The Cold War Crises

HideShow resource information

Background to the Berlin Crisis

- 1960 had begun with great hope. The 'Big Four' -Eisenhower, Krushchev, Charles de Gaulle & Macmillan- were to meet at Paris Summit in May/60. Yet even before the leaders met, hopes of new friendlier relations were dashed

- On 1/5/60, 2 weeks before Paris Summit, a U2 spy planes, piloted by Gary Powers, took off from US base in Pakistan. his plane went down and Powers was captured by Soviets- the U2 was recovered for Soviet scientist to study

- On 7/5/60 Krushchev announced he had both Powers and the U2. The Americans had been caught spying and lying

1 of 19

International Relations

- Krushchev said he wuold attend the summit as long as the US apologised. Eisenhower refused to apologise. He claimed that it was America's responsibility to protect itself from possible surprise attacks- therefore U2 flights were an important part of US defence strategy

- Krushchev was not satisfied with this answer and left before the talks had started. He then cancelled an invitation to Eisenhower to visit the Soviet Union.

The Cold War was getting even colder.

2 of 19

Background to Berlin

- American aid had made W. Berlin into a showpiece and propaganda for capitaliam

- West Berliners enjoyed luxury goods whilst East Berliners were suffering with long hours and food shortages

- E. Berlin tried to rebel in 53, but this was suppressed by the Soviet army

- East Berliners were fleeing to W. Berlin: more than 2mil had fled by 1961. Around 2000 skilled workers were leaving for the West every day. This was easy to do as there weren't strong fortifications between the two sides

- Western gov.s used Berlin as HQ for spying

3 of 19

Splitting Berlin

In June 61, at the Vienna Summit, Krushchev again demanded that the West give up Berlin. Pres. Kennedy refused so Krushchev decided to make it impossible for East Berliners to travel to West Berlin.

On 13/8/61 the East Germans put up a barrier of barbed wire between East and West Berlin

They protected the barrier with machine guns

Kennedy protested but was unwilling to go to war over Berlin

They built a concrete wall 45kn long to replace the barbed wire

If anyone tried to cross the wall, they were shot. In the first year after the wall was built, 41 East Berliners were shot trying to cross the wall. Families and friends were separated. East Berliners saw the wall as a sign of inferiority in comparison to the West.

4 of 19

Propaganda after Berlin

- Relations between the superpowers strained considerably

- The Americans used the Berlin Wall for propaganda: if the communist system was so perfect, why was it necessary to turn it into a prison?

- In 63 Kennady visited W. Berlin. They applauded him warmly when he declared 'Ich bin ein Berliner'. He promised the USAs commitment and that they would never desert W. Berlin

- The Soviets saw this visit and speech as a deliberate attampt to cause trouble

5 of 19

Impacts of the Berlin Crisis

- Flow of refugees stopped which allowed the communists to consolidate their control over E. Germany

- Enemies of communism could argue that communism was so awful that people had to be walled in to make sure that they didn't run away from it

- People in East Germany who didn't support communism were trapped

- The building of the wall was the beginning of a period of calm in Europe. On both sides people accepted that there was no intermediate prospect of change and the level of tension went down.

6 of 19

Background to Cuba

- Cuba was 160km from the coast of Florida giving it great strategic importance in the Cold War

- Before 1959 Cuba was a poor country controlled largely by American business. Cuba had been ruled by the dictator Batista since 34, but his cruel reign ended in 59 by guerillas led by Castro

- Castro nationalised all foriegh-owned land, property and oil refineries. In Jan/60 he made an alliance with USSR, who promised to buy Cuba's sugar (USA had bought it during Batista's reign). The Americans didn't like this arrangement. In Oct/60 they stopped all trade with Cuba- they now had an enemy on their doorstep

7 of 19

The Bay of Pigs

- Kennedy was persuaded by the CIA that Castro could be overthrown by supporters of Batista. So these rebels, backed the Americans, landed at the Bay of Pigs (Cuba's south coast) in Apr/61. The attack was a total disaster. The rebels received no local Cuban support and were defeated in a few days. Kennedy was embarrassed and realised he had been wrongly advised

8 of 19

Kennedy vs. Krushchev

- Kennedy was elected as president because he had promised to get tough on the communists. But so far he had done anything but. He had been bullied by Krushchev at the Vienna Summit in Jun/61 over Berlin, and in Aug/61 Kennedy didn't stop the Berlin Wall

Different views of Krushchev's actions...

- Some believe that Krushchev was testing how strong Kennedy was and how far he was prepared to go by placing missiles in Cuba. Also that he was trying to establish Soviet supremacy over the Americans

-He was simply helping Cuba to defend itself from a possible attack by the USA

9 of 19

USSR arms Cuba

- Castro was now certain the USA was Cuba's enemy so he looked to the USSR for support

- In Dec/61 he publicly declared himself as communist. This convinced the USA that Cuba was now a Soviet satellite state

- The Americans launched 'operation mongoose'- a plan to replace Castro as ruler of Cuba by Oct/62. To do this the US considered many options...                                                                  1. Sabotage: disrupt the Cuban gov. and economy by attacking key installations, eg. railways        2. Assassination of Castro                                                                                                        3. Blowing up an American plane and blaming Cuba- using this as an excuse to invade

- Cuba depended  on the Soviet Union for military protection. In Jun/62 Castro began to recieve shipments of Soviet arms, eg. aircraft and ground-to-air missiles

- In Sep Castro recieved medium-range offensive nuclear missiles and bomber planes. The Americans knew about these weapons but the Soviets insisted they were defensive. On 14/Oct/62, U2 planes photographed Soviet missiles on launch pads in Cuba. This proved the Soviets had lied. The missiles had a range of 4000km- so most large US cities could be hit. Nuclear destruction wasn't far off and ships from USSR to Cuba were reported.

10 of 19

Kennedy's response

Kennedy gathered advisers who were in contact during the 13-day crisis. The advisers presented 7 alternative ways of dealing with the crisis:

- Allow the USSR to keep its bases on Cuba

- Make a diplomatic protest to the USSR

- Bomb Cuba with non-nuclear weapons

- Invade Cuba and seize the bases

- Launch nuclear attack on Cuba

On 22/11/62 Kennedy announced his plan. The blockade would be enforced by US navy

11 of 19

Events of the Crisis

- On 24/Oct the first Soviet ships carrying missiles encountered the American ships blockading Cuba.

- If Krushchev ordered his ships to defy the blockade, he would risk starting a nuclear war. He ordered his ships to return. The Americans continued to insist that the Soviets dismantle the missile sites in Cuba. Meanwhile several incidents occurred which could have sparked a war.

- An American U2 spy plane was shot down over Cuba. A Soviet ship was boarded and inspected by US naval officers, and found to contain nuclear bomb parts. Because of this some people recommended an attack on Cuba, but the pres. disagreed.

- 26/10 & 27/10 Krushchev sent 2 letters to Kennedy. In the fnned  Called off the bloathe missile sites if Kennedy Called off the blockade and promised not to invade Cuba. The second demanded the US to remove its missiles in Turkey.

- Kennedy replied and accepted the first letter. On the 28/10 the Soviet gov. agreed to remove its missiles from Cuba. Secretly, Kennedy agreed to withdraw his missiles in Turkey.

- On 3/11/62 missiles began to be withdrawn. The US called off blockade on 20/11/62.

12 of 19

Results of the Cuban Missile Crisis

- Gave world a shock: on the brink of nuclear war for 2 weeks

- Kennedy: publicly claimed victory. He had stood up to Soviets and forced them to back down, his prestige in the West increased

- Krushchev: real winner. He had secured saftey of communist Cuba and got rid of missiles in Turkey

- Helped to stabilise East-West relations: 'hot line' set up in 63 between Moscow & Washington

- Moves to abolish arms race: Test Ban Treaty 63

- European allies were shocked at how little they were consulted during crisis. It seemed their opinions weren't as important as  the Americans: de Gaulle pulled out of NATO and encouraged others to follow

- Chinese weren't inmpressed by Krushchev as he had looked cowardly

- Brezhnev becomes new Soviet leader and replaces Krushchev in Oct/64

13 of 19

Background to Czeckoslovakia

Czechoslovakia was a Soviet satellite state since 48. The Czechoslovakian people felt bitter about this is:

1. They had lost their political and economic independence

2. They remembered how they had been a democracy pre-WW2

3. Little consumer goods were being produced

4. Their country seemed to be run only for the benefit of the Soviet Union

14 of 19

Dubcek and the Prague Spring

- Protests grew throughout the 60s

- In Jan/68 the demands for change brought Dubcek to power as Czechoslovakia's new leader. He began to introduce changes during a period known as the Prague Spring. Dubcek promised his people 'socialism with a human face'. He hoped to increase the standard of living in Czechoslovakia and aimed to make the political system more democratic.

- He introduced a variety of social reforms to improve life in Czechoslovakia

- Dubcek was mindful of what happened in Hungary in 56, so tried to reassure Brezhnev that his reforms would not threaten the security of the Soviet Union. He promised that Czechoslovakia wouldn't leave the Warsaw Pact.

15 of 19

Reforms of the Prague Spring

Czechoslovakian reforms of early spring 68:

- Increased standard of living

- Powers of secret police curbed

- End of press censorship

- Free elections and opposition parties allowed

- Freedom to travel abroad

- Plans to increase trade with the West

- Provision of basic human rights

- Less state involvement in everyday life, competition encouraged

16 of 19

Soviet Reactions

- Brezhnev wasn't convinced by Dubcek's reassurances and concerned by knock-on effects. Brezhnev was influenced by other Warsaw Pact esp. E. Germany which saw increased freedom in Czechoslovakia as a direct threat their own regime

- On 3/8/68 Brezhnev announced the Brezhnev Doctrine: the Soviet Union promised to intervene if any communist state appeared to be abandoning communism. On the same day Czechoslovakian hard-liners presented Brezhnev with a letter asking him to intervene in Czechoslovakia.

- On 20/8/68, 500,000 troops from the Warsaw Pact countries invaded Czechoslovakia

17 of 19

Soviet Invasion

- The Czechoslovakians wanted to avoid bloodshed. Prague radio instructed people to carry out passive resistance. As a result most resistance was non-violent- demonstrations and sit-ins. Secret radio and television stations kept the outside world informed until they were silenced. Only a few Czechoslovakians died during the invasion. Jan/69: a Prague student, Jan Palach, set fire to himself in protest against the Soviets

- Eventually the Soviets crushed the resistance. Dubcek was forced to abandon his reforms and he was expelled from the Communist Party. Husak was appointed as the new leader, returning to the old ways.

18 of 19

Impacts of the Prague Spring

- Damaged East-West relations slightly: the West had welcomed Dubcek's reforms and watched the invasion with horror; but weren't prepared to intervene and risk a war

- Showed that the Soviet Union wouldn't allow any political reform or opposition

- Showed that the West was powerless to stop the Soviet Union doing as it pleased between the Iron Curtain

- Relations between USSR and China deteriorated as the Chinese disliked the way it treated other communist countries

19 of 19


No comments have yet been made

Similar History resources:

See all History resources »See all The Cold War resources »