The Berlin Crisis: a divided city
Following the Second World War, Russia and America had been unable to agree on how Germany should be governed. Consequently, Germany had been divided but the USSR refused to recognise West Germany and America refused to acknowledge East Germany. The city of Berlin caused problems as it was partly controlled by the Americana although it was located inside the Eastern Bloc- those countries belonging to the Warsaw Pact.
The East German government was extremely unpopular and therefore many East Germans fled to West Germany. West Germany was highly attractive 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. Berlin was the centre of East Germanyws refugee problem because it was easy for East Germans to get from East Berlin to West Berlin, and from there to West Germany.
The refugee problem was a propaganda disaster for Khruschev because it proved that many people preferred the capitalist West to the communist East. For this reason, in November 1958, Khruschev declared that the whole of the city of Berlin officially belonged to East Germany and gave America troops six months to withdraw. Khruschevs plan was to prevent East Germans fleeing to the West and to humiliate America.
The Berlin Crisis: negotiation and stalemate
The Americans were uncertain about how to respond to Khruschevs demand that they remove their troops from Berlin. Eisenhower didnt 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, Khruschev agreed to drop his six month ultimatum.
Khruschev and Eisenhower met in Geneva in the summer of…