Germany, between Cuba and Berlin Close

Other West German papers applauded the response which contrasted sharply with the wavering and rather wet American moves of the preceding months, fearing at the same time either that the Soviets might retaliate in Berlin or that the former German capital become a mere bargaining chip.

Frankfurter Allgemeine 23/10/62
Frankfurter Allgemeine
23 October 1962

Like the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and the Stuttgarter Zeitung, the Press insisted on such topics as the right for the US to act in self-defence, even if it meant infringing maritime law.

When things began to ease by 25 October, the West Germans were relieved.

They had never panicked; there were only a few limited cases of shops being emptied of foodstuffs and cleaning products. In Berlin, on both sides of the Wall, some tension could still be felt. Like in the USSR, the East German Press, during the first days, limited itself to printing short reports and avoided hyped headlines.

However, on 25 October, a 250,000-strong parade was organized in East Berlin. Observers noted the complete lack of concern shown by those who marched.

In West Berlin, there was public concern about a backlash that might have an impact on the status of Berlin. Thus, Der Tagesspiegel endeavoured to prove that "Cuba and Berlin" could not be "swapped", unlike missiles deployed on bases in the Caribbean and in Turkey. The editorialist explained that Berlin was not "a base of operations but the stronghold of freedom". Stressing JFK's firm stand, he came to the conclusion that "22 October 1962 had turned the tables after 13 August 1961", that ill-fated day when the Wall was erected in the face of indifferent Allies.

Der Tagesspiegel 28/10/62
Der Tagesspiegel
28 October 1962

JFK's pusillanimous attitude when the Wall was built had taught Chancellor Adenauer a bitter lesson. He was worried, and feared that Berlin might bear the brunt of a backlash and lie exposed to a Soviet operation comparable to the 1948 blockade. The Cuban crisis confirmed his opinion that the security of the Federal Republic should not depend on the US exclusively. He came to the conclusion that political and military ties with France should be strengthened. This was materialized by January 1963, when the Élysée agreements were signed.

Der Tagesspiegel 28/10/62
Der Tagesspiegel
30 October 1962

Die Welt 29/10/62
Die Welt
29 October 1962

Though German public opinion approved the ending of the crisis, it refrained from undue optimism and did not quite follow Adenauer.

For instance, Der Tagesspiegel wrote that Kennedy had won a "victory", and saw Khrushchev facing difficulties in the future. Hence the President's triumph when he visited Berlin in June 1963.






Germany, between Cuba and Berlin Close

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