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Causes of the building of the Berlin Wall in August 1961 (LONGTERMMEDIUM TERM SHORT TERM) Special status Failure of the Vienna Berlin did Weakness of the of West Berlin (L) peace conference (S) not become Warsaw Pact a free city (M) after 1956 (M) Spying (S) Military spending Unpopularity of East The building of theincreased (S) German Government(L)Berlin Wall 1961 Criticism of Defectors from Khrushchev in East Germany (L) the USSR (S) President Kennedy (S) U2 spy plane Failure of the Paris Bay of Pigs crisis (S) peace conference (S) fiasco (S)
A. Special status of West Berlin • Berlin was 110 miles inside East Germany (DDR). The Soviets viewed West Berlin as a hole inside the ‘Iron Curtain’ as they had to allow the western powers access to the city through East Germany.
B. Unpopularity of East German government 1949-61 The Communist government of the DDR under Walther Ulbricht became more unpopular with its own people over the years, especially after June 1953, when Soviet tanks put down a workers’ uprising. The East German economy had clearly fallen behind West Germany’s. They increasingly relied on the Stasi and army to keep control.
C. Defectors from East Germany • 2.19 million East Germans (out of a population of 17.5 million) fled to West Germany (BRD) from 1949 to 1958. The East German authorities fortified the border between East and West Germany with 850 km of wire fence and mines. • Berlin, however, was effectively a gap in these defences. This escape route for defectors was an embarrassment for the government of the DDR. To make matters worse, those escaping were mainly young skilled professionals (e.g. doctors, teachers).
D. Berlin did not become a free city, 1958-59 • In November 1958, Nikita Khrushchev, the leader of the USSR, suggested that Berlin become a free, demilitarised city, possibly under the control of the United nations. Almost all West Berliners were against this, so the western powers, who were determined not to give up on Berlin, rejected the proposal. • In spite of suggesting he would take firm action if his proposal was not accepted, by March 1959 Khrushchev had been forced to back down.
E. Weakness of the Warsaw Pact after 1956 • To solve the problem of Berlin, Khrushchev could have tried to seal off Berlin, as Stalin had done in 1948. However, after the Hungarian Uprising in 1956, Khrushchev was not certain how much he could rely upon his allies in the Warsaw Pact (set up in 1955).
F. Failure of the Paris (May 1960) & Vienna (June 1961) peace conferences Paris: Chairman Khrushchev meets President Eisenhower. Vienna: Khrushchev meets the new President, Kennedy. • Both of the these meetings between the leaders of the USA and the USSR were organised to try to solve the Berlin issue. They failed to do largely because of the bad relations between the leaders at the time. • At the end of the Vienna conference, Khrushchev had demanded that a solution be found to the Berlin problem within 6 months.
G. U2 spy plane crisis, May 1960 • An American spy plane was shot down over the USSR on 1st May 1960. On 4th May this was announced by Khrushchev. The USA claimed that the plane had actually been lost while studying the weather at high altitude. • When Khrushchev produced the pilot (Gary Powers) and the wreckage of the plane it was clear that the US government had lied and had been spying on the USSR. • This incident was embarrassing for President Eisenhower and further damaged relations between the superpowers.
H. Spying in Berlin • From November 1958, the USSR had claimed that the western powers were using Berlin to spy on the Communist governments of eastern Europe. Secret underground ‘phone tapping’ equipment in Berlin used by US intelligence in the 1950s.
I. President Kennedy, January 1961 • John Kennedy took over as President in January 1961. He was the youngest President the USA had ever had and was therefore relatively inexperienced in 1961.
J. Bay of Pigs fiasco, early 1961 • President Kennedy provided US support for an invasion of the Communist country of Cuba by Cuban exiles who wanted the island to be Capitalist again (training, equipment, vehicles, aircraft). The invasion was a complete disaster. Kennedy looked weak.
K. Criticism of Khrushchev in the USSR, 1960-61 • Khrushchev had taken over as leader of the USSR after Stalin died in 1953. • He criticised how Stalin had ruled the country, but his own attempts to improve the USSR soon ran into problems. • By 1960 this had weakened his position as leader of the country.
L. Military spending increased, July 1961 • Both sides increased military spending at this time. • Both of the superpowers had made sure that they were ready for war. A Soviet ‘Bear’ bomber and a US ‘Jupiter’ nuclear missile.
Long Term Causes – these causes happen for a long time before the event. Medium Term Causes – these causes happen in the years leading up to the event Short Term Causes – these causes happen in the years immediately before the event. Vital - make the event POSSIBLE; these causes MUST happen, without them the event would simply not occur. Important - make the event PROBABLE (likely to happen); these causes decide how, where or roughly when the event occurs. Contributory – make the event AT THAT POINT; these causes decide exactly what will happen and when. Types of Causes
Structure of a Question 3 Answer • Introduction – Briefly say what happened in August 1961 and outline how you will answer the question. • 3 Paragraphs • Organise around the long, medium and short term causes for the building of the Berlin Wall in 1961, showing why they are vital, important or contributory causes. OR • Organise around the vital, important and contributory causes for the building of the Berlin Wall in 1961, showing which ones are long, medium or short term causes. • Conclusion – Reach a judgement on what above all caused the wall to built by the East German government, in Berlin, in 1961.