The Concept of Berlin to John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson. Examining and connecting the German question, Berlin, John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson.
Boer, E.E. de
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The goal of this thesis is to demonstrate how and why Berlin developed into a concept, and how and why it developed during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. The purpose of this thesis is to contribute to the historiography of Berlin as an important concept to American leaders during the 1960s. This means there will be a focus on the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. As stated before, Berlin comprised an important issue in Kennedy’s presidency, and this thesis connects to the work done on this subject. Most of the research conducted on Johnson covers either the war in Vietnam or his domestic policies, according to Thomas A. Schwartz. Therefore, he pleads highly in favor of reconsidering Johnson’s European policies. However, research on the 1960s Berlin situation should not exclude Kennedy, and therefore both administrations receive equal recognition. - There were four facets to the concept of Berlin: the American sphere of influence, American credibility, the domino theory and Berlin as an American frontline. These four elements formed the basis of Berlin as a concept to American leaders. - The concept underwent several key changes under President Kennedy. It transformed into a problem, which resolved itself when the wall was built, and eventually changed into an opportunity. - To President Johnson, the concept developed into a frame of reference. This thesis suggests that this was in his interest in upholding relations with West German leaders. Eventually, Berlin became a problem once again, as a new threat was posed in 1968. However, Johnson did not solve this problem. This research was done by analyzing and comparing secondary literature, and analyzing transcripts of conversations between American, German and Soviet leaders. The most prominent scholars that were analyzed are Harrison, Kempe, Schwartz, Smyser, and Wilke.