Stalin 's Death After World War II

1911 Words8 Pages
After World War II, Berlin had been a constant problem area in East-West relations. In 1948-49 Joseph Stalin had tried to blockade the Western sectors into submission by closing off all the land routes into the city, which were almost a hundred miles inside Soviet-occupied territory. The West surprised him with a successful airlift that kept West Berlin supplied with sufficient essentials to survive. However, Stalin’s death prevented a wall or something similar being constructed in 1953. In 1958, his successor, the unpredictable Nikita Khrushchev, had started threatening West Berlin’s status once more. The Soviet leader compared the Allied-occupied sectors to the West’s testicles. If, he joked, he wanted to cause NATO pain, all he had to…show more content…
Along with the separate and much longer Inner German border (IGB), which demarcated the border between East and West Germany, it came to symbolize a physical marker of the "Iron Curtain" that separated Western Europe and the Eastern Bloc during the Cold War.
Most Germans experienced the building of the Wall as a devastating blow. It was not just a brutal act in itself but also final proof, if proof were needed, that the reunification many still hoped for must remain a distant, even an impossible, dream. There was genuine outrage in West Germany (and to some extent in the East, though this was rapidly suppressed by the Communist secret police, the Stasi, who carried out thousands of arrests).However, given the renewed dangers of conflict during the previous few years, the building of the Wall, although it unleashed a brief East-West showdown, was – seen from a global perspective -- not necessarily the catastrophe that it first appeared.
At the end of July 1961, the newly-elected American President John F. Kennedy, had already ordered a military build-up to cope with possible Soviet and Warsaw Pact designs on Berlin (and by implication West Germany). However, his actual response to the building of the Wall was downright muted. Washington made it clear that only if the Soviets and their East German protégés tried
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