Cause of the Berlin Crisis

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On June 15th 1961, Walter Ulbricht, Leader of the GDR, famously said “Niemand hat die Absicht, eine Mauer zu errichten!" ("Nobody intends to put up a wall”) however two months later the Berlin wall was up and at the climax of U.S, U.S.S.R political international relations. What began as one could describe as a “shotgun marriage” of the world’s two super powers, America and the Soviet Union, soon escalated out of error and miscalculation through both sides to a situation in which the world was put on the brink of a global nuclear catastrophe. This act would eventually cost America eight trillion dollars, affect the lives of nearly 100,000, ruin many others and lead America into the true horrors of south East Asia. America and the Soviet Union’s cooperation to defeat Nazi Germany during World War Two was always an alliance of convenience for the common good, and as the end of the war grew closer it only “magnified the growing distrust each great power harboured about the others intentions in an environment of ill-defined borders, altered allegiances, power vacuums and economic ruin.” This conflict between Capitalist America and the communist Soviet Union did not occur because of ideological differences, but rather they confronted each other through lack of understanding and miss-interpretation of each other’s foreign policy. Because of their different views over the future of Eastern Europe, how they perceived the other on the international stage and the Marshall plan what began as a coalition for the common good of both Countries soon climaxed into a Bi polar power struggle that would have implications throughout the world. One important miscalculation that was the first of many errors on both super powers foreign policies was there entirely different interpretations of what was to become of Eastern Europe after the destruction of Nazi Germany. This conflict was over whether post war Germany should be handled in Russia’s preferred repression or America’s rehabilitation to keep Germany pacified. The American state department worried about the long term financial difficulties happening throughout Europe and therefore saw strengthening the German industry to its former position as a positive. It continued support for a moderate peace as the best guarantee against future aggression. While it called for measures on August 1949 which would guarantee payment of “restitution and reparations to Germany’s victims, prevent reconversion of Germanys economy to war purposes and eliminate German economic domination in Europe” the plan also proposed integrating the defeated Reich into the type of economy envisaged by the Atlantic Charter. Washington officials knew what they wanted, “maximum possible self-determination for the people of the region without impairing the unity of the grand alliance.” However when the Big three meet in Teheran 1943 the full measure of Stalin’s determination to stop a future threat existing in Germany became apparent. Stalin repeatedly emphasised the need to destroy any hope of German rehabilitation and prevent rearmaments and at one point proposed to “liquidation of between 50,000 and 100,000 members of the German officer corp.” Furthermore Stalin envisioned buffer states in front of the U.S.S.R, which would help to defend the Soviet Union in case of a future European war and more importantly gave Stalin a sphere of influence in Eastern Europe. At this time of the alliance Stalin took a view that “this war is not as in the past, whoever occupies territory can also impose his own social system as far as his army can reach.” Therefore both superpowers misconception of the future of Europe directly set in motion a conflict that would slowly boil up and escalate into the Berlin crisis. The error on both parts was that at Yalta both Super powers went away as the conflict over reparations and the treatment of Germany proved too deep to resolve. Instead of agreeing on an arrangement before the end of the war...
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