Section 5 - Three Cold War Crises

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  • Created by: Sadia K
  • Created on: 31-05-13 20:45

The Berlin Wall, 1961

Caused by:

-Refugee crisis 3 million fled from east to west via Berlin 1947-1961, this was called the brain drain. A propaganda disaster for the Soviets while it was a victory for capitalism as it showed their way of life was more attractive. They poured investment into West Berlin so it prospered while East Germany struggled.

-Khrushchev rightly suspected western allied used Berlin as a route to spy on the east.

-Khrushchev announces an ultimatum (November 1958) – American troops and diplomats must leave Berlin within 6 months because the city belonged to the Soviets. USA refused and instead held summits to talk.

The Four Summits

May 1959 Geneva – no agreements made between diplomats of US and USSR

September 1959 Camp David – Eisenhower and Khrushchev meet, again no agreements but Khrushchev withdraws ultimatum.

Paris 1960 – U2 spy plane shot down over USSR. The pilot, Gary Powers, is captured and admits to spying but the Americans do not know this so they claim it was weather forecasting. Gary Powers was sentenced to ten years but swapped for a Russian prisoner a year later. Khrushchev was furious about the event and Eisenhower refused to apologise, so Khrushchev walked out.

Vienna June 1961 – Khrushchev meets new president Kennedy and thinks he is young and inexperienced so re-announces the same ultimatum. However Kennedy refuses to give in and instead prepares the US public for war by spending $3.2bn on defence. 

Khrushchev realised he could not force the allies out with the threat of war as the Americans were well ahead in the arms race with 20 times more nuclear warheads than the USSR, which were in range while the USSR’s missiles would not reach the US. Instead he decided to solve the refugee crisis by building a barbed wire fence around West Berlin overnight in August 1961. This then quickly turned into a massive concrete structure with armed guards who were ordered to shoot any escapees. There were only two heavily guarded checkpoints for people to come in and out of the city. Many still tried to escape and risked their lives in doing so; over 200 people were killed.

The Cuban Missile Crisis 1962

Cuba under Batista – Batista’s government was corrupt and closely tied with the US. They traded with the US and many American businesses had land in Cuba, and they exploited Cuban workers. The people were unhappy with the cruel dictator.

Castro’s revolution – in 1959, Fidel Castro overthrew Batista and nationalised the American owned land. America stopped trade with Cuba, so Castro looked to the USSR for trade e.g. USSR oil for Cuban sugar.

Bay of Pigs, 1961 – US did not want USSR-supporting…


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