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PROJECTS | 2003 | GERMANY AT THE EDGE OF A NUCLEAR WAR

GERMANY AT THE EDGE OF A NUCLEAR WAR

The Year of 1961

Author & Director:
Kerstin Mauersberger | Juergen Ast

Commissioning Editor:
Anette Kanzler

Duration:
45'

Production:
astfilm productions | for MDR

On January 20th 1961, John F. Kennedy made his inaugural speech as the new President of the United States. He spoke of his decidedness to defend the West from any aggression coming from the East. If necessary, with all available means - the ultimate ratio, the use of nuclear weapons. His opponent at the Kremlin, Nikita Khrushchev, only two weeks earlier he also had declared, that he would, if necessary, use all available means to defend the Soviet interests. The Cold War headed towards his climax. And by that, Germany and Berlin became more and more the focus point of the confrontation between the East and the West.

At the first summit between the new U.S. President and the long time Soviet "warhorse" in Vienna in June 1961, the future of Germany was to become the main problem. Khrushchev declared: "If you want a nuclear war, you can get it!" John F. Kennedy replied: "Than it is going to be a cold winter!"

In reality it was to become a hot summer and fall. On August 13th 1961, the GDR started building the Berlin Wall, at the end of October 1961, U.S. and Soviet Tanks were facing each other at the Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin. For days the world witnessed the dangerous confrontation. The situation seemed to run out of hands at any moment. Some of the politicians, desperately looking for a solution, they even considered the use of nuclear weapons. After the U.S. intelligence had discovered that the Soviet rocket capability was not as powerful as Khrushchev tried to make believe, they considered a first strike scenario to destroy the Soviet's nuclear war-heads that could reach the United States. According to this scenario, Germany inevitably would have become a battlefield of a nuclear war.