TOP IMAGE: Austrian President Adolf Schärf greets General Secretary Nikita Khrushchev at Vienna Southern Railroad Station on his arrival for the Vienna Summit.

TOP IMAGE: Austrian President Adolf Schärf greets General Secretary Nikita Khrushchev at Vienna Southern Railroad Station on his arrival for the Vienna Summit.

For Austria, playing a role in the international community became   an important element of its foreign policy. Important conferences, such as the debates on diplomatic relations or the peaceful use of outer  space, were staged in Vienna.

The Austrian capital also became the seat of the International Atomic Energy Agency and other United Nations organizations, eventually becoming the third “U.N. city” after New York and Geneva. On June 3–4, 1961, the young and still untested U.S. President John F. Kennedy met the blustery Chairman of the Soviet Politburo Nikita Khrushchev for a summit meeting.

Vienna, the capital  of neutral Austria, was chosen as the meeting site because of its tradition as a venue of European great power diplomacy. The powers preferred neutral sites such as Vienna, Geneva and Helsinki for East-West high level diplomacy during the Cold War.

The Kennedy-Khrushchev discussions revolved around tough Cold War issues such as the ongoing Berlin crisis, Cuba, the emerging flashpoints in Indochina (Laos and Vietnam), as well as nuclear disarmament. Khrushchev left Vienna with the impression that he had bested the inexperienced Kennedy in their one-on-one parleys.  It would take still more time to get a period of Cold War détente started.

In the evening of June 3, 1961, Austrian President Adolf Schärf gives a gala dinner at Schönbrunn Palace, for the American and Soviet delegations to the Vienna Summit. After dinner the ballet of the Vienna State Opera danced the Strauss Waltz “On the Beautiful Blue Danube.” Chairman Khrushchev, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, President Schärf, Soviet First Lady Nina Khrushcheva, and President Kennedy (from left to right), with diplomatic delegations in the background.

In the evening of June 3, 1961, Austrian President Adolf Schärf gives a gala dinner at Schönbrunn Palace, for the American and Soviet delegations to the Vienna Summit. After dinner the ballet of the Vienna State Opera danced the Strauss Waltz “On the Beautiful Blue Danube.” Chairman Khrushchev, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, President Schärf, Soviet First Lady Nina Khrushcheva, and President Kennedy (from left to right), with diplomatic delegations in the background.

During the gala dinner at Schönbrunn Palace, Chairman Nikita Khrushchev chatted with American First Lady Jackie Kennedy, with President Kennedy in the background (on left). 

During the gala dinner at Schönbrunn Palace, Chairman Nikita Khrushchev chatted with American First Lady Jackie Kennedy, with President Kennedy in the background (on left). 


PHOTO CREDITS: CLOCKWISE FROM TOP Votava; Photo #E10/165, VGA Collection; #1369128, Courtesy of the Picture Archives of the Austrian National Gallery; Photo #E10/155, VGA Collection; #1358230, Courtesy of the Picture Archives of the Austrian National Gallery.