The Cold War Gets A Wall

February 22, 1962. The city of Berlin is cut in half by a concrete and barbed wire wall. On the west side, U.S. Attorney General Robert Kennedy is giving a rousing speech when suddenly, what look like balloons explode above the crowd, revealing Soviet-red flags. “The Communists will let the balloons through,” Kennedy says. “But they won’t let their people through!” Meanwhile in the east, the streets are quiet. The people on both sides of the wall live in its shadow. They are family members and former neighbors, many of them wondering, “Is this really here to stay?” How did Berlin become the bitter borderland in the global propaganda war between the United States and the Soviet Union? And why did it take so long for the Berlin Wall to come down?

Special thanks to our guest, Hope Harrison, professor of history and international affairs at George Washington University and the author of Driving the Soviets up the Wall: Soviet-East German Relations, 1953-1961.

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