Berlin, more specifically the Brandenburg Gate, is the location where this all began. In our timeline nothing happened militarily, but in the Berlin Crisis timeline this did not hold true. It was the major flashpoint for the entire series of events that resulted in what has happened until now. Everything in this timeline is identical to ours up to October 28, 1961 at 1100 hours and 1 minute when the balloon goes up.
Note: This is a new project so feel free and add any material that you think fits into this timeline. Remember, most of the technology that existed before World War III will no longer exist and do not think about introducing anything along the lines of the "Damnation Alley" movie. That will be removed from the documentation.
The balloon goes up
October 22, 1961
The four powers governing Berlin ( Soviet Union, United States, United Kingdom, and France) had agreed at the 1945 Potsdam Conference that Allied personnel would not be stopped by German police in any sector of Berlin. But on 22 October 1961, just two months after the construction of the Wall, the US Chief of Mission in West Berlin, E. Allan Lightner, was stopped in his car while crossing at Checkpoint Charlie to go to a theater in East Berlin even with visible occupation forces license plates. The former Army General Lucius D. Clay, U.S. President John F. Kennedy's Special Advisor in West Berlin, decided to demonstrate American resolve.
Clay sent an American diplomat, Albert Hemsing, to probe the border. While probing in a diplomatic vehicle, Hemsing was stopped by East German transport police asking to see his passport. Once his identity became clear, US Military Police were rushed in. The Military Police escorted the diplomatic car as it drove into East Berlin and the shocked GDR police got out of the way. The car continued and the soldiers returned to West Berlin. A British diplomat—apparently either out of the loop or attempting to conciliate—was stopped the next day and handed over his passport, infuriating Clay.
Perhaps this contributed to Hemsing's decision to make the attempt again. Mr. Hemsing again neared the zone boundary in a diplomatic vehicle. But Clay did not know how the Soviets would respond, so in case, he sent tanks with an infantry battalion to the nearby Tempelhof airfield. To everyone's relief the same routine played out again. The US Military Police and Jeeps went back to West Berlin, and the tanks waiting behind also went home.
Immediately, 33 Soviet tanks drove to the Brandenburg Gate. Curiously, Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev claimed as he understood it, the American tanks had seen the Soviet tanks coming and retreated. Col. Jim Atwood, then Commander of the US Military Mission in West Berlin, later disagreed. As one of the first to spot the tanks when they arrived, Lieutenant Vern Pike was ordered to verify whether they were Soviet tanks. He and tank driver Sam McCart drove over to East Berlin, where Pike took advantage of the absence of any soldiers near the tanks to climb into one of them. He came out with definitive evidence that the tanks were Soviet, including a Red Army newspaper.
Ten of the tanks continued to Friedrichstraße, and stopped just 75 meters from the checkpoint on the Soviet side of the boundary. The US tanks turned back towards the checkpoint, stopping an equal distance from it on the American side of the boundary.
October 27, 1961 at 1700 hours to October 28, 1961 at 1100 hours
The respective troops faced each other. As per standing orders, both groups of tanks were loaded with live munitions. The alert levels of the US Garrison in West Berlin, then NATO, and finally the US Strategic Air Command (SAC) were raised. Both groups of tanks had orders to fire if fired upon. It was at this point that US Secretary of State Dean Rusk conveyed to General Lucius Clay, the US commanding officer in Berlin, that "We had long since decided that Berlin is not a vital interest which would warrant determined recourse to force to protect and sustain." Clay was convinced that having US tanks use bulldozer mounts to knock down parts of the Wall would have ended the Crisis to the greater advantage of the US and its allies without eliciting a Soviet military response. His views, and corresponding evidence that the Soviets may have backed down following this action, support a more critical assessment of Kennedy’s decisions during the crisis and his willingness to accept the Wall as the best solution.
With KGB spy Georgi Bolshakov serving as the primary channel of communication, Khrushchev and Kennedy agreed to reduce tensions by withdrawing the tanks. The Soviet checkpoint had direct communications to General Anatoly Gribkov at the Soviet Army High Command, who in turn was on the phone to Khrushchev. The US checkpoint contained a Military Police officer on the telephone to the HQ of the US Military Mission in Berlin, which in turn was in communication with the White House. Kennedy offered to go easy over Berlin in the future in return for the Soviets removing their tanks first. The Soviets agreed. In reality Kennedy was pragmatic concerning the Wall: "It's not a very nice solution, but a wall is a hell of a lot better than a war."
October 28, 1961 at 1100 hours and 1 minute
The tanks from both groups started backing away from checkpoint Charlie and this is where the timeline splits. For some unknown reason a private in the front row of American soldiers stumbles, causing his gun to fire. The shot strikes the nearest of the Soviet tanks. Since none of them saw exactly what had happened, the Soviets thought that the NATO forces had opened fire on them intentionally and opened fire in return. At this point the balloon went up and everything hit the fan.
The NATO forces near the gate fired back. This continued while both sides notified their commanders. The commanders sent their forces to attack the opposing forces. While the forces were being activated, the information went up the chains of command. The Warsaw Pact nations activated their forces and headed into West Germany and Western Europe through thr Bulgar Gap. Eventually, the leaders of both sides, to try to stop the fighting, escalated to the use of nuclear weapons once permission was given. The first one used was against the US V Army Corp controlled sector by the Soviets 8th Guards Army Corp to blow holes in the wall to come through. As this was happening the government dispersed to continuation of government locations. Kennedy was sent to the presidential bunker in Mount Weather and Congress headed for the Greenbriar Bunker in eastern West Virginia.
October 30, 1961
After this the use of nuclear weapons were used against many targets. The Soviets started hitting NATO targets and NATO forces started hitting Soviet targets. This spread across Europe and the USSR. China made use of this and went after Mongolia and eastern Siberia to gain room for the population to move into. Soviet fired several short and medium range nuclear tipped missiles at China as a preemptive strike. A medium range missile hit Beijing and another hit Shanghai, destroying both cities. Each missile was tipped with a 10 megaton warhead that detonated at roughly 1.4 kilometers above the cities.
When the Chinese Military Command went offline the military started firing everything they had in their arsenal. South Korea, South Vietnam, Cambodia, and Japan were all struck as well as all Soviet military locations in Siberia that the Chinese knew about, eradicating them from existence just after the Soviets Launched their missiles at China and the United states. American forces sailed from Midway, Guam and Pearl Harbor to within the 2,500 nautical miles strike range of the Polaris A-2 missiles in use at the time. These were fired at all of the targets that were selected for these ships.
October 29, 1961
The DEW line Picked up incoming bogies and notified N.O.R.A.D. and Canadian military command. The bogies were identified with the Pinetree Line and tracked to possible targets with the Mid-Canada line. The United States went to DEFCON 1, immediately activated long range bombers and sent them towards the targets in the USSR and firing intercontinental ballistic missiles that were set for first strike launch. One of these bombers was sent to Cuba to remove the threat of Castro and his communist insurgents. Then the remainder went into deadman countdown for three days. Once this happened, there was no stopping them from launching as any further input from a human controller will be ignored.
October 31, 1961
The missiles fired from what was the United States hit their targets across the USSR and several hours later the bombers that had survived the Soviet interceptors struck their targets. One of the bombers, due to battle damage, could not open their bomb bay doors and instead dropped the plane on the target to complete the attack run. The USSR fired all of its remaining missiles at its targets and launched the remaining bombers that were able to fly toward their targets across the northern hemisphere. The target list included several dozen targets throughout Canada as the bombers flew overhead.
October 30, 1961
Another series of nuclear detonations hit what was the United States. In retaliation, all American ballistic missile submarines that had not launched were given clearance from mount weather to move into range and fire all of their primary launch missiles and to wait three days before firing the others. Several of these subs were sunk after launch as they got into battle with naval ships from other countries involved in the conflict. Eventually, everyone got hit at one point or another by nuclear weapons being fired against them.
November 2, 1961 - June 1, 2061
The deadman countdown finishes and the final launches of the last existing nuclear warheads on earth are launched by what was the United States against what was the USSR. These missiles strike their targets 45 minutes later ending World War III. Within weeks the atmosphere started getting colder from all of the dust and smoke in the air. Within six months the world had cooled so that the entire planet was undergoing a nuclear winter, even in the tropics. The nuclear winter lasted for sixty years and killed ten percent of the survivors in the first three years. After it warmed back up again, a pandemic came about due to a sudden upswing in rodent populations around the world. The survivors of the pandemic were stronger and hardier individuals than those who had lived before or during the war.
Gradually, small governments started forming in order to keep control of the local population. These governments, through marriage and combat, started growing in strength and land area. As they grew in strength, they were able to gain more land and grow stronger still.
Please, feel free to add your timeline additions here. If you have information for another part of the timeline project that can be added further down the page or on another associated page for one of the countries or organizations involved in the war.