John F. Kennedy

John F. Kennedy was president of the United States of America from 1961 to 1963. Once he was elected Khrushchev (the Russian leader who was a Communist) tried to test the young president and see how far he could push the new American president. While in office Kennedy faced many obstacles that he had to overcome. Quite a few of them were against the Russians who were communists.

After the second World War , Germany was split up into two new nations. One which was being controlled by the Russians ,that was called East Germany. In East Germany there was a communist government. The other nation was being controlled by England , France , and the US ,that was called West Germany. In West Germany there was a democratic government. The capitol of ³Old Germany² was the city of Berlin. Berlin was now located in East Germany. Berlin was split up into two different cities they were East and West Berlin. East Berlin was controlled by the communists. West Berlin was controlled by the democrats. On August 12, 1961 the Communists closed off the line between East and West Berlin and didn¹t even let the commuters who worked in West Berlin but lived in East Berlin go to work. The trains and railroads were also cut off. Nobody knew how long this would be going on for. A reporter tried to cross the border of East Berlin and a guard said to him ³You are not allowed to go through -- we received instructions to this effect about an hour and age.² In 1961 people all over the US were debating if the US should go to war with the Russians and in August 1961 the pentagon ordered reservists to active service. Around 76,500 men most of them who were fathers and were in either World War Two or in the Korean War were being called to go back by the president.

But after weeks of uncertainty and hopes and opinions that the whole crisis will ³somehow blow over² the reality of the crisis in Berlin struck America.

A lot of times the crisis almost resulted in a war. One example is that two East German tankers squirted water from a powerful hose onto two young American GI¹s. The GI¹s were taught not to fire unless fired upon. So they reached for their grenades and were about to throw it when the tankers stopped spraying them. Events like this were not very rare.

The troops on both sides were not easily provoked. The leaders on each side would try to do everything in their power to avoid a war. After a while there were rumors that Khrushchev wanted to have ³peace talks² if he really meant it the US was ready to go ahead with ³peace talks² only if the ³peace talks² would guarantee the freedom of the people in West Berlin. Most people believed that Khrushchev did not realize that by threatening Kennedy he would get the US to leave West Berlin. But a couple of people thought that Khrushchev had recognized he had not done anything by threatening Kennedy and they thought that the Russian communists really wanted to have ³peace talks² these people said that ³He now accepts that it is impossible to force the Democrats out of West Berlin by threats and that he will take care that his East German satellites don¹t drive the Soviet Union into war.² {Newsweek - Berlin - p 17 } For war there are two key factors they are ³timing² and ³nerve². ³In a free society President Kennedy was under far stronger public pressure than Khrushchev to pull back from the brink of war.² { Newsweek - Berlin - p 17 }


BIBLIOGRAPHY1 Hafner, Katie The House At The Bridge
New York : Scribner 1995

2 ³Berlin² Newsweek 13 - 17 (September 4, 1961)

3 ³Warsaw Pact States Says Allies¹ Routes Remain Open² New York Times (August 13, 1961)