Berlin Crisis of 1961

The Berlin Crisis of 1961 (German: Berlin-Krise) occurred between 4 June – 9 November 1961, and was the last major politic-military European incident of the Cold War about the occupational status of the German capital city, Berlin, and of post–World War II Germany. The Berlin Crisis started when the USSR launched an ultimatum demanding the withdrawal of all armed forces from Berlin, including the Western armed forces in West Berlin. The crisis culminated in the city's de facto partition with the East German erection of the Berlin Wall.

The 22nd Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union—the last to be attended by the Communist Party of China—was held in Moscow during the crisis.

US Army tanks face off against Soviet tanks, Berlin 1961
U.S. M48 tanks face Soviet T-55 tanks at Checkpoint Charlie, October 1961.


Emigration through Berlin "loophole"

After the Soviet occupation of Eastern Europe at the end of World War II, some of those living in the newly acquired areas of the Eastern Bloc aspired to independence and wanted the Soviets to leave.[1] Between 1945 and 1950, over 15 million people emigrated from Soviet-occupied Eastern European countries to the West.[2] Taking advantage of this route, the number of Eastern Europeans applying for political asylum in West Germany was 197,000 in 1950, 165,000 in 1951, 182,000 in 1952 and 331,000 in 1953.[3]

By the early 1950s, the Soviet approach to controlling national movement, restricting emigration, was emulated by most of the rest of the Eastern Bloc, including East Germany.[4] Up until 1953, the lines between East Germany and the western occupied zones could be easily crossed in most places.[5] Consequently, the Inner German border between the two German states was closed, and a barbed-wire fence erected. In 1955, the Soviets passed a law transferring control over civilian access in Berlin to East Germany, which officially abdicated them for direct responsibility of matters therein, while passing control to a government not recognized in the US-allied West.[6] When large numbers of East Germans then defected under the guise of "visits", the new East German state essentially eliminated all travel between the west and east in 1956.[5]

With the closing of the Inner German border officially in 1952,[7] the border in Berlin remained considerably more accessible than the rest of the border because it was administered by all four occupying powers.[5] Accordingly, Berlin became the main route by which East Germans left for the West.[8] The Berlin sector border was essentially a "loophole" through which Eastern Bloc citizens could still escape.[7] The 4.5[9] million East Germans that had left by 1961 totaled approximately 20% of the entire East German population.[10] The loss was disproportionately heavy among professionals—engineers, technicians, physicians, teachers, lawyers and skilled workers.[10] The brain drain of professionals had become so damaging to the political credibility and economic viability of East Germany that closing this loophole and securing the Soviet-imposed East-West-Berlin frontier was imperative.[11]

Berlin ultimatum

In November 1958, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev issued the Western powers an ultimatum to withdraw from Berlin within six months and make it a free, demilitarised city. Khrushchev declared that, at the end of that period, the Soviet Union would turn over control of all lines of communication with West Berlin to East Germany, meaning the western powers would have access to West Berlin only when East Germany permitted it. In response, the United States, United Kingdom, and France clearly expressed their strong determination to remain in, and maintain their legal right of free access to, West Berlin.[12]

With tensions mounting, the United States, United Kingdom and France formed a covert group with orders to plan for an eventual response to any aggression on West Berlin. The planning group was named LIVE OAK, and staff from the three countries prepared land and air plans to guarantee access to and from West Berlin.[13]

The Soviet Union withdrew its deadline in May 1959, and the foreign ministers of the four countries spent three months meeting. They did not come to any major agreements, but this process led to negotiations and to Khrushchev's September 1959 visit to the US, at the end of which he and US President Dwight Eisenhower jointly asserted that general disarmament was of utmost importance and that such issues as that of Berlin "should be settled, not by the application of force, but by peaceful means through negotiations."[12]

Eisenhower and Khrushchev had a few days together at the US presidential retreat Camp David, where they talked frankly with each other. "There was nothing more inadvisable in this situation," said Eisenhower, "than to talk about ultimatums, since both sides knew very well what would happen if an ultimatum were to be implemented." Khrushchev responded that he did not understand how a peace treaty could be regarded by the American people as a "threat to peace". Eisenhower admitted that the situation in Berlin was "abnormal" and that "human affairs got very badly tangled at times."

Khrushchev came away with the impression that a deal was possible over Berlin, and they agreed to continue the dialogue at a summit in Paris in May 1960. However, the Paris Summit that was to resolve the Berlin question was cancelled in the fallout from Gary Powers's failed U-2 spy flight on 1 May 1960.

Escalation and crisis

At the Vienna summit on 4 June 1961, tensions rose. Meeting with US President John F. Kennedy, Premier Khrushchev reissued the Soviet ultimatum to sign a separate peace treaty with East Germany and thus end the existing four-power agreements guaranteeing American, British, and French rights to access West Berlin and the occupation of East Berlin by Soviet forces.[12] However, this time he did so by issuing a deadline of 31 December 1961. The three powers responded that any unilateral treaty could not affect their responsibilities and rights in West Berlin.[12]

In the growing confrontation over the status of Berlin, Kennedy undercut his own bargaining position during his Vienna summit negotiations with Khrushchev in June 1961. Kennedy essentially conveyed US acquiescence to the permanent division of Berlin. This made his later, more assertive public statements less credible to the Soviets.[14]

As the confrontation over Berlin escalated, Kennedy delivered a speech on ABC television in Washington, and broadcast nationwide in the US, where he reiterated that the United States was not looking for a fight and that he recognised the "Soviet Union's historical concerns about their security in central and eastern Europe." He said he was willing to renew talks, but he also announced that he would ask Congress for an additional $3.25 billion for military spending, mostly on conventional weapons. He wanted six new divisions for the Army and two for the Marines, and he announced plans to triple the draft and to call up the reserves. Kennedy proclaimed: "We seek peace, but we shall not surrender."[15]

The same day, 25 July, Kennedy requested an increase in the Army's strength from 875,000 to approximately 1 million, an increase of 29,000 and 63,000 men in the active duty Navy and Air Force, respectively, and the authority to bring some reserve units into active duty. He also ordered that draft calls be doubled, and asked for additional funds to identify and mark space in existing structures that could be used for fallout shelters, to stock these shelters with essentials for survival, and to improve air-raid warning and fallout detection systems.[12]

Vacationing in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Khrushchev was reported to be angered by Kennedy's speech. John Jay McCloy, Kennedy's disarmament adviser, who happened to be in the Soviet Union, was invited to join Khrushchev. It is reported that Khrushchev explained to McCloy that Kennedy's military build-up threatened war.

The Berlin Wall

Berlin Wall 1961-11-20
East German construction workers building the Berlin Wall in 1961

In early 1961, the East German government sought a way to stop its population leaving for the West. Walter Ulbricht, First Secretary of the Socialist Unity Party (SED) and Staatsrat chairman and thus East Germany's chief decision-maker, convinced the Soviet Union that force was necessary to stop this movement, although Berlin's four-power status required the allowance of free travel between zones and forbade the presence of German troops in Berlin.[12]

The East German government began stockpiling building materials for the erection of the Berlin Wall; this activity was widely known, but only a small circle of Soviet and East German planners believed that East Germans were aware of the purpose.[12] This material included enough barbed wire to enclose the 156 km (97 mi) circumference of West Berlin. The regime managed to avoid suspicion by spreading out the purchases of barbed wire among several East German companies, which in turn spread their orders out among a range of firms in West Germany and the United Kingdom.[16]

On 15 June 1961, two months before the construction of the Berlin Wall started, Walter Ulbricht stated in an international press conference: "Niemand hat die Absicht, eine Mauer zu errichten!" ("No one has the intention to erect a wall"). It was the first time the term Mauer (wall) had been used in this context.

On 4–7 August 1961, the foreign ministers of the US, UK, France and West Germany secretly met in Paris to discuss how to respond to the Soviet actions in West Berlin. They expressed a lack of willingness to engage in warfare. Within weeks, the KGB provided Khrushchev with descriptions of the Paris talks. These showed that US Secretary of State Dean Rusk, unlike the West Germans, supported talks with the Soviet Union, though the KGB and the GRU warned that the US were being pressured by other members of the alliance to consider economic sanctions against East Germany and other socialist countries and to move faster on plans for conventional and nuclear armament of their allies in Western Europe, such as the West German Bundeswehr.[17]

The West had advance intelligence about the construction of the Wall. On 6 August, a HUMINT source, a functionary in the SED, provided the 513th Military Intelligence Group (Berlin) with the correct date of the start of construction. At a weekly meeting of the Berlin Watch Committee on 9 August 1961, the Chief of the US Military Liaison Mission to the Commander Group of Soviet Forces Germany predicted the construction of a wall. An intercept of SED communications on the same day informed the West that there were plans to begin blocking all foot traffic between East and West Berlin. The interagency intelligence Watch Committee assessment said that this intercept "might be the first step in a plan to close the border", which turned out to be correct.

On Saturday 12 August 1961, the leaders of East Germany attended a garden party at a government guesthouse in Döllnsee, in a wooded area to the north of East Berlin, and Walter Ulbricht signed the order to close the border and erect a Wall.

At midnight, the army, police, and units of the East German army began to close the border and by morning on Sunday 13 August 1961 the border to West Berlin had been shut. East German troops and workers had begun to tear up streets running alongside the barrier to make them impassable to most vehicles, and to install barbed wire entanglements and fences along the 156 km (97 mi) around the three western sectors and the 43 km (27 mi) which actually divided West and East Berlin. Approximately 32,000 combat and engineer troops were employed for the building of the Wall, after which the Border Police became responsible for manning and improving it. To discourage Western interference and perhaps control potential riots, the Soviet Army was present.[12]

On 30 August 1961, in response to moves by the Soviet Union to cut off access to Berlin, President Kennedy ordered 148,000 Guardsmen and Reservists to active duty. In October and November, more Air National Guard units were mobilised, and 216 aircraft from the tactical fighter units flew to Europe in operation "Stair Step", the largest jet deployment in the history of the Air Guard. Most of the mobilised Air Guardsmen remained in the US, while some others had been trained for delivery of tactical nuclear weapons and had to be retrained in Europe for conventional operations. The Air National Guard's ageing F-84s and F-86s required spare parts that the United States Air Forces in Europe lacked.[12]

Richard Bach wrote his book Stranger to the Ground centred around his experience as an Air National Guard pilot on this deployment.

Stand-off between US and Soviet tanks

EUCOM Checkpoint Charlie Standoff 1961
American tanks face an East German water cannon at Checkpoint Charlie.

The four powers governing Berlin (Soviet Union, United States, United Kingdom, and France) had agreed at the 1945 Potsdam Conference that Allied personnel could move freely 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 (which had occupation forces license plates) while crossing at Checkpoint Charlie to go to a theatre in East Berlin. The former Army General Lucius D. Clay, US 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 vehicle clearly identified as belonging to a member of the US Mission in Berlin, Hemsing was stopped by East German 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 — British cars were not immediately recognisable as belonging to the staff in Berlin — was stopped the next day and showed his identity card identifying him as a member of the British Military Government in Berlin, infuriating Clay.

US Commandant General Watson was outraged by the East Berlin police's attempt to control the passage of American military forces. He communicated to the Department of State on 25 October 1961 that Soviet Commandant Colonel Solovyev and his men were not doing their part to avoid disturbing actions during a time of peace negotiations, and demanded that the Soviet authorities take immediate steps to remedy the situation. Solovyev replied by describing American attempts to send armed soldiers across the checkpoint and keeping American tanks at sector boundary as an "open provocation" and a direct violation of GDR regulations. He insisted that properly identified American military could cross the sector border without impediments, and were only stopped when their nationality was not immediately clear to guards. Solovyev contended that requesting identifying paperwork from those crossing the border was not unreasonable control; Watson disagreed. In regards to the American military presence on the border, Solovyev warned:

I am authorized to state that it is necessary to avoid actions of this kind. Such actions can provoke corresponding actions from our side. We have tanks too. We hate the idea of carrying out such actions, and are sure that you will re-examine your course.[18]

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

External images
US tanks (foreground) face Soviet tanks at Checkpoint Charlie, on 27–28 October 1961
US Tanks facing Soviet Tanks in Berlin 27 October 1961

Immediately afterwards, 33 Soviet tanks drove to the Brandenburg Gate. Curiously, Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev claimed in his memoirs that 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, disagreed in later statements. As one of the first to spot the tanks when they arrived, Lieutenant Vern Pike was ordered to verify whether they were indeed Soviet tanks. He and tank driver Sam McCart drove over to East Berlin, where Pike took advantage of a temporary 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.[19]

Ten of these tanks continued to Friedrichstraße, and stopped just 50 to 100 metres from the checkpoint on the Soviet side of the sector boundary. The US tanks turned back towards the checkpoint, stopping an equal distance from it on the American side of the boundary. From 27 October 1961 at 17:00 until 28 October 1961 at about 11:00, 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.

Soviet tanks in Berlin 1961
Soviet T-55 tanks at Checkpoint Charlie, October 27, 1961.

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.[20]

With KGB spy Georgi Bolshakov serving as the primary channel of communication, Khrushchev and Kennedy agreed to reduce tensions by withdrawing the tanks.[21] 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. Kennedy stated concerning the Wall: "It's not a very nice solution, but a wall is a hell of a lot better than a war."[22]

A Soviet tank moved about 5 metres backwards first; then an American tank followed suit. One by one the tanks withdrew. But General Bruce C. Clarke, then the Commander-in-Chief (CINC) of US Army Europe (USAREUR), was said to have been concerned about Clay's conduct and Clay returned to the United States in May 1962. Gen. Clarke's assessment may have been incomplete, however: Clay's firmness had a great effect on the German population, led by West Berlin Mayor Willy Brandt and West German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer.


  1. ^ Thackeray 2004, p. 188
  2. ^ Böcker 1998, p. 207
  3. ^ Loescher 2001, p. 60
  4. ^ Dowty 1989, p. 114
  5. ^ a b c Dowty 1989, p. 121
  6. ^ Harrison 2003, p. 98
  7. ^ a b Harrison 2003, p. 99
  8. ^ Paul Maddrell, Spying on Science: Western Intelligence in Divided Germany 1945–1961, p. 56. Oxford University Press, 2006
  9. ^
  10. ^ a b Dowty 1989, p. 122
  11. ^ Pearson 1998, p. 75
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Berlin Crisis". Retrieved 23 September 2016.
  13. ^ "Code Name - LIVE OAK". North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Retrieved 24 September 2018.
  14. ^ Kempe 2011, p. 247
  15. ^ "John F. Kennedy Speeches - John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum". Retrieved 27 March 2018.
  16. ^ Kempe 2011, p. 324
  17. ^ Zubok, Vladislav M. (1994). "Spy vs. Spy: The KGB vs. the CIA".
  18. ^ "Department of State-Office of the Historian-Foreign Relations of The United States-Berlin Crisis-1961–1962-Document 192". Retrieved 27 March 2018.
  19. ^ Kempe 2011, pp. 470–471
  20. ^ Kempe 2011, pp. 474–476
  21. ^ Kempe 2011, pp. 478–479
  22. ^ Gaddis, John Lewis, The Cold War: A New History (2005), p. 115.


133d Operations Group

The 133rd Operations Group is the flying component of the Minnesota Air National Guard's 133d Airlift Wing, stationed at Minneapolis–Saint Paul Joint Air Reserve Station, Minnesota. If activated to federal service, the group is gained by Air Mobility Command of the United States Air Force.

The group was first activated as the 367th Fighter Group, an Army Air Forces unit. The group trained in the western United States with Bell P-39 Airacobras. The 367th moved to England in the spring of 1944, where it became part of IX Fighter Command (later XIX Tactical Air Command) and converted to Lockheed P-38 Lightnings. The group engaged in combat with Lightnings, and later with Republic P-47 Thunderbolts, in the European Theater of Operations until VE Day, earning two Distinguished Unit Citations and the Belgian Fourragere for its actions. It returned to the United States in the fall of 1945 and was inactivated on 7 November 1945.

In May 1946, the group was allotted to the National Guard and renumbered as the 133d Fighter Group. It trained with North American P-51 Mustangs. In 1951 it was mobilized for the Korean War and served in an air defense role until inactivating in February 1952 in a reorganization of Air Defense Command.

The group was returned to the Minnesota Air National Guard in December 1952. It was an air defense fighter unit until 1960, when it converted to the Boeing C-97 Stratofreighter and the airlift mission. It was called to active duty during the Berlin Crisis of 1961. The 133d replaced its C-97s with Lockheed C-130 Hercules aircraft in 1971. It was inactivated in early 1975, when its component units were assigned directly to its parent 133d Tactical Airlift Wing. It was reactivated in 1994 and resumed its role as the operational component of the 133d Wing.

303rd Fighter Squadron

The 303rd Fighter Squadron is assigned to the 442d Operations Group at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, and flies the Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft conducting close air support missions.

The squadron was first activated during World War II. After training in the United States, it deployed to the European Theater of Operations, whe it earned a Distinguished Unit Citation for its actions on D-Day. After V-E Day, the squadron remained in Germany until the fall of 1946 as part of the occupation forces.

The squadron was reactivated in the reserve in 1949. It was mobilized for the Korean War, but was inactivated and its personnel used as fillers for other units. When the reserve began flying operations again in 1952, it was once again activated. The 303d was mobilized again in during the Berlin Crisis of 1961. It continued the airlift mission until 1984, when it converted to operating fighter aircraft.

Albin F. Irzyk

Albin Felix Irzyk (January 2, 1917 – September 10, 2018) was an American brigadier general who was the oldest living veteran of the 3rd Cavalry Regiment. Joining the Army in 1940, he was the Commander of the 8th Tank Battalion of the 4th Armored Division of the United States Army during World War II, the Commander of the 14th Armored Cavalry Regiment during the Berlin Crisis of 1961, and Assistant Commander of the 4th Infantry Division in South Vietnam during his career.

Berlin Crisis

Berlin Crisis may refer to:

Berlin Blockade of 1948-1949

Berlin Crisis of 1961

Checkpoint Charlie

Checkpoint Charlie (or "Checkpoint C") was the name given by the Western Allies to the best-known Berlin Wall crossing point between East Berlin and West Berlin during the Cold War (1947–1991).

East German leader Walter Ulbricht agitated and maneuvered to get the Soviet Union's permission to construct the Berlin Wall in 1961 to stop Eastern Bloc emigration and defection westward through the Soviet border system, preventing escape across the city sector border from communist East Berlin into West Berlin. Checkpoint Charlie became a symbol of the Cold War, representing the separation of East and West. Soviet and American tanks briefly faced each other at the location during the Berlin Crisis of 1961.

After the dissolution of the Eastern Bloc and the reunification of Germany, the building at Checkpoint Charlie became a tourist attraction. It is now located in the Allied Museum in the Dahlem neighborhood of Berlin.

Cold War

The Cold War was a period of geopolitical tension between the Soviet Union with its satellite states (the Eastern Bloc), and the United States with its allies (the Western Bloc) after World War II. A common historiography of the conflict begins between 1946, the year U.S. diplomat George F. Kennan's "Long Telegram" from Moscow cemented a U.S. foreign policy of containment of Soviet expansionism threatening strategically vital regions, and the Truman Doctrine of 1947, and ending between the Revolutions of 1989, which ended communism in Eastern Europe, and the 1991 collapse of the USSR, when nations of the Soviet Union abolished communism and restored their independence. The term "cold" is used because there was no large-scale fighting directly between the two sides, but they each supported major regional conflicts known as proxy wars. The conflict split the temporary wartime alliance against Nazi Germany and its allies, leaving the USSR and the US as two superpowers with profound economic and political differences.

The capitalist West was led by the United States, a federal republic with a two-party presidential system, as well as the other First World nations of the Western Bloc that were generally liberal democratic with a free press and independent organizations, but were economically and politically entwined with a network of banana republics and other authoritarian regimes, most of which were the Western Bloc's former colonies. Some major Cold War frontlines such as Indochina, Indonesia, and the Congo were still Western colonies in 1947. The Soviet Union, on the other hand, was a self-proclaimed Marxist–Leninist state led by its Communist Party, which in turn was dominated by a totalitarian leader with different titles over time, and a small committee called the Politburo. The Party controlled the state, the press, the military, the economy, and many organizations throughout the Second World, including the Warsaw Pact and other satellites, and funded communist parties around the world, sometimes in competition with communist China following the Sino-Soviet split of the 1960s. The two worlds were fighting for dominance in poor, low-developed regions known as the Third World.

In time, a neutral bloc arose in these regions with the Non-Aligned Movement, which sought good relations with both sides. Notwithstanding relatively isolated incidents of air-to-air dogfights and shoot-downs, the two superpowers never engaged directly in full-scale armed combat. However, both were heavily armed in preparation for a possible all-out nuclear world war. Each side had a nuclear strategy that discouraged an attack by the other side, on the basis that such an attack would lead to the total destruction of the attacker—the doctrine of mutually assured destruction (MAD). Aside from the development of the two sides' nuclear arsenals, and their deployment of conventional military forces, the struggle for dominance was expressed via proxy wars around the globe, psychological warfare, massive propaganda campaigns and espionage, far-reaching embargoes, rivalry at sports events, and technological competitions such as the Space Race.

The first phase of the Cold War began in the first two years after the end of the Second World War in 1945. The USSR consolidated its control over the states of the Eastern Bloc, while the United States began a strategy of global containment to challenge Soviet power, extending military and financial aid to the countries of Western Europe (for example, supporting the anti-communist side in the Greek Civil War) and creating the NATO alliance. The Berlin Blockade (1948–49) was the first major crisis of the Cold War. With the victory of the Communist side in the Chinese Civil War and the outbreak of the Korean War (1950–1953), the conflict expanded. The USSR and the US competed for influence in Latin America and the decolonizing states of Africa and Asia. The Soviets suppressed the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. The expansion and escalation sparked more crises, such as the Suez Crisis (1956), the Berlin Crisis of 1961, and the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, which was perhaps the closest the two sides came to nuclear war. Meanwhile, an international peace movement took root and grew among citizens around the world, first in Japan from 1954, when people became concerned about nuclear weapons testing, but soon also in Europe and the US. The peace movement, and in particular the anti-nuclear movement, gained pace and popularity from the late 1950s and early 1960s, and continued to grow through the '70s and '80s with large protest marches, demonstrations, and various non-parliamentary activism opposing war and calling for global nuclear disarmament. Following the Cuban Missile Crisis, a new phase began that saw the Sino-Soviet split complicate relations within the Communist sphere, while US allies, particularly France, demonstrated greater independence of action. The USSR crushed the 1968 Prague Spring liberalization program in Czechoslovakia, while the US experienced internal turmoil from the civil rights movement and opposition to the Vietnam War (1955–75), which ended with the defeat of the US-backed Republic of Vietnam, prompting further adjustments.

By the 1970s, both sides had become interested in making allowances in order to create a more stable and predictable international system, ushering in a period of détente that saw Strategic Arms Limitation Talks and the US opening relations with the People's Republic of China as a strategic counterweight to the Soviet Union. Détente collapsed at the end of the decade with the beginning of the Soviet–Afghan War in 1979. The early 1980s were another period of elevated tension, with the Soviet downing of KAL Flight 007 and the "Able Archer" NATO military exercises, both in 1983. The United States increased diplomatic, military, and economic pressures on the Soviet Union, at a time when the communist state was already suffering from economic stagnation. On 12 June 1982, a million protesters gathered in Central Park, New York to call for an end to the Cold War arms race and nuclear weapons in particular. In the mid-1980s, the new Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev introduced the liberalizing reforms of perestroika ("reorganization", 1987) and glasnost ("openness", c. 1985) and ended Soviet involvement in Afghanistan. Pressures for national independence grew stronger in Eastern Europe, especially Poland. Gorbachev meanwhile refused to use Soviet troops to bolster the faltering Warsaw Pact regimes as had occurred in the past. The result in 1989 was a wave of revolutions that peacefully (with the exception of the Romanian Revolution) overthrew all of the communist regimes of Central and Eastern Europe. The Communist Party of the Soviet Union itself lost control and was banned following an abortive coup attempt in August 1991. This in turn led to the formal dissolution of the USSR in December 1991 and the collapse of communist regimes in other countries such as Mongolia, Cambodia, and South Yemen. The United States remained as the world's only superpower.

The Cold War and its events have left a significant legacy. It is often referred to in popular culture, especially in media featuring themes of espionage (notably the internationally successful James Bond book and film franchise) and the threat of nuclear warfare. Meanwhile, a renewed state of tension between the Soviet Union's successor state, Russia, and the United States in the 2010s (including its Western allies) has been referred to as the Second Cold War.

East Berlin

East Berlin was the de facto capital city of the German Democratic Republic from 1949 to 1990. Formally, it was the Soviet sector of Berlin, established in 1945. The American, British, and French sectors were known as West Berlin. From 13 August 1961 until 9 November 1989, East Berlin was separated from West Berlin by the Berlin Wall. The Western Allied powers did not recognise East Berlin as the GDR's capital, nor the GDR's authority to govern East Berlin.

Hans Kroll

Hans Kroll (May 18, 1898 in Deutsch-Piekar, Prussian Province of Silesia, Imperial Germany, modern: Piekary Śląskie, Poland – August 8, 1967 in Starnberg, West Germany) was a German career diplomat and after World War II ambassador in Belgrade, Tokyo and Moscow where he played a prominent role between 1958 and 1962.

Kroll entered Weimar German diplomatic services in 1920, serving in the embassies in Lisbon and Madrid as well as in the consulates in Odessa, Chicago and San Francisco. From 1929 to 1935, he worked in German Foreign Office in Berlin, covering economic issues. In the years 1936-1943 during the Nazi domination of Germany and the World War II, Kroll was assigned to the German Embassy in Turkey, most recently as First Embassy Counsellor, and then until the end of the war in 1945 he held office as Consul General in Barcelona, Spain.

After 1945, Kroll worked for Karl Arnold, Minister President of North Rhine-Westphalia, as advisor on foreign policy issues for Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and later for the press, before joining in 1950 the Federal Ministry for Economics and Labour of West Germany, serving also as envoy in Paris (CoCom). Between 1953 and 1955, he was the first West German ambassador to Yugoslavia, and between 1955 and 1958, he was an ambassador to Japan.

In 1958, in the midst of the Cold War (1953–1962), Kroll was appointed as a West German ambassador to the Soviet Union. During the Berlin Crisis of 1961, he sought close contact to Nikita Khrushchev, visiting him on 9 November 1961. He was criticized in West Germany for acting on his own and not respecting official West German policy of the time. Kroll had to report to chancellor Konrad Adenauer, but the chancellor sent him back to the Soviet Union, preferring to have someone there who has good relations with the Soviet leader Khrushchev.

In February 1962, Kroll leaked details of Adenauer's intentions to members of the press, who did not keep it a secret, demanding that he was fired immediately. The affair was also dubbed Kroll Opera, after the building in Berlin. Adenauer and the Foreign office did not give in, but agreed to retire him several months later. From September 1962 until May 1963, Kroll spent the final months of his career as a counselor to the West German federal government.

Horst Kutscher

Horst Kutscher ( July 5, 1931 - January 15, 1963) was a German coal apprentice and the 36th person to die trying to cross the Berlin Wall from East Berlin to West Berlin.


The Invalidenstraße is a street in Berlin, Germany. It runs east to west for 3 kilometers (1.9 mi) through the districts of Mitte and Moabit. The street originally connected three important railway stations in the northern city centre: the Stettiner Bahnhof (today Nordbahnhof), the Hamburger Bahnhof and the Lehrter Bahnhof, the present-day Berlin Hauptbahnhof.

Joseph B. Benedetti

Joseph Benedict "Joe" Benedetti (March 28, 1929 – November 19, 2014) was an American politician and lawyer.

Born in Richmond, Virginia, he served in the United States Army in 1946 during the occupation of Japan, the Korean War, and the Berlin Crisis of 1961. He received his bachelor's degree from the College of William & Mary and his law degree from the University of Richmond School of Law. Benedetti practiced law in Richmond, Virginia. He served in the Virginia House of Delegates in 1983 and was a Republican. In 1986, he was elected to the Virginia State Senate and served until 1995. Benedetti was appointed chairman of the Virginia State Board of Corrections and then head of the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services. Benedetti died in Richmond, Virginia.

List of B-47 units of the United States Air Force

The Boeing B-47 Stratojet was operational with the United States Air Force Strategic Air Command beginning in May 1951 with the first operational B-47As to the 306th Bombardment Wing, Medium, based at MacDill AFB, Florida.

In March 1961, President John F. Kennedy directed the phaseout of the B-47. However this was delayed in July by the onset of the Berlin crisis of 1961–62. In the following years, B-47s were gradually delivered to the Military Aircraft Storage and Disposition Center (MASDC) at Davis-Monthan AFB.

Strategic Air Command B-47 Bombardment Wings were divided among the Second, Eighth and Fifteenth Air Forces. This list is of the units B-47s were assigned to, and the bases at which they were stationed .

List of conflicts related to the Cold War

While the Cold War itself never escalated into direct confrontation, there were a number of conflicts related to the Cold War around the globe, spanning the entirety of the period usually prescribed to it (March 12, 1947 to December 26, 1991, a total of 44 years, 9 months, and 2 weeks).

Sonnenallee (Berlin)

The Sonnenallee is a street in Berlin, Germany, connecting the districts of Neukölln and Treptow-Köpenick. The street is 5 km long, crossing Baumschulenstraße at its south east end and terminating at Hermannplatz in the north west. Sonnenallee was constructed at the end of the 19th century. The area around the Sonnenallee was created to cater for the rural drift to the city of that period.

USS Alvin C. Cockrell

USS Alvin C. Cockrell (DE-366) was a John C. Butler-class destroyer escort acquired by the U.S. Navy during World War II. Decommissioned several times, in addition to serving in the World War, she also served during the Berlin Crisis of 1961.

The ship's keel was laid down on 1 May 1944 at Orange, Texas, by the Consolidated Steel Corp.. Alvin C. Cockrell was launched on 27 June 1944, sponsored by Mrs. James A. Perkins, the sister of the late 1st Lt. Cockrell. The destroyer escort was commissioned on 7 August 1944 at her builder's yard, Lt. Comdr. Merrill M. Sanford, USNR, in command.

USS Yancey (AKA-93)

USS Yancey (AKA-93/LKA-93) was an Andromeda-class attack cargo ship built by the Moore Dry Dock Company of Oakland, California for the United States Navy during World War II. The ship was named in honor of Yancey County, North Carolina.

Yancey's keel was laid in May 1944, and the ship was launched in July, and commissioned in October. The ship operated in the Pacific during the war and was a participant in the amphibious landings at Iwo Jima in February 1945 and Okinawa in April. After Japan's surrender in August, Yancey was in Tokyo Bay during the signing of the Japanese Instrument of Surrender on 2 September. The ship made voyages delivering troops for the occupation of Japan before returning to the United States in January 1946. After spending most of the next year on the east coast, Yancey was ordered back into the Pacific in November, and took part in Operation Highjump, a Navy expedition to Antarctica in January 1947; Yancey Glacier was named in the ship's honor.

After spending most of the next decade in duties in the Western Pacific, Yancey was decommissioned in March 1958 and placed in reserve at Olympia, Washington. Yancey was reactivated in the aftermath of the Berlin Crisis of 1961 and recommissioned in November. During the October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis she sailed in support of the U.S. blockade of Cuba, and during the April 1965 U.S. intervention in the Dominican Republic she carried almost a quarter of all of the evacuees from Santo Domingo. In January 1970, Yancey was blown by a storm into the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel which closed the structure for several weeks.

The ship was decommissioned for the final time in January 1971, and struck from the Naval Vessel Register in January 1977. After being stripped of salvageable materials, the ship was sunk as an artificial reef off the North Carolina coast in 1990. The ship is intact and rests on her starboard side at a depth of 160 feet (49 m).

Walter C. Dowling

Walter Cecil Dowling (August 4, 1905 – July 1, 1977) was the United States Ambassador to West Germany from 1959–1963 and the US Ambassador to South Korea from 1956-1959.

Dowling was born in Atkinson County, Georgia. He received a bachelor's degree from Mercer University in 1925. In 1932 he became the vice consul in Norway. He worked his way through various foreign postings and postings at the State Department before becoming United States Ambassador to South Korea in 1956. Picked by President Dwight Eisenhower to become Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, he was confirmed by the Senate, but diverted to Bonn, where he served as United States Ambassador to West Germany up to and through the Berlin Crisis of 1961.Appointed a Career Ambassador in 1962, an operation cut short his career; in 1963, he retired from the Foreign Service.After he left the State Department, he became Director-General of the Atlantic Institute, before returning to Mercer University and teaching political science. He died in 1977.

West of the Wall

"West of the Wall" is a 1962 song written by Wayne Shanklin, which was recorded as a single by Toni Fisher. The song tells of the sadness of lovers separated by the Berlin Wall which divided Germany into East and West at the time, and expresses the hope that the wall will soon fall. The Berlin Wall had been constructed in 1961, and in fact did not fall until 1989. The song was a Top 40 hit for Toni Fisher in the United States, where it reached #37 on the Billboard Hot 100 in July 1962. It was issued on the Bigtop label. It enjoyed greater success in Australia, where it reached #1 on the Australian chart for two weeks beginning 21 July. It was recorded at Gold Star Recording Studio, Hollywood.

Fisher's earlier 1961 single for Signet, "You Never Told Me", had "Toot Toot Amore" on the B side, which was the same melody and arrangement as "West of the Wall" with different lyrics.

Wilfred C. Menard Jr.

Maj. Gen. Wilfred Charles Menard Jr. (November 10, 1918 – February 20, 2012) (ARNG) was the twenty-sixth Adjutant General of New Jersey. Commissioned a US Army 2nd lieutenant in 1942, he served actively with the Army during the Second World War rising to the rank of US Army captain. He continued to serve thereafter as a reserve officer in the New Jersey Army National Guard, which he commanded from 1974-1982. A graduate of the United States Army Field Artillery School, the United States Army Tank Destroyer School, and the United States Army War College, Menard was an experienced artillery officer. During his service with the Guard, he was briefly reactivated at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel for the Berlin Crisis of 1961. Born in Trenton, NJ, Maj. Gen. Menard was a lifelong resident of central New Jersey. His many military awards and decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal (US Army) and the Legion of Merit.

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