Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Blast from the past. The 18 Hour Standoff between US M48 Pattons and Soviet Union T-55s @ Checkpoint Charlie, Berlin.

Pics and caption via M4A1 Shermayne's Tumblr Page.

On Oct. 22, 1961, when America’s senior diplomat in West Berlin, E. Allan Lightner, Jr., attempted to cross the newly-erected Berlin Wall at a major checkpoint, Checkpoint Charlie. He was stopped by East German authorities who wanted to see his papers, but Lightner insisted that only the Soviets had the authority to check his papers.

He eventually turned back from the border, but Gen. Lucius Clay ordered that the next U.S. diplomat who needed to cross the border would be accompanied by military police in armed Jeeps. The next diplomat did cross the border with the Jeeps.

But Clay still wasn’t satisfied. He sent M48 tanks to the checkpoint and had them rev their engines. The Soviet commander requested permission to call an equal number of tanks out in response and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev approved it.

So T-55 tanks pulled up to the opposite end of the street and, approximately 82 yards away from each other, the two sides threatened each other for 16 hours from Oct. 27-28, 1961.

News crews rushed to the scene and the world watched with bated breath to see if this would be the flame that set off the powder keg and descended the world into nuclear war.

But neither country wanted to fight World War III over paperwork in Berlin. President John F. Kennedy ordered back channels to be opened to reach a negotiation. Khrushchev agreed to a deal where the countries would take turns withdrawing a single tank at a time.

The Soviets withdrew a T-55 and, a few minutes later, America pulled back an M48. The process continued until Checkpoint Charlie and its Soviet counterpoint had returned to their normal garrisons of a few soldiers on either side.

Today, the intersection has a replica checkpoint and a number of historical exhibits. Aside from the Cuban Missile Crisis the following year, Checkpoint Charlie may be the closest America and Soviet Russia came to blows in open warfare.
Interesting isn't it.

At the height of the Cold War when the Soviet Union existed, both sides were able to avoid war.  At the time the US was convinced that the Soviet's wanted the total destruction of the West and it can be assumed that the Soviets believed the opposite.

Fast forward to today and we see a manufactured crisis and the declaration of Russia as a hostile country when its clear that Hillary's meddling in Ukraine is the genesis of this entire episode (remember the Nuland phone call....I am convinced that is what started this entire drama).

We are making an enemy of a country that we should be working with to put out fires all over the world (especially the Middle East).  Instead Neo-Cons and ancient cold warriors are trying to start a fight they won't have to finish.

Sidenote:  This would make a fascinating "what if"!  What if cooler heads did not prevail?  What if someone got nervous, wanted a fight or made a mistake and shots were fired?  What would that tank battle have looked like and how would it have played out?

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