Post World War II Soviet and American Relations

  • North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Founded

    The US joined with 10 Western European nations and Canada to form NATO. Under the NATO agreement, an attack on any member nation would be treated as an attack on all. To strengthen American commitment to Western Europe, Congress appropriated $1.3 billion in military aid for NATO countries. Today there are 28 members in all.
  • Nikita Khurschev Becomes the Leader of the Soviet Union

    After the death of Joseph Stalin in 1953, Khrushchev emerged as the party leader. At first, his policies led to a "thaw" in relations with the United States and the West, as Khrushchev started a program of domestic de-Stalinization, releasing political prisoners and denouncing some of the excesses of the Stalin period. Soon however, relations with the West worsened under Khrushchev.
  • Warsaw Pact Founded

    This was the Soviet’s version of NATO. The Soviet Union and 7 European satellites came together in this mutual defense organization where the Soviet Union was in command of the armed forces of its members.
  • Eisenhower and Khrushchev Met at Geneva, Switzerland

    This was the first meeting between an American President and a Soviet leader since World War II. Eisenhower’s proposal for “Open Skies” – a plan to allow each side to fly over the other’s territory. There was a great feeling of optimism about American and Soviet relations.
  • Hungarian Revolution

    Reformers in Hungary wanted to quit the Warsaw Pact. Open warfare broke out when the Soviet army rolled across the border to preserve Hungary’s membership. Hungarian freedom fighters in Budapest used rocks and firebombs against Soviet tanks for days, while pleading in vain for Western aid. NATO would not risk war with the USSS. Tens of thousands of Hungarians died and 200,000 fled.
  • Soviets Shot Down an American U2 Spy Plane

    After the Eisenhower administration denied the entire affair, Khrushchev produced the captured pilot Francis Gary Powers, along with pieces of the plane.
  • Bay of Pigs Invasion

    In less than two days it was over. Castro's army quickly surrounded the invasion force and sank the ship transporting the reserve ammunition. Of the more than 1,450 men, 114 died and the rest were captured and imprisoned. The expedition failed to trigger an internal uprising. Eventually, Kennedy authorized a payment of $53 million in pharmaceuticals and food to the Cuban government in exchange for the release of the surviving prisoners.
  • Construction of the Berlin Wall Begins

    As the East Germany economy fell behind that of West Germany, an exodus of East Germans to the more prosperous western zone of Berlin and through it to the Federal Republic of Germany threatened to undermine the promise of a communist society. Khrushchev ordered the construction of the Berlin Wall, dividing the city between East and West to help slow down the exodus.
  • Cuban-Soviet Alliance

    Castro declared an outright alliance with the Soviet Union. To ensure that the United States thought twice before attacking Cuba again, Castro allowed the Soviets to build bomber and missile bases on the island.
  • Negotiations Between the US and USSR Continued

    Khrushchev offered to withdraw the missiles in return for a US pledge not to invade Cuba. The next day the Soviets raised a new complaint about US missiles on the territory of NATO allies.
  • Cuban Missile Crisis Ended

    The US pledged not to invade Cuba and secretly promised to remove obsolete missiles from Turkey, Khrushchev accepted these terms.