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The Berlin Crisis

By cheddarboy92 Nov 04, 2010 2075 Words
The Berlin Crisis Introduction
The Berlin Crisis was a controversy so big that leaders from around the world feared that one slip up may trigger a massive nuclear war. The crisis started through summits held by the world powers, and through other various negotiations between communist and other nations. But for the U.S. a loss in Berlin could deteriorate American authority in Germany, which played a big part in keeping Europe together. I believe that the policies used in Berlin were necessary to keep order and to deter the Soviet Union from consuming another country. So, by analyzing the political, economical and social effects of the Berlin Crisis as well as the effects of the Berlin Wall on the U.S. and the World, we can see how knowing about the Berlin Crisis can help us to better understand foreign policy and how to prevent occurrences like these in the future. The Allied Powers of the United States, Britain, Russia and France divided the city of Berlin, after Germany’s fall in 1945, and each country ruled their part of Germany. However, in 1946, tensions between the Western powers and the Soviet Union were on the rise. To stay strong the Western powers combined their sections in 1947. The plan of the Western powers was to try and rebuild Germany politically, socially and economically; the Soviet Union then started to fear the alliance, because the combined sections had greater power than the Soviet Union’s section. But it wasn’t until later, when the Western Alliance established a currency in their merged section, that the Soviet Union had become fed up. So on June 24, 1948, the Soviet Union created the Blockade of Berlin. The next crisis occurred when Soviet Premier Khrushchev gave the Western powers six months to agree to get out of Berlin. He said if they did so he would give East Berlin back all of its communication with West Berlin. Also, he said that the Western powers would gain access to West Berlin only if the East government allowed it. The U.S., France and Great Britain said that they were going to stay in West Berlin and continue to use their legal right of access to the city. Later, Kennedy requested additional money from Congress, to fuel the military over in Europe. Khrushchev was angered at this and stated that the build up of military power was increasingly threatening war. Later, Premier Khrushchev created more conflict when he threatened to sign a separate peace treaty with East Germany. Which would, apparently, end an existing four-power, and that the signing of the peace treaty would end access rights for America, Britain and France to West Berlin. In response to the Soviets demands, President Kennedy asked Congress for an additional $3.25 billion to fund military build-up in Berlin. This eventually led to the Soviets response of building the Berlin Wall to separate the communist and non-communist sides of Berlin, and to avoid confrontation. “That is why this latest Soviet threat--or any other threat which is made independently or in response to our actions this week-- must and will be met with determination. Any hostile move anywhere in the world against the safety and freedom of peoples to whom we are committed-- including in particular the brave people of West Berlin--will be met by whatever action is needed.” [President Kennedy address’ the Nation; Oct. 22, 1962] The Presidents speech reflected his policy in that he will help countries who’s freedom and safety is being threatened by the Soviets. The Cuban Missile Crisis was directly influenced by the Berlin Crisis and it proved to be a very stressful time for the world. The first major cause of the Cuban Missile Crisis was while Kennedy was campaigning he repeatedly spoke of a gap between the number of nuclear missiles the Soviet Union had had and the number that the U.S. had. After the Berlin Wall was built Kennedy felt it was necessary to tell Khrushchev that there was no gap in missile numbers. Khrushchev had always known that the U.S. had enough missiles to attack the entire Soviet Union, while the Soviets only had enough to strike Europe. Khrushchev feared a first-strike nuclear attack from the U.S. so he started looking for a way he could counter the U.S.’s lead. The second major cause was Cuba’s fear of an attack from the U.S. After a few failed attempts at invading Cuba by the U.S., Fidel Castro was convinced that the U.S. would eventually pull of a successful invasion. Then, Khrushchev wanted to place missiles in Cuba, Castro gave it some thought and eventually decided that risking a huge crisis was somehow better than waiting for an invasion. After hearing about the nuclear build up, Kennedy proclaimed a naval quarantine around Cuba to prevent the arrival of more nuclear weapons. “I call upon Chairman Khrushchev to halt and eliminate this clandestine, reckless, and provocative threat to world peace and to stable relations between our nations. I call upon him further to abandon this course of the world domination and to join in an historic effort to end the perilous arms race and to transform the history of man.” [Primary Source: President Kennedy Proclaim a “Quarantine”] Khrushchev and Kennedy agreed on the terms that Soviets would remove all missiles if U.S. agreed not to invade. Overall, the political aspect caused the majority of the Berlin Crisis as well as the Cuban Missile Crisis. Next, the economical causes of the Berlin Crisis are vast. During the Berlin Crisis, one of the reasons that Premier Khrushchev took such harsh actions was because many East Berliners were escaping over to West Berlin. West Berlin had a democratic government, while the East had an authoritarian government. In 1953 more than 260,000 people crossed the border from East to West, that’s in just one year. This was partially due to the rising paranoid actions of then Soviet leader Joseph Stalin. During the time that East and West Germany were split it was very apparent that the economic structures extremely different. During the 1950’s West Germany had one of the strongest economies in the world, due in part to the U.S.’s economic aid and the Marshall Plan as well as the change in currency. The Allies took all German patents and eventually used them to build up their industry by licensing them to Allied companies. The West’s economy was almost as strong as it was before WWII. However, the East’s economy was growing, but it wasn’t growing at the rate of the West’s. This was because of the amount of their resources that were going to the Soviet Union. Economical connections to the Berlin wall are very apparent. The differences in West and East Germany’s economies created an even bigger gap between the two. One thing that played a huge role in East Germany’s bad economy was the separation from its traditional West German market. The Allies put a lot economically into West Germany. While, not only did the Soviets not put anything into East Germany’s economy, they took out huge amounts in reparations. By 1949 it was estimated that 93% of the fuel industries, 100% of the automotive industry and between 90% to 100% of the chemical industry were in the Soviet Union’s control. As well, there was a constant flow of people crossing the border from East Germany to West Germany and this resulted in great strains on East German-West German relations. To try and stop the people from crossing, East Germany sealed the borders to West Germany, but still, people continued to leave. From 1954 -1960, East Germany suffered what is referred to as “the brain drain”. During those years 15,536 engineers and technicians, 11,705 students, 16,623 teachers and 4,600 doctors, moved from East to West Germany. This came to roughly 37,000 people with academic and professional qualifications. Those people had high qualifications and were educated at the expense of East Germany. With West Germany benefiting from East Germany's investment, the situation was unacceptable to East Germany. Mind you this was a very, very small fraction of the people that left. Besides the people with high qualifications who left, there were also factory workers and other workers who made up a large percent of the work force. This created a huge dent in the economy of East Germany as it was loosing it’s working class at an alarming rate. In August of 1961, the Soviet Union started to build the Berlin Wall around West Berlin in hopes of slowing the number of people going over. Overall the economic causes made up a huge portion of the events during the Berlin Crisis. The lack of good leadership in East Germany caused a big economic downfall and eventually leads to the building of the Berlin Wall. Finally, the social causes of the Berlin Crisis are very important to the U.S. foreign policy we saw then and today. On paper communism is a generally good idea however the first taste of communism the U.S. got, thanks to Stalin, was executed very badly. Over the years, communism then spread to other countries and again, communism looks good on paper but was repeatedly being executed horribly wrong. Almost every country that turned to communism became a dictatorship. The U.S. continued to fight communism and argued it’s anti-communistic ways by citing the over-whelming evidence of human rights abuse in communist countries. Such as, Stalin era Russia, Maoist China and North Korea all of which killed off millions of their people and then continued to diminish the surviving people’s civil liberties. So, back to before the Berlin Wall was built, the cost of loosing so many people from East Germany, was estimated at $7 billion to $9 billion. The eventual loss of East Germany's population cost it over 22.5 billion marks in educational investment. This was so damaging to the economy of East Germany, that the Soviets needed to make a way so they wouldn’t lose anymore. So, they built a wall. The overlying cause of the Berlin Wall was because of communism, more specifically the Soviets and how they ran East Germany. They failed miserably and as a result the people of East Germany wanted to get out and live better lives over in West Germany. Because so many people were leaving, the economy was taking a huge hit and the Soviets couldn’t stand that, so they built a wall, which can be argued as the world’s biggest prison. The way they ran their government was horribly and utterly wrong, how they managed to go on for so long without seeing that what they were doing was doing no good what so ever, is mind- boggling. The main effect that the Berlin Wall had on the U.S. was if anything, in foreign policy. The foreign policy during the Cold War was mainly based around containment, which was to prevent the spread of communism and to limit Soviet influence in the world. A lot of good things came from this time though, such as NATO. In the end, though, the thing the Berlin Wall affected most was the U.S. foreign policy. After the fall of the Soviet Union, the U.S. sort of cut back on it’s foreign policy and turned towards working on peacekeeping with the U.N. Then after 9/11 foreign policy turned towards the War on Terror. The effect the Berlin Wall had on the world was massive. Although the wall mainly affected Europe, the rest of the world was affected none-the- less. While the wall was still standing, communism ran rampant, when the wall fell a big part of communism died. Although communism still stands today it is not as powerful. The wall not only separated Germany but all of Europe as well, and when the wall fell Germany and the rest of Europe was reunited. The effect the fall of the Berlin Wall had was huge. It lead to the fall of the Soviet Union and strengthened the Allied powers. In conclusion, the causes and effects of the Berlin Crisis changed things for the better

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