Section 5:The Three Cold War Crisis

The Three Crisis of the Cold War; Berlin, Cuba and Czechoslovakia Revision notes

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Section 5: Three Cold War crises; Berlin, Cuba and
Czechoslovakia 1957-1969
The Berlin Crisis: A divided city
After the Second World War the USSR and America had be unable to
decide how Germany should be governed. Consequentially the USSR refused
to recognise West Germany and America refused to acknowledge East
Germany. However Berlin was partly controlled by the Americans even
though it was located within the Eastern Bloc.
The East German government was very unpopular and between 1949 and
1961 2.7 million East Germans fled from the East to West, to enjoy greater
freedom and wealth. Berlin was the centre of these problems as it was easy
for East Germans to get to the West through Berlin.
Khrushchev's Challenge
The refugee problem was becoming a propaganda disaster for the USSR, as
it proved that many people preferred the Capitalist West to the Communist
East. In 1958 Khrushchev declared that the whole city of Berlin belonged
to East Germany, and gave American troops 6 months to withdraw.
The Berlin Crisis: negotiation and stalemate
Four Summit Meetings
America were uncertain how to respond to the six month ultimatum they had
been given, as Eisenhower did not want to loose West Berlin, but he also
didn't want to start a war.
Talks were held in a summit meeting in May 1959 in Geneva, between the
USA and USSR, however no agreements were made.
In September 1959 there was a second summit meeting between Eisenhower
and Khrushchev in Camp David (the US presidential retreat). Again a
agreement was not made, but they organised another summit meeting the
following year and Khrushchev agreed to withdraw his ultimatum.
This meeting took place in Paris in 1960, but was a disaster, as just before
the conference the USSR shot down an American spy plane and captured
the pilot. Khrushchev walked out of the conference in protest as Eisenhower
refused to apologise.
When John .F. Kennedy became the new president another summit meeting
was arranged to discuss Berlin. At the Vienna conference in 1962 neither
power was willing to back down, Khrushchev once again gave the six moth
ultimatum to remove American troops from Berlin.

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Kennedy Prepares for War
Kennedy refused to back down to the ultimatum and said he would not
remove American troops from Berlin. He started to prepare the American
people for war building nuclear shelters and spent $3.2 billion on defence.…read more

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Cuba had traditionally been an ally of America, and Cuba's friendship was
important to them because it was only 145kilometers away and part of the
American sphere of influence.
However a revolution in 1959 by communist Fidel Castro overthrew the
pro-American government. In response America banned the import of Cuban
sugar, this threatened to bankrupt the Cuban economy. Cuba turned to the
USSR for help, who were delighted to have an ally deep in America's sphere
of influence, Khrushchev agreed to give Cuba economic aid.…read more

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Khrushchev's Plan
In 1962 Khrushchev sent 114 soviet ships carrying secret cargo of missiles
to Cuba. American spy planes discovered what was going on, and Kennedy
again feared the possibility of nuclear war.
Hawks and Doves
During the crisis Kennedy's advisors were split in two, the Hawks wanted an
aggressive policy and believed that nuclear war between the USA and
USSR was inevitable, and America should go to war as they were likely to
win.…read more

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Czechoslovakian economy was
struggling, and the standard of living was decreasing. This made the
Communist leader highly unpopular, and as a result friend of USSR leader
Brezhnev, Alexander Dubcek was made leader.
Alexander Dubcek
Dubcek wanted to create a genuinely popular form of Communism, he said he
wanted to create "socialism with a human face". He wanted to get rid of the
most brutal aspects of the communist rule, wanted to reform the economy
and allow more cultural freedom.…read more

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Western European Response
Many Western European governments also condemned the invasion but also
provided no military help. Communist parties in Italy and France were
outraged by the invasion and formally declared themselves independent of
the Soviet Communist Party. Showing the USSR was loosing its authority.
Eastern European Response
Yugoslavian and Romanian governments both condemned the invasion and
distanced themselves from the Soviet Union, instead forming alliances with
China, the other major communist power.…read more


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