Sunday, 6 October 2013

Berlin Crisis 1961

Berlin Crisis


  • Berlin continued to pose a problem for USA and USSR - between 1949 and 1961, 4 million East Germans fled from East Berlin to West Berlin. They fled because they did not support the communist regime.
  • Khrushchev claimed that the Allies used Berlin as a base of espionage
  • He called Berlin a 'fishbone stuck in my throat'
  • Large numbers of these refugees were professionals which further declined East German economy = Brain Drain

What Happened

  • In August 1961, Khrushchev closed the border between East and West Berlin by dividing the two sections using a concrete wall. 
  • The Iron Curtain had become real and USA did nothing to stop the building of the wall.


  • Families were split as a result and travel was made harder, Khrushchev felt he had beaten Kennedy as he did not retaliate. 
  • The flow of refugees stopped and the economy was recovering
  • The wall was a symbol of the division of the world.

Extra information

  • In 1958 Khrushchev suggested that the Allies leave Berlin to make the divisions fair, and Eisenhower was prepared to negotiate as he did not want to risk a war over Berlin
  • The Paris Summit Conference between the 2 superpowers was set up to discuss about Berlin and nuclear weapons. 
  • 9 days before the Summit Conference, USSR announced that they had shot down an American U2 spy plane
  • Khrushchev demanded that all spying was to be stopped and for Eisenhower to apologise. However Eisenhower claimed that spies were used for defensive purposes and refused to apologise

  • President Kennedy visited West Berlin in 1963 and made several speeches which were greeted with large cheering crowds 
  • 'Ich bin ein Berliner' speech
  • He was seen as a saviour to West Berlin from Khrushchev.