The Institute of Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies is an organized research unit at the University of California, Berkeley that serves as the focal point for students and faculty who conduct research and teaching on the geographic region of the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. ISEEES's mission is to support research, graduate training, and a broad array of scholarly and public programs--such as conferences, lectures, faculty and graduate student seminars, publications, and weekly bag lunch talks. ISEEES also provides funding for visiting teaching appointments of Slavic, East European, and Eurasian specialists, both US and foreign, and it hosts numerous visiting scholars and public figures from around the world. ISEEES includes the National Resource Center for Russian and East European studies, funded by a Title VI grant from the US Department of Education.
This research brings together the formal and informal historical voices of the Berlin Wall Crisis of 1961 and scrutinizes the questions asked by significant politicians, scholars, and students almost thirty years later. The formal history comes from Berlin Wall Critical Oral History meetings, held 1988 to 1990 at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, and includes primary sources about the crisis either written by the participants themselves or about their participation in the decision making during the Berlin Crisis. The informal history draws from memoirs, biographies, autobiographies, and written memos and letters found in archives. Anecdotal material drawn from the back-channeling correspondence between Soviet leader Nikita Krushchev and US president John F. Kennedy and personality profiles mandated by the US State Department and the Central Intelligence Agency are also included. The author investigates the link between memory and history. This working paper brings the reader into the mindset of the Berlin Crisis participants.
A postscript to the oral history transcripts included in Part I of this paper, Part II examines the “politically powerful discourses” from within academia that were read and witnessed by the participants of the Berlin Nuclear Crisis Project. Martin Hillenbrand, McGeorge Bundy, and the biographer of Paul Nitze, David Callahan, were guests of the project in l989. Since transcripts of those meetings were not available, the author choose to quote passages from notes taken during the interviews at the Kennedy School and from their biographies, memoirs, and other written works. What is similar in the three men’s lives is how war, international crisis, politics, and powerful men shaped their outlook on everything they experienced. Hillenbrand, Bundy, and Nitze were part of the decision-making process that began and ended the Cold War. They all shared an image of Russia as the enemy.