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Berlin Crisis CIA Newly Declassified Documents and Free CIA Multimedia DVD-ROM Available

The CIA released at recent panel on the Berlin Crisis, 370 declassified documents, totaling more than 4800 pages of material and a multimedia DVD-ROM available free at BACM Research/ .


On October 27th, 2001 a symposium was held by the Central Intelligence Agency, in partnership with the National Declassification Center, hosted at the National Archives in Washington, D.C., to discuss the Berlin Crisis of 1961 and the subsequent construction of the Berlin Wall. Historians, intelligence experts, retired CIA officers, and policymakers from the Berlin Crisis era participated in the event.

You can obtained a scanned copy of the 52-page program presented to attendees containing essays, bios, photos, and selected documents and request a free multimedia DVD-ROM created by the CIA for the conference at:

The CIA released at the time of the panel 370 declassified documents, totaling more than 4800 pages of material. The release included records of multiple U.S. Government agencies. This collection marks the first time so many government entities have compiled their declassified documents on a single historic event in one place.

A multimedia presentation containing the documents, photos, and videos were presented to attendees. This DVD-ROM titled, “A City Torn Apart: Building the Berlin Wall,” was designed and developed by the CIA’s Imaging & Publishing Support division. A free DVD-ROM of this presentation can be ordered at:

“Eleven U.S. Government organizations contributed to the material being presented today – from intelligence reports to contingency plans to photographs to maps – all of these revealing the tremendous challenges U.S. analysts faced in predicting Nikita Khrushchev’s intentions and actions during the Berlin Crisis,” said Joseph Lambert, CIA’s Director of Information Management Services (IMS). “These documents also afford a glimpse of the many differing opinions held by Kennedy Administration advisors and various military leaders about which tactics and strategies offered the most effective U.S. response.”

The newly declassified documents include intelligence reports, U.S. Army and NATO contingency plans, memoranda, photographs and maps of the earliest stages of the Berlin Wall, and a contemporary 600-page State Department analysis covering the situation in Berlin from 1958-1962.

The symposium featured a keynote address by Dr. William R. Smyser, the last person to cross the Potsdamer Platz in a car as the Berlin Wall was being erected. Dr. Smyser, who now teaches at Georgetown University, discussed his firsthand experiences serving as the special assistant to General Lucius Clay, President Kennedy’s personal representative to Berlin, and as a political counselor at the American Embassy in Bonn. Smyser, a professor at Georgetown University recalled at the conference Thursday that after the Bay of Pigs fiasco, Khrushchev believed Kennedy was weak and could be pushed around. “Kennedy is a boy in small pants,” Khrushchev said.

The military, historical, and diplomatic views of the crisis were explored in a panel led by CIA historian Dr. Donald P. Steury. The panel consisted of Dr. Don Carter, historian at the U.S. Army Center of Military History; Dr. Hope Harrison, historian at the George Washington University and Woodrow Wilson Center; Lou Mehrer, a retired CIA officer; and Dr. Greg W. Pedlow, historian at the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe.

Topics covered included, “How the East German Leadership Persuaded the Reluctant Soviets to Build the Berlin Wall”, “Events and Decisions Leading Up to the Building of the Berlin Wall - The East German Perspective” and “The U.S. Military Response to the 1960-62 Berlin Crisis.”

One document made available was a Special National Intelligence Estimate, which gauged possible Soviet reactions to U.S. diplomatic and military moves, including a discussion of the U.S. using tactical nuclear weapons in a display of strength against Soviet forces. CIA historian Steury was asked if a nuclear war was close during the crisis, Mr. Steury said: “I wouldn’t say we were close, but all the options were on the table.”

More information and access the conference material is available at

About BACM Research

BACM Research is a private organization which through publishes documentary historical research collections. Materials cover Presidencies, Historical Figures, Historical Events, Celebrities, Organized Crime, Politics, Military Operations, Famous Crimes, Intelligence Gathering, Espionage, Civil Rights, Civil War, World War I, World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War, and more.

Source material from Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), National Security Agency (NSA), Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), Secret Service, National Security Council, Department of Defense, Joint Chiefs of Staff, Department of Justice, National Archive Records and Administration, and Presidential Libraries.


 Berlin Wall
 Berlin Crisis
 Cold War
 East Germany

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