Berlin Wall - A Historical essay

Download this essay in word format (.doc)

Note: Sample below may appear distorted but all corresponding word document files contain proper formatting

Excerpt from essay:

In such situations, no rescue could be attempted without costing more lives, but the incident captured by the Western media increased international resolve against the Soviets (Buckley, 2004).

Resolution of Issues:

Throughout the nearly half-century-long Cold War between East and West, the military expenditures dominated the respective fiscal budgets of the U.S. And Soviet Union. As military technology evolved, military tactics demanded continual development of more and more sophisticated weapons and warning systems on both sides. However, what was constituted a drain on the U.S. economy virtually bankrupted the Soviet Union. Poverty, at least by comparison to living standards in the Western

Hemisphere, were dismal throughout the Soviet Communist sphere of influence (Buckley, 2004).

Furthermore, the strategic use of proxies to conduct war against enemies of the Soviet Union also helped bring about the eventual collapse of Communist Russia as a world power. Originally, the Soviets pioneered the use of proxies in the Cold war against the West, first in Korea and later in Vietnam. Ironically, it may have been the U.S. support of the Mujahedin in Afghanistan under the Reagan administration that was the beginning of the end for Soviet domination of Eastern Europe.

Undoubtedly, it was covert U.S. support of the Mujahedin that prolonged the very costly decade-war that began with the invasion of Afghanistan by Russia during the Carter administration and lasted almost to the end of the following decade. By the end of the 1980's the Soviets were becoming incapable of even paying their military personnel.

At the same time, government favoritism, corruption, and the marked difference between the lives of the high-level Communist Party members and those of Soviet citizens only further highlighted the fundamental inadequacies of the Soviet Union to provide the supposedly "better" lives possible under Communist principles. In that respect, the existence of a divided Germany, but more particularly, of a divided Berlin also continually highlighted the comparative freedoms available in the West and made it difficult for Soviet authorities to deny what they had always hoped to persuade Soviet citizens was merely Western "propaganda" about the benefits of Western-style democracy. The combination of economic inability to provide for the basic needs of most Soviet citizens, the impending deterioration of the once-mighty Soviet military forces, and persistent pressure from the world community lead, to a large degree, by President Ronald Reagan all combined, eventually culminating in the removal of Soviet-inspired restrictions on civilian travel between East and West Germany.

Speaking directly to the Soviet general Secretary almost twenty-four years to the day since John F. Kennedy's historic speech to East Berliners, on June 12, 1987, U.S. President Ronald Reagan seized the opportunity to make history in response to the political changes announced by Mikhail Gorbachev and the introduction of glasnost and perestroika. Speaking from the same spot as his predecessor in front of the Brandenburg Gate, President Reagan said:

And now the Soviets themselves may, in a limited way, be coming to understand the importance of freedom. We hear much from Moscow about a new policy of reform and openness. Some political prisoners have been released. Certain foreign news broadcasts are no longer being jammed. Some economic enterprises have been permitted to operate with greater freedom from state control.

Are these the beginnings of profound changes in the Soviet state? Or are they token gestures, intended to raise false hopes in the West, or to strengthen the Soviet system without changing it? We welcome change and openness; for we believe that freedom and security go together, that the advance of human liberty can only strengthen the cause of world peace. There is one sign the Soviets can make that would be unmistakable, that would advance dramatically the cause of freedom and peace. General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization: Come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" (RRF, 2008)

Shortly thereafter, Berliners were permitted to cross back and forth between East and West Berlin and the Berlin Wall was dismantled, marking the end of the Cold War as much as any other event. Retrospective Analysis and Conclusion:

Tensions that started with the very first attempts to share control over Germany posed some of the most delicate and potentially deadly consequences ever to face the international community. The division of Berlin nearly changed the Cold War into the eruption of a "hot" war several times, beginning with the thirteen-month-long1948 Soviet blockade of the city. Many retrospective analysts believe that but for the non-military tactical solution of the Berlin Airlifts, military conflict might very well have ensued, given the commitment of the Western allies not to capitulate to such overt and direct Soviet aggression or expansionism (Buckley, 2004).

Strategically, the Marshall Plan did, in fact, achieve its objective to a large extent, also playing a fundamental role in promoting and facilitating mutual cooperation among the European nations and substantially accelerating their economic recovery from wartime deprivations and destruction. In so doing, however, the U.S. simultaneously fanned the flames of antagonism from the Soviet perspective, mainly, because the social circumstances to which the Marshall Plan had publicly committed U.S. efforts and economic aid happened to be diametrically opposed to the conditions that Moscow hoped to maintain throughout as much of Europe as possible.

In fact, it was precisely poverty, hopelessness, dependency, and political chaos that presented the ideal social climate and conditions that favored Soviet efforts to depose existing political institutions and leaders and install proxy Soviet-style authorities under direct Soviet control (Sorensen, 1965). For that reason, the Soviets and their East German proxies were never able to stem the flow of German citizens out of East Germany and into West Berlin, where they sought entrance into the free world outside of the Soviet sphere of influence and the dismal social conditions upon whose maintenance any success of Communism depended. The wall itself was actually a last resort to avoid the continual embarrassment by the unending flow of East German citizens out of the country and out of the Communist system that was supposedly superior to Western-style democracy (Vance, 1974).

Both publicly, and very genuinely in principle, Kennedy strongly opposed the Berlin Wall, but privately, he recognized it as a device that actually stabilized the tensions between Eastern and Western forces over Berlin. For one thing, in 1961, the Joint Chiefs of Staff were intensely concerned over the prospect of an actual Soviet invasion and seizure of control over all of West Germany, let alone just West Berlin. By that time, U.S. military strategists had already begun relying on the concept of mutually assured destruction (MAD) with respect to the deterrence of direct Soviet aggression against American interests both on the Continental United States and in region under political contention in Germany (Kalb & Kalb, 1974; Sorensen, 1965).

In that respect, Kennedy was relieved that the Soviets had made such an effort to partition Berlin, primarily because it established fairly conclusively that the Soviet Union had no immediate intentions of actually overrunning Western military forces in Western Europe. At the time, the possibility of a Soviet capture of (all of) Berlin and a military invasion of Western Europe was a distinct possibility in the minds of U.S. military strategists. The fundamental concern was that NATO's exclusive reliance on its nuclear arsenal for deterrent constituted a very dangerous situation that could have required President Kennedy to choose between capitulating to Soviet aggression and initiating a third world war that would be fought with nuclear rather than conventional weapons (Buckley, 2004; Vance, 1974; Sorenson, 1965).

While the U.S. had maintained a significant lead on Soviet nuclear weapons capability, NATO forces were very significantly at a disadvantage in any conventional warfare between East and West in Europe. Consequently, had President Kennedy been faced with actual overt military hostility, the only military option would have been the use of tactical (i.e. battlefield) nuclear weapons, which, according to most military analysts, (both at the time, and now), would have quickly escalated into all-out strategic bombing, given the state of military strategy on the part of the rival superpowers during that era. From that perspective, while the Berlin Wall certainly represented the failure of Soviet-style Communism and the deprivation of human rights and self-determination, it may well have served an important function in decreasing the likelihood of all-out war between East and West during the period where it was, generally, more of a distinct possibility than any other time before or since.


Buckley, W.F. (2004). The Fall of the Berlin Wall. Hoboken, NJ, Wiley & Sons.

Feis, H. (1967). Churchill Roosevelt Stalin: The War They Waged and the Peace They Sought. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Kalb, M., Kalb, B. (1974). Kissinger. Boston: Little Brown & Co.

Paul, J., Spirit, M. (2002).…[continue]

Some Sources Used in Document:


Cite This Essay:

"Berlin Wall - A Historical" (2008, November 19) Retrieved December 7, 2016, from

"Berlin Wall - A Historical" 19 November 2008. Web.7 December. 2016. <>

"Berlin Wall - A Historical", 19 November 2008, Accessed.7 December. 2016,

Other Documents Pertaining To This Topic

  • Berlin Wall 1961 the Construction of the

    Berlin Wall 1961 The construction of the wall and the global impacts The city of Berlin lies on the eastern side of Germany approximately thirty five miles west of the post 1945 border of Poland. When Germany created its German stated, Berlin was declared as the capital city of New Germany. Berlin remained the capital up until the end of World War Two during which the super powers Russia, France, Britain and

  • Berlin s Two Concepts of Liberty

    " With this statement Berlin aims to make the point that those who have freedom have achieved it by exploiting others, and, at the same time, by placing those individuals within certain categories of social and economic degrees of freedom, to which they themselves are not subject. Despite his high rhetoric which goes on for over 30 pages, Berlin does conclude that he is of the opinion that no matter whether liberty

  • Wall Street Journal Sparshott J November 27

    Wall Street Journal (Sparshott, J (November 27, 2012) talks about Government inclination to convert the dollar bill into dollar coins. Whilst the public seems to mostly prefer the dollar bill according to the way it is and whilst Crane & Co., the company that prints these bills, is reluctant to eliminate paper money, The Government (as too the Federal Reserve System) views coins as being more of a rational

  • Wall Street

    Wall Street Compared to what it looks like and implies today, Wall Street had relatively humble beginnings. Its towering skyscrapers and art Deco architecture, its digital tickers and wireless waves resemble little the original New Amsterdam road. Named after an actual mud -- and timber wall built by original Dutch inhabitants of Manhattan Island, Wall Street has morphed beyond its geographic location, and has come to symbolize American corporate culture in

  • A Rod and Baseball on September 11 1985

    A-Rod and Baseball On September 11, 1985 Pete Rose struck base hit number 4, 192, and in doing so made baseball history, surpassing Ty Cobb as the all-time hits leader. Little did fans or those in baseball realize that Rose's accomplishment occurred while he was betting on baseball in most cases betting on his own team. Commissioner of baseball A. Bartlett Giamatti presented Rose with substantive evidence collected by John M.

  • A Brief Overview of Johnson s

    The tactic backfired on him as Northern Republicans viewed with hostility his interest in reconciling fast and returning the south to viability. Bitter northerners felt this denoted a suspect allegiance and brutally attacked his policies, especially his effort to create a cabinet more sympathetic to his interest in reconciliation. By outcome, his opponents amongst northern republicans struck preemptively. "Sensing vulnerability, Congress moved against Johnson by passing the Tenure of Office Act, which limited Johnson's ability to

  • Historical Roots of Cognitive Psychology

    Cognitive psychology is the study of the mental processes that contribute to behavior, including the internal behaviors of thinking and feeling (Kellogg, 1995, p. 4-5). Much of what the mind does can be compared to a computer processing sensory information and responding by moving the muscles of the body; however, the mind also performs other important functions such as assigning meaning to events and objects and reacting emotionally to external

Read Full Essay
Copyright 2016 . All Rights Reserved