About the Program
August 13, 2011 marks the 50th anniversary of the building of the Berlin Wall. During thei event, W.R. Smyser, former U.S. diplomat to Germany, discusses the Berlin crisis of 1961-1963. Mr. Smyser was a special assistant to General Lucius Clay, President Kennedy's representative in Berlin during the crisis. He recounts the meetings between President Kennedy and Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, the threat of nuclear conflict, and the political fallout from the construction of the Berlin Wall. W.R. Smyser is joined by Mary Beth Stein, German professor at George Washington University, R. Gerald Livingston, senior fellow at the German Historical Institute, and Bernd Schaefer, senior scholar at the Cold War International History Project from the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, DC.