CREATORBurr, William
TITLEFirst Strike Options and the Berlin Crisis, September 1961
DATE PUBLISHED25 September 2001
DATE ACCESSED24 February 2017

This web page contains six official U.S. government documents written in October and September of 1961 during the Berlin Crisis dealing with proposals for a pre-emptive nuclear attack on the Soviet Union should war appear unavoidable. The key proposal, which is elaborated on in the other documents, urges limited nuclear strikes on Soviet Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBM) instead of a massive nuclear attack. The documents analyze the problems of the war plan in place at the time, which called for large-scale nuclear bombings not just of the Soviet Union, but also of Eastern Europe, China, and North Korea in the event of a Soviet attack. Included among the documents are memoranda between top military leaders, a memorandum of a conversation with President John F. Kennedy, and the text of a speech, approved by Kennedy, given by Deputy Secretary of Defense Roswell Gilpatric about the retaliatory capacity of the United States and the destruction of those who might attack it. The documents are accompanied by informative commentary. The collection of documents is Briefing Book No. 56 of the National Security Archive, "an independent, non-governmental research institute and library located at George Washington University in Washington, D.C." (home page).

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