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JACK KENNEDY, ELUSIVE HERO: LANDING III

February 12, 2012


JACK KENNEDY, ELUSIVE HERO: LANDING III


Knoxville, Tennessee (JFK+50) Today JFK+50 reports on the last part of Chapter 13 of Chris Matthews’ new book, Jack Kennedy, Elusive Hero, published by Simon & Schuster.



The title of Chapter 13 is LANDING.


Chris writes that Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev “demanded a showdown” on the issue of BERLIN in the summit conference to be held in Vienna in June.


In the meantime, JFK made his 1st foreign trip to Ottawa where he hurt his back in a tree-planting ceremony. 


When he returned, the President had to rely on crutches outside the view of the public.


Then, in less than 2 weeks, Jack & Jackie were hosted by Charles de Gaulle in Paris.  Chris says that JFK & the French president “got along surprisingly well.”


On June 3rd & 4th, 1961, President Kennedy met with Khrushchev in Vienna.


The Soviet premier lectured the young president the 1st day on “socialist inevitability.”



                                                  Khrushchev & Kennedy
                                                         Vienna, Austria
                                                                June 1961
                                                      JFK Library Photo


Chris says the 2nd day “was even worse.”


Khrushchev told JFK he planned to sign a treaty with the East Germans which would grant them total authority to control access to free West Berlin.


The Soviets wanted the Americans, British & French to leave the city.


And the 3rd meeting, requested by JFK, “got nowhere.”


As the two cold war adversaries departed, JFK said “It’s going to be a cold winter.”


Jack would later tell his pal, Lem Billings, that he had never come face to face with such evil.


Adding to our problems in Berlin, as Chris points out, was the fact that the Soviets had 350,000 troops there, while American, British & French forces numbered only about 12,000.



                                                 East German Troops
                                                       August 13, 1961
                                       Photo by Peter Heinz Junge
                                         German Federal Archive


In his report to the nation on June 25, 1961, President Kennedy said:


“We cannot & will not permit the communists to drive us out of Berlin.”


Then on August 3, the Soviets made their move.  “To turn the tide of refugees to the west” a wall was built dividing the city.*


*While privately JFK said “a wall is a hell of a lot better than a war,” on his visit to West Berlin on June 26, 1963, he said publicly:


“While the wall is the most obvious & vivid demonstration of the failures of the communist system….it is an offense….against humanity, separating families, dividing husbands & wives, brothers & sisters & dividing a people who wish to be joined together.”


Khrushchev Sends A Gift to the White House


While the Vienna Summit was a disaster for JFK, it did have positive results for Jackie as not long after their return home, the Soviet ambassador showed up at the White House with a gift.


While Jack had been involved in tense discussions with the Soviet premier, during social activities in Vienna, Mrs. Kennedy was charming Khrushchev.



                                       Khrushchev & Mrs. Kennedy


He sent her a small white Russian puppy named Pushinka.


Caroline’s dog, Charlie, a Welsh Terrier & Pushinka would have 4 puppies in 1963.  


JFK reportedly referred to them as “pupniks.”**

                                                 Charlie & Pushinka


*Sources: 


 “Doggie Detente” by Stephen Plotkin, JFK Library.


 “The Poodle (& dog) blog”







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