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Cold War History Project
Transcript of Cold War History Project
Cold War Events
America and the Soviet Union had to settle debt and earnings as World War II closed.
They chose how to handle Germany. The decision was that Germany would be divided among America, France, England and The Soviet Union. The capital, Berlin, would be divided in a similar fashion, believing that all would be whole. The “Capitalist Side,” West Berlin/Germany, had a stronger economy than East Germany. People left for West Berlin/Germany. The Soviets feared a loss of power, and and thus installed a blockade. The U.S., men of action in charge, started airlifting food in there, getting around the situation. The Soviets removed the blockade from West Berlin. But then, in 1961, they fashioned a giant wall which would seal East Berlin from the rest of the world. This wall lasted 28 years and prevented Berliners from ever leaving, even if they wanted to visit family. Many would be injured or lose their lives. Fortunately, it was torn down in 1989.
Events with Importance to the Berlin Wall
August 13 1961 - Construction of the Wall begins.
August 17 1962 - East Berlin Peter Fechter is shot and left for dead in front of countless western witnesses.
June 26, 1963 - Kennedy’s famous speech regarding “Ich bin ein Berliner.”
December 17, 1963 - after some arguing, East Berliners can finally go to visit their families
May 1773 - “East and West Germany establish formal diplomatic ties.”
1975-1976 - East German authorities built an extra wall with self-firing guns to increase control of escapees.
Nov. 4 1989 - nearly one million people attended the pro-democratic demonstration that convinced the East German government to resign
Nov. 9 1989 - the wall is torn down.
Oct. 3 1990 - Germany is official reunited again.
The Letter from Walter Ulbricht to Nikita Khrushchev (a Russian politician who led during this part of the Cold War). It describes the results of putting up the Berlin Wall. I found this a very interesting and informative primary source because it provided an interesting insight on the opinion of the Communist side of the cold war. For example, Ulbricht described an accomplishment of the wall being that East Germany was “protected” from West Germany. He also makes a at the U.S.A., saying that we would try to play hero by making demands and expecting them to be fulfilled.
There is a response from Khrushchev where he warns that they shouldn’t “exacerbate.”
Discontent in East Germany
This source addresses the issues that East Germans had with the function of their government and economy, as well as their decisions to protest it, and the worry that it would lead to an uprising. This source helped me to remember that the East German government and Soviet Union would panic because the people panicked. They built the wall, they refused to change the Communist policies, and left a stifled economy where everyone could go hungry. But the reason they built the Berlin Wall was not because they wanted everyone to suffer; it was because they didn’t know how to keep the East German “refugees.”
Kennedy's speech in 1963 at the Berlin Wall, where he explains that the Berlin Wall is a violation of freedom, which he personally stands for, and so he believes that it should be removed and Berliners should take pride as Germans for the hope the Germany will be one again. This is good for understanding the Berlin Wall because the President represents the overall American opinion of it, and our motivation for hating it. And it’s a lot easier to understand the history of the event when you have a reaction or opinion on it. Reactions are literally the reason for history.
Because the Berlin Wall prevented people from entering or leaving, citizens of Berlin were capable of losing connection with other parts of the world. This drove a lot of protest and distaste that had people protesting the wall for a heaping 28 years. Because the Berlin Wall lost its effect in 1989, it was very joyously torn down. On the personal side, this probably left many people bitter over how it had worked, as well as some Soviets over how it hadn’t.
So Here are Some Interesting Facts
After the Berlin Wall was put up, thousands of people tried to escape. 5,000 were successful but there is official record of 133 killed in attempt.
If one cannot catch the bird of paradise, better take a wet hen. ~ Nikita Khrushchev of the Soviet Union said this. I don’t know when but it’s interesting when you think of what he did.
Although the Berlin Wall was torn down in 1989, Germany was only formally reunited a year later.
Fakir bed: n. A bed of nails used as a trap to prevent people from scaling the Berlin Wall.
Iron Curtain: n. The imaginary border between the Soviets and the U.S.
Exacerbate v. Making a problem even worse than it already is.
Precluded v. Prevented
Implement v. put into action (a policy)