SECTION 5: Three Cold War crises: Berlin, Cuba and Czechoslovakia c. 1957-69

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  • Created on: 11-04-14 11:51

the Berlin crisis:a divided city

following ww2, russia and america had been unable to agree on how germany should be governed, consequntly germany had been divided but the USSR refused to recognise west german and america refused to acknowledge east german.

refugee problems

east german governemnt was extremly unpopular and therefore many east germans fled to west germany. west germany was highl atractive as its citizens enjoyed greater freedom and wealth than those of east germany. indeed, between 1949 and 1961, 2.7 million east german refugees, many of whom were highly skilled, escaped to west germany.

khrushchev problem

the refugee problem was a propaganda disaster for khrushchev because it proved that many people preferred the capitalist west to the communist east. for this reason in nov 1958, khrushchev declared that the whole of the city of berlin officially belonged to east germany and gave american troops 6 months to withdraw

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Eisenhower response

the americans were uncertain about how to respond to khrushchevs demand that they remove their troops from berlin. eisenhower did not want to lose west berlin, but neither did he want to start a war. consequently, it was agreed to hold an international meeting in order to discuss berlins future. in response, khrushchev agreed to drop his 6 month ultimatum

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four summits

khruschev and eisenhower met in geneva in the summer of 1959 but were unable to agree a solution to the problem. they did, however, agree to keep talking and met for a second summit at camp david, eisenhowers presidental retreat, later that year the camp david meeting also failed to agree a future for berlin

the 1960 paris conference, between khruschev and new american president john f kennedy was a disaster. just before the conference the USSR shot down an american spy plane and captured its pilot. krushchev was enraged by americas devious atempts to discover soviet secrets and walked out the conference in protest

finally at the geneva conference of 1961. khruschev challenged kennedy to withdraw american troops from berlin within 6 months or to declare war

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kennedy prepare for war

kennedy refused to back down. he declared that he would not remove american troops from german soil. he also started preparing america for war commiting the US government to an additional $3.2 billion of defence spending more worrying still was kennedy descision to spend an extra $207 million on building nuclear fallout shelters

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building the Berlin wall

khrushchev knew that the USSR could not win a nuclear war. in 1961, america had almost 20 times more nuclear weapons than the USSR. what is more, america nuclear weapons were able to reach the USSR, whereas soviet weapons could not reach america. kennedys refusal to retreat called khrushchev bluff, forcing the russian leader to back down

khushchev could not force the americans to leave west berlin but he still had to solve the refugee problem. his solution was to build a wall seperating east and west berlin, making it impossible for east germans to escape to the west

on the night of 12 aug 1961, east german troops secretly erected a barbed wire fence around the whole of west berlin. the next morning, berliners awoke to a divided city. in the coming months the fence was reinforced and eventually became a heavily guarded wall.   

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the impact of the berlin wall

  • it stopped east germans escaping to the west and therefore ended the refugee crisis
  • it allowed khruschev to avoid war with america while still appearing strong
  • it became a powerful symbol of the division of germany and the decision of europe
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kennedys visit to berlin

kennedy was unavle to prevent the wals construction. however, in 1963 he toured west berlin expressing his feelings of solidarity with its people, crowds of west germans lined the streets shouting 'kennedy'

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the arms race

america was the clear winner of the arms race in the 1940s and the 1960s. america had an early lead and was the 1st country to develop an atomic bomb. by 1961, america had almost 20 times more nuclear missles as the USSR. what is more america had specially equipped b52 bombers that were capable of dropping nuclear weapons on the soviet union.

the USSR had relatively few missles and no way of dropping them on amercan soil. nonetheless, the US government was extremely worried about the soviet unions nucleae capabilities. in 1957, russian sceintists launched sputnik 1 -the largest first man-made satellite. by 1960, the russians had even landed a robotic spacecraft on the the moon. khrushchev boasted that the americans were 'sleeping under a red moon'. this demonstrated the sophistication of soviet tech, and many americans believed that the rockets used to put satillites in space could be used to launch nuclear missles at america

however the USSR was simply not wealthy enough to mass-produce missles and khrushchevs clain that the USSR was 'producing missles like we are producing sasuages' was an empty boast

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the Cuban revolution

cuba had traditionally been an ally of the USA. maerican presidents belived that cubas friendship was important because it was only 90 miles away and therefore part of the american sphere of influence. the cuban revolution of 1959 overthrew cubas pro-american government. the new revolutinary regime, led bu fidel castro, wanted greater independance from the US. as part of this policy, castros new government took over all american property lpocated in cuba. in response, america banned the import of cuban sugar. this threatned to banrupt the cuban economy

cuba turned to the USSR for help. khrushchev was delighted to have an ally deep in americas sphere of influence. consequently, he agreed to offer economic aid to cuba in order to help his new ally industralise

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the bay of pigs incident

pres eisenhower had belived that the best way to solve the cuban problem was the central intelligence agency (CIA) to assassinate castro. pres. kennedy who took over from eisenhower in 1960, hatched a new plan for a CIA-backed revolution to overthrow cubas communist governent and replace it with a capilatlist government sympathetic to america

kennedy belived that castros gov was very very unpopular and therfore he assumed that when his small, well-trained force attacked the government, the cuban people would join the revolutionand overthrow castro. kennedy instructed the CIA to train and eqip a group of cuban refugees. they invaded the bay of pigs in april 1961, but kennedy has miscalculated, the people of cuba fought bravely in support of castros government. the american-backed forced was defeated within 2 days

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missle bases

in spite of his victory, castro felt vunerable and feared another american attack. he therefore asked khruschev to help him defend cuba. in aug 1961, khruschev devised a plan that would solve the problems of both cuba and russia. he decided to station russian nuclear weapons on cuban soil. this would deter america from attempting another invasion. it would also place russian nuclear missles within striking range of america, this meant that khrushchev could attack america without spending large amounts of money developing inter-continential ballistic missles

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the events of the 'thirteen days'

  • 16 oct- kinnedy is informed of khruschev plans to place nuclear missles on cuba
  • 20 oct- kennedy decides to impose a naval blackade around cuba to prevent futher missles reaching cuba
  • 21 oct-kennedy gives a public address officialy declaring the blockade and calling on khruschev to recall his ships
  • 23 oct-khruschev sends a letter to kennedy stating the soviet ships will break through the bloackade
  • 24 oct-khrushchev issues a statement that the USSR is prepared to launch nuclear weapons if america goes to war
  • 25 oct- american and soviet armed forces are put on the highest level of alert-they are told to prepare for war. kennedy writes to khrushchev asking him to withdraw missles from cuba
  • 26 oct-khrushchev responds to kennedy letter, saying that he will withdraw soviet missls in return fot a guarantee that the USA will not invade cuba

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  • 27 oct- khrushcev recieves intelligence that the USA is planning to invade cuba in 24 hours. he proposed a deal: the USSR will withdraw missles from cuba is the USA will agree never to invade cuba and withdraw its nuclear missles from turkey. an american spy plane is shot down oer cuba. american 'hawks' demand retaliation. kennedys brother approaches the russian ambassador accepting khruschev deal but demans that the withdrawal of american missles from turkey is kept secret
  • 28 oct- khruschev accepts this secret deal
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khrushchev plain is revealed

on 25 sept 1962, khruschev sent 114 soviet ships to cuba. the ships carried a secret cargo, including nuclear warheads and long range missles, that would be used to construct nuclear bases on cuba. for a long time, khrushcevs plan remained secret, but by mid-oct american spy planes had discovered what was going on. on 22 oct kennedy addressed the american people and told them of the soviet plans to build nuclear missle on thir doorstep. kennedys news shocked the world. many americans panicked and started building nuclear shelters in preparation for nuclear war

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'hawks and doves'

during the crisis, kennedy and khruschec advisors were split into 2 groups hawks and doves. the hawks on both sides wanted an aggressive policy. some american generals e.g, belived that a nuclear war between the USA and the USSR was inevitable and therefore kennedy should go to war because as things stood, america had a good chance of winning. te doves on the other hand advised caution recommending diplomatic stragegies which they felt offered the best chance of peace

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immediate consequences of the cuban missile crisis

the 1st consequence of the of the cuban missle crisis was the reduction in khruschev authority. because the removal of american missles from turkey remained secret, it seemed to many that he had backed down and betrayed his allies in cuba. the cuban missle crisis had highlighted the fraglity of international peace and the difficulties of neogation between russia and america in crisis situation. as a result, the superpowers agreed tot he introduction of the following measures:

  • the 'hotline'-in june 1963 a direct communications link was set up between the american pres in washington ans the russian premier in moscow
  • the limited test ban treaty-in july 1963, the USA and USSR agreed to ban testing of all nuclear weapons in space, in the sea and above ground. underground tests were still permitted

pres kennedy signilled his commitment to working with the USSR in speech of june 1963, in which he argued that both superpowers needed to focus on their 'common intrests' this speech was the beginning of a policy called 'detente' a relaxing of tension in the relationship between the USA and the USSR intially moves to detente were slow but detene became a key feature of superpower rekations during the 1970

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long term consequences

the leaders of the soviet union were determined never again to be oushed around by america. therefore, the soviet government made every effort to catch up with america in the arms race. by 1965, the USA and the USSR were on an equal footing in terms of their nuclear capability. this created greater stability in the relationship between the 2 superpowers. american and russian leaders realised that any nuclear war was bound to destroy both countries. this idea, known as the doctrine of mutually assured destruction (MAD), gave both superpowers an excellent reason for avoiding war

another was the french decision to leave NATO. in the event of the a nuclear war between amercan and russia, the members of NATO would be obliged to fight alongside america, french pres charles de gaulle was appalled at the thought that france would be destroyed in this way. therefore, in 1966, france ended its military alliance with america and began to devlop its own nuclear missles

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czechoslovakian opposition to soviet control

there are strong similarities between what happened in hungary in 1956 and events in czechoslovakia 12 years later. czech was a soviet satellite state. communism had had few benefits for the czech people. in the mid-1960s, czech was still run by the scret police, which brutally crushed all political opposition, at the same time, the czech economy was struggling. therefore the majority of czech people suffered a decling standard of living during the 1960s.

polical repression and economic problems made communist party leader antonin novotny highly unpopular and as a result his leadership was challenged, on 5 january 1968, alexander dubek became the communist party leader: the most powerful man in czech

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dubcek was the natural choice to lead czech. he was committed communist who was on friendly terms with leonid brezhnev (the russian leader following khrushchev fall from power 1964) dubceks aim was to create a genuinely popular form communism. he described this as 'socialism with a human face' essentially, dubcek wanted to get rid of the most repressive aspects of communist rule, to reform the economy and to allow more cultural freedom. in this way, he hoped to revitalise czech politics, economics and social life

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the events of Prague spring

'pragu spring' is a phrase used to describe the liberal changes brought about by dubcek from april 1968. it was named after the city prague, which is the czech capital. as part of his plan to create 'socialism with a human face; dubcek intriduced the following reforms:

  • a relaxation of press censorship
  • the legalisation of political opposition groups
  • official government toleration of political critism
  • more power given to regional governments
  • more power given to czech parliament
  • 'market socialism'- the reintroduction of capitalist elements into the czech economy

dubcek said that his aim was to allow 'the widest possible democracy in the social and political life of czech. dubceks reforms were welcomed enthusiastically by studebts, intellectuals, workers and younger members of the czech communist party. artists and writers took full advantage of the reforms, writing books, plays and essays critcal of soviet style communism

older czech communists were shocked by the prague spring and their horror was shared by soviet premier brezhnev and his alies accross eastern europe

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brezhnevs dilema

the 'prague spring' made life very difficult for soviet premier brezhnev on the one hand, he regarded dubcek as a friend, and dubcek had made no attempt to leave the warsaw pact or damage the USSR. on the other hand, secret soviet intelligenve reports suggested that dubceks reforms would lead to a weakening of soviet control over czechslovakia and in the long run, the break up of the eastern bloc

from aprol through to july, breznev was in constant contact with dubcek and attempted to persuade him that the reforms has gone too far. however dubcek failed to take the hint and took no action to control political opposition in czech. by late august, brezhnev had had enough and prdered a full-scale invasion of czech in order in overthrow dubcek

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the Brezhnev doctrine

throughout aug 1968 the soviet media portrayed czech as a massive threat to the USSR. brezhnev went futher and put forward justification of the invasion, which became know as the 'brezhnev doctrine'. according to the doctrine the USSR had the right to invade and country in eastern euroup whose actions appeared to threaten the security of the whole eastern bloc. breznev argued that dubceks actions threatned to undermine the warsaw pact and communist control in eastern euroupe, and therefore the soviet union had to invade

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the soviet invasion of czechslovakia

soviet tanks rolled into czech on the evening of 20 aug 1968. dubcek ordered the czech people not to respond with violence. nonetheless there was a great deal of non-violent civil disobedienve for example many students stood in the way of tanks holding anti-invasion banners. one czech student jan palach set himself on fire in protest at the soviet invasion

dubcek was arrested and taken to moscow where brezhnev tearfully told him that he had betrayd socialism. dubcek was forced to sign the moscow protocol.which committed the czech governemnt to protect socialism by reintroducing censorship and removing political opposition

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Americas response

brezhnev knew that america would do nothing to help the czech people. america was fighting a bloody war against communism in vietnam brezhnev and the american president, lyndon b. johnson had an unspoken deal that the USA would not intervene in vietnam therefore while america publicy condemned the invasion, they offered no military support

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western European response

western european governemnts followed americas lead- they condemened the invasion of western european communist parties was more surprising communist parties in italy and france for example were outraged by the soviet communist party. this created rival forms of european communsm-soviet communism in the east and eurocommunism in the west. this was very important because it showed the extent to which soviet communism had lost authority and support as a result of the invasion

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eastern European response

the soviet invasion also led to disconttent in eastern europe. significantly the yugoslavian and romanian governments bothcondemmed the invasion and distanced themselves from the soviet union. following 1968, yugoslavian and romainian communists formed alliances with china, the world other major communist power, further dividing the communist world

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