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Putting It All Together


While Khrushchev's trip to the United States did not end the Cold War, it was successful in temporarily lessening tensions between the two nations. Eisenhower and Khrushchev both got the minimum concessions each wanted from the other. In addition, Eisenhower gained a better understanding of Khrushchev's complex personality, information that would prove valuable as the Cold War continued. The following activities will help students better understand the Cold War Period.

Activity 1: Researching Why Eisenhower Never Visited the Soviet Union
Eisenhower's biggest disappointment as president was his failure to end the Cold War. Have students use a U.S. history textbook, periodicals from the spring and summer of 1960, and biographies of Eisenhower to research the U­2 incident, the Paris summit, and their results. Then divide the class into two groups and have them debate the following statement: "The crash of the U-2 in the Soviet Union was a major reason for the growing enmity between the U.S. and the USSR." Award points to the teams for the quality of their arguments. At the conclusion of the debate, ask students to decide what they think might have happened if the U-2 incident had not occurred. Then discuss the concept of turning points in history.

Activity 2: International Diplomacy
In a classroom discussion, ask students to name some events from the 1960s to the present that involved international diplomacy. (Examples include former president Carter's trips to Haiti and Bosnia, 1994; President Reagan's visit to Moscow, 1988; Camp David accords, 1978-79; and Paris peace talks, 1968.) Divide students into groups of four or five and assign each group one of the events. Ask students to research their event and answer the following questions: What were the issues that led to the event? Who were the parties involved? Why were they at odds? What did each party hope to gain by meeting? Where did the meetings take place? Do you think the location had any influence on the attitudes of the people involved? Was there a mediator? If so, who? What role did the mediator play? Was there an atmosphere of congeniality or hostility? What was the outcome of the meetings? Compare these meetings with the meeting between Eisenhower and Khrushchev.

Ask one person from each group to briefly explain their event to the class. Next have a different group member represent each of the parties involved (including the mediator if applicable) and present their side of the issue. For each event, hold a debate on which party the class believes was most "right" in their views. Teachers may wish to conclude the activity by discussing with students the following questions: Can they think of examples of negotiations that were held on a national level? state? local? Are formal negotiations useful? Why or why not? What other ways are there to solve conflicts?

Activity 3: Preparing for Nuclear War
In the 1950s, with tensions between the Soviet Union and the United States high, communities prepared for the possibility of atomic warfare. As nuclear weaponry became more and more sophisticated, Americans worried that Soviet long-range bombers and missiles could strike anywhere in the United States. Towns designated and stocked fallout shelters, and schools drilled students to prepare for nuclear attacks. The fear was so omnipresent and so real to people who were school children during that time, that, in many cases, their uneasiness has never entirely left them. Have students interview someone who lived in their community or area in the 1950s and ask how they prepared for the possibility of nuclear war. Did their family stock food and water? Did they build a family-sized fallout shelter? Were larger fallout shelters constructed for the community? Where were they located? Were air raid drills conducted? How often? What procedure was followed during the drills? How did these events affect their day-to-day life and their peace of mind? Now ask students to find out if any physical evidence of the Cold War remains in their area such as fallout shelters or air raid sirens. Have students report their findings to the class.

 

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