Crisis and Escalation

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  • Created by: SuzeShep
  • Created on: 27-05-16 11:24

Berlin Blockade (June 1948)

  • Stalin ordered Soviet forces blocked all rail, road and water access to allied zones of Berlin
  • Reponse to Bizonia (Jan 1st 1947) - feared separate West German state 
  • UK and USA airlifted food and fuel to allied zones from Berlin (1 plane landed every 45 seconds at Temelhof airport) 
  • Also counter blockade on East Germany that caused severe shortage 
  • May 12th 1948, blockade lifted 
  • Outcomes 
  • Success for containment 
  • Divided East and West 
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NATO (April 1949)

  • Collective security against USSR created by USA, Canada and Western Europe 
  • Response to security concerns (Berlin blockade, Greek civil war, Soviet expansion) 
  • Brussels Treaty (March 1948)  
  • Vanderburg resolution = Senator Arthur H Vandenburg proposed resolution suggesting a security treaty with Europe outside of UN (USSR held VETO power) 
  • North Atlantic Treaty 
  • Issues with negotiations:
  •  wording on US intervention 
  • Scope (Membership on North Atlantic countries)
  • Aid to WE 
  • Final agreement for collective security (one attacked, all respond) and to discuss defence matters and disputes 
  • Outcomes:
  • Military Assistance Programme and Mutual Defence Assistance 
  • Warsaw Pact
  • Put WE under US 'nuclear umbrella' 
  • 'massive retaliation' doctrine 
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Mutual Defence Assistance Programme (April 1949)

  • Response to NATO 
  • Members submitted formal requests for military and financial assistance from Washington 
  • Programme of military assistance to countries whose independence and freedom were threatened 
  • Amounted to $1.4 bill for the fiscal year of 1950 ($1 bill for European NATO countries) 
  • Sec of State Acheson told Foreign Affairs Committee that military aid was "an extremely urgent necessity" 
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Korean War

  • June 1950, North Korean forces invaded South Korea
  • USSR backed NK (after pleading from Kim Il-Sung) 
  • UN SC called upon every member to render every assistance to ensure NK aggression ended and return Korea to status quo based on restoration of the 38th parallel 
  • NOV 1950, China entered as NK ally (threatened by potential US invasion of China) 
  • April 1951, US forces reached 38th parallel
  • General MacArthur ignored order to withdraw and advanced North towards Chinese border (Yalu River) 
  • Massive Chinese retaliation forced US back to 38th parrallel 
  • Stalemate 
  • Peace talks accelerated by Stalin's death and Eisenhower's presidency 
  • 1953, ceasefire agreed to and 28th parallel restored as NK/SK border  
  • Outcomes 
    • Rise of monolithic and international communism 
    • militarised containment 
    • highlighted Pacific and Far Eastern vulnerability to communism 
    • reinforced US commitment to containment 
    • China began to view itself as arbiter of communism - undermined Sino-Soviet 
    • emphasised ongoing threat from communist expansion 
    • Respect for UN for promt and direct action
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Austrian State Treaty (May 1955)

  • Austria has been divided into zones 
  • Potential to become major dividing issue 
  • Treaty agreed to the withdrawal of all occupying power and the neutrality of the state 


  • removed major source of potential conflict 
  • mutual cooperation 
  • Led to summit diplomacy 
  • Led to West removing forced from West Germany 
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Warsaw Pact (May 1955)

  • Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance 
  • Communist counteraction to Nato 
  • Reaction to FDR acceptance into NATO - German remiliterisation 
  • Sign of Soviet dominance in EE 
  • Used as a means to keep allies under control, rather than make and enforce decisions 
  • Unified Command of Pact Armed Forces (military) and Political Consultative Committee (everything else) made most of the decisions 
    • Both centered in Moscow with Soviet leaders to ensure Soviet dominance 
  • To stimulate the development of the EE to relieve monetary pressure on USSR 
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Geneva Summit (1955)

  • To slow down nuclear race 
  • to improve relations between East and West 
  • Incentives: 
    • USSR needed extensive conventional forced in EE (order and security) = expensive 
    • Needed to promote internal economic development in USSR 
    • to protect USSR's national security and superpower status 
    • K also concerned by German rearmament (FDR admitted into NATO May 1955) 
  • Open skies proposal (Eisenhower) called for details on each others' military installations and allow aerial reconnaissance 
    • Rejected by Khrushchev (behind US) 
  • E proposed a unified Germany with free elections and the freedom to ensure its own security (NATO membership essentially) 
    • Failed as K would only consider a demilitarised, neutral Germany 
  • K refused to discuss EE 


  • Nothing satisfactory 
  • marked beginning of dialogue between superpowers 
  • Calm point in IR 
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Khrushchev's ultimatum (1958)

  • USSR needed to minimise western power in Europe 
  • USSR needed to reaffirm its leadership (deteriorating sino-soviet relations) 
  • Economic crisis in GDR 
    • (1949 - 1958) 188,000 trained, skilled or professional people left for FDR through open boundary 
  • USA deeply committed to West Berlin's freedom and security (symbol of capitalist success, but geographically vulnerable) 
  • Declared West has 6 months to recognise GDR and accept FDR as an independent political entity and free city or USSR would surrender control of GDR 
  • Would mean East Germany would control all access to West Berlin 
  • Would force USA to accept GDR as a state, and remove troops 
  • West ignored threats and K withdrew 
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Camp David Talks (1959)

  • Between Eisenhower and Khrushchev 
  • First Soviet leader to visit USA 
  • Number of issues including disarmament and Berlin 
  • Agreed to settle international issues with force rather than diplomacy 


  • Reaffirmed belief in peaceful coexistence 
  • Calmed German issue 
  • Paris summit 
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The Paris Summit (May 1960)

  • K wanted a deal over Berlin and to prohibit nuclear weapons in the Pacific and Germany 
  • China would not be bound by an agreement it was not involved with (growing nuclear arsenal) 
  • US U2 spy plane shot down over USSR 
  • Summit collapsed when E refused to apologise, promise never to violate Soviet airspace again or punish everyone involved 
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The Vienna Summit (June 1961)

  • Between Kennedy and Khrushchev 
  • Covered Laos, disarmament, ideology and Berlin 
  • Progress made on Laos, but nothing else 
  • K thought Ken was young, vulnerable and easily manipulated 
  • Deep mutual mistrust 
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The Berlin Wall (1961)

  • Stalemate in East-West relations 
  • Kennedy refused to compromise on Berlin
  • 13th Aug, Soviet and East German troops and police began to deal off East Berlin
  • Wire fence eventually replaced with 20 mile concrete wall with 5 crossing points
  • West took no action to stop
  • dramatically slowed and eventually brought movement to an end
  • Seen as trapping East Germans into a communist state
  • resolved the crisis
  • Failure for Khrushchev  
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Cuban Missile Crisis (1961)

  • Cuba economically dependent on US 
  • Socialist revolution 
  • Failed US invasion attempt (Bay of Pigs) 
  • Castro agreed to K's request to station nuclear missiles in Cuba 
  • K's aims: 
    • defend communism & Cuba 
    • needed diplomatic victory 
    • wanted to alter the strategic balance 
    • USSR had no missiles on foreign soil, compared to US missiles in Turkey, Britain, West Germany and Italy
  • Ken's aims
    • to overthow Castro 
    • to demonstrate toughness 
    • success in Cuban foreign policy 
  • 12 days of Brinkmanship (Oct 4th-28th) 
    • Missile sites photographed in Cuba 
    • Blockade imposed and ultimatum issued fro immediate withdrawal
  • K eventually removed missiles and US promised not to invade Cuba
  • Outcomes
    • Hotline installed between US and USSR to avoid poor communications and public confrontations 
    • Highlighted risk of nuclear war 
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