from thaw to cuban missile crisis: links to the changes in cold war relations 1953 - 1962  

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   Nikita Khrushchev, leader of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, at a meeting of the United Nations General Assembly, New York, 1960. The image is part of a collection donated to the Library of Congress. Per the deed of gift, U.S. News & World Report dedicated to the public all rights it held for the photographs in this collection upon its donation to the Library. Thus, there are no known restrictions on the usage of this photograph. casahistoria - web site for students of modern history!

  on this page
Browse down the page or just click one of these sections... 
1. Stalin's Death & Khrushchev's Thaw
2. Soviet 'Peaceful Co-existence' in Action
Greater confidence in Soviet bloc's strength | Hungarian Uprising | Technological success | Greater contact with the west
3. 1960 U-2 Crisis
U-2 Background | Events | Results
4. 1961 Berlin Wall Crisis
General Histories of the Crisis | Crisis in Detail | Documents | Consequences
5. 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis
General Outlines of the Crisis | Events in Detail | Documents
6. Consequences of Cuban Crisis
For Cuba | 1963 Hot Line | 1963 Test Ban Treaty | Fall of Khrushchev
7. General Sites on the Cold War
Other core casahistoria Cold War pages:
Origins of the Cold War
Divided Germany, 1945-49  
Korean War

Space Race
Vietnam War
Prague'68, Ostpolitik, Detente & China
The End of the Cold War

Related casahistoria sites
Decolonisation · Arab-Israeli Conflict 1947-79 ·
Iraq & West



casahistoria is recommended by many sites including:




Origins of the Cold War go to the casahistoria sit for extensive links to the start of the Cold war  


1. Stalin's Death & Khrushchev's Thaw

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Death of Stalin Go to this casahistoria site for links on the death of the Soviet leader.
  • Nikita Khrushchev Basic biography from PBS
  • Nikita Khrushchev  Another general bio, this times from the Russian broadcaster, Russia Times. Also has variety of images.
  • Rise of Khrushchev Useful overview lecture article by Professor Gerhard Rempel, Western New England College
The Secret Speech


  • The effect of Khrushchev Clear basic interactive chart to see key points at a glance of how Khrushchev's changes impact on Soviet Foreign Policy. Can be done as an exercise or click on the hide/show button to see the full diagram at once. From
  • The development of the Cold War, 1953-1962 BBC podcast looks at the effect of Khrushchev on the Cold War. (Scroll down the page to find it in the section International Relations, 1945-1991.




2. Soviet 'Peaceful Co-existence' in Action

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Greater confidence in Soviet bloc's strength:

    1955 Warsaw Pact Founded

     1956 Suppression of Hungarian Uprising

    Technological success

The Space Race Go to this casahistoria site for details of the early Soviet successes and the Space Race with the USA theat followed


Greater contact with the west:

      July 1959, Nixon visits USSR:
     Sept 1959, Khrushchev visits USA




3. 1960, U-2 Crisis
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U-2 Background
  • Military fact files - the U-2 spy plane Basic data about the spy plane.
  • U-2 Pages Enthusiast site dedicated to the U-2 and its history.
  • The Russian U-2 Missions Excellent listing of the (many!) Russian U-2 overflight missions prior to and including the Powers flight. Interesting images. From the intriguing Spyflight website
  • U-2 Spy Images examples of the types of photos taken at the time form a U2 (not taken by Powers)
  • The U-2 Program: A Russian Officer Remembers Lengthy but useful article extract written by a retired Soviet Colonel who spent most of his 46-year military career with the former USSR's Air Defense Forces. Looks at Soviet attitudes to U2 flights and Powers flight in particular. CIA, 1999
  • The CIA & the U2 programme For serious researchers only! This is a 270 page outline of the history of the U2 programme provided by the CIA. Use the detailed Contents pages to find useful info on parts of the programme. Has diagrams, images - and areas still blacked out by censors!!



4. 1961, Berlin Wall Crisis

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The Berlin Airlift, 1949 Go to the casahistoria site on Divided Germany for links to the Airlift and the period 1945-49.

General Histories of the Crisis
  • The Berlin Wall Straightforward overview of background and crisis in this BBC schools site. Some documents, images.
  • The Rise and Fall of the Wall Story of building the wall, its background (and future) told in a simple but clear and visually interesting way. Good introduction.
  • Berlin Wall basic overview and video from the History Channel
  • The Rise and Fall of the Berlin Wall Clearly written account of the context of the Wall in post war Cold War and its later history by Jennifer Rosenberg,
  • Berlin Crisis History of the Crisis from
  • Berlin Wall Clear basic interactive chart to see key points at a glance. Can be done as an exercise or click on the hide/show button to see the full diagram at once. From
  • Berlin Wall  Powerpoint Presentation on the Berlin Wall, explaining clearly  the reasons for construction, together with the related events and subsequent results. From Schoolhistory site (Mr Crowe)  
  • Chronicle of the Berlin Wall Very detailed chronological outline of events from the German Education Ministry (But also pretty dull in presentation). The German language section has photos, documents (in German), films.
  • Khrushchev And The Berlin Crisis (1958-1962) A detailed academic report by Vladislav M. Zubok one of the leading Russian historians of the Cold War in 1993 for the Wilson International Center for Scholars. Very valuable for serious research
The crisis in detail:


  • The Berlin Wall crisis: the view from below  Analysis of refugees fleeing from the east to the west in a very useful article by Patrick Major, University of Warwick. Well supported by data graphs and full bibliography. From the excellent History in Focus series.
  • The Berlin Crisis CIA article on  superpower relations in the period just before the Wall went up. Good on Soviet fears. With useful documents (although some are still censored!!). 
  • Khrushchev's Secret Speech on the Berlin Crisis, August 1961 Shows Khrushchev's fear that the FRG’s economic and political prowess might eventually overwhelm the weak, unstable GDR. There would then be the danger of a peaceful unification and the Soviets, with all their tanks and missiles, would face a fait accompli and the undermining of their whole European security system. Thus stabilizing East Germany became a top priority for the Kremlin.
     The Wall goes up:      US Reaction: Documents Consequences




5. 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis

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Castro's Cuba For extensive links to the Cuban - US relations background to the Crisis, go to this casahistoria site  

General Outlines:
  • Cuban Missile Crisis Good introduction to the crisis from Spartacus Educational. Useful Mix of description, documents and videos.
  • Thirteen Days in October: The Cuban Missile Crisis Excellent for a one stop resource on the crisis. looks at the crisis chronologically, good image-based narrative with much useful detail on personalities
  • 1962: the Cuban Missile Crisis Very good & comprehensive introduction to the crisis. At the core of the Flash site is a day by day account of the thirteen days of the crisis that combines text with photographs, maps, diagrams, cartoons and audio files. Additional material includes biographies of the key individuals, the history of relations between Cuba and the US, information on Operations Mongoose and Anadyr, and international opinions of events. From Caen Memorial Museum
  • No Time to Talk Lushly presented but no less valuable for that. This site is detailed but very easy to use, being based on a chronological index that also clearly shows thekey periods of conflicts. Supported by written and visual resources.
  • Cuban Missiles Crisis The world was under constant threat of attack but who caused the Cuban Missile Crisis? Find out in this activity. Quirky, comic BBC introduction to the crisis, but a good place to start. From BBC schools site with comedian Mark Steele.
  • Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962 Clear basic interactive chart to see key points at a glance. can be done as an exercise or click on the hide/show button to see the full diagram at once. From
  • Fourteen Days in October A comprehensive Cuban Missile Crisis resource that includes a chronology, extensive information, photographs, and more. Can be very slow to load.....
  • Cuban History: The Missile Crisis Detailed narrative and analysis from a Marxist perspective. Especially useful on the end & post crisis period
  • Cuban Missile Crisis: An In-Depth Chronology Excerpts From Cuba And The United States: A Chronological History by Jane Franklin.
Events in Detail Documents



6. Consequences of the Cuban Crisis

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Stronger Cuba-USSR relations
  • Castro Visits the U.S.S.R., 1972 (0:55) Castro travels to the U.S.S.R. and meets with Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev. Cuban Institute of Cinematographic Art and Culture Newsreel

Uncertain US Relations with Cuba

Superpower Dialogue reopens

    1963 Hotline Agrement


    1963 Partial Test Ban Treaty

  • Limited Test Ban Treaty (LTBT) A clear narrative but also explanation of the key issues involved and text of the actual treaty. From the Arms Control association.
  • Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Description from JFK Presidential Library. Useful subheadings and clear linking to missile crisis.
  • The Making of the Limited Test Ban Treaty, 1958-1963 Thorough account of the Background of the 1963 Treaty. Well supported by documents edited by William Burr and Hector L. Montford 2003 item from US National Security Agency.
  • The 1963 Nuclear Test Ban Treaty: A Missed Opportunity for Détente? Reveals that 3 months before John F. Kennedy's conciliatory speech at American University that is usually regarded as the turning point—the Soviet leader became committed to the treaty in principle. Argues also that once the treaty was signed, however, the two sides failed to build on their common accomplishment and got bogged down by political issues that divided them. The opportunity for a deeper détente and a comprehensive test ban were lost. 2008 article by Vojtech Mastny coordinator, Parallel History Project on Cooperative Security, Zurich.
      Wider Background to the Test Ban Treaty


Fall of Khrushchev, Oct 1964
  • Fall of Khrushchev Useful overview lecture article by Professor Gerhard Rempel, Western New England College



7. General Sites on the Cold War

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  • Cold War Basic outlines of key events from Spartacus Educational. Good place to make a start and includes
  • Cold War Figures - biographies of major figures from this time period.
  • Cold War Excellent school resource for students beginning to look at the Cold War
  • NATO Declassified Interesting site by NATO itself. Includes timelines, straightforward accounts of key stages in the NATO & the Cold War, documents, videos
  • The Cold War International History Project (CWIHP) Useful site presenting new information and perspectives on the history of the Cold War, in particular new findings from previously inaccessible sources from the former Communist world.
  • Vint Hill Cold War Museum Useful online museum that is easy to use with links to virtual exhibits, overview articles, photo galleries, documents, newsletters and many other collections of cold war related material set out clearly by decade.
  • BBC - History: Cold War a series of articles on key aspects of the Cold War from the BBC educational site.


  • The Cold War Files Very good site produced by Wilson Center for Peace for interpreting history of the Cold War through Documents. Includes clear overview items on events and bios on key figures.
  • European Navigator Useful topic documents (speeches/actual agreements/ newspaper articles & images on the post 1945 period from a west European perspective. Use the " historical  events" folder on the left to find your area of study. Well produced by the European Community.
  • Avalon Project at Yale Excellent range of documents from the 20th Century Documents : 1900 - 1999 list
  • The CAESAR, POLO, and ESAU Papers This thorough collection of declassified analytic monographs and reference aids, designated within the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Directorate of Intelligence (DI) as the CAESAR, ESAU, and POLO series, highlights the CIA's efforts from the 1950s through the mid-1970s to pursue in-depth research on Soviet and Chinese internal politics and Sino-Soviet relations. The documents reflect the views of seasoned analysts who had followed closely their special areas of research and whose views were shaped in often heated debate.
  • Presidential Nuclear Policies & Events Useful selected documents on US Presidential policy towards nuclear weapons from Nuclear power Peace Foundation:
  • Harry Truman | Dwight Eisenhower | John Kennedy | Lyndon Johnson | Richard Nixon Gerald Ford | Jimmy Carter | Ronald Reagan | George H. W. Bush



the casahistoria Cold War sites:  
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Origins of the Cold War
Divided Germany, 1945-49
Korean War
Thaw to Cuban Missile Crisis

Space Race
Vietnam War
SALT, Detente and Collapse





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