The Cold War and West Germany 1960-1970
During the formative years of the Cold War, Germany had become both the potential balancer and ideological battleground between the East and the West. After Stalin's death in 1953 tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union seemed to be improving. However, by the late 1950s when Khruschev took over power, hostility was on the rise due to his efforts to bully the United States into "détente through intimidation." Khruschev wished for, among other things, a reunited Germany under Soviet terms and conditions. The Soviet Union's efforts to intimidate the United States led to several global crises. "Ironically, two of these crises, the construction of the Berlin Wall and the Cuban Missile Crisis, probably set the stage for a subsequent improvement of superpower relations in the late 1960s." (Patton, Page 62.) In light of the more subdued level of the Cold War, the 1960s were crucial to West Germany's position in the Cold War. Transition and discrepancy marked the second decade of the Cold War.
Due to the growing West German economy and the deterioration of the economy in East Germany, during the late 1950s and early 1960s many middle class East Germans crossed the border separating East and West Berlin and from there traveled freely to West Germany. These men and women were typically young, skilled workers- doctors, lawyers, businessmen, and the like. They were happily welcomed by the West and helped to make the economy that much better. "Before the Wall was erected in 1961 the pay levels of craftsmen and professionals were broadcast from FRG radio stations (accessible in the GDR), especially if a shortage occurred in a particular field." (Perkins, Page 494.) In addition to greater incomes, West Germany offered a better exchange rate, more profitable currency, and the freedoms of Western Europe and North America.
Throughout 1960, East Germany's Walter Ulbricht had been pleading to the Soviet Union to do something to stop this influx of the intellectual class into West Germany but Khruschev was wary of making a definitive move. It wasn't until Ulbricht asked Khruschev for more economic aid that the Soviet leader realized how bad the situation was in East Germany and how deeply it depended on the West. "Ulbricht undercut his own argument with Khruschev, however, when he asked Moscow for more economic support and especially when he asked Khruschev to provide contingency aid in case West Germany used economic sanctions to retaliate against East German moves against West Berlin." (Smyser, Page 146.)
When Kennedy became president in 1961, he was eager to come to a more solid agreement between the Soviet Union and the United States in regards to Berlin for he feared that a confrontation would result in a nuclear war. Khruschev thought Kennedy weak and tried threatening him during their meeting in Vienna but in the weeks that followed the United States showed that they would not...