Letter From Chairman Khrushchev to President Kennedy - History

Letter From Chairman Khrushchev to President Kennedy - History

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Moscow, January 7, 1963.

DEAR MR. PRESIDENT, I received your reply to my message of December 19, 1962. I am satisfied that you have appraised correctly the Soviet Government's proposals set forth in that message as directed to securing in the very near future a ban on all tests of nuclear weapons.

We understand your answer as meaning that you do not object that national means of detection together with automatic seismic stations should be the basis for control over an agreement banning underground nuclear tests. We note your agreement that installation of automatic seismic stations will prove useful from the point of view of increasing the effectiveness of control over cessation of underground nuclear explosions. During the Geneva talks it was justly observed, also by your representatives, that installation of such seismic stations would serve as good means of verifying the correctness of functioning of national seismic stations. It is precisely by these considerations that the Soviet Government was guided in proposing that the idea of installing automatic seismic stations put forward at the Pugwash meeting of scientists be utilized.
In my message of December 19, 1962, I indicated those three areas where in the opinion of our scientists automatic seismic stations should be set up on the territory of the Soviet Union. Those areas were selected after a thorough study with comprehensive consideration being given to geological and seismic conditions in those places.
In the areas of Kokchetav and Bodaibo automatic seismic stations would be located, according to our suggestion, at the exposures of crystalline rocks while in the Yakutsk area--in the zone of eternal congelation [permafrost]. As is known on crystalline rocks and on grounds frozen deep down always only minor seismic hindrances are noticed which facilitate reliable detection of underground nuclear explosions. In combination with seismic stations abroad, on territories adjacent to the seismic zones in the Soviet Union automatic stations located in the above mentioned points will be adequate means capable of removing possible doubts of the other side with regard to the correctness of functioning of the national seismic station network.
You did not make any comments on the location of an automatic seismic station for the Altai zone in the region of the city of Bodaibo, and thus we could consider this question as agreed upon.
However, you have doubts as to the location of automatic seismic stations for the other seismic zones in the Soviet Union--Far Eastern and Central Asian ones. As far as those zones are concerned, in your opinion, it would be expedient to place such stations in the Kamchatka area and in the area of Tashkent. In the opinion of Soviet scientists placing automatic seismic stations in the areas of Tashkent and Kamchatka would be a worse variant as compared to the one that we propose because in those areas functioning of automatic stations will be seriously handicapped by seismic hindrances. But if you believe it more expedient to relocate those stations we will not object to that. In my message to you I have already pointed out that the Soviet Union is prepared to seek a mutually acceptable solution also in the question of location of automatic seismic stations. We would agree to relocate the automatic seismic station for Central Asian zone of the USSR to the Tashkent area placing it near the city of Samarkand and for the Far Eastern zone--to place the automatic station at Seimchan which is part of the Kamchatka seismic area.
Location of an automatic seismic station on the Kamchatka peninsula itself seems, in the opinion of Soviet scientists, clearly unacceptable in view of strong hindrances caused by the proximity of the ocean and strong volcanic activity in the peninsula itself which will inevitably hamper normal functioning of a station. It appears to us that thus we could consider as agreed upon also the question of the location of automatic seismic stations for the Central Asian and Far Eastern zones of the USSR.
The Soviet Government having consulted its specialists came to the conclusion that it is quite enough to install three automatic seismic stations on the territory of the Soviet Union. The more so that in your message, Mr. President, a possibility is envisaged of setting up automatic seismic stations on territories adjacent to the seismic zones in the Soviet Union--on the Hokkaido, in Pakistan and Afghanistan, naturally with the consent of respective governments.
The Soviet Government has named definite areas for the location of automatic seismic stations on the territory of the USSR. Moreover, Mr. President, taking into account your wishes we agree to relocate two stations to new places. We are entitled to expect therefore that your side also will name definite areas where such stations should be set up on the territory of the U.S. and that in reaching an agreement on the sites where stations are to be placed the American side will take into account our wishes.
Mr. President, we are convinced that all conditions exist now for reaching an agreement also on the question of inspection. It is known that all the recent time we heard not once from the Western side--agree in principle to inspection and then the road to agreement will open. We believed and we continue to believe now that, in general, inspection is not necessary and if we give our consent to an annual quota of 2-3 inspections this is done solely for the purpose of removing the remaining differences for the sake of reaching agreement.
As you see we have made a serious step in your direction. The quota of inspections on the territory of each of the nuclear powers that we propose is sufficient. Indeed, in the negotiations your representatives themselves recognized that there is no need to verify all or a greater part of a significant suspicious phenomena to restrain the states from attempts to violate the treaty. And they gave figures of annual inspections practically equaling the quota proposed by us. Naturally it is most reasonable to carry out inspection in seismic areas where the biggest number of unidentified seismic phenomena may occur. However if you consider it necessary we have no objection to inspection being carried out also in non-seismic areas provided such inspections are conducted within the annual quota indicated by us.
I noticed that in your reply you agree with the necessity of taking reasonable measures of precaution which would exclude a possibility of using inspection trips and visits to automatic seismic stations for the purpose of obtaining intelligence data. Of course, in carrying out on-site inspection there can be circumstances when in the area designated for inspection there will be some object of defense importance. Naturally, in such a case it will be necessary to take appropriate measures which would exclude a possibility to cause damage to the interests of security of the state on the territory of which inspection is carried out. In this respect I fully agree with the considerations expressed in your message.
Mr. President, in your message you suggest that our representatives meet in New York or in Geneva for a brief preliminary consideration of some of the problems you touched upon. We have no objections to such meeting of our representatives. The Soviet Government for that purpose appointed N.T. Fedorenko, USSR Permanent Representative to the U.N., and S.K. Tsarapkin, USSR Representative to the 18-Nation Disarmament Committee, who could meet with your representative Mr. William C. Foster in New York on January 7-10. We proceed here from the assumption that meetings of our representatives should lead already in the very near future to agreement on questions still unsettled so that upon the reopening of the 18-Nation [Disarmament] Committee Session our representatives could inform it that the road to the conclusion of agreement banning all nuclear weapons tests is open.
N. Khrushchev

When Rose Kennedy Asked for Khrushchev’s Autograph

JFKWHP-ST-C21-5-62. President John F. Kennedy and Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy participate in arrival ceremonies for the President of the Republic of Ecuador, Dr. Carlos Julio Arosemena Monroy, at Washington National Airport, 23 July 1962. Cecil Stoughton, White House Photographs.

Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy was born in 1890 and lived through almost the entire 20th century, keeping detailed records on her life, family, and travels along the way. And thanks to her papers in the archives at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library, we can see glimpses of Rose urging her children – including President Kennedy – to capture history in the making, too. From reminding her kids to write the date on their letters, to encouraging JFK to buy the furniture he and Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev used during their famous 1961 “Vienna Summit” meetings (now in our museum collection!), Rose kept an eye on the historical record for nearly all of her 104 years.

JFKPOF-138-006-p0008. Letter from Rose Kennedy to John F. Kennedy with handwritten note by Evelyn Lincoln, 11 October 1962. President’s Office Files, Box 138, “Correspondence regarding chair and sofa used in talks with Chairman Khrushchev, 1961.”

So it’s no surprise that for years, including during her son’s Presidency, Rose Kennedy kept up a side project collecting autographs from well-known people – sometimes to give as gifts, and sometimes to save for her own archives. She eventually collected signatures from artists like Robert Frost and Marc Chagall former Presidents Herbert Hoover, Harry Truman, and Dwight D. Eisenhower and world leaders including Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion of Israel and Chancellor Konrad Adenauer of West Germany. The fact that the President’s mother was exchanging letters with some of the most powerful people in the world seemed to go mostly unnoticed – that is, until Rose asked for an autograph from Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev in the summer of 1962.

PX 96-33:12. President John F. Kennedy meets with Chairman Nikita Khrushchev of the Soviet Union at the U. S. Embassy residence, Vienna, Austria, 3 June 1961. US State Department photograph, Miscellaneous Photographs Accessions.

Khrushchev agreed to sign a few photographs that were taken of himself and President Kennedy in Vienna, and Rose received them through the Soviet Ambassador in October. Her staff quickly sent the photos on to the President, suggesting that he add his own signature – and apparently tipping off JFK that his mother had been in touch with the Soviet government. In November, President Kennedy wrote back to Rose to explain that asking international leaders for favors could be a tricky business, and to request that she “let me know in the future any contacts you have with heads of state.”

ROFKPP-057-001-p0017. Letter from John F. Kennedy to Rose Kennedy, 3 November 1962, with Rose Kennedy’s hand-written notation. Rose Kennedy Personal Papers, Box 57, “Jacqueline and John F. Kennedy, 1961-1968 (folder 1 of 2).”

The President’s worry that his mother’s request would be “subject to interpretations” might’ve been sparked by the interesting timing of her communication with Khrushchev. On October 16, 1962, just eighteen days before he wrote his letter to Rose, JFK learned that Khrushchev was working with Cuban leader Fidel Castro to place Soviet ballistic missiles in Cuba the discovery kicked off a two-week period of tense negotiation between Kennedy and Khrushchev that’s now known as the Cuban Missile Crisis.

DODCMCBM-PX-66-20-13. Briefing Board #13: a map of the Western Hemisphere showing the ranges of ballistic missiles placed in Cuba. US Department of Defense Cuban Missile Crisis Briefing Materials.

In Rose’s archival records, we’ve found that President Kennedy must have learned about her communication with Khrushchev sometime between October 19 and November 3, 1962 – firmly in the midst of the Cuban Missile Crisis. The timing meant that the President’s note to his mother wasn’t the only carefully-crafted letter he sent on November 3, 1962 on the same day, Kennedy and his national security team also wrote to Khrushchev about the delicate negotiations surrounding the end of the Crisis.

RFKAG-217-001-p0116. Letter from President John F. Kennedy to Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev regarding the Cuban Missile Crisis, 3 November 1962. Robert F. Kennedy Attorney General Files, Box 217, 𔄞-4-2: Cuba: Cuban Crisis, 1962: Kennedy-Khrushchev Letters, Etc.”

In Rose’s response to the President’s letter, she noted that while she hadn’t thought about the complications of writing to world leaders, she could “see that it was probably an error, and it will not happen again.” She also joked: “when I ask for Castro’s autograph, I shall let you know in advance!”

Putting aside matters of international diplomacy, Rose went on to discuss the family news and reminiscences that often came up in her letters to her children here, she included an update on Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr.’s care following his 1961 stroke, and a memory from JFK’s childhood.

JFKPOF-138-006-p0008. Letter from Rose Kennedy to President John F. Kennedy, 10 November 1962. President’s Office Files, Box 138, “Correspondence regarding chair and sofa used in talks with Chairman Khrushchev, 1961.”

Rose recalled the Khrushchev signature episode when writing her 1974 memoir Times to Remember, noting, “We often joked about the incident later.” It’s clear, though, that she took her son’s request seriously a few months later, Rose’s secretary asked for permission to contact Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru of India. President Kennedy responded “Yes, go ahead,” and Rose’s collection was soon expanded by signed copies of Nehru’s autobiography.

ROFKPP-063-002-p0027. Carbon copy of letter from Diane Winter to Evelyn Lincoln, Personal Secretary for John F. Kennedy, 12 March 1963. Rose Kennedy Personal Papers, Box 63, “Autographed books: General, 1961-1963, 1967.”

Luckily for archivists and historians, Rose continued to document her life and experiences for the rest of her days, collecting papers and photographs until her death in 1995. You can find more information about Rose Kennedy’s papers in the finding aid to her collection, and see more photographs and materials from Rose’s life in our other blog posts!

Letter From Chairman Khrushchev to President Kennedy - History

Mr. Chairman : You are under a serious misapprehension in regard to events in Cuba. For months there has been evident and growing resistance to the Castro dictatorship. More than 100,000 refugees have recently fled from Cuba into neighboring countries. Their urgent hope is naturally to assist their fellow Cubans in their struggle for freedom. Many of these refugees fought alongside Dr. Castro against the Batista dictatorship among them are prominent leaders of his own original movement and government.

These are unmistakable signs that Cubans find intolerable the denial of democratic liberties and the subversion of the 26th of July Movement by an alien-dominated regime. It cannot be surprising that, as resistance within Cuba grows, refugees have been using whatever means are available to return and support their countrymen in the continuing struggle for freedom. Where people are denied the right of choice, recourse to such struggle is the only means of achieving their liberties.

I have previously stated, and I repeat now, that the United States intends no military intervention in Cuba. In the event of any military intervention by outside force we will immediately honor our obligations under the inter-American system to protect this hemisphere against external aggression. While refraining from military intervention in Cuba, the people of the United States do not conceal their admiration for Cuban patriots who wish to see a democratic system in an independent Cuba. The United States government can take no action to stifle the spirit of liberty.

I have taken careful note of your statement that the events in Cuba might affect peace in all parts of the world. 1 I trust that this does not mean that the Soviet government, using the situation in Cuba as a pretext, is planning to inflame other areas of the world. I would like to think that your government has too great a sense of responsibility to embark upon any enterprise so dangerous to general peace.

I agree with you as to the desirability of steps to improve the international atmosphere. I continue to hope that you will cooperate in opportunities now available to this end. A prompt cease-fire and peaceful settlement of the dangerous situation in Laos, cooperation with the United Nations in the Congo and a speedy conclusion of an acceptable treaty for the banning of nuclear tests would be constructive steps in this direction. The regime in Cuba could make a similar contribution by permitting the Cuban people freely to determine their own future by democratic processes and freely to cooperate with their Latin American neighbors.

I believe, Mr. Chairman, that you should recognize that free peoples in all parts of the world do not accept the claim of historical inevitability for Communist revolution. What your government believes is its own business what it does in the world is the world’s business. The great revolution in the history of man, past, present and future, is the revolution of those determined to be free.

Letter From Chairman Khrushchev to President Kennedy - History

Dear Mr. President: I have received your letter of October 23,(1) have studied it, and am answering you.

Just imagine, Mr. President, that we had presented you with the conditions of an ultimatum which you have presented us by your action. How would you have reacted to this? I think that you would have been indignant at such a step on our part. And this would have been understandable to us.

In presenting us with these conditions, you, Mr. President, have flung a challenge at us. Who asked you to do this? By what right did you do this? Our ties with the Republic of Cuba, like our relations with other states, regardless of what kind of states they may be, concern only the two countries between which these relations exist. And if we now speak of the quarantine to which your letter refers, a quarantine may be established, according to accepted international practice, only by agreement of states between themselves, and not by some third party. Quarantines exist, for example, on agricultural goods and products. But in this case the question is in no way one of quarantine, but rather of far more serious things, and you yourself understand this.

You, Mr. President, are not declaring a quarantine, but rather are setting forth an ultimatum and threatening that if we do not give in to your demands you will use force. Consider what you are saying! And you want to persuade me to agree to this! What would it mean to agree to these demands? It would mean guiding oneself in one's relations with other countries not by reason, but by submitting to arbitrariness. You are no longer appealing to reason, but wish to intimidate us.

No, Mr. President, I cannot agree to this, and I think that in your own heart you recognize that I am correct. I am convinced that in my place you would act the same way.

Reference to the decision of the Organization of American States cannot in any way substantiate the demands now advanced by the United States. This Organization has absolutely no authority or basis for adopting decisions such as the one you speak of in your letter. Therefore, we do not recognize these decisions. International law exists and universally recognized norms of conduct exist. We firmly adhere to the principles of international law and observe strictly the norms which regulate navigation on the high seas, in international waters. We observe these norms and enjoy the rights recognized by all states.

You wish to compel us to renounce the rights that every sovereign state enjoys, you are trying to legislate in questions of international law, and you are violating the universally accepted norms of that law. And you are doing all this not only out of hatred for the Cuban people and its government, but also because of considerations of the election campaign in the United States. What morality, what law can justify such an approach by the American Government to international affairs? No such morality or law can be found, because the actions of the United States with regard to Cuba constitute outright banditry or, if you like, the folly of degenerate imperialism. Unfortunately, such folly can bring grave suffering to the peoples of all countries, and to no lesser degree to the American people themselves, since the United States has completely lost its former isolation with the advent of modern types of armament.

Therefore, Mr. President, if you coolly weigh the situation which has developed, not giving way to passions, you will understand that the Soviet Union cannot fail to reject the arbitrary demands of the United States. When you confront us with such conditions, try to put yourself in our place and consider how the United States would react to these conditions. I do not doubt that if someone attempted to dictate similar conditions to you--the United States--you would reject such an attempt. And we also say--no.

The Soviet Government considers that the violation of the freedom to use international waters and international air space is an act of aggression which pushes mankind toward the abyss of a world nuclear-missile war. Therefore, the Soviet Government cannot instruct the captains of Soviet vessels bound for Cuba to observe the orders of American naval forces blockading that Island. Our instructions to Soviet mariners are to observe strictly the universally accepted norms of navigation in international waters and not to retreat one step from them. And if the American side violates these rules, it must realize what responsibility will rest upon it in that case. Naturally we will not simply be bystanders with regard to piratical acts by American ships on the high seas. We will then be forced on our part to take the measures we consider necessary and adequate in order to protect our rights. We have everything necessary to do so.

N. Khrushchev (2)

2 Printed from a copy that indicates Khrushchev signed the original. Back

Khrushchev to Kennedy

It is with great satisfaction that I studied your reply to Mr. U Thant on the adoption of measures in order to avoid contact by our ships and thus avoid irreparable fatal consequences. This reasonable step on your part persuades me that your are showing solicitude for the preservation of peace, and I note this with satisfaction.

I have already said that the only concern of our people and government and myself personally as chairman of the Council of Ministers is to develop our country and have it hold a worthy place among all people of the world in economic competition, advance of culture and arts, and most necessary field for competition which will only benefit both the winner and loser, because this benefit is peace and an increase in the facilities by means of which man lives and obtains pleasure.

In your statement, you said that the main aim lies not only in reaching an agreement and adopting measures to avert contact of our ships, and consequently, a deepening of the crisis, which because of this contact can spark off the fire of military conflict after which any talks would be superfluous because others forces and other laws would begin to operate--the laws of war. I agree with your that this is only a first step. The main thing is to normalize and stabilize the situation in the world between states and between people.

I understand your concern for the security of the United States, Mr. President, because this is the first duty of the president. However, these questions are also uppermost in our minds. The same duties rest with me as chairman of the U.S.S.R. Council of Ministers. You have been worried over our assisting Cuba with arms designed to strengthen its defensive potential--precisely defensive potential--because Cuba, no matter that weapons it had, could not compare with you since these are different dimensions, the more so given up-to-date means of extermination.

Our purpose has been and is to help Cuba, an no one can challenge the humanity of our motives aimed at allowing Cuba to live peacefully and develop as its people desire. You want to relieve your country from danger and this is understandable. However, Cuba also wants this. All countries want to relieve your country from danger. But how can we the Soviet Union and our government, assess your action which, in effect, mean that you have surrounded the Soviet Union with military bases, surrounded our allies with military bases, set up military bases literally around our country, and stationed your rocket weapons at them? This is no secret. High-placed American officials demonstratively declare this. Your rockets are stationed in Britain and in Italy and pointed at us. Your rockets are stationed in Turkey.

You are worried over Cuba. You say that that it worries your because it lies at a distance of ninety miles across the sea from the shores of the United States. However, Turkey lies next to us. Our sentinels are pacing up and down and watching each other. Do you believe that you have the right to demand security for your country and the removal of such weapons that you qualify as offensive, while not recognizing this right for us?

You have stationed devastating rocket weapons which you call offensive, in Turkey literally right next to us. How does recognition of your equal military possibilities tally with such unequal relations between our great states? This does not tally at all.

It is good, Mr. President, that you agreed for our representatives to meet and begin talks, apparently with the participation of the U.N. Acting Secretary General U Thant. Consequently, to some extent, he assumes the role of intermediary, and we believe that he can cope with the responsible mission if, of course, every side that is drawn in to this conflict shows good will.

I think that one could rapidly eliminate the conflict and normalize the situation. Then people would heave a sigh of relief, considering that the statesmen who bear the responsibility have sober minds, and awareness of their responsibility, and an ability to solve complicated problems and not allow matters to slide to the disaster of war.

This is why I make this proposal: We agree to remove those weapons from Cuba which you regard as offensive weapons. We agree to do this and to state this commitment in the United Nations. Your representatives will make a statement to effect that the United States, on its part, bearing in mind the anxiety and concern of the Soviet state, will evacuate its analogous weapons from Turkey. Let us reach an understanding on what time you and we need to put this into effect.

After this, representatives of the U.N. Security Council could control on-the-spot the fulfillment of these commitments. Of course, it is necessary that the Governments of Cuba and Turkey would allow these representatives to come to their countries and check fulfillment of this commitment, which each side undertakes. Apparently, it would be better if these representatives enjoyed the trust of the Security Council an ours--the United States and the Soviet Union--as well as of Turkey and Cuba. I think that it will not be difficult to find such people who enjoy the trust and respect of all interested sides.

We having assumed this commitment in order to give satisfaction and hope to the peoples of Cuba and Turkey and to increase their confidence in their security, will make a statement in the Security Council to the effect that the Soviet Government gives a solemn pledge to respect the integrity of the frontiers and the sovereignty of Turkey, not to intervene in its domestic affairs, not to invade Turkey, not to make available its territory as a place d'armes for such invasion, and also will restrain those who would think of launching an aggression against Turkey either from Soviet territory or from the territory of other states bordering on Turkey.

The U.S. Government will make the same statement in the Security Council with regard to Cuba. It will declare that the United States will respect the integrity of the frontiers of Cuba, its sovereignty, undertakes not to intervene in its domestic affairs, not to invade and not to make its territory available as a place d'armes for the invasion of Cuba, and also will restrain those who would think of launching an aggression against Cuba either from U.S. territory or from the territory of other states bordering on Cuba.

Of course, for this we would have to reach agreement with you and arrange for some deadline. Let us agree to give some time, but not delay, two or three weeks, not more than a month.

The weapons on Cuba, that you have mentioned and which, as you say, alarm you, are in the hands of Soviet officers. Therefore any accidental use of them whatsoever to the detriment of the United States of America is excluded. These mean are stationed in Cuba at the request of the Cuban Government and only in defensive aims. Therefore, if there is no invasion of Cuba, or an attack on the Soviet Union, or other of our allies then, of course, these means do not threaten anyone and will not threaten. For they do not pursue offensive aims.

If you accept my proposal, Mr. President, we would send our representatives to New York, to the United Nations, and would give them exhaustive instructions to order to come to terms sooner. If you would also appoint your men and give them appropriate instructions, this problem could be solved soon.

Why would I like to achieve this? Because the entire world is now agitated and expects reasonable actions from us. The greatest pleasure for all the peoples would be an announcement on our agreement, on nipping in the bud the conflict that has arisen. I attach a great importance to such understanding because it might be a good beginning and, specifically, facilitate a nuclear test ban agreement. The problem of tests could be solved simultaneously, not linking one with the other, because they are different problems. However, it is important to reach an understanding to both these problems in order to make a good gift to the people, to let them rejoice in the news that a nuclear test ban agreement as also been reached and thus there will be no further contamination of the atmosphere. Your and our positions on this issue are very close.

All this possibly, would serve as a good impetus to searching for mutually acceptable agreements on other disputed issues, too, on which there is an exchange of opinion between us. These problems have not yet been solved, but they wait from an urgent solution which would clear the international atmosphere. We are ready for this.

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We have received your letter of October 28, along with the reports of the conversations that you and President Dorticos had with our ambassador.

We understand your situation and are taking into account your difficulties in this first stage following the elimination of the maximum tension that resulted from the threat of an attack by American imperialists which you expected at any moment.

We understand that for you certain difficulties may have emerged as a consequence of the promises we made to the United States to withdraw the missile bases from Cuba in exchange for their promise to abandon their plans to invade Cuba and to prevent their allies in the Western hemisphere from doing so, to end their so-called "quarantine" -- their blockade of Cuba. This commitment has led to an end to the conflict in the Caribbean, a conflict which implied, as you can well understand, a superpower confrontation and its transformation into a world war where the missiles and thermonuclear weapons would have been used. According to our ambassador, certain Cubans feel that the Cuban people would prefer a different kind of statement, one that would not deal with the withdrawal of the missiles. It is possible that such feelings exist among the people. But we, politicians and heads of state, are the people's leaders and the people do not know everything. This is why we must march at the head of the people. Then they will follow and respect us.

If, by giving in to popular sentiment, we had allowed ourselves to be swept up by the more inflamed sectors of the populace, and if we had refused to reach a reasonable agreement with the government of the USA, war would have probably broken out, resulting in millions of deaths. Those who survived would have blamed the leaders for not having taken the measures that would have avoided this war of extermination.

The prevention of war and of an attack on Cuba did not depend only on the measures taken by our governments, but also on the analysis and examination of the enemy's actions near your territory. In short, the situation had to be considered as a whole.

Some people say that we did not consult sufficiently with each other before taking the decision of which you know.

In fact, we consider that consultations did take place, dear Comrade Fidel Castro, since we received your cables, one more alarming than the other, and finally your cable of October 27 where you said that you were almost certain that an attack against Cuba was imminent. According to you it was only a matter of time: 24 or 72 hours.

Having received this very alarming cable from you, and knowing of your courage, we believed the alert to be totally justified.

Wasn't that consultation on your part? We interpreted that cable as a sign of maximum alert. But if we had carried on with our consultations in such conditions, knowing that the bellicose and unbridled militarists of the United States wanted to seize the occasion to attack Cuba, we would have been wasting our time and the strike could have taken place.

We think that the presence of our strategic missiles in Cuba has polarized the attention of the imperialists. They were afraid that they would be used, which is why they risked wanting to eliminate them, either by bombing them or by invading Cuba. And we must recognize that they had the capability to put them out of action. This is why, I repeat, your sense of alarm was totally justified.

In your cable of October 27 you proposed that we be the first to carry out a nuclear strike against the enemy's territory. Naturally you understand where that would lead us. It would not be a simple strike, but the start of a thermonuclear world war.

Dear Comrade Fidel Castro, I find your proposal to be wrong, even though I understand your reasons.

We have lived through a very grave moment, a global thermonuclear war could have broken out. Of course the United States would have suffered enormous losses, but the Soviet Union and the whole socialist bloc would have also suffered greatly. It is even difficult to say how things would have ended for the Cuban people. First of all, Cuba would have burned in the fires of war. Without a doubt the Cuban people would have fought courageously but, also without a doubt, the Cuban people would have perished heroically. We struggle against imperialism, not in order to die, but to draw on all of our potential, to lose as little as possible, and later to win more, so as to be a victor and make communism triumph.

The measures which we have adopted have allowed us to reach the goal which we had sat when we decided to send the missiles to Cuba. We have extracted from the United States the commitment riot to invade Cuba and not to allow their Latin-American allies to do so. We have accomplished all of this without a nuclear war.

We believe that we must take advantage of all the possibilities to defend Cuba, to strengthen its independence and sovereignty, to thwart military aggression, and to prevent a global thermonuclear war in the present stage.

Of course we have made concessions, we have made certain commitments. We have acted on the principle of reciprocal concessions. The United States has also made concessions, it has committed itself publicly, before the whole world, not to attack Cuba.

Therefore, if we compare a U.S. attack and thermonuclear war on the one hand, and on the other hand the commitments made, the reciprocal concessions, the guarantee of the inviolability of the Republic of Cuba, and the prevention of a world war, then I think that the conclusion is clear.

Naturally, in the defense of Cuba and of other socialist countries we cannot trust the promise of the U.S. (not to invade Cuba). We have taken, and will continue to take, every measure to strengthen our defenses and to accumulate the forces necessary to carry out a counter-strike. At this time, with the weapons we have given Cuba, it is able to defend itself more than ever. Even after the dismantling of the missile sites you will have weaponry sufficiently powerful to push back the enemy on land, sea, and air near your territory.

Furthermore, as you will recall, we stated in our message to the president of the United States on October 28 that: "we wish at the same time to assure the Cuban people that we are at its side and that we will not abandon our responsibility to help the Cuban people." It is clear to everyone that this is a very serious warning which we are addressing to the enemy.

You stated in the meetings that one cannot trust the U.S. Of course you are right. Your statements on the conditions for negotiations with the United States are equally correct. Having shot down a U.S. aircraft over Cuban territory was in the end a useful act because it ended without complications. It is a lesson for the imperialists. Of course our enemies will interpret the events in their own way. The Cuban counter-revolution will also attempt to rear its head. But we-believe that you have total control over the internal enemy without our help. The most important thing which we have achieved is to stop, for the time being, an attack by external enemies.

We consider that the aggressor has suffered a defeat. He was preparing to attack Cuba, but we stopped him and have forced him to pledge to the world that he will not do so at this time. We believe that this is a great victory. Of course, the imperialists will not stop fighting against communism. But we also have our plans and we will make our decisions. This process of struggle will last for as long as there exists on this earth two sociopolitical systems, until one of the systems, and we know that it will be our communist system, triumphs world-wide.

Comrade Fidel Castro, we have decided to send you this answer as quickly as possible. We will conduct a more detailed analysis of what took place in a letter which we will soon send you. In that letter we will make a more in depth analysis of the situation and will give you our opinion on the results of the settlement of the crisis.

At this time, the negotiations on a settlement are beginning and we ask you to communicate your position to us. We, for our part, will keep you informed on the progress of the negotiations and make the necessary consultations.

Comrade Fidel Castro, we wish you all possible success, and I am sure that you will achieve it. There are still machinations against you. But with you, we intend to take all the steps to thwart them and to contribute to the strengthening and development of the Cuban Revolution.

Letter From Chairman Khrushchev to President Kennedy - History

Letter from John Kennedy to Nikita Khrushchev
Digital History ID 3637

Author: John F. Kennedy

Annotation: This is a response from Kennedy to Nikita Khrushchev reassuring the Soviets that the U.S. would not invade Cuba. President Kennedy responded to the requests of Khrushchev's first letter to him, disregarding the second letter. Upon agreement of these letters, the Missile Crisis was over.

Document: October 27, 1962

I have read your letter of October 26th with great care and welcomed the statement of your desire to seek a prompt solution to the problem. The first thing that needs to be done, however, is for work to cease on offensive missile bases on Cuba and for all weapons systems in Cuba capable of offensive use to be rendered inoperable, under effective United Nations arrangements.

Assuming this is done promptly, I have given my representatives in New York instructions that will permit them to work out this weekend -- in cooperation with the Acting Secretary General and your representative -- an arrangement for a permanent solution to the Cuban problem along the lines suggested in your letter of October 26th. As I read your letter, the key elements of your proposals -- which seem generally acceptable as I understand them -- are as follows:

1) You would agree to remove these weapons systems from Cuba under appropriate United Nations observation and supervision and undertake, with suitable safeguards, to halt the further introduction of such weapons systems into Cuba.

2) We, on our part, would agree -- upon the establishment of adequate arrangements through the United Nations to ensure the carrying out and continuation of these commitments -- (a) to remove promptly the quarantine measures now in effect and (b) to give assurances against an invasion of Cuba. I am confident that other nations of the Western Hemisphere would be prepared to do likewise.

If you will give your representative similar instructions, there is no reason why we should not be able to complete these arrangements and announce them to the world within a couple of days. The effect of such a settlement on easing world tensions would enable us to work toward a more general arrangement regarding "other armaments," as proposed in your second letter which you made public. I would like to say again that the United States is very much interested in reducing tensions and halting the arms race and if your letter signifies that you are prepared to discuss a detente affecting NATO and the Warsaw Pact, we are quite prepared to consider with our allies any useful proposals.

But the first ingredient, let me emphasize, is the cessation of work on missile sites on Cuba and measures to render such weapons inoperable, under effective international guarantees. The continuations of this threat, or prolonging of this discussion concerning Cuba by linking these problems to the broader questions of European and world security, would surely lead to the peace of the world. For this reason I hope we can quickly agree along the lines outlined in this letter of October 26th.

Comparing Perspectives of the Cuban Missile Crisis

The Cuban Missile Crisis ended on October 28, 1962. The two letters you will read for this final activity were exchanged between President Kennedy and Chairman Khrushchev towards the end of the crisis.

Read both letters and then compare the points of view of both men. You will also answer questions about how their points of view changed over the course of the crisis.

After reading both letters, complete the drag-and-drop activity below by matching the statement with the author’s point of view, or complete the alternative multiple choice activity. (This alternative activity is provided for students using keyboard only or screen readers.)

Use details from the letters to support how the points of view of both President Kennedy and Chairman Khrushchev change over the course of the Cuban Missile Crisis.

The letters contain fewer accusations and a greater willingness to reach a solution. Both men are concerned about maintaining world peace.

These two letters were written on October 26, 1962. The letter from Castro to Khrushchev was also written on October 26, 1962. How does Castro’s point of view compare to Kennedy’s and Khrushchev’s at this point in the crisis?

Both Kennedy and Khrushchev are seeking compromise to resolve the conflict and avoid war, while Castro is urging a nuclear strike on the United States if Cuba is invaded.

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Kennedy to Khrushchev

I have read your letter of October 26th with great care and welcome the statement of your desire to seek a prompt solution to the problem. The first things that needs to be done, however, is for work to cease on offensive missile bases in Cuba and for all weapons systems in Cuba capable of offensive use to be rendered inoperable, under effective United Nations arrangements.

Assuming this is done promptly, I have given my representatives in New York instructions that will permit them to work out this weekend--in cooperation with the Acting Secretary General and your representative--an arrangement for a permanent solution to the Cuban problem along the lines suggested in your letter of October 26th. As I read your letter, the key elements of your proposals--which seem generally acceptable as I understand them--are as follows:

  1. You would agree to remove these weapons systems from Cuba under appropriate United Nations observation and supervision and undertake, with suitable safeguards, to halt the further introduction of such weapons systems in to Cuba.
  2. We on our part, would agree--upon the establishment of adequate arrangements through the United Nations to ensure the carrying out and continuation of these commitments--(a) to remove promptly the quarantine measures now in effect and (b) to give assurances against an invasion of Cuba. I am confident that other nations of the Western Hemisphere would be prepared to do likewise.

If you give your representatives similar instructions, there is no reason why we should not be able to complete these arrangements and announce them to the world within a couple of days. The effect of such a settlement on easing world tensions would enable us to work toward a more general arrangement regarding "other armaments," as proposed in your second letter which you made public. I would like to say again that the United States is very much interested in reducing tensions and halting the arms race and if your letter signifies that you are prepared to discuss a detente affecting NATO and the Warsaw Pact, we are quite prepared to consider with our allies any useful proposals.

But the first ingredient, let me emphasize, is the cessation of work on missile sites in Cuba and measures to render such weapons inoperable, under effective international guarantees. The continuation of this threat, or a prolonging of this discussion concerning Cuba by linking these problems to the broader questions of European and world security, would surely lead to an intensified situation on the Cuban crisis and a grave risk to the peace of the world. For this reason I hope we can quickly agree along the lines outlined in this letter and in your letter of October 26th.

UMBC Center For History Education | Teaching American History Lesson Plans

The Cuban Missile Crisis in October of 1962 brought the United States and the Soviet Union to the brink of nuclear war. Reconnaissance photos taken on October 15th showed missile bases being built by the Soviets in Cuba, 90 miles away from the coast of the United States. President Kennedy ordered a quarantine around Cuba and in the ensuing days both sides ramped up for a possible military engagement. U.S. military forces stood at the ready, while Soviet forces in Cuba had orders to use nuclear weapons if the U.S. invaded Cuba. The stage was set for a disastrous confrontation. Negotiations between Kennedy and Soviet Premier Nikita Kruschev continued in hopes of a nonviolent resolution. After much deliberation, on October 28th, the Soviet Union agreed to remove all missiles in Cuba in exchange for the United Sates removing all missiles in Turkey. The outcome of the crisis forever altered the course of the Cold War as both sides saw just how close they had come to a nuclear conflict. The foreign policy between the two changed from confrontation to coexistence. In this lesson students will examine several primary documents from the thirteen-day crisis and will analyze the differences in policy objectives were between the Cuban, Soviet and U.S. leaders. What were some of the other options available? By charting the event from start to finish students will get a clear understanding of what impact the Cuban Missile Crisis had on the Cold War.

Related National History Standards

Standard 2: How the Cold War and conflicts in Korea and Vietnam influenced domestic and international politics

Historical Thinking Standards:

Standard 4: Historical Research Capabilities

A. Formulate historical questions.
Interrogate historical data.

Standard 5: Historical Issues-Analysis and Decision-Making
A. Identify issues and problems in the past.
B. Marshal evidence of antecedent circumstances and contemporary factors contributing to problems and alternative courses of action.
E. Formulate a position or course of action on an issue.
F. Evaluate the implementation of a decision.


· Students will analyze the primary and secondary sources focusing on the main idea and significance.

· Students will apply the analysis of the primary and secondary sources to create a map of what they believe occurred in the event being described in the documents.

· Students will determine to what extent the Cuban Missile Crisis changed the Cold War.

Topic Background

Thirteen days in October 1962 was one of the most intense periods in American and Soviet history. The United States and the Soviet Union came to the brink of nuclear war. The Cold War policy of containment was tested 90 miles from the Florida coast on the island of Cuba where the Soviets were installing nuclear missiles. The United States had for several decades had weapons that threatened major Soviet cities from Italy and Turkey. Soviet nuclear weapons had long suffered from inadequate delivery systems and long distances. Placing weapons in Cuba, just off the coast of the United States, would have helped Soviet leaders alleviate the seventeen to one American nuclear advantage over the USSR. During the crisis, American leaders failed to understand that 162 Soviet missiles had already been deployed in Cuba that the USSR had the capability of annihilating Washington, D.C. and New York City for the first time without any advanced warning. Under-estimating Soviet nuclear power in Cuba, President John F. Kennedy and his Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara engaged in brinksmanship, challenging the Soviet military with a naval blockade and threatening to invade Cuba. After the crisis, both Soviet and American leaders realized, in full horror, how close they had come to nuclear apocalypse. As a result, the Cuban Missile Crisis was a turning point in the Cold War changing foreign policy from confrontation to coexistence.

The confrontation between the United States and Cuba began during Eisenhower&rsquos administration. During Eisenhower&rsquos administration, the dictator of Cuba was General Fulgencio Batista Zaldívar who was friendly with the United States. In 1959, Batista was overthrown in a revolution by Fidel Castro. As Castro gained power, the relationship between the United States and Cuba worsened. Kennedy won the 1960 election and became president of the U.S. in 1961. Kennedy defeated Republican candidate Richard Nixon in part because Kennedy played up a so-called "missile gap," claiming that Republicans under Eisenhower had let the Soviet Union get a missile advantage over the United States. This "missile gap" was wholly fictitious. The United States had far more missiles and nuclear bombs than the Soviet Union, but it established Kennedy&rsquos credentials as a candidate who would not back down to a communist threat. 1 As Paterson notes, "Kennedy inherited the Cuban problem &ndash and he made it worse." 2 There were a number of methods the Kennedy Administration employed to try and eliminate Castro from Cuba:

The result of the missile deployment was a "multifaceted military build up on the Caribbean island." 6 This was done in secret against the wishes of Castro and a few of Khrushchev&rsquos advisers. 7 The secrecy was a miscalculation that ultimately hurt Khrushchev because he offered no public explanation to the world for installing missiles in Cuba and this caused suspicion. "It would have been much more difficult for Kennedy from a political and public relations perspective to have taken the sort of forceful action that he ultimately did during the missile crisis." 8

The Cuban Missile Crisis began on October 16, 1962 when the president and his advisers were notified of the U-2 reconnaissance photographs of missile sites being installed in Cuba. From October 16, 1962 to October 22, 1962, Kennedy formed the Executive Committee (ExCom) that met every day to decide how to handle the situation. The Executive Committee had to make a decision before the missiles became fully operational. During the decision-making process, the political and strategic implications needed to be considered. According to Ball, the "one question in dispute was whether the emplacement of the missiles would in any way change the power balance." 9 The United States was already under the threat of Soviet intercontinental ballistic missiles. The strategic implication was only a matter of minutes, but also "shorter-range missiles in Cuba might greatly increase Soviet capability." 10

The leaders also considered the political implications. They considered that Soviet missiles alongside a communist Cuba would violate the American Monroe Doctrine, an assertion of American predominance in Latin and South America. They considered the Cuban missiles "an unacceptable Soviet encroachment on the United States&rsquo sphere of influence. "11 As they deliberated, the Executive Committee divided into hawks and doves. 12 The decision came down to two options. The hawks wanted an air strike on the missile installations and to follow with an invasion if necessary. The doves wanted a naval blockade which would embargo military shipments to Cuba. 13 Kennedy decided on the naval quarantine because it would give the Soviets a way to back down and save face. On October 22, 1962, Kennedy delivered a speech to the nation and world about the naval quarantine and the crisis in Cuba. From October 23, 1962 to October 28, 1962, letters of correspondence between Kennedy and Khrushchev were sent day by day as the crisis unfolded. On Wednesday, October 24,1962, the U.S. Navy stopped a number of Soviet ships dead in the water. "This was the occasion for Rusk&rsquos memorable aside to Bundy, "We&rsquore eyeball to eyeball and I think the other fellow just blinked." 14 Some Soviet ships turned around. Other ships were allowed to pass that did not contain military supplies. 15 Letters were still exchanged between the two leaders.

On Thursday, October 25, 1962, Adlai Stevenson showed photographs to the United Nations Security Council after an argument about the existence of the missile sites with Soviet UN Ambassador Zorin. 16 On October 26, 1962, Khrushchev&rsquos letter to Kennedy offered a possible settlement. On October 26, 1962, Castro sent a letter to Khrushchev convinced that the United States would invade Cuba and that he should respond with a nuclear strike against the United States. 17 Khrushchev sent a message to Kennedy about the "double standard in American objections to the presence of missiles in the Caribbean." 18 Khrushchev demanded that in recompense the American Jupiters be removed from Turkey. Kennedy&rsquos response ignored the request and accepted the no-invasion pledge in return for the removal of the missiles from Cuba under United Nations&rsquo inspection. The Jupiters were removed from Turkey, but at a later date and secretly. Dialogue continued through November that "failed to produce a formalized version of the settlement that had been sketched out on October 27-28." 19 The October 27-28 settlement was understood by the American public and the international community to entail a United States commitment not to attack Cuba, regardless of the nature of the November Kennedy-Khrushchev dialogue. 20 On November 20, 1962, Kennedy lifted the blockade and on April 25, 1963 the Jupiter missiles were removed from Turkey. 21 Even though the crisis subsided in November 1962, its effects were evident in the change in foreign policy.

According to Richard Lebow, "Cuba unquestionably had an effect on Soviet policy toward the United States. Soviet pronouncements after the crisis indicated a clear interest in reducing Cold War tensions. "22 The same was true of Kennedy and the United States. Kennedy&rsquos speech at American University in 1963 called for a number of solutions to reach détente: dealing with conflict, accommodation, communication, arms, and peace. 23 Two solutions were dealt with immediately. A hot line between the Soviet premier and American president was established for crisis communication. In order to control arms, the Limited Test Ban Treaty limited testing to the underground only. Although the treaty limited where countries could test nuclear weapons, this did not limit the number of nuclear weapons. According to Garthoff, there were two lessons &ndash one learned and one not. The first lesson learned was that nuclear war was too risky to seriously risk. The second lesson not learned was it would not take many nuclear bombs to annihilate the enemy. So, despite arms-control agreements and a new spirit of diplomacy that emerged from the Cuban missile crisis, the two superpowers continued for the next 25 years to stock pile a massive number of weapons, weapons that were costly, menacing and unnecessary. 24

The Cuban Missile Crisis occurred during a period of confrontation between the U.S. against Cuba and the Soviet Union. The crisis evoked miscalculations and misperceptions and frightened Soviet and American leaders into the realization that a change in policy was the only way to avert a nuclear war. Not only a change in policy, but also a change in the relationship of the three countries to a certain extent occurred. The evolution of the relationship between Kennedy and Khrushchev went from a reaction-response to one of coexistence with open communication. Cold War policy had changed. As Kennedy noted at a speech at American University, "We can seek a relaxation of tensions without relaxing our guard&hellipwe labor on &ndash not toward a strategy of annihilation but toward a strategy of peace." 26

1 See Richard Rhodes, Arsenal of Folly: The Making of the Nuclear Arms Race (New York: Knopf, 2007).
2 Thomas G. Paterson, Kennedy&rsquos Quest For Victory American Foreign Policy, 1961-1963 (New York: Oxford University Press, Inc., 1989), 129.
3 Ibid., 140.
4 Paterson, Kennedy&rsquos Quest For Victory American Foreign Policy, 1961-1963, 140.
5 Mark J. White, Missiles in Cuba Kennedy, Khrushchev, Castro and the 1962 Crisis (Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 1997), 34-40.
6 Ibid., 48.
7 White, Missiles in Cuba Kennedy, Khrushchev, Castro and the 1962 Crisis, 49.
8 Ibid., 49.
9 George W. Ball, The Past Has Another Pattern Memoirs (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1982), 289.
10 Ibid., 289.
11 Ball, The Past Has Another Pattern Memoirs, 289.
12 Ibid., 290.
13 Ball, The Past Has Another Pattern Memoirs, 290-291.
14 Mark J. White, Missiles in Cuba Kennedy, Khrushchev, Castro and the 1962 Crisis (Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 1997), 120.
15 Ibid., 121.
16 White, Missiles in Cuba Kennedy, Khrushchev, Castro and the 1962 Crisis, 125.
17 Ibid., 134.
18 White, Missiles in Cuba Kennedy, Khrushchev, Castro and the 1962 Crisis, 134-135.
19 Ibid., 149.
20 White, Missiles in Cuba Kennedy, Khrushchev, Castro and the 1962 Crisis, 149.
21 Ibid., 148-149.
22 Richard Ned Lebow, &ldquoDomestic Politics and the Cuban Missile Crisis: The Traditional and Revisionist Interpretations Reevaluated,&rdquo Diplomatic History 14 (Fall 1990): 490.
23 Raymond L. Garthoff, A Journey Through The Cold War A Memoir of Containment and Coexistence (Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press, 2001), 165.
24 Ibid., 183.
25 Garthoff, A Journey Through The Cold War A Memoir of Containment and Coexistence, 187.
26 White, Missiles in Cuba Kennedy, Khrushchev, Castro and the 1962 Crisis, 150.


any supersonic missile that has a range of at least 3500 nautical mi.
(6500 km) and follows a ballistic trajectory after a powered, guided launching.

Teaching Procedures

1) Ask students to discuss and identify the tensions in Cuban and United States relations that contributed to the Cuban Missile Crisis. Try to structure the discussion to pay special attention to the Bay of Pigs Invasion of 1961.

2) Distribute reconnaissance photo of missile sites in Cuba from October 14, 1962 (RS #8). Have students examine the photo and discuss the capabilities of the Soviet Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs).

3) Hand out document showing Range of Soviet SS-4 Missiles (RS #9). After allowing students sufficient time to examine the missile range, pose the following lead questions.
A. What are the strategic and political implications of missiles 90 miles from our coast?
B. What objectives and options were available for the Kennedy administration?


1) Distribute primary source documents packets to each student containing RS#1-6.
Tell students that while reading these documents they should keep in mind the following question:
A. What were the differences in policy objectives that divided the Cuban, Soviet, and United States leaders?

2) Give out the &ldquoMapping an Event&rdquo sheets (RS #10-11) to each student. RS #10 is an instructional sheet and RS #11 is a blank sheet for student completion. Review the directions to the &ldquoMapping an Event&rdquo sheets, answering any student posed questions.

3) Give students sufficient time to read through their document packets and complete RS#11.

4) Hand out the transcript of Kennedy&rsquos Commencement Speech at American University (RS #7). Play the speech for students and have them follow along with the transcript (audio is available online at the JFK Library). If audio is unavailable students can take turns reading the speech aloud.


Lead a class discussion on the policy choices confronting the U.S. and Soviet leaders. Ask student to evaluate Kennedy&rsquos decision to establish a naval blockade.


Have students complete a BCR on the following lead question:
To what extent did the Cold War change as a result of the Cuban Missile Crisis?


Resource Sheets

RS #01 Letter from Fidel Castro to Khrushchev
RS #02 Letter From Kennedy to Khrushchev, October 22, 1962
RS #03 State Dept.Telegram of Kennedy's Oct. 23 Letter
RS #04 Letter From Khrushchev to Kennedy, October 24, 1962
RS #05 Letter From Khrushchev to Kennedy, October 28, 1962
RS #06 Telegram from Kennedy to Khrushchev, October 28
RS #07 Commencement Address at American University
RS #08 Photo: MRBM Field Launch Site
RS #09 Missle Range Map
RS #10 Mapping an Event
RS #11 Mapping an Event

Primary Source Annotaions

Letter to Nikita Khrushchev from Fidel Castro regarding defending Cuban air space. October 26, 1962

This letter establishes the relationship between Fidel Castro and Nikita Khrushchev one of allies. Fidel Castro&rsquos confrontational proposal includes concern about either an air attack or an invasion by the United States. Students will place the letter in the organizer under during the crisis to establish confrontation. Fidel Castro, worried about an invasion by the United States, speaks of &ldquolegitimate self-defense&rdquo and to &ldquoeliminate this danger forever.&rdquo Fidel Castro is offering assistance in confronting the situation.

Letter From President Kennedy to Chairman Khrushchev, October 22, 1962. The White House. Washington, October 22, 1962.

President Kennedy&rsquos letter to Khrushchev explaining the United States reaction to the crisis and why. His explanation references past diplomacy and a reminder of the responsibilities and commitment of the United States. The United States will stand firm intending to remove the threat with minimal action. Students may use references to Berlin and Vienna to place in the organizer under before the crisis. Students use President Kennedy&rsquos action to place in the organizer under during the crisis. Students should be looking for examples of reaction-response in the confrontation between President Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev.

Draft of President Kennedy's Letter to Chairman Khrushchev, October 23, 1962 and The Final Version of President Kennedy's Letter of October 23 as Transmitted by State Department Telegram


This is a letter to Nikita Khrushchev from President Kennedy about observing the terms of the quarantine and discussion within the Security Council. Students will place the letter under during the crisis to establish confrontation.

Letter From Chairman Khrushchev to President Kennedy, October 24, 1962. Moscow, October 24, 1962.


Nikita Khrushchev&rsquos reply to President Kennedy about the quarantine and accepted international practice. Nikita Khrushchev accuses President Kennedy of providing an ultimatum and violating freedom of the seas. Nikita Khrushchev instructs his ships to follow international protocol. Students will place this letter under during the crisis establishing confrontation. The idea of the quarantine as an ultimatum and violating international law. The Soviets reaction to the United States response as confrontational.

Letter From Chairman Khrushchev to President Kennedy, October 28, 1962OFFICIAL ENGLISH TEXT OF KHRUSHCHEV MESSAGE MOSCOW TASS IN ENGLISH TO EUROPE NO.11, 28 OCT 1962.


Nikita Khrushchev explains to President Kennedy of the aggression towards Cuba with the Bay of Pigs and the threat of invasion. The Soviets offered economic and military aid in Cuba&rsquos defense. President Kennedy promised not to invade Cuba, so it removed the threat to Cuba and Soviet assistance no longer needed. Nikita Khrushchev mentioned the violation of Cuban and Soviet air space. Students will place the letter under after the crisis and note the concerns of Nikita Khrushchev in obtaining a peaceful coexistence and a settlement on the crisis.

Department of State Telegram Conveying President Kennedy's Reply to Chairman Khrushchev, October 28, 1962. Washington, October 28, 1962, 5:03 p.m.


President Kennedy&rsquos reply to Nikita Khrushchev welcoming peace through the United Nations and the Organization of American States. President Kennedy addressed the violation of Soviet air space, but not the Cuban air space or U-2 missions. The telegram mentions the beginning of talks for a nuclear test ban as well as future communication. Students should place the telegram under after the crisis with the idea of a peaceful coexistence.

Commencement Address at American University. President John F. Kennedy. Washington, D.C. June 10, 1963.

The commencement address is about world peace: our attitude toward peace, our attitude toward the Soviet Union, and our attitude toward the cold war. President Kennedy is seeking a détente with open communication and arms control. Students will place the commencement address under after the crisis focusing on open communication and a comprehensive test ban treaty as well as the Peace Corps. After the crisis, the United States and the Soviet Union move toward peaceful coexistence.

One of the first images of missile bases under construction shown to President Kennedy on the morning of October 16, 1962.

The photo shows the aerial map of the reconnaissance photos of secret Soviet missile installation sites in Cuba. The photos are the first images shown to President Kennedy on the morning of October 16, 1962. Students are to define the difference between medium range ballistic missiles (MRBM) and intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM). They are to locate the equipment on site and think about the questions: Are the missile sites operational? If not, when? How will President Kennedy handle the situation?

Map of the western hemisphere showing the full range of the nuclear missiles under construction in Cuba, used during the secret meetings on the Cuban crisis.


This is a map of the western hemisphere. Cuba is in the center where Soviet missiles are being installed. There are three circles which show the range of nuclear missiles in relation to Latin America as well as most of the United States. Students will use the map to infer the political and strategic implications of Soviet missiles ninety miles from the coast of the United States.

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