The Time The USSR Asked To Join NATO
In 1953, much of the world was heartened to learn of the death of Joseph Stalin. He died in his bed on March 5th, 1953 after suffering a stroke. The controversial dictator had many accomplishments during his reign but he was intensely disliked both at home and abroad. Stalin’s cult of personality and brutal methods of suppressing dissent and competition turned his reputation from a triumphant World War II leader to a brutal dictator. He stood shoulder to shoulder with President Roosevelt and Winston Churchill in 1944 but was a pariah by the time of his death.
In the immediate aftermath of the demise of Stalin, the new leaders of the Soviet Union saw an opportunity. With the old regime dead the new regime wanted to make new inroads with the rest of Europe. While communism would never be popular in the west, that didn’t mean that the former allies could not cooperate on military matters.
The world in 1954
Nikita Khrushchev would eventually wrest the levers of power from his competitors and take the reigns of the Soviet Union for the foreseeable future. The Korean War had just died down after a tumultuous three years of bloody fighting between Korea, China, and the United States. Stalin was well and truly dead and his malignant influence was beginning to be removed from the more onerous parts of society.
There was no Warsaw Pact. NATO had only expanded by two members, Turkey and Greece, both of which joined in 1952. The French were bogged down in Indochina. The United States was busy conducting volatile tests of hydrogen bombs in the Pacific Ocean.
It was during this period that the Soviet Union tried to make nice with the rest of Europe by suggesting that perhaps they could join NATO as a security member. Such an agreement would thus unify east and west in a grand security apparatus over the whole of Europe.
But NATO said no. Emphatically.
A new security proposal
Vyacheslav Molotov was the Minister of Foreign Affairs in the USSR during the events of 1954. Molotov’s grandest idea was one of a united Europe. A collective security agreement that encompassed all Europeans for the…