Key Topic 2: Three Cold War crises:
Berlin, Cuba & Czechoslovakia 1957-69
The East German gov. was extremely unpopular.
Consequently, many East Germans fled to West Germany
who enjoyed greater freedom and prosperity. Between
1949-61, 2.7 million East Germany refugees, many of
whom were highly skilled, escaped to West Germany.
Berlin was the centre of the problem as it was easy for
East Germans to move to West Berlin and then to West
Khrushchev's Ultimatum 1958
The refugee crisis was a propoganda
disaster for the USSR as it showed how
capitalism was superior to
communism. As a result, in Nov 1958,
Khrushchev declared Berlin a purely
East German city. He issued an
ultimatum that gave Western troops six
months to withdraw from Berlin.
Eisenhower did not want to lose West Berlin, but neither
wanted to start a war. He agreed with Khrushchev to
hold an international meeting to discuss Berlin's furture.
Summits & Conferences
Geneva May 1959
Representatives from both countries met but
nothing was agreed. Khrushchev wanted to hold
face to face talks with Eisenhower.
Camp David Sep 1959
Both Eisenhower and Khrushchev were
present. They did not agree on a solution to
the problem but it was decided there would
be a further summit next year. Khrushchev
also withdrew his ultimatum.
Paris May 1960
9 days before the conference the summit would
take place, an American U2 spy plane was shot
down over Russia and it's pilot was captured. During
the conference, Eisenhower refused to apologise
and Khrushchev walked out.
Vienna Conference June 1961
Kennedy was the new US president. Neither side
was willing to back down. Khrushchev thought he
could exploit Kennedy's inexperience and thus
reinstated his ultimatum to fluster Kennedy.
Kennedy refused to follow Khrushchev's
ultimatum and increased spending on
defence by $3.2 BN
The Berlin Wall Aug 1961
Khrushchev could not do anything about the Western troops in
West Berlin. Furthermore, The US had 20 times more nuclear
weapons than the USSR. However, he still had to do something
about the refugee issue.
On the night of 12 August 1961, East
German troops secretly erected a barbed
wire fence around all of West Berlin. Over
the coming months, the fence was
reinforced and became a heavily guarded
Impacts of the Berlin wall
Stopped East Germans
escaping to the West. It
solved the refugee crisis
Allowed Khrushchev to
avoid war with America
whilst still appearing
symbol of the
the division of
Kennedy's visit to Berlin 1963
Kennedy toured West Berlin and expressed his feelings of solidarity with its
people. Crowds of West Berliners shouted "Kenne-dy - Kenne-dy!".
In a famous speech, he said "All free men, wherever they live, are
citizens of Berlin and therefore as a free man, I take pride in the words
'Ich bin ein Berliner'.
Cuban Missile Crisis
An assessment of the current situation
The US were the first to use a nuclear bomb in 1945. By 1949,
the USSR had developed their first nuclear bomb. By 1960,
Britain and France had their own nuclear arsenal and China
were developing their own.
Concerns from both sides
The US were concerned at the rate at which the
USSR were producing nuclear weapons and the size
of those weapons e.g Tsar Bomba
The USSR were concerned that the US missiles were much closer to the
USSR than vice versa. The US had set up nuclear missiles in Britain, Italy
and Turkey; thus, the missiles would be more accurate and easier to
In 1957, the USSR launched the first artificial
satellite into orbit. By 1960, the Russians had
landed a robotic spacecraft on the moon. This
showed how sophisticated the Russians were
getting and Khrushchev used these
advancements to boast and intimidate the
Cuba is part of America's 'sphere of
influence'. Most of the land was owned and
run by American businesses. Traditionally,
Cuba has been an ally of the USA as it is only
90 miles away from the shore.
In 1959, Fidel Castro overthrew the pro-American government and
wanted independence from the US. His government took over American
property. In July 1960, after Castro's actions, America put an embargo on
all Cuban products which threatened to bankrupt the country.
However, Cuba instead traded with the USSR and nationalised all US
businesses in Cuba. USSR offered to buy Cuban sugar and provided
machinery, oil and technological assistance.
Bay of Pigs
By 1961, the CIA had
tried and failed multiple
times to assassinate
Castro. The CIA
persuaded Kennedy to
launch an invasion
The plan was supposed to look
like a Cuban revolt. Cuban
exiles who supported Bastita
(former leader) were trained
by the CIA to form a small
militia known as 'La Brigada'
However, when La Brigada came ashore on the Bay of Pigs, they were met
with 20,000 of Castro's troops whilst they only numbered 1,400. Air
support came too late. They surrendered.
2 days prior to the invasion, disguised US
planes bombed Castro's aur base but most
planes missed their targets. The planes were
photographed and US involvement was made
public. Consequently, Kennedy cancelled a
second air strike.
Furthermore, Cubans did not want Bastita back
knew about the attack
After the attack, Castro declared himself communist
and Khrushchev placed nuclear weapons on Cuban soil
Thirteen days (1962)
16 Oct: Kennedy is informed of Khrushchev's
plans to place nuclear missiles on Cuba.
20 Oct: Kennedy decides to impose a naval blockade
around Cuba to prevent Russian supplies coming in.
22 Oct: Kennedy officially declares the blockade
and calls Khrushchev to withdraw his ships.
24 Oct: Soviet ships approach the blockade.
The closes ships suddenly stop or turn around.
25 Oct: American and Soviet armed forces are on the highest
level of alert and are told to prepare for war. Kennedy writes
to Khrushchev telling him to withdraw missiles from cuba.
26 Oct: Khrushchev says he will withdrw missiles in
return for America guranteing they will not invade Cuba.
27 Oct: Khrushchev receives intelligence the US will invade Cuba in 24 hours. He
proposes a deal: He will withdraw missiles from Cuba so long as America does not
invade Cuba and withdraws missiles from Turkey. Robert Kennedy (Kennedy's bro)
accepts the deal so long as the withdrawal of missiles from Turkey is kept secret
28 Oct: Khrushchev accepts the deal.
By 1965, both countries were
equal in nuclear capability.
This lead to the MAD theory.
France left NATO in 1966 fearing
they would be destroyed when
dragged into a nuclear war.
The 'hot line' was introduced (June
1963). A direct communications link
between Washington and Moscow.
Limited Test Ban Treaty Aug 1963. Banned
testing of nuclear weapons in space, sea or
overground. Underground testing was permitted.
Hawks and Doves
Hawks were advisors who
wanted an aggressive policy.
Many wanted a nuclear war.
Doves were advisors who
prefered more diplomatic
strategies as they thought that
was the best chance of peace.
Since Czechoslovakia became a satellite state in 1948, the people
were ruled by the secret police and suffered decreasing standard
After the unpopular leader, Antonin Novotny fell from power, Dubcek replaced him in 1968.
Dubcek was a committed communist who had good relations with Brezhnev. he wanted
to create a popular form of Communism. he called it 'socialism with a human face'.
The Prague Spring Reforms (April 1968)
given to Czech
introduced. Meant a more
Brezhnev's reaction to the Prague Spring reforms.
Although Brezhnev regarded Dubcek as a friend,
he felt his reforms had gone too far. From April to
July, Brezhnev was in constant contact to persuade
him to stop.
Brezhnev ordered a full scale invasion of
Czechoslovakia to overthrow Dubcek. He sent 500,000
troops to Czechoslovakia on 20 August.
Dubcek was arrested and taken to Moscow. He was
forced to sign the Moscow Protocol, which
reintroduced censorship and removing political
As a result of Dubcek's actions Brezhnev introduced the Brezhnev Doctrine
A doctrine signed in November 1968 affirming the
right to invade any country in Eastern Europe whose
actions appeared to deviate from communism and
undermine the Eastern bloc.
Dubcek ordered people not to respond with violence
Put flowers in soldier's hair.
Threw burning torches at tanks
Students stood in the way of tanks holding banners
Although they condemned the invasion,
they could provide no military help as
America was still enveloped in the bloody
the attack but offered no
ouraged by the
indepndent of the
party and became
Yugoslavian and Romanian
the attack and formed
alliances with China. This
divided the communist
world even further.
East German and
welcomed the invasion
as they were concerned
being too liberal