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THE BERLIN CRISIS The Berlin Crisis involved a controversy so bitter that at its height world leaders feared that a misstep could trigger a nuclear war The crisis unfolded through a war of words diplomatic negotiations superpower summits and of Berlin For President Kennedy US credibility was at stake a failure in Berlin could disrupt NATO and weaken American influence in East Germany the key to the balance of power in Europe Because of the dissatisfaction with the economic and political conditions forced collectivization of agriculture repression of private trade supply gaps an increasing number of people left the GDR German Democratic RepublicThe International political situation was tense On 1958 the Soviets Khrushchev had delivered their Berlin ultimatum demanding that the western allies should withdraw their troops from West Berlin and West Berlin should become a Free City within six months On 1959 the threat of setting a separate peace treaty between the USSR the GDR followed The meeting between US President Kennedy and the Prime Minister Of the USSR Khrushchev on 1961 in Vienna ended without any noticeable results In the early morning of Sunday August 13 1961 the GDR began under the leadership of Erich Honecker to block off East Berlin and the GDR from West Berlin by means of barber wire and antitank obstacles Streets were torn up and barricades of paving stones were erected The subway and local railway service between East and West Berlin were interrupted Inhabitants Of East Berlin and the GDR were no longer allowed to enter West Berlin In the following days construction brigades began replacing the provisional barriers by a solid wall Refugees who had reached the area of the wall
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