Berlin Crisis

Berlin Crisis


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The term Berlin Crisis is applied primarily to the events of 1961, but the status of the former Berlin national capital became a perpetual source of conflict among the wartime allies when control of the city was divided into four sections of militray control while the countryside surrounding the city all became part of the Soviet sphere. The first attempt by the Soviets to modify the status by force led to the Berlin Airlift of 1948-49.

After almost a year, the Soviets relented and surface transportation was resumed. For the next ten years, German immigrants, often possessing skills needed by the East German economy, crossed the demarcation lines in Berlin and fled to the West, which had been unified in 1949 as the Federal Republic of Germany, replacing the French, American, and British zones of occupation. Although the border was officially closed to visits in 1952, the administration of a border that ran down streets in a city was difficult to enforce. The numbers ran around 100,000 for several years and then began to accelerated in 1960 and particularly 1961.

In November 1958, Premier Khruschev issued an ultimatum to the allies, giving them six months to convert Berlin into a demilitarized, free city. The allies refused and asserted their continued right to free access to the city. In early 1959, Krhruschev agreed to a Four Power Summit to resolve the issues. These were followed by direct talks between Khruschev and Eisenhower at the presidential retreat at Camp David. No actual resolution was achieved, but it was agreed that ultimatums should be avoided and a complete resolution would be sought at a meeting in Paris in May 1960. Unfortunately, the story of the U-2 Spy Plane broke just before the conference and killed its potential.

In June, Khruschev renewed his threat to sign a unilateral agreement with East Germany, which would terminate the special access rights of the Western allies to Berlin. The Western Allies responded that this was not legally possible in a unilateral treaty. While indicating some understanding of the Soviet position and some flexibility on a permanent division, Kennedy also requested a military buildup of men and equipment, and doubled the size of the draft.

After stockpiling materials openly for some time, the Germans began, at midnight between Saturday and Sunday, August 11 and 12, 1961, to construct a wall. By morning, the city was effectively divided. Streets were torn up where the wall ran.

The occupying protocol specified that allied troops were allowed to travel freely through the city. The soviets created difficulties and several critical movements ensued.

At height of the tension, lines of American and Soviet tanks faced each other at short distance across the dividing lines. Both sides had live ammunition and orders to fire if fired upon. Eventually, a slow disengagement of the tanks with neither side appearing to abruptly back down was achieved.

After this date, there was no crisis in Berlin regarding control and the division between East and West became hardened. The Berlin Wall remained until it was torn down by civilians on November 8, 1989.Krhruschev responded


Welcome, readers! You have just come upon my first post in the new series A Century of German History. This year, I will post ten articles, one for each decade of the 20th century. The century was the most dramatic in our history. [1] And it was possibly nowhere more so than in Germany, a country that found itself sometimes on the wrong side of history, sometimes on the right, and sometimes even on both at the same time. The series does therefore not only attempt to show you some German history, but also shed light on the wider processes of those times in which Germany was both a subject and an object. Each article will feature one focal event (all of them in the year ending in a 9) and use one – and only one! – board game to illustrate it. Today, we begin with the superpower bickering over Berlin during the Berlin Crisis (after looking at West Berlin’s special situation). The board game to come with that, however, focuses on Cuba: 13 Days: The Cuban Missile Crisis (Asger Harding Granerud/Daniel Skjold Pedersen, Jolly Roger Games). Why did I choose this game then? Read and find out.

During World War II, the Allies had agreed to put Berlin under a joint administration once they had won the war. Accordingly, the city was partitioned into four sectors after the war (a Soviet, American, British, and French one) – just like Germany as a whole – but the responsibility for Berlin as a whole remained quadripartite. Soviet-Western cooperation, however, fell apart soon after the war ended. As Berlin was in the middle of the Soviet-occupied zone of Germany, the three Western sectors made for an island in the Red Sea. The Soviets were quick to seize on this advantage. In 1948, they denied all access to the Western sectors of Berlin from the outside – the Berlin Blockade. Stalin hoped to either incorporate West Berlin into the Soviet Occupation Zone, or gain concessions in West Germany for lifting the blockade. However, the Western Allies were able to supply West Berlin entirely through the air, and their counter-pressure succeeded in having the Soviets end the blockade. The quadripartite status of the city remained unchanged. So did the uneasy feeling in West Berlin: The Soviets continued to harass Western traffic to West Berlin every once in a while, and they could blockade the city again at their leisure.

The occupation zones of the allied powers in Germany: Soviet (red), American (orange), British (green), and French (blue). Berlin is divided in four sectors and entirely surrounded by the Soviet occupation zone. Image CC-BY-SA 3.0, created by Wikipedia user glglgl.


Contents

The balloon goes up
October 22, 1961
The four powers governing Berlin ( Soviet Union, United States, United Kingdom, and France) had agreed at the 1945 Potsdam Conference that Allied personnel would not be stopped by German police in any sector of Berlin. But on 22 October 1961, just two months after the construction of the Wall, the US Chief of Mission in West Berlin, E. Allan Lightner, was stopped in his car while crossing at Checkpoint Charlie to go to a theater in East Berlin even with visible occupation forces license plates. The former Army General Lucius D. Clay, U.S. President John F. Kennedy's Special Advisor in West Berlin, decided to demonstrate American resolve.

Clay sent an American diplomat, Albert Hemsing, to probe the border. While probing in a diplomatic vehicle, Hemsing was stopped by East German transport police asking to see his passport. Once his identity became clear, US Military Police were rushed in. The Military Police escorted the diplomatic car as it drove into East Berlin and the shocked GDR police got out of the way. The car continued and the soldiers returned to West Berlin. A British diplomat—apparently either out of the loop or attempting to conciliate—was stopped the next day and handed over his passport, infuriating Clay.

October 27,1961
Perhaps this contributed to Hemsing's decision to make the attempt again. Mr. Hemsing again neared the zone boundary in a diplomatic vehicle. But Clay did not know how the Soviets would respond, so in case, he sent tanks with an infantry battalion to the nearby Tempelhof airfield. To everyone's relief the same routine played out again. The US Military Police and Jeeps went back to West Berlin, and the tanks waiting behind also went home.

Immediately, 33 Soviet tanks drove to the Brandenburg Gate. Curiously, Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev claimed as he understood it, the American tanks had seen the Soviet tanks coming and retreated. Col. Jim Atwood, then Commander of the US Military Mission in West Berlin, later disagreed. As one of the first to spot the tanks when they arrived, Lieutenant Vern Pike was ordered to verify whether they were Soviet tanks. He and tank driver Sam McCart drove over to East Berlin, where Pike took advantage of the absence of any soldiers near the tanks to climb into one of them. He came out with definitive evidence that the tanks were Soviet, including a Red Army newspaper.

Ten of the tanks continued to Friedrichstraße, and stopped just 75 meters from the checkpoint on the Soviet side of the boundary. The US tanks turned back towards the checkpoint, stopping an equal distance from it on the American side of the boundary.

October 27, 1961 at 1700 hours to October 28, 1961 at 1100 hours
The respective troops faced each other. As per standing orders, both groups of tanks were loaded with live munitions. The alert levels of the US Garrison in West Berlin, then NATO, and finally the US Strategic Air Command (SAC) were raised. Both groups of tanks had orders to fire if fired upon. It was at this point that US Secretary of State Dean Rusk conveyed to General Lucius Clay, the US commanding officer in Berlin, that "We had long since decided that Berlin is not a vital interest which would warrant determined recourse to force to protect and sustain." Clay was convinced that having US tanks use bulldozer mounts to knock down parts of the Wall would have ended the Crisis to the greater advantage of the US and its allies without eliciting a Soviet military response. His views, and corresponding evidence that the Soviets may have backed down following this action, support a more critical assessment of Kennedy’s decisions during the crisis and his willingness to accept the Wall as the best solution.

With KGB spy Georgi Bolshakov serving as the primary channel of communication, Khrushchev and Kennedy agreed to reduce tensions by withdrawing the tanks. The Soviet checkpoint had direct communications to General Anatoly Gribkov at the Soviet Army High Command, who in turn was on the phone to Khrushchev. The US checkpoint contained a Military Police officer on the telephone to the headquarters of the US Military Mission in Berlin, which in turn was in communication with the White House. Kennedy offered to go easy over Berlin in the future in return for the Soviets removing their tanks first. The Soviets agreed. In reality Kennedy was pragmatic concerning the Wall: "It's not a very nice solution, but a wall is a hell of a lot better than a war."

October 28, 1961 at 1100 hours and 1 minute
The tanks from both groups started backing away from checkpoint Charlie and this is where the timeline splits. Due to some strange acoustics in the area the Soviets and NATO forces both heard what sounded like a gunshot just as a gravel hit a Soviet tank form the stonework of a nearby building. To both sides it had sounded like a gunshot, although only a car backfire. Since none of them saw exactly what had happened, the Soviets thought that the NATO forces had opened fire on them and opened fire. The balloon went up from there.

The NATO forces near the gate fired back. This continued while both sides notified their commanders. These commanders activated their forces to attack the other forces. While the forces were being activated for both sides the information went up both chains of command and as the fighting spread, the Warsaw Pact nations activated their forces and headed into West Germany and Western Europe. Eventually, the leaders of both sides, to try to stop the fighting, lost the controls of their nuclear weapons. The first one used was against the sector controlled by the US V Army Corp by the Soviets 8th Guards Army Corp to them from coming through the wall as they had set charged to blow openings in the wall to come through. As this was happening the government dispersed to continuation of government locations. Kennedy was sent to the presidential bunker in Mount Weather.

October 30, 1961
After this the use of nuclear weapons were used left, right and center. The Soviets started hitting NATO targets and NATO forces started hitting Soviet targets. This spread across Europe and the USSR. China noticed what was happening and went after Mongolia and far eastern Siberia to increase the size of the country so the population would have more room. Soviet commanders took it upon themselves to fire several short and medium range missiles at China, all nuclear tipped. A medium range missile hit Beijing and another hit Shanghai, destroying both cities. Each missile was tipped with a warhead that totaled ten megatons and detonated at an altitude of roughly 1.4 km above the ground.

When the Chinese Military Command went offline the military let loose with everything they had in their nuclear reserves. South Korea, South Vietnam, Cambodia, and Japan were all struck as well as all Soviet military locations in Siberia that the Chinese knew about, eradicating them from existence just after the Soviets Launched their missiles at China and the United states. American forces sailed from Midway, Guam and Pearl Harbor to within the 2500 nautical miles strike range of our Polaris A-2 missiles in use at the time. These were fired at all of the targets that were selected for these ships.

October 29, 1961
The DEW picked up the incoming bogies and notified NORAD along with the Canadian commanders. The bogies were verified with the Pinetree Line and tracked to possible targets with the Mid-Canada line. The United States went to DEFCON 1, immediately activated the long range bombers sending then towards their targets in the USSR and firing of the series of intercontinental ballistic missiles that were set for first strike launch. One of these bombers was sent to Cuba to remove the threat of Castro and his communist insurgents. Then the remainder went into deadman countdown for three days. With those missiles set for this, there is no stopping them from launching as any further input from a human controller will be ignored.

October 31, 1961
The missiles fired from what was the United States hit their targets across the USSR and several hours later the bombers that had survived the Soviet interceptors struck their targets. One of the bombers, due to battle damage, could not open their bomb bay doors and instead dropped the plane on the target to complete the attack run. The USSR fired all of its remaining missiles at its targets and launched the remaining bombers that were able to fly toward their targets across the northern hemisphere. The target list included several dozen targets throughout Canada as the bombers flew overhead.

October 30, 1961
Another series of nuclear detonations hit what was the United States. In retaliation, all American ballistic missile submarines that had not launched were given clearance from mount weather to move into range and fire all of their primary launch missiles and to wait three days before firing the others. Several of these subs were sunk after launch as they got into battle with naval ships from other countries involved in the conflict. Eventually, everyone got hit at one point or another by nuclear weapons being fired against them.

November 2/3, 1961
The deadman countdown finishes and the final launches of the last existing nuclear warheads in existence on earth are launched by what was the United States against what was the USSR. These missiles strike their targets 45 minutes later ending World War III.

Please, feel free to add your timeline additions here. If you have information for another part of the timeline project that can be added further down the page or on another associated page for one of the countries or organizations involved in the war.


T H E B E R L I N C R I S I S 1 9 5 8 - 1 9 6 2

The Berlin crisis involved a controversy so bitter and so sustained that at its height world leaders feared that a misstep could trigger a nuclear war. The crisis unfolded through a war of words, diplomatic negotiations, superpower summits, and military posturing and preparations as East and West argued over the status of Berlin. For Presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy, U.S. "credibility" was at stake: a failure in Berlin could disrupt NATO and weaken American influence in West Germany, the key to the balance of power in Europe.


The Berlin Crisis, 1958-1962 provides a comprehensive record of the making of U.S. policy toward Berlin and West Germany. It contains approximately 3,000 documents totaling over 11,500 pages, many of them recently declassified documents available here for the first time. The collection begins with documents dating from late 1953, when the Eisenhower administration began to formulate its Berlin contingency plans and closes in the late 1960s with a series of newly declassified State Department histories. The core of the collection consists of documents from November 1958 through the fall of 1962 which enable researchers to follow U.S. policy developments on a day-to-day basis and discover the interrelations between U.S. diplomatic and military policy over the course of the crisis.

In a secret telegram-obtained by the National Security Archive in August of 1991-U.S. Ambassador Llewellyn Thompson analyzes the Berlin situation and warns the Secretary of State of the "chances of war or ignominious Western Threat.

This secret cable receives a full cataloguing entry and a permuted indexing sentence. The subject headings, underlined here for clarity, provide five access points for researchers. Brackets denote parallelism.

Berlin Should Be Directed toward Gaining Time
and Reducing the possibility of a Direct U.S.-
Soviet Confrontation
Secret Cable 2 pp.
Origin: United States Embassy. Soviet Union
To: United States. Department of State
From: Thompson, Llewellyn E.
Index: Llewellyn E. Thompson--provides his views on
[Soviet intentions Western negotiating positions]--with
regard to the Berlin crisis for the Meeting between John
F. Kennedy and Nikita S. Khrushchev in Vienna,
Austria (3-4 June 1961)--and asserts that United States
policy--should be directed toward gaining time and
avoiding a direct confrontation over Berlin


10/01/66 Crisis over Berlin: American Policy Concerning the Soviet Threats to Berlin--11/58- 12/62, Department of State, Bureau of Public Affairs, Top Secret History

1962 Annual History: U.S. Army, Europe: 1961, U.S. European Command, Army, Operations Division, Top Secret History

08/02/62 Briefing for President on Berlin, Department of State, Berlin Task Force, Top Secret Memorandum

07/18/62 Memorandum of Conversation between the President and Ambassador Dobrynin, 7/17/63, Office of the White House, Secret Memorandum of Conversation

03/12/62 Germany and Berlin: Rusk-Gromyko Discussions at Geneva, Department of State, Secret Memorandum of Conversation

01/26/62 Analysis of Thompson-Gromyko Talks, Department of State, Bureau of Intelligence and Research, Secret Memorandum

09/21/61 Germany and Berlin: Disarmament, Red China, State Department, Secret Memorandum of Conversation

06/28/61 Acheson's Report to the President on Berlin, Executive Office of the President, Secret Memorandum

06/04/61 Vienna Meeting Between the President and Chairman Khrushchev: Final Discussion of Germany and Berlin, Department of State, Secret Memorandum of Conversation

09/26/59 Problems and Procedures Papers: Khrushchev-Eisenhower Discussion, Department of State, Secret Memorandum of Conversation

04/20/59 Tripartite Military Planning Effort for Berlin Contingencies--Directive on LIVE OAK Planning Staff, U.S. Embassy, France, Top Secret

02/08/59 Dulles and Adenauer Discuss Contingency Plans and Nuclear Weapons Use, Department of State, Top Secret Memorandum of Conversation

11/28/58 State-Defense-JCS Ad Hoc Working Group Report on Possible Courses of Action on Berlin, Joint Chiefs of Staff, Top Secret Memorandum

11/24/58 Possible Countermeasures to a Blockade of Berlin, U.S. Army, Deputy Chief of Staff for Military Operations, Top Secret Memorandum

11/20/58 Turnover of Control of Checkpoints to East Germany Would be a Trap to Secure Allied Recognition of the GDR, U.S. Mission, West Berlin, Secret Cable

John C. Ausland Author, former Deputy Director, Berlin Task Force, U.S. Department of State

Martin J. Hillenbrand Director, Center for East-West Trade Policy, University of Georgia former Director, Berlin Task Force, U.S. Department of State

Anna K. Nelson Adjunct Professor of History, American University

David A. Rosenberg Professor of History, Temple University

Marc Trachtenberg Professor of History, University of Pennsylvania


Title: The Berlin Crisis, 1958-1962

Content: Reproduces on microfiche approximately 3,000 documents totaling over 11,500 pages recording U.S. policy toward Berlin and Germany from 1958-1962.

Arrangement: The microfiche are arranged chronologically. For ease of use, the unique identification numbers assigned to documents are printed in eye-legible type at the top right-hand corner and precede each document on the microfiche strip.

Standards: Documents are reproduced on silver halide positive-reading microfiche at a nominal reduction of 24x. They are archivally permanent and conform to AIIM, BSI, and ANSI standards. Any microfiche found to be physically substandard will be replaced free of charge.

Access: A printed guide and index totaling approximately 2,000 pages accompany the microfiche collection. The guide contains an events chronology, glossaries of names, organizations, events, international agreements, and acronyms, a bibliography of secondary sources, and a chronological listing of documents. The index provides in-depth document-level access to subjects, individuals, and organizations.


Events: [ edit | edit source ]

May 6th 2058, [ edit | edit source ]

4:36 P.M. Central - The Riots become more violent as some people begin stabbing Furry officials and police.

2:54 Pacific - DaRealpotatolord charges into Berlin, using the same "crash the plane" strategy as they did during the Iris Revolution.

5:47 PM - Polish workers come and set up food kitchens and field hospitals.

May 7th 2058, [ edit | edit source ]

3:45 Mountain - The Furry Empire sends in thousands of soldiers, and starts executing protesters. One horrific incident would be a mass shooting in the street, known as the "Berlin Massacre," with thousands dead and even more wounded. Protests begin to drop significantly.

4:48 PM Central - The Polish human service workers slightly arm themselves for defense. In addition, armed security is enlisted to continue protecting them during their jobs.

7:02 P.M. Central - Furry forces are forced to be put in the western half of the city as the remaining large groups of rioters begin making the eastern side of Berlin "their" territory through extensive measures such as mustard gas and molotovs.

May 8th 2058, [ edit | edit source ]

12:57 P.M. Central - In response to the Berlin Massacre various 1st Mecha Shock Commandos Division forces surprisingly arrive at Berlin and aid the protesters that remain by giving them supplies such as guns and food as they hold the Furries off using artillery fire. A border-like structure is set up in the middle of the city where the rebels take refuge on the eastern side of this "border" and begin regrouping as they prepare to take control of Berlin.

May 12th, 2058 [ edit | edit source ]

6 PM Central - More humanitarian aid is sent by private entities from Poland, as well as armed defense militias who shortly declare to have been sent by the government of Poland.


John F. Kennedy’s address on the Berlin Crisis (1961)

On July 25th 1961 United States president John F. Kennedy went on television to address the American people on the Berlin Crisis. He condemned Nikita Khrushchev’s threats and ultimatums on Berlin, while announcing an increase in US military preparedness to defend the city, should an attack come:

“Good evening,

Seven weeks ago tonight I returned from Europe to report on my meeting with Premier Khrushchev and the others. His grim warnings about the future of the world, his aide memoire on Berlin, his subsequent speeches and threats which he and his agents have launched, and the increase in the Soviet military budget that he has announced, have all prompted a series of decisions by the Administration and a series of consultations with the members of the NATO organisation.

In Berlin, as you recall, he intends to bring to an end, through a stroke of the pen, first our legal rights to be in West Berlin and secondly our ability to make good on our commitment to the two million free people of that city. That we cannot permit.

We are clear about what must be done – and we intend to do it. I want to talk frankly with you tonight about the first steps that we shall take. These actions will require sacrifice on the part of many of our citizens. More will be required in the future. They will require, from all of us, courage and perseverance in the years to come. But if we and our allies act out of strength and unity of purpose – with calm determination and steady nerves – using restraint in our words as well as our weapons – I am hopeful that both peace and freedom will be sustained.

The immediate threat to free men is in West Berlin. But that isolated outpost is not an isolated problem. The threat is worldwide. Our effort must be equally wide and strong, and not be obsessed by any single manufactured crisis. We face a challenge in Berlin, but there is also a challenge in south-east Asia, where the borders are less guarded, the enemy harder to find, and the dangers of communism less apparent to those who have so little. We face a challenge in our own hemisphere, and indeed wherever else the freedom of human beings is at stake…

Our presence in West Berlin, and our access thereto, cannot be ended by any act of the Soviet government. The NATO shield was long ago extended to cover West Berlin – and we have given our word that an attack upon that city will be regarded as an attack upon us all…

It would be a mistake for others to look upon Berlin, because of its location, as a tempting target. The United States is there the United Kingdom and France are there the pledge of NATO is there and the people of Berlin are there. It is as secure, in that sense, as the rest of us, for we cannot separate its safety from our own… We do not want to fight – but we have fought before. And others in earlier times have made the same dangerous mistake of assuming that the West was too selfish and too soft and too divided to resist invasions of freedom in other lands. Those who threaten to unleash the forces of war on a dispute over West Berlin should recall the words of the ancient philosopher: ‘A man who causes fear cannot be free from fear’.

We cannot and will not permit the Communists to drive us out of Berlin, either gradually or by force. For the fulfilment of our pledge to that city is essential to the morale and security of West Germany, to the unity of Western Europe, and to the faith of the entire Free World. Soviet strategy has long been aimed, not merely at Berlin, but at dividing and neutralising all of Europe, forcing us back on our own shores. We must meet our oft-stated pledge to the free peoples of West Berlin – and maintain our rights and their safety, even in the face of force – in order to maintain the confidence of other free peoples in our word and our resolve. The strength of the alliance on which our security depends is dependent in turn on our willingness to meet our commitments to them…

Accordingly, I am now taking the following steps:

1. I am tomorrow requesting the Congress for the current fiscal year an additional $3.247 billion of appropriations for the Armed Forces.

2. To fill out our present Army Divisions, and to make more men available for prompt deployment, I am requesting an increase in the Army’s total authorised strength from 875,000 to approximately one million men.

3. I am requesting an increase of 29,000 and 63,000 men respectively in the active duty strength of the Navy and the Air Force.

4. To fulfil these manpower needs, I am ordering that our draft calls be doubled and tripled in the coming months I am asking the Congress for authority to order to active duty certain ready reserve units and individual reservists, and to extend tours of duty…

5. Many ships and planes once headed for retirement are to be retained or reactivated, increasing our air power tactically and our sealift, airlift and anti-submarine warfare capability. In addition, our strategic air power will be increased by delaying the deactivation of B-47 bombers.

6. Finally, some $1.8 billion – about half of the total sum – is needed for the procurement of non-nuclear weapons, ammunition and equipment…

The world is not deceived by the Communist attempt to label Berlin as a hotbed of war. There is peace in Berlin today. The source of world trouble and tension is Moscow, not Berlin. And if war begins, it will have begun in Moscow and not Berlin. For the choice of peace or war is largely theirs, not ours. It is the Soviets who have stirred up this crisis. It is they who are trying to force a change. It is they who have opposed free elections. It is they who have rejected an all-German peace treaty, and the rulings of international law. And as Americans know from our history on our own old frontier, gun battles are caused by outlaws, and not by officers of the peace.

In short, while we are ready to defend our interests, we shall also be ready to search for peace – in quiet exploratory talks, in formal or informal meetings. We do not want military considerations to dominate the thinking of either East or West. And Mr Khrushchev may find that his invitation to other nations to join in a meaningless treaty may lead to their inviting him to join in the community of peaceful men, in abandoning the use of force, and in respecting the sanctity of agreements…”


Explain 2 consequences of the Berlin crisis - History, 8 marks

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Q) Explain 2 consequences of the Berlin crisis (8 marks)

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Berlin Crisis - History

Berlin

When President Kennedy took office, Berlin was without a doubt the most divisive issue between the US and the Soviet Union. In his first year in office, the President constantly feared that the Soviets might take unilateral action that would result in a general war. When they built the Berlin Wall to keep the East German citizens from leaving, the President vocally condemned the action, but privately was pleased that the Soviets had undertaken actions that the US could accept and not go to war over.

From the moment he was elected, the issue of Berlin was on President Kennedy's mind. In his initial meeting with President Eisenhower, Berlin was one of the first items on the agenda. And, Berlin was clearly Khrushchev&rsquos concern as well. When President Kennedy suggested a summit in Vienna, he wrote that Berlin was &ldquoa dangerous source of tension in the very heart of Europe.&rdquo

Kennedy had hoped to reach an agreement with the Soviets on Berlin during the Vienna meeting. It was not to be. At the Vienna Summit, the issue of Berlin was the most contentious. Khrushchev made it clear he was willing to sign a separate peace agreement with East Germany, and would not be concerned about US or Western rights in Berlin. JFK made it clear that Berlin was not a peripheral question for the United States. He stated to Khrushchev: &ldquoThis matter is of greatest concern to the US. We are in Berlin, not because of someone&rsquos sufferance. We fought our way there. If we were expelled from the area, and if we accepted the loss of our rights, no one would have any confidence in US commitments and pledges.&rdquo The one concession Khruschev was willing to make was his willingness to wait until December to sign an agreement with East Germany.

Kennedy returned from the summit fearful there might indeed be war with the Soviets over Berlin. Too many East Germans were voting with their feet, moving to West Berlin and leaving the Soviet bloc, which was exceptionally embarrassing to the Soviets who were not willing for the status quo to continue. The summer of 1961 was tense, with the issue of Berlin dominating. The question everyone asked, was whether President Kennedy was willing to risk nuclear war to protect US rights in Berlin. In a press conference on June 28th, he spoke out about Berlin, but refused to answer questions that might show too much of his hand. During this period, Kennedy was simultaneously supporting a military buildup, while at the same time, pushing to find diplomatic solutions to the problem.

On July 25th, Kennedy gave a nationwide address on Berlin. In it, Kennedy successfully balanced his need to show strength, while seeming to be flexible. Kennedy made it clear the US would not walk away from Berlin. He also announced a major US military buildup. At the same time, Kennedy stated he was open to any diplomatic solution to the problem.

Khruschev came to the conclusion that Kennedy would indeed fight over the rights of the Western powers in Berlin. So Khruschev chose to implement an alternative strategy that caught the West by surprise. Early on the morning of August 13th 1961, East German security started putting up barriers between East and West Berlin, barriers which were to become the Berlin Wall. While Kennedy was not happy that the Wall was being built, he realized it was a way out of the crisis. He stated to his aid O&rsquoDonnell: &ldquoIt's not a very nice solution, but a wall is hell of a lot better than a war.&rdquo The Wall was to remain a central divide between East and Western Europe until, following the disintegration of the Soviet Union, the Wall was dismantled on November 9th 1990.


Contents

The balloon goes up
October 22, 1961
The four powers governing Berlin (Soviet Union, United States, United Kingdom, and France) had agreed at the 1945 Potsdam Conference that Allied personnel would not be stopped by German police in any sector of Berlin. But on 22 October 1961, just two months after the construction of the Wall, the US Chief of Mission in West Berlin, E. Allan Lightner, was stopped in his car while crossing at Checkpoint Charlie to go to a theater in East Berlin even with visible occupation forces license plates. The former Army General Lucius D. Clay, U.S. President John F. Kennedy's Special Advisor in West Berlin, decided to demonstrate American resolve.

Clay sent an American diplomat, Albert Hemsing, to probe the border. While probing in a diplomatic vehicle, Hemsing was stopped by East German transport police asking to see his passport. Once his identity became clear, US Military Police were rushed in. The Military Police escorted the diplomatic car as it drove into East Berlin and the shocked GDR police got out of the way. The car continued and the soldiers returned to West Berlin. A British diplomat—apparently either out of the loop or attempting to conciliate—was stopped the next day and handed over his passport, infuriating Clay.

October 27,1961
Perhaps this contributed to Hemsing's decision to make the attempt again. Mr. Hemsing again neared the zone boundary in a diplomatic vehicle. But Clay did not know how the Soviets would respond, so in case, he sent tanks with an infantry battalion to the nearby Tempelhof airfield. To everyone's relief the same routine played out again. The US Military Police and Jeeps went back to West Berlin, and the tanks waiting behind also went home.

Immediately, 33 Soviet tanks drove to the Brandenburg Gate. Curiously, Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev claimed as he understood it, the American tanks had seen the Soviet tanks coming and retreated. Col. Jim Atwood, then Commander of the US Military Mission in West Berlin, later disagreed. As one of the first to spot the tanks when they arrived, Lieutenant Vern Pike was ordered to verify whether they were Soviet tanks. He and tank driver Sam McCart drove over to East Berlin, where Pike took advantage of the absence of any soldiers near the tanks to climb into one of them. He came out with definitive evidence that the tanks were Soviet, including a Red Army newspaper.

Ten of the tanks continued to Friedrichstraße, and stopped just 75 meters from the checkpoint on the Soviet side of the boundary. The US tanks turned back towards the checkpoint, stopping an equal distance from it on the American side of the boundary.

October 27, 1961 at 1700 hours to October 28, 1961 at 1100 hours
The respective troops faced each other. As per standing orders, both groups of tanks were loaded with live munitions. The alert levels of the US Garrison in West Berlin, then NATO, and finally the US Strategic Air Command (SAC) were raised. Both groups of tanks had orders to fire if fired upon. It was at this point that US Secretary of State Dean Rusk conveyed to General Lucius Clay, the US commanding officer in Berlin, that "We had long since decided that Berlin is not a vital interest which would warrant determined recourse to force to protect and sustain." Clay was convinced that having US tanks use bulldozer mounts to knock down parts of the Wall would have ended the Crisis to the greater advantage of the US and its allies without eliciting a Soviet military response. His views, and corresponding evidence that the Soviets may have backed down following this action, support a more critical assessment of Kennedy’s decisions during the crisis and his willingness to accept the Wall as the best solution.

With KGB spy Georgi Bolshakov serving as the primary channel of communication, Khrushchev and Kennedy agreed to reduce tensions by withdrawing the tanks. The Soviet checkpoint had direct communications to General Anatoly Gribkov at the Soviet Army High Command, who in turn was on the phone to Khrushchev. The US checkpoint contained a Military Police officer on the telephone to the HQ of the US Military Mission in Berlin, which in turn was in communication with the White House. Kennedy offered to go easy over Berlin in the future in return for the Soviets removing their tanks first. The Soviets agreed. In reality Kennedy was pragmatic concerning the Wall: "It's not a very nice solution, but a wall is a hell of a lot better than a war."

October 28, 1961 at 1100 hours and 1 minute
The tanks from both groups started backing away from checkpoint Charlie and this is where the timeline splits. Due to some strange acoustics in the area the Soviets and NATO forces both heard what sounded like a gunshot just as a gravel hit a Soviet tank form the stonework of a nearby building. To both sides it had sounded like a gunshot, although only a car backfire. Since none of them saw exactly what had happened, the Soviets thought that the NATO forces had opened fire on them and opened fire. The balloon went up from there.

The NATO forces near the gate fired back. This continued while both sides notified their commanders. These commanders activated their forces to attack the other forces. While the forces were being activated for both sides the information went up both chains of command and as the fighting spread, the Warsaw Pact nations activated their forces and headed into West Germany and Western Europe. Eventually, the leaders of both sides, to try to stop the fighting, loosed the controls of their nuclear weapons. The first one used was against the sector controlled by the US V Army Corp by the Soviets 8th Guards Army Corp to them from coming through the wall as they had set charged to blow openings in the wall to come through. As this was happening the government dispersed to continuation of government locations. Kennedy was sent to the presidential bunker in Mount Weather.

October 30, 1961
After this the use of nuclear weapons were used left, right and center. The Soviets started hitting NATO targets and NATO forces started hitting Soviet targets. This spread across Europe and the USSR. China noticed what was happening and went after Mongolia and far eastern Siberia to increase the size of the country so the population would have more room. Soviet commanders took it upon themselves to fire several short and medium range missiles at China, all nuclear tipped. A medium range missile hit Beijing and another hit Shanghai, destroying both cities. Each missile was tipped with a warhead that totaled 10 megatons and detonated at an altitude of roughly 1.4 kilometers above the ground.

When the Chinese Military Command went offline the military let loose with everything they had in their nuclear reserves. South Korea, South Vietnam, Cambodia, and Japan were all struck as well as all Soviet military locations in Siberia that the Chinese knew about, eradicating them from existence just after the Soviets Launched their missiles at China and the United states. American forces sailed from Midway, Guam and Pearl Harbor to within the 2,500 nautical miles strike range of our Polaris A-2 missiles in use at the time. These were fired at all of the targets that were selected for these ships.

October 29, 1961
The DEW Picked up the incoming bogies and notified N.O.R.A.D. Along with the Canadian commanders. The bogies were verified with the Pinetree Line and tracked to possible targets with the Mid-Canada line. The United States went to DEFCON 1, immediately activated the long range bombers sending then towards their targets in the USSR and firing of the series of intercontinental ballistic missiles that were set for first strike launch. One of these bombers was sent to Cuba to remove the threat of Castro and his communist insurgents. Then the remainder went into deadman countdown for three days. With those missiles set for this, there is no stopping them from launching as any further input from a human controller will be ignored.

October 31, 1961
The missiles fired from what was the United States hit their targets across the USSR and several hours later the bombers that had survived the Soviet interceptors struck their targets. One of the bombers, due to battle damage, could not open their bomb bay doors and instead dropped the plane on the target to complete the attack run. The USSR fired all of its remaining missiles at its targets and launched the remaining bombers that were able to fly toward their targets across the northern hemisphere. The target list included several dozen targets throughout Canada as the bombers flew overhead.

October 30, 1961
Another series of nuclear detonations hit what was the United States. In retaliation, all American ballistic missile submarines that had not launched were given clearance from mount weather to move into range and fire all of their primary launch missiles and to wait three days before firing the others. Several of these subs were sunk after launch as they got into battle with naval ships from other countries involved in the conflict. Eventually, everyone got hit at one point or another by nuclear weapons being fired against them.

November 2/3, 1961
The deadman countdown finishes and the final launches of the last existing nuclear warheads in existence on earth are launched by what was the United States against what was the USSR. These missiles strike their targets 45 minutes later ending World War III.

Please, feel free to add your timeline additions here. If you have information for another part of the timeline project that can be added further down the page or on another associated page for one of the countries or organizations involved in the war.


Watch the video: The Cold War: The Berlin Crisis 1958 and the Berlin Wall 1961 - Episode 28