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The first meeting between the foreign ministers if the various countries was held in Geneva, in neutral Switzerland. Both sides put forward proposals for how Berlin should be governed, but no agreement was reached. President Eisenhower invited Krushchev to the USA for further talks.

Geneva, May 1959

Eisenhower and Krushchev met face-to-face for the first time at the presidential ranch. There was still no agreement about the way forward for Berlin but the Soviets did agree to withdraw the Berlin Ultimatum. The meeting appeared to establish better relationships between the two leaders and it was agreed that further talks would be held in Paris the following summer.

Camp David, September 1959

As the various parties prepared for the Paris talks, the Soviet Union made an announcement that destroyed any chance of those talks being successful. On 1 May, they shot down an American U-2 spy-plane as it flew over the Soviet UnionThe Americans tried to claim it was a weather plane that had blown off course, but the Soviets interrogated the piolet, Gary Powers, who admitted to being on a syping mission. Although president Eisenhower was embarrassed by what had happened, he refused to apologise, saying that spying operations like this were unavoidable. Krushchev walked out of the meeting and it ended with no decisions being made.

Paris, May 1960

In January 1961, John F Kennedy became the new US president. Krushchev believed that Kennedy was inexperienced in foreign affairs and it would be possible to get the better of him. He also knew that Kennedy's reputation had suffered when an American invasion of Cuba at the 'Bay of Pigs' in April 1961 had failed. So, at a new round of talks held in Vienna in June 1961

Vienna, June 1961

and so on...

June 1963Kennedy visits Berlin

August 1961Construction of Berlin Wall begins

June 1961Vienna summit - Berlin Ultimatum renewed

May 1960 U-2 CrisisParis Summit

September 1959Krushchev visits USA - Camp David summit

May 1959 Geneva summit

November 1958 Krushchev's Berlin Ultimatum

The Soviet Union occupied East Germany and installed a rigidly controlled communist state. The other three Allies shared the occupation of West Germany and helped rebuild the country as a capitalist democracy. The City of Berlin, located 200 miles inside East Germany, was also divided. Half of the city—West Berlin—was actually part of West Germany.Many East Germans did not want to live in a communist country and crossed into West Berlin, where they could either settle or find transportation to West Germany and beyond. By 1961, four million East Germans had moved west. This exodus illustrated East Germans' dissatisfaction with their way of life, and posed an economic threat as well, since East Germany was losing its workers.

Why many East Germans were fleeing to West Germany

  • Berlin was divided between East and West since the end of World War II, with the Western powers occupying the Western portion and the Soviet Union occupying the East.
  • After increasing tensions between the Soviets and the Western powers during the first 15 years of the Cold War, the Soviet Union decided to build a physical barrier between East and West Berlin, thereby creating a real counterpoint to the symbolic “Iron Curtain” that had divided East and West since 1945.
  • The main purpose of the Wall was to prevent East Germans from fleeing, thus stopping an economically disastrous migration of workers.
  • The Berlin Wall was officially referred to as the “Anti-Fascist Protective Wall” by East German authorities, implying that the NATO countries and West Germany in particular were considered “fascists” by East German propaganda.
  • With the closing of the East-West sector boundary in Berlin, the vast majority of East Germans could no longer travel or emigrate to West Germany, and Berlin soon went from the easiest place to make an unauthorized crossing between East and West Germany to the most difficult.
  • Many families were split, while East Berliners employed in the West were cut off from their jobs.

Events surrounding the building of the Berlin Wall

​Khrushchev decided the answer was for the whole of Berlin to become part of the surrounding territory of East Germany. If the Americans, British and French left Berlin, it would be much harder for East Germans to get into West Germany. But Khrushchev knew that Britain, France and the USA would not agree to leave. They would have to be forced.So, in November 1958, Khrushchev demanded that Western countries should officially recognize East Germany as an independent country. Because they still believed that Germany could be reunited, they refused to do. On 27 November, Khrushchev issued his Berlin Ultimatum. He demanded that: Berlin should be demilitarized, and Western troops withdrawn. Berlin should become a free city. The West had six months to make these changer or Khrushchev would hand over control of all routes into Berlin to the government of East Germany. Khrushchev’s threat to hand over control of transport to the East Berlin government was a clever move. If this happened, it would force the Western powers to talk to talk to the East German authorities and so force them to acknowledge East Germany was a legitimate country.

The Berlin Ultimatum

People residing in East Berlin faced substantial limitations on their freedom and opportunities. The East German government controlled travel, employment, education, and other aspects of daily life. Individuals were unable to pursue careers or educational opportunities in the west without the state’s permission. Consequently, many East Germans experienced limited economic growth, stagnation, and a lack of personal development.

Effects on: Berliners

The Berlin Wall would prevent the West from having further influence on the East, stop the flow of migrants out of the communist sector, and ultimately become the most iconic image of the Cold War in Europe. The United States quickly condemned the wall, which divided families and limited freedom of movement.

Effects on: International Relations

The United States quickly condemned the wall, which divided families and limited freedom of movement. Shortly after the wall was erected, a standoff between U.S. and Soviet troops on either side of the diplomatic checkpoint led to one of the tensest moments of the Cold War in Europe.

Effects on: USA

It saved the East German regime, eased economic pressure on the Soviet Union and other socialist countries to help East Germany, and kept Ulbricht's power limited to East Berlin, thereby taking some control away from him, Harrison argued.

Effects on: USSR

The reason why there was a conflict in Berlin was because one superpower that believed in capitalism and was being succesful in the west was surrounded by a less succesful, communist power. It could be said that the main reason there was a conflict was because there was a perfect 'battleground' for it.