Soon after taking office, the Eisenhower administration adopted two key decisions on Berlin and the German question that were to have far-reaching consequences in the 1950s and 1960s. First, Eisenhower reaffirmed the U.S. security commitment to West Berlin, a commitment that entailed at least some risk of general war. Second, the administration prepared to use West Berlin in a broader political strategy aimed at weakening and eventually undermining Soviet power in Eastern Europe. The implications of these early decisions did not become fully evident until 1958, when the administration was confronted by a Soviet ultimatum on Berlin.

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