196. Editorial Note

Late in the afternoon of October 27, 1961, 10 Soviet tanks advanced up the Friedrichstrasse to take up positions in the Soviet Zone opposite the U.S. tanks behind Checkpoint Charlie. Shortly thereafter General Clay held a press conference at Berlin Command to announce that their appearance clearly indicated who was responsible for harassment of U.S. officials attempting to enter East Berlin. According to Cates (The Ides of August, pages 485-486) President Kennedy called Clay that evening to review the situation; no other record of this conversation has been found. By midnight the number of Soviet tanks had grown to 30, but at 10:30 a.m. (Berlin time), October 28, the Soviet tanks began withdrawing from the checkpoint.

In one account of the crisis, Chairman Khrushchev ordered the Soviet tanks to pull back to save American face (Khrushchev Remembers: The Last Testament, pages 459-460), but Attorney General Kennedy stated that the President asked him to get in touch with Bolshakov for the purpose of using this channel to remove the Soviet tanks. Bolshakov agreed to do this. (Peter Wyden, Wall, page 266) No documentation has been found at the Kennedy Library or the Department of State to support or refute either account.