying a nuclear bomb.

“That threat, because of the intense arms buildup back then, particularly for someone who grew up in the middle of East Berlin without any opportunity to get out, that’s something I still feel and personally associate with that time,” Ms. Ludwig said.

Reagan supporters, however, say his legacy is indisputable and that naming a square or street after him is the least Berlin can do to show its appreciation.

“I owe a lot to Ronald Reagan since my parents are both from socialist countries and I had the privilege to grow up in a liberal democracy,” said Daniel Fallenstein, 28, who co-founded a Facebook page called Ronald Reagan Jugend, (Ronald Reagan Youth), with his friend Clemens Schneider a few weeks ago.

Mr. Schneider, 30, said his appreciation for Reagan is partly inherited. He first learned of the former U.S. president and his contributions to German history from his father, and he thinks some Germans are missing the bigger picture.

“Of course he made mistakes,” said Mr. Schneider, a doctoral student of Catholic theology. “But at least he was somebody who had visions, and by having these visions he did change something definitely — the Berlin Wall and the Iron Curtain — and he also changed mentalities.”