The Cuban Missile Crisis: A Timeline

The Cuban Missile Crisis: A Timeline

The Cuban Missile Crisis was among the scariest events of the Cold War. The 13-day showdown brought the world’s two superpowers to the brink of nuclear war.

In the Fall of 1962 the United States demanded that the Soviets halt construction of newly-discovered missile bases in communist Cuba, just 90 miles from U.S. shores. Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev had pledged in 1960 to defend Cuba and had assumed that the United States would not try and prevent the installation of medium- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles in the communist Caribbean country. But the weapons could potentially reach much of the United States.

What followed was a tense standoff played out almost exclusively at the highest levels.

U.S. President John F. Kennedy and Khrushchev and a handful of their top aides did all the negotiating, with little input from the foreign policy bureaucracies of either country. The crisis was rife with miscommunications, threats and miscalculations, but was ultimately diffused.

Here is a chronology of key moments in the crisis.









October 14, 1962: A U.S. U-2 spy plane piloted by Maj. Richard Heyser takes hundreds of photos of newly-built installations in the Cuban countryside. As Heyser will recall years later in an Associated Press interview, he worries that he will be looked upon as the man who started a war.

October 15: CIA analysts spot launchers, missiles and transport trucks that indicate the Soviets are building sites to launch missiles capable of striking targets nearly across the United States, according to a 2013 article by Peter Kornbluh, a senior analyst and Cuba expert at the National Security Archive in Washington.

October 16: President John F. Kennedy meets with a team of advisers known as Ex-Comm, to discuss how to respond to the missile threat. Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara presents JFK with three options: diplomacy with Cuban leader Fidel Castro and Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev, a naval quarantine of Cuba, and an air attack to destroy the missile sites, which might kill thousands of Soviet personnel and trigger a Soviet counterattack on a target such as Berlin.

Kennedy rejects the attack, and favors a quarantine to buy time to negotiate a missile withdrawal. JFK and his advisers are careful to call it a quarantine because a blockade is considered an act of war.

October 22: In a dramatic 18-minute television speech, JFK shocks Americans by revealing “unmistakable evidence” of the missile threat, and announces that the United States will prevent ships carrying weapons to reach Cuba, while demanding that the Soviets withdraw their missiles.

Meanwhile. U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union Foy Kohler delivers to a letter from JFK to Khrushchev. Kennedy writes: “the one thing that has most concerned me has been the possibility that your government would not correctly understand the will and determination of the United States in any given situation, since I have not assumed that you or any other sane man would, in this nuclear age, deliberately plunge the world into war which it is crystal clear no country could win and which could only result in catastrophic consequences to the whole world, including the aggressor.”

October 23: Khrushchev writes to JFK, rebuffing his demand that the Soviets remove the missiles, which the Soviet leader insists “are intended solely for defensive purposes.” Kennedy writes back, bluntly reminding Khrushchev that he started the crisis by secretly sending missiles to Cuba.

As U.S. ambassador Adlai Stevenson explains the matter to the U.N. Security Council, U.S. ships already move into position in the waters around Cuba. Soviet submarines menacingly move into the Caribbean as well, posed as if they might try to break a blockade. But Soviet freighters bearing military supplies headed for Cuba stop in their tracks.

October 24: Khrushchev sends an indignant letter to Kennedy, accusing him of threatening the Soviet Union. “You are no longer appealing to reason, but wish to intimidate us,” he writes.

October 25: The Soviet arms freighters turn back toward Europe, but the oil tanker Bucharest approaches the U.S. quarantine zone, directly headed for Cuba. Two American warships, the USS Essex and the USS Gearing, prepare to intercept it, which could have led to war. Instead, Kennedy decides to let the Bucharest through the quarantine, because it isn’t carrying any contraband.

October 26: Castro sends a letter to Khrushchev, urging him to launch a nuclear first strike against the United States, which the Soviet leader disregards. Instead, Khrushchev sends a letter to President Kennedy, in which he appeals to the U.S. president to work with him to de-escalate the conflict and ensure that they didn’t "doom the world to the catastrophe of thermonuclear war."

According to Katie Stallard-Blanchette, a fellow at the Wilson Center, a Washington, D.C.-based non-partisan policy forum, “This letter was a significant moment in the crisis, and involved political risk on both sides—for Khrushchev to make this emotional appeal to the U.S. president, risking the appearance of weakness, and for Kennedy to accept the Soviet premier's sentiment as genuine, risking the appearance of naïveté.“

October 27: U.S. U-2 pilot Maj. Rudolf Anderson is shot down and killed over Cuba. War appears imminent. Assistant Secretary of Defense Paul Nitze says, “They’ve fired the first shot,” and President John F. Kennedy remarks,“We are now in an entirely new ball game.”

However, JFK correctly concludes that Khrushchev had not, himself, given the order to shoot down Anderson's plane. The incident prompts both leaders to realize the situation is spiraling dangerously out of control.

READ MORE: How the Death of a U.S. Air Force Pilot Prevented a Nuclear War

On the same day, Khrushchev sends another letter to Kennedy, in which he demands that the United States withdraw missiles from Turkey as part of the deal. JFK responds by offering to promise not to attack Cuba after the Russians withdraw.

That evening, JFK’s brother, Attorney General Robert Kennedy, meets with Soviet ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin, and says that the United States already planned to remove its missiles from Turkey, but could not say so publicly. (Here is the Soviet ambassador’s account of the meeting.) Stallard-Blanchette sees this as the moment that both nations stepped back from the brink of war.

October 28: Khrushchev concedes, writing an open letter to Kennedy saying that the Soviet missiles will be dismantled and removed from Cuba.

The Kennedy White House portrayed the withdrawal as the result of the president’s tough stance in the face of Soviet aggression. In reality, as Kornbluh says, “the resolution of the crisis owed to the president’s commitment to negotiate and find common ground in a dangerous nuclear world.”


Timeline: US-Cuba relations

1898: US defeats Spain, which gives up all claims to Cuba and cedes it to the US.

1902: Cuba becomes independent with Tomas Estrada Palma as its president. But the Platt Amendment keeps the island under US protection and gives the US the right to intervene in Cuban affairs.

1906-09: Estrada resigns and the US occupies Cuba following a rebellion led by Jose Miguel Gomez.

1909: Jose Miguel Gomez becomes president following elections supervised by the US, but is soon tarred by corruption.

1912: US forces return to Cuba to help put down black protests against discrimination.

1933: Gerardo Machado is overthrown in a coup led by Sergeant Fulgencio Batista.

1934: The US abandons its right to intervene in Cuba's internal affairs, revises Cuba's sugar quota and changes tariffs to favour Cuba.

1953: Fidel Castro leads an unsuccessful revolt against the Batista regime.

1956: Castro lands in eastern Cuba from Mexico and takes to the Sierra Maestra mountains where, aided by Ernesto "Che" Guevara, he wages a guerrilla war.

1958: The US withdraws military aid to Batista.

1959: Castro leads a 9,000-strong guerrilla army into Havana, forcing Batista to flee. Castro becomes prime minister.

April 1959: Castro meets US Vice President Richard Nixon on an unofficial visit to Washington. Nixon afterwards wrote that the US had no choice but to try to "orient" the leftist leader in the "right direction".

1960: All US businesses in Cuba are nationalised without compensation US breaks off diplomatic relations with Havana and imposes a trade embargo in response to Castro's reforms.

1961: US backs an abortive invasion by Cuban exiles at the Bay of Pigs Castro proclaims Cuba a communist state and begins to ally it with the USSR.

1961: The CIA begins to make plans to assassinate Castro as part of Operation Mongoose. At least five plans to kill the Cuban leader were drawn up between 1961 and 1963.

1962: Cuban missile crisis ignites when, fearing a US invasion, Castro agrees to allow the USSR to deploy nuclear missiles on the island. The US released photos of Soviet nuclear missile silos in Cuba - triggering a crisis which took the two superpowers to the brink of nuclear war.

It was subsequently resolved when the USSR agreed to remove the missiles in return for the withdrawal of US nuclear missiles from Turkey.

1980: Around 125,000 Cubans, many of them released convicts, flee to the US, when Castro temporarily lifted restrictions.

1993: The US tightens its embargo on Cuba, which introduces some market reforms in order to stem the deterioration of its economy. These include the legalisation of the US dollar, the transformation of many state farms into semi-autonomous co-operatives, and the legalisation of limited individual private enterprise.

1994: Cuba signs an agreement with the US according to which the US agrees to admit 20,000 Cubans a year in return for Cuba halting the exodus of refugees.

1996: US trade embargo made permanent in response to Cuba's shooting down of two US aircraft operated by Miami-based Cuban exiles.

1998: The US eases restrictions on the sending of money to relatives by Cuban Americans.

Nov 1999: Cuban child Elian Gonzalez is picked up off the Florida coast after the boat in which his mother, stepfather and others had tried to escape to the US capsized. A huge campaign by Miami-based Cuban exiles begins with the aim of preventing Elian from rejoining his father in Cuba and of making him stay with relatives in Miami.

June 2000: Elian allowed to rejoin his father in Cuba after prolonged court battles.

June 2001: Five Cubans convicted in Miami and given long sentences for spying for the Cuban government. The case of the Cuban Five becomes rallying cry for the Havana government.

Nov 2001: US exports food to Cuba for the first time in more than 40 years after a request from the Cuban government to help it cope with the aftermath of Hurricane Michelle.

Jan 2002: Prisoners taken during US-led action in Afghanistan are flown into Guantanamo Bay for interrogation as al-Qaeda suspects.

May 2002: US Under Secretary of State John Bolton accuses Cuba of trying to develop biological weapons, adding the country to Washington's list of "axis of evil" countries.

May 2002: Former US President Jimmy Carter makes landmark goodwill visit which includes tour of scientific centres, in response to US allegations about biological weapons. Carter is first former or serving US president to visit Cuba since 1959 revolution.

Oct 2003: US President George Bush announces fresh measures designed to hasten the end of communist rule in Cuba, including tightening a travel embargo to the island, cracking down on illegal cash transfers, and a more robust information campaign aimed at Cuba. A new body, the Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba, is created.

Feb 2006: A propaganda war breaks out in Havana as President Castro unveils a monument which blocks the view of illuminated messages - some of them about human rights - displayed on the US mission building.

Aug 2006: US President George W Bush - in his first comments after President Castro undergoes surgery and hands over power to his brother Raul - urges Cubans to work for democratic change.

Dec 2006: The largest delegation from the US Congress to visit Cuba since the 1959 revolution goes to Havana. Jeff Flake, a Republican congressman heading the 10-member bipartisan delegation, said he wanted to launch a "new era in US-Cuba relations", but the group is denied a meeting with Raul Castro.

July 2007: Acting leader Raul Castro again indicates he may be open to a warming of relations with the US. He offers to engage in talks, but only after the 2008 US presidential election.

Feb 2008: Raul Castro officially takes over as president. Washington calls for free and fair elections, and says its trade embargo will remain.

4 Nov 2008: Barack Obama is elected US president.

Dec 2008: New poll suggests a majority of Cuban-Americans living in Miami want an end to the US embargo against Cuba.

April 2009: President Obama lifts restrictions on family travel and remittances to Cuba.

Dec 2009: US citizen Alan Gross detained in Cuba accused of spying for Washington.

Nov 2010: American Ballet Theater visits Cuba for first time in 50 years, the latest in number of cultural exchanges.

Oct 2011: Convicted Cuban agent Rene Gonzalez is freed as scheduled from a Florida jail. Gonzalez is part of a group known as the Cuban Five, who were given long terms in 2001 in the US after being convicted of spying. Havana has repeatedly called for the men to be freed.

Dec 2011: The US again calls for the release of Alan Gross, an American who is serving 15 years in a Cuban jail for taking internet equipment into the country. Cuba's refusal to free him has frozen relations for months.

Sep 2012: Cuba suggests it is ready to negotiate with Washington on finding a solution to the Gross case.


Spanish Colonization: A New Era of Cuban History

1492 – Christopher Columbus declares that Cuba is part of Spain, and marks the beginning of a new era in Cuba’s history.

1511 – Spain begins conquering Cuba under the leadership of Diego de Velazquez, who established Baracoa.
1526 – Purchasing of slaves from Africa begins, which starts a long-lived tradition of mixing religion and cultures throughout Cuban history.

1762 – Havana is captured by English forces under the leadership of Admiral George Pocock and Lord Albemarle.
1763 – Havana is returned to Spain under the terms of the Treaty of Paris.


The Cuban Missile War Timeline

According a german News article
On 28 October 1962, the 498th Tactical Missile Group in Okinawa received CORRECT launch codes !
but commanding office William Bassett had is doubt, because they were on DEFCON 2 and there targets were only partial in USSR and focusing on China

According to this german News article
Had the USA extra secure the Nuke depots in West Germany during Missile crisis, against west german military !
A think paper of German military support the idea in case of crisis to rade a US nuke Depot and commit a preemptive strike against Soviet target in east Germany !

Dionysius I

Is the spiegel story independent of the "the bullettin one"?

It's chilling veritable but the same thebulletin.org (already a sided source) specifies it has only one source for this.

Michel Van

Is the spiegel story independent of the "the bullettin one"?

It's chilling veritable but the same thebulletin.org (already a sided source) specifies it has only one source for this.

Fscott

RanulfC

The Nike-Hercules had nuclear warheads that were designed for "enhance radiation" so that the neutron flux would (hopefully) render the incoming aircraft and bombs unable to function. (No where near later "neutron-bomb" levels but higher radiation pulse than a "normal" warhead) Unfortunately it did NOT have the necessary software and control to accurately attempt to intercept an incoming ICBM warhead which would have to wait for deployment of the Nike-Zeus which wasn't till after the Cuban Missile Crisis.
(Successful intercept of an ICBM took place later in 1962 in OTL which would not happen ITTL)

As for the 9/11, overall Air Defense of the continental US had been in decline since the mid-1960s once it became obvious that the Soviets lacked a significant long-range manned bomber force. ABM efforts were undertaken and were ready to deploy by the early 1970s but were going to be horribly expensive to emplace and operate. After the Soviet Union collapsed there was very little political will from the White House on down through all levels of government to continue to support a large, integrated air-defense system so it was radically downsized with wide bi-partisan support. This included instigating a round of Base closures and personnel reductions to "pay" for a limited ABM system which pretty much shows where the main idea of "defense" was at the time.

By 2001 there were very few dedicated "interceptor" squadrons left in the US and most of them were on low alert and more importantly were NOT focused on aircraft already IN US airspace. In all the air defense environment and ability is very different than that of the US in the early 1960s when massed Soviet manned bomber formations were expected to be the spearhead of any attack on the US.


Cuban Missile Crisis Timeline , Who Was Involved In The Cuban Missile Crisis

At the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis America and Russia were in a cold war. The terms between them were miserable. However, during the Cuban missile crisis the terms of the cold war almost forgotten by either party. In Cuba, things got heated up, and America and Russia came very close to a nuclear war. The world was threatened by the decision of both the countries. Several world leaders spoke to both Russia and America in light of the approaching nuclear war. More.

The significance of Cuban Missile Crisis is that it forced to great nations and super powers to reconsider a nuclear war and also determine that they have to coexist peacefully even though they were enemies. The Cuban missile crisis brought the world very close to a possible third world war and a nuclear war at the same time. By then the entire world had seen what a nuclear weapon can do and how much damage can be caused due to a single weapon. More.

The world as we know it today came very close to a nuclear war in the year of 1962, in October. The United States of America and the Soviet Union had collected their missiles in Cuba. However, the timely intervention of the US President Kennedy with the Russian leader Nikita Khrushchev stopped the nuclear war. After that America and Russia was involved in a cold war for a long time. The new Russian leader Leonid Brezhnev led Russia o victory in the cold war. More.

The Cuban missile crisis is one of the biggest events in American and Russian Cold war history. It is also called the October Crisis as the entire series of events took place in the last week of October. It is also known as Caribbean Crisis in Russia. There were three countries involved in the crisis, America, Russia and Cuba. In October 1962, in the middle of the cold war between America and Russia, there was a likelihood of a nuclear attack on America. More.

The Cuban crisis actually began on October 14th, 1962. Until then, America did not have a clue about what was going on against them. America and Russia were in a cold war and they were completely unaware of the Russian plan to launch a nuclear attack on them from the Cuban soil. They did not realize that Cuba had such a strong support from the Russians. A United States spy plane called the U2 took some pictures of the Russian missile stations in Cuba. The island were the stations were being installed was less than ninety miles from the US. However, the US felt threatened by this, and they called for an urgent meeting discussing the repercussions of the event. More.

The Soviet Union decided to deploy the missiles in Cuba based on two things, one is that Soviet was feeling insecure and the second is it would lose Cuba through invasion. Both these factors put together led to the Cuban Missile Crisis. At that time President John F. Kennedy was repeatedly mentioning that there is a huge missile gap between the Soviet Union and the United States of America. He felt that the American missiles and weapons may be inferior to the Soviet Union and this posed an inherent danger to the country. More.

It is believed in history that the Cuban Missile Crisis was the closest that the world ever got to a nuclear war. At that time United States was on the highest alert possible and Soviet commanders in Russian army were prepared for a nuclear war and had installed their nuclear weapons in Cuba. The two national leaders, President John F. Kennedy and Premier Nikita Khrushchev, wanted that war was called off. They both knew it was not the right thing to do. However, even though the war was averted, it was not done on friendly terms. More..


The Cuban Missile War Timeline

It's not cool to take over someone else's work, whatever the reason, without their OK.

If someone wants to post another thread with "this is how I think this might have gone" as an aside, that's one thing. but it's wrong to hijack someone else's work without their permission. Period.

Admiral Matt

It's not cool to take over someone else's work, whatever the reason, without their OK.

If someone wants to post another thread with "this is how I think this might have gone" as an aside, that's one thing. but it's wrong to hijack someone else's work without their permission. Period.

It's a completed timeline. Why is that a problem?

If you want to do a spin-off, do a spin-off.

Michel Van

Whatisinaname

Amerigo Vespucci's Profile - https://www.alternatehistory.com/discussion/member.php?u=19 states his "Last Activity: October 14th, 2012 04:57 AM".

So from this I assume that he has been logging but not posting since 2011?

Star Chamber

Alternate History Geek

Red Arturoist

We really have no right to just decide to take over his work. In rebooting Bronze Age New World I contacted the original author and got his approval (even though he seemed a bit reluctant) and borrowed a few key ideas but revamped it completely from the beginning, didn't copy any text, etc. etc. Does Amerigo Vespucci OWN the idea that the Cuban Missile Crisis went nuclear? Of course not. But everything that has been written here about it is distinctively his. We can speculate in the discussion thread, write fan submissions, or do our own spinoff in another thread but we have no right to just give the timeline to someone else.

In other news, I am working on a new map for this timeline updated to current standards! I'll post it when I'm done.

Alternate History Geek

We really have no right to just decide to take over his work. In rebooting Bronze Age New World I contacted the original author and got his approval (even though he seemed a bit reluctant) and borrowed a few key ideas but revamped it completely from the beginning, didn't copy any text, etc. etc. Does Amerigo Vespucci OWN the idea that the Cuban Missile Crisis went nuclear? Of course not. But everything that has been written here about it is distinctively his. We can speculate in the discussion thread, write fan submissions, or do our own spinoff in another thread but we have no right to just give the timeline to someone else.

In other news, I am working on a new map for this timeline updated to current standards! I'll post it when I'm done.

Flying Sorcerer

Alternate History Geek

Trolleyfan

Nicely - and depressingly - done!

The only thing that I can quibble with is that "nuclear attack on military base at Guantanamo = retaliation by nuking Havana" seems an awfully big escalation from a Kennedy trying desperately to avoid nuclear war. Wouldn't the logical thing be to bomb where ever they thought the missiles were stationed? That would have the advantage of both being an obvious military target and (if they were lucky) destroying the whole reason for the conflict in the first place.

Atheofanous

Thanks for the thread

Nice read. Very nicely done. Wow is right.

Grouchio

Clintonforever

The OP storyline quotes at 5:59 "In his haste, Dobrynin fails to call ahead to the Embassy." wondering what impact this has on Cuban Missile crisis?

The part when nukes are hitting city after city found this clip kept playing it over and over.

Sort of pulls everything together?

Charley W

With all of the reboots of EVERYTHING from Superman to Star Trek going on nowadays, it's rather naive to expect that this one shouldn't be touched. I think that he should be asked about any changes, but if he's unavailable then it should be made absolutely clear what is AV's original work and what is revised. ALWAYS give the original author credit. I really shudder with Sherlock Holmes being updated, or the Lost World with a female Roxton. (And DON'T get me even STARTED on the rebooted Andromeda Strain of a few years ago. ) One thing that I would suggest: AV didn't carry his timeline pass the year 2000, and we really shouldn't in any revision, either (other than generalities).

If there's a 1.10 made, an error that I caught is that the popes aren't consistant: mention is made of Pius 23rd at Vatican 2, Paul 23rd, etc.

DaveJ576

Today I read through this fantastic thread for probably the 4 th time. I have always enjoyed it but this time it roused my curiosity concerning the status of our land based ICBM forces in October, 1962. The U.S. Air Force could muster 188 ICBM’s at this crucial time, and the breakdown went like this:

27 Atlas D missiles – The first operational version of the Atlas, these were housed in semi hardened, above-ground “coffin” shelters and stored horizontally. An erector mechanism raised the missiles to vertical. They were then fueled and launched. Total time from receiving the alert order to launch: 15 minutes. The first three missiles were placed on above-ground, unprotected launch pads as an expedient to get them operational, the rest were in the coffins, which took longer to construct.

27 Atlas E missiles – The improved E models were also deployed in horizontal coffin structures, but this time the coffins were mostly buried with just the retractable roofs visible. Alert to launch time remained at 15 minutes.

72 Atlas F missiles – Further technical improvements led to the F model, which was also the first to be stored in vertical, underground silos. The RP-1 fuel (which was storable) was already loaded in the missile, and upon alert only the liquid oxygen oxidizer had to be loaded. Once complete, the missile was raised to an above ground position via an elevated launch cradle and then fired. Total alert to launch time: 10 minutes.

62 Titan I missiles – Developed as a hedge against the potential failure of the Atlas, the two stage Titan I was the first designed from the start to be housed in vertical silos. The alert to launch sequence was similar to the Atlas F, underground fueling followed by elevation to above-ground for launch. There were three missiles assigned to each complex, but limitations in the tracking and ground-based guidance systems would only allow one missile to be launched and guided at a time. Alert to launch for the first missile was 15 minutes, with the time reduced to 7 ½ minutes for the subsequent two missiles.

True “launch from the hole” capability was not achieved until the follow-on Titan II and the Minuteman I became operational. Although development and testing was underway on both missiles in October 1962, neither missile was deployed and on-line at the time of the crisis.

With all this said, I came across one minor nitpick with the timeline. At 3:20 on the last day, Amerigo only mentions missiles being launched from silos. However 51 of the ready missiles would have been launched from coffins, and three from standard launch pads. The “reserve” that was mentioned would probably have been the remaining two Titan I’s at each complex that had to wait for the first missile to finish its mission.

The Atlas D and E missiles were very vulnerable to attack and the 15 minute erection/launch time would have placed them right at the end of the inbound Soviet missiles’ flight time. It would have been a very near thing indeed to get them off the ground in time.


Significance Of The Cuban Missile Crisis

The significance of Cuban Missile Crisis is that it forced to great nations and super powers to reconsider a nuclear war and also determine that they have to coexist peacefully even though they were enemies. The Cuban missile crisis brought the world very close to a possible third world war and a nuclear war at the same time. By then the entire world had seen what a nuclear weapon can do and how much damage can be caused due to a single weapon.

However, the United States had no clue that Russia was preparing for a nuclear attack on the country. A United States spy plane on Cuba revealed the missile stations on Cuba. The Cuban missile crisis started in 1962 and the Russians had reached into a friendly equation with Cuba. They had a trade relationship already.

However, it was United States selfishness in the events that led to their own downfall. United States had always intended to take over Cuba and make it a part of the United States. Havana was the playground for the rich in the United States. But, after Fidel Castro became the leader, he began working against the US and the rich Americans as he was communist. After the first US attack on Cuba, and fearing a second attack, Fidel Castro sought the help of Russia. This is where things took an about turn for the United States. This was a learning experience for the United States that even though it is a super power there are times when they have to act in the best interest of all.

The end of Cuban missile crisis led to better communication systems between the 2 countries so that their leaders could speak to one another and avert any problems caused by slow correspondence, as was the case during the crisis.

The Cuban missile crisis is one of the biggest events in American and Russian Cold war history. It is also called the October Crisis as the entire series of events took place in the last week of October. It is also known as Caribbean Crisis in Russia. There were three countries involved in the crisis, America, Russia and Cuba. In October 1962, in the middle of the cold war between America and Russia, there was a likelihood of a nuclear attack on America. More..


Activity 1. The Discovery of the Missiles

How did Fidel Castro come to power? Why did Castro oppose U.S. involvement in Cuba? Why did he form an alliance with the Soviet Union? These questions and the road to the Cuban Missile Crisis are addressed in the above episode of the documentary series on the Cold War that focuses on Cuba (1959-1962). The episode includes original television reports, photographs and maps of the missiles in Cuba, and interviews with those who were living in Cuba and working in the U.S. government at the time.

The first activity will have students, either individually or in groups, take on the role of analysts for the CIA. First have them read the following statement that Kennedy made on September 4, 1962, warning the Soviets against placing missiles in Cuba.

Next they should study the following documents, most of which the CIA presented to Kennedy in his briefings during the early days of the crisis. These include:

Note that documents 2-6 are actually images, so teachers might choose to recreate the tension of this event by using a projector to show them to the entire class.

As CIA analysts, the students' job is to draft a memorandum for the president, in which they must explain to him why the presence of these missiles presents a threat to U.S. national security. (Students might be asked to do this individually, or in small groups, at the teacher's discretion.) A worksheet with the documents and directions-including an excerpt from the last document (#7), which in its complete form is quite lengthy-is included as pages 1-2 of the PDF Text Document accompanying this lesson. Because some of these materials include technical terms related to Soviet weaponry, a brief glossary has been provided on page 3 of the PDF Text Document.


History Of The Cuban Missile Crisis

At the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis America and Russia were in a cold war. The terms between them were miserable. However, during the Cuban missile crisis the terms of the cold war almost forgotten by either party. In Cuba, things got heated up, and America and Russia came very close to a nuclear war. The world was threatened by the decision of both the countries. Several world leaders spoke to both Russia and America in light of the approaching nuclear war.

In the year 1950, Cuba was under the leadership of the dictator Fulgencio Batista. His way of dealing with his enemies was very harsh. He also had the support of Americans and he ill-treated the communists. Also, the army of Batista was supported by America. For several years Havana was serving as a resort and playground for the rich Americans. As long as Batista ruled in Cuba the poor remained poor.

The Cuban crisis actually began on October 14th, 1962. Until then, America did not have a clue about what was going on against them. America and Russia were in a cold war and they were completely unaware of the Russian plan to launch a nuclear attack on them from the Cuban soil. They did not realize that Cuba had such a strong support from the Russians. A United States spy plane called the U2 took some pictures of the Russian missile stations in Cuba. The island were the stations were being installed was less than ninety miles from the US. However, the US felt threatened by this, and they called for an urgent meeting discussing the repercussions of the event. More..


The Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard University encourages persons with disabilities to participate in its programs and activities. If you anticipate needing any type of accommodation or have questions about the physical access provided, please contact us at 617-495-4037 or [email protected] in advance of your participation or visit. Requests for Sign Language interpreters and/or CART providers should be made at least two weeks in advance if possible. Please note that the Davis Center will make every effort to secure services but that services are subject to availability.

Serhii Plokhii

Mykhailo S. Hrushevs'kyi Professor of Ukrainian History / Director of the Ukrainian Research Institute , Harvard University

Alexandra Vacroux

Executive Director, Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies / Lecturer on Government, Harvard University


Watch the video: The history of the Cuban Missile Crisis - Matthew A. Jordan