I. Origins of East-West Rivalry Key Summary Question



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The Cold War
To what extent was the US responsible for the outbreak of the Cold War?

To what extent was the USSR responsible for the outbreak of the Cold War?

I. Origins of East-West Rivalry
Key Summary Question
What were the key factors to the origin of the Cold War prior to 1939?

A. 1917- 1941: Opposition and Recognition

  • 1917 Oct. Revolution: Lenin and Bolsheviks seize power

  • US isolationist policies/ Soviet isolationism also existed (1930’s)

  • US had little to do with USSR after the revolution

  • US has non-intervention policies for regions outside the western hemisphere

  • US hostility to the world’s first major communist state is partly responsible because of our own history and political culture

  • US had no left-wing politics tradition in either party

Other:

  • US saw overthrow of tsar as a chance for democracy

  • US and allies feared Bolshevism would spread

  • US troops briefly intervened on side of anti-Bolshevik forces in the Russian Civil War

  • US supporters of communism were seen as extremists

  • American communist party was formed in 1919  Red Scare



B. Russia’s recent history shaped their ideology (political, economic, social differences)


  • Democracy and free speech never existed under Tsar’s or Bolsheviks

  • Bolsheviks built a one-party state to act as the vanguard of the proletariat

  • Party role was to raise class consciousness and seize power in their name

  • Dictatorship of the proletariat (Karl Marx) did not happen-dictatorship of the party on behalf of the workers and peasants occurred

  • Speech and dissent were not tolerated

  • Free market and free trade were unfamiliar- command economy vs. demand economy



C. 1928 Stalin launched 5 year plans- under party command prior to WWII USSR economy had been isolated from the rest of the world – which did provide immunity from The Great Depression and achieved high growth rates

D. 1933-1939


  • Formal diplomatic relations between US & USSR were a result of the threat to both nation by the rising power of Japan

  • Soviet-US relations strained by Stalin’s methods of governing

    • Soviet leader(s) abuse power

    • 1936-38 trials were to rid party of Stalin’s opponents

      • Fabricated evidence to extract confessions

      • Torture and execution; purges

  • Little for US/USSR to agree or disagree about

  • They were mutually suspicious  with very different political systems and ideology


II. WWII
Key Summary Question:

In what sense were the US and USSR both partners and competitors during WWII?

A. 1939: Non-Aggression Pact signed between Hitler & Stalin

US reluctance to complete a defensive alliance with USSR against Nazi Germany had driven Stalin right into Hitler’s arms (hindsight historical view)



B. Review:

1941- Germany invaded the USSR (June)  transformed US/USSR relations

  • General US view was that Hitler and Stalin should be left to fight each other to a standstill (view not shared by FDR)

  • US was committed to the defeat of Nazi Germany but had not yet entered the war

  • US policy was to help the USSR as an enemy of Germany

C. Lend-Lease Act (Nov)  Aids all enemies of Germany

D. Japan attacks Pearl Harbor (Dec)

E. Germany declares war on the US  now US/USSR official allies

  • West  an alliance of necessity: Grand Alliance (US, Britain, USSR)

  • Soviet  an anti-Hitler coalition

  • US/USSR troops never fought side-by-side

    • Most aid was from Lend-Lease Act

    • US equipment with USSR manpower defeated Germany on the eastern front

    • Between 1941-43, 93% of German casualties were inflicted by the Red Army

    • Result: changes US attitude toward USSR (turns favorable as seen in some new media)

III. Breakdown of Wartime Alliance
A. Wartime Alliance  purpose: to defeat Nazi Germany

Strains during the war occurred:



  • Political settlement of eastern Europe

  • Division over Poland

  • Conflicting attitudes

    • Continue wartime partnership w/

    • Profound suspicion of Soviet post-war ambitions both within Europe and beyond

1942: Disagreement in strategies



  • Stalin wanted US/Britain to invade Western Europe to help Red Armies in the east

  • FDR’s repeated postponement of invasion plans of German-occupied France caused friction between US/USSR

1944: US/Britain deploys armies in Italy and Northern Africa

  • No western invasion until Normandy invasion (6 June 1944)




    • Stalin feared US/Britain would conclude a separate peace treaty with Germany and the three nations (US, Britain, Germany) would turn their forces against USSR

    • Soviet wartime espionage in US indicates depth of Stalin distrust of US

  • Soviet agents had infiltrated the Manhattan Project

  • US reciprocates  decodes Soviet diplomatic code (led to capture of Rosenberg’s)


B. Tehran Conference (’43) It is this conference that formed guidelines for Soviet policy in Eastern Europe. Churchill suggested a change in boundaries and USSR could regain 1914 boundaries and could absorb eastern Poland while Poland would get compensated to the west by receiving parts of eastern Germany (check out a map) FDR did not object but said he would not publicly agree to this in case he needed the Polish-American vote in 1944
C. 1944: Breton Woods Conference (July ‘43)

America had laid plans for: 1. IMF- International Monetary Fund

2. World Bank

To shape post war world economy and act as lenders to defeated countries

- US self interest? Free trade ideal deeply rooted

D. Stalin-Churchill Moscow Conference (Oct ’44) (US was represented but not by FDR)

An informal agreement to give a sphere of influence to USSR in Romania and Bulgaria and Britain in Greece; this was never openly opposed by FDR



E. Big Three at Yalta (Feb ‘45)

Plans are being made for post-war period. Topics discussed by FDR, Churchill, Stalin:



  1. United Nations

  2. Occupation of Germany and the city of Berlin

  3. free elections in Eastern Europe

  4. Stalin will join the war against Japan in return for parts of Manchuria and Sakhalin Island

  5. Poland- Stalin wanted to keep some of the land he annexed in 1939


    • (Russia had driven back the Germans and set up a communist gov’t in Lublin and the Pole gov’t was in exile in London)

    • Churchill and FDR objected to the revision of Poland’s (east of Oder and Neisse Rivers) borders and asked for inclusion of the London Poles in the Lublin Committee later to be followed by free Polish elections.

    • Stalin agrees to let London Poles in the Lublin gov’t. but does not get eastern Poland territory.


Key Question- What responsibility must FDR bear for the dispute in Poland and in what ways did he contribute to the misunderstanding?


  • Inconsistency in US policy

FDR appeared to endorse a Soviet sphere of influence to secure continuing Soviet cooperation in the war effort in 1943-44, only later to insist the area be open to American influence, free elections, and representative gov’t.
US demands at Yalta were an attempt to retrieve what had been given away earlier in Tehran and Moscow Conferences


  • FDR misled the American public

Wartime deals with Stalin had been kept from the American people while publicly (speeches) he and Cordell Hull trumpeted their vision of a post-war world without spheres of influence


After Yalta (FDR was ill by then) FDR addressed both houses of congress to announce the US had gotten their way over Poland. When Stalin failed to carry out the Yalta accords, suspicion about Soviet motives intensified w/in the US; US diplomacy was ambiguous, misled the American public, and confused Stalin.
UN Charter issued (Apr)

 UN was established; the organization offered what in terms of international security?

US recognized communist-dominated Polish gov’t (Jul)

US tests (Jul) and uses (Aug) the atomic bomb



IV. Post War Period

How and why did attitudes within the US change toward the USSR?
New views of the USSR prompted a turn of US policy -> USSR is no longer an ally but a potential adversary
Kennan’s Long Telegram (Feb ‘46)

Churchill’s Iron Curtain Speech (Mar ‘46)

Soviet military withdrawal from Iran (Apr ‘46)

Relaxation of US occupation policy in Germany (Sept ‘46)



A. Kennan Telegram

George Kennan – US embassy in Moscow

(February 1946) Telegram to State Department offered a historical analysis of the motives of Russian foreign policy


  • Russian rulers were always weak and needed to “invent” an external enemy in order to unite the people

  • Needed to fix their borders as west a possible out of fear of invasion

  • Marxism-Leninism taught communist states could not co-exist peacefully with capitalist states

  • This justifies continuation of state of conflict with the West

  • Justifies extending Russian power to is western limit

  • Marxism-Leninism was the ideological basis for soviet aggression

US response to the telegram “a splendid analysis” (Secretary of State James Byrnes)


Think of this – Kennan’s analysis was really quite subtle and simple, Truman sees the reading as the US was in the right and that the USSR was in the wrong – ultimately the telegram encouraged Truman to define the USSR as an enemy and prompted a much clearer and tougher policy toward the USSR


**shift in mood of the American public came in part from-


  1. Churchill’s Iron Curtain Speech (Mar ‘46)




  • “iron curtain” has descended upon Europe and behind it the soviets were building an empire in eastern Europe and

  • Attempting to project their power by directing communist parties in western Europe to work against elected governments

  • Be firm with negotiation: acquiescing in German territorial claims as in 1930s lesson of appeasement, must not be repeated with USSR

  • Distrust of the soviets went from 35% to 55% a year later


Key Issue:

What were the similarities and differences between the post-war aims of the US/USSR?


C. FDR-Stalin Agree on:
1. Limiting the power of Germany

* Disarmament

* Demilitarization

* Military occupation


2. Dividing Germany

* Occupation by victors

* Continue co-operation after the war

* Was mutually desirable


D. FDR-Stalin Disagree on:

(Differing plans for peace)


FDR

  • wants creation of a world peace-keeping organization the UN

  • No empires or exclusive spheres of influence

  • Self-determination of all states

  • Democratic ideal to flourish (speech, elections, human rights)

  • Free trade/ world economy to benefit all (economic Open Door policy)

Stalin

  • Stalin was not concerned about world peace and reconstruction of the world economy in post WWII period.

  • In 1945 USSR did join the UN however- skeptical about its ability to keep world peace; he consented membership because he was satisfied membership would not endanger soviet security.

  • Permanent membership of UN Security Council gives USSR has veto power to any decision not in their interest.

  • Provisionally agreed to join IMF –International Monetary Fund and World Bank – Loans from the US (outside these two institutions) would finance their economic recovery and continuation of US-Soviet alliance would bring benefits to the USSR.


Stalin wants security for the USSR

  • Twice Germany invaded Russia from the west (Stalin’s lifetime)

    • Russia’s losses were great – 15 million soldiers, 10 million civilians and 1,700 towns, 31,000 factories, 100,000 state farms were destroyed

    • Battle of Stalingrad alone 1.2 million died – more than the total of US and British losses

  • Restore 1914 boundaries

  • Create friendly neighboring states – Poland, Romania, Bulgaria would form a sphere of influence and buffer zone against Germany

Think about it-Why did US geography and history make it insensitive to this fear?




  • Stalin made it clear the European States on its perimeter will/should have similar political and economic systems.

  • Red Army Occupation of Poland, Romania, Bulgaria entitled him to determine what sort of government existed there (US post-war aims were unacceptable- (democracy?)


By 1946:
The US abandoned a long-term cooperation with USSR and committed itself to the containment of soviet power across the globe.

USSR is seen as an enemy intent on territorial gain and ultimately world domination

USSR & Nazi dictators have similar ideas & methods (US view)

V. Breakdown of US-Soviet Alliance, 1945


  • What did the US and USSR disagree about in 1945?

  • What was the substance of those divisions?

  1. Poland

  2. Economy

  3. Atomic weapons

  4. Germany


A. POLAND- The Pole gov’t that fled to London in 1939, both US and Britain recognized them as the official gov’t; USSR breaks relations with them in 1943; Stalin set up a pro-Soviet gov’t in 1944 (Lublin) with the intentions of returning the boundaries to 1914 lines
Stalin is furious with interference in what he regarded as vital Soviet security…. He believed his US/Brit allies had already conceded a sphere of influence in eastern Europe to him.


  • Promises broken by Stalin; Poland issues divides the USSR/US

*Free elections and inclusion of the London Poles in the Lublin Committee were interpreted differently. Stalin signed a Declaration of Liberated Europe pledging free elections and democratic institutions (statement of intent, it was not legally binding)

Free elections were not conducted but Stalin did concede London Poles in the now mainly communist gov’t.
*Stalin saw the Moscow Conf. agreements as more important; he was prepared to trade British influence over Greece for Soviet hegemony in Romania and Bulgaria
*In 1945, US recognized the new Polish state. Differences over Poland was a major contributor to the Cold War. Prior to his death FDR doubted any post-war cooperation with Stalin would be possible.
*Harry Truman succeeds FDR- no turning back this Cold War?
* American policy makers see USSR as a test to Soviet intentions

* Policy makers worried that USSR was intent on projecting their power to other areas

* it is impossible to thwart Soviet power in eastern Europe

*US must CONTAIN Soviet power elsewhere- Containment Policy develops under Truman
B. Economy


  • Economic issues contributed to the Cold war

  • (Jan ’45) USSR asked US for a $6B loan, US responds with conditions to open eastern European markets to US manufactures products- Soviets did not yield to this condition

  • Dollar Diplomacy- use financial muscle to extract political concessions

  • Lend-Lease was terminated in May ’45 without notice- HST says it’s too much for US taxpayers. The USSR viewed US as unwilling to help with economic recovery

  • Dec. ’45 deadline to join IMF and WB passed w/out the USSR joining (boycott) USSR refused to participate in a global economic system which opened up the possibility of a separate economic bloc in eastern Europe under Soviet leadership


C. Atomic Weapons
Potsdam 1945, where Truman first met Stalin to discuss occupation of Germany
July 16, 1945 - US successfully tests atomic bomb (recall Manhattan Project and Soviet espionage)

8 days later – Potsdam Conference was overshadowed by this event.


Truman informs Stalin of new weapon the US possesses – Stalin acted unalarmed but deeply worried such a weapon will shift the balance of power – USSR starts accelerating their weapons program
How did the atom bomb influence American attitudes toward Soviet participation in the Pacific War against Japan?


  • At Yalta, FDR secured a promise from Stalin that the USSR would enter the war against Japan within 3 months of the surrender of Germany

  • US hopes the bomb would defeat Japan without Soviet help

  • Differences over Poland convinced US of USSR wanting to exploit its position as victor

  • USSR participation against Japan would be followed by demands in occupation of Japan and more territorial claims in Asia

  • There is little evidence the US used the bomb against Japan to intimidate the USSR (but if it did frighten them, and make them more flexible negotiating partners, then is a good thing in the eyes of US policy makers)

  • US uses atomic bomb as diplomatic leverage; atomic monopoly is advantageous to US and Truman as negotiator

  • US offered info about the bomb in return for the reorganization of Soviet-controlled governments of Romania and Bulgaria (Atomic diplomacy?)

  • USSR was not intimidated into any concessions (though underlying fear and resentment existed)



As for atomic weapons

  • US…uncompromising attitude about sharing atomic info…US/USSR work agreements via the UN

  • Baruch Plan: (June ’46) frequent inspection of atomic energy installations in

UN member states


  • Emphasis on inspection caused an impasse …the US refused to destroy existing atomic stockpile until inspections arrangements were firmly in place while the USSR refused to submit to inspections until the US destroyed the atomic weapons (Stalin probably wouldn’t have submitted no matter what)

  • Some argue it was explicitly designed to prolong US atomic monopoly while being unacceptable to the USSR

* The opportunity for international control of nuclear weapons was lost

- 1946 Congress passed the McMahon Act prohibiting the exchange of atomic

energy information with any foreign power, including American allies

- Meanwhile USSR continued their own atomic weapons program and the

nuclear arms race and enduring feature of the Cold War


D. Germany – 4 zones of occupation (decided at Yalta)

1. British 2. Soviet Union 3.US 4. France
Additionally at Potsdam – two more important decisions

  1. Each occupying power would be entitled to take reparations from its own zone to compensate for human, material, and financial losses – reparations would take the form of industrial output and equipment – USSR was granted reparations from the 3 western zones in exchange for food and raw materials from the Soviet zone

  2. Occupying powers had to agree to treat the 4 zones as a single economic area -> free movement of goods between the four zones

This would really test the ability of the US and USSR to cooperate on a day-to-day basis



Coal output became an immediate area of disagreement. USSR wanted coal from the western zones as reparations but US wanted to use coal to assist in the economic rehabilitation of Western Europe
US viewed Europe on the brink of collapse, ready for anarchy, and communism could sweep through Europe. Coal reserves must service economic recovery. Truman orders DDE to make mining and exportation of West German coal the key objective of occupation and Soviet reparations claims must take second place to Europe’s energy needs


  • Soviet occupation policy caused tension

    • Treated their zone as a self-contained economic entity which existed only for their benefit

    • They dismantled German factories and moved them to USSR

    • USSR did not give food in return for reparations from British/American zones

  • Clearly punishment of a defeated enemy and economic exploitation were the two principles of their occupation

    • Food, clothing, timber were needed to sustain the Ruhr workforce and re-equip the mines – Soviets argued they would not release goods from their zone until they received a satisfactory level of reparations


Changes in US Occupation in Germany

  • US halts reparations deliveries from the western zones (May ’46) (in an attempt to get those food commodities from the Soviet zone)

  • USSR sees it as a breach of Potsdam


VI. Key Issue: How did US policy towards the USSR Change in 1946?
* New perceptions resulted in new policy

  • “get tough” is the forbearer of later doctrine of containment

  • US actions in Iran signaled a new diplomatic offensive

  • (Mar ’46) Soviet Forces were only 40 miles from Tehran and did not observe the deadline for withdrawal

  • US goes to UN on this issue…withdrawal begins in May

  • US helps Iranian army secure their northern border with USSR

  • USSR was angry and embarrassed that the US went to the UN instead of solving the issue bi-laterally


A. Dollar Diplomacy

  • US has tougher loan conditions (USSR wanted conditions such as dropping trade barriers in eastern Europe and compensation for US assets seized in Romania and Bulgaria)

  • Soviets were not interested on loan on those terms so all negotiations over loans ended in June ’46

  • There would be no US-USSR economic partnership in post-war world



Summarized Points


  • Yalta accords were interpreted differently (Poland)

  • Potsdam agreement on Germany were interpreted and had different meanings


* Implementing and interpreting agreements was a significant cause of the Cold War
US/ Brit merged zones to form a political and economic unit…determined to implement Potsdam in at least where Germany areas were in their control

US Relaxes restrictions on German industrial production which would enable Germany to export enough goods to finance food imports (US wants to take precedent over Soviet reparations claims)

* Emphasis of US occupation of Germany shifts from punishment to recovery

Summary Points

- Cold War emerge with Truman Administration

- USSR directly threatened US security (US view of course)

- Russia constantly broke wartime agreements

- Their ultimate goal was world domination inspired by the Marxian theory of

ultimate destruction of capitalist states by Communist States

- Ideology and aggressive soviet actions were part of Soviet foreign policy, and

not security as presented

- US politicians: anyone who criticized the “get tough” Truman stand were

“relieved” of position and replaced by advocated of the Truman policy



B. Truman Doctrine- (Mar ‘47) Truman addresses congress on financial aid to Greece and Turkey (see map for geographical proximity to USSR)

Overview


(June ‘47) Marshall Plan

(July ’47) Congress passes the National Security Act

(June 24, 1948) Soviets impose road, rail and river blockade on West Berlin)

(June 25, 1948) Berlin Airlift begins- ends in May of 1949.

(Apr ’49) creation of NATO

(Sept ’49) FRG- Federal Republic of Germany was established - West Germany



How far was the US responsible for the Cold War? (that would one very long essay)


  • Argue the role of the Soviet Union

  • Argue the role of the United States

  • The Cold War is inseparable from WWII

  • Identify Long-term causes of Cold War

  • Issues of collapse of wartime alliance

  • Fear of soviet power

  • Search for security

  • New perceptions – ally to enemy


New Policy

Cold War


C. Doctrine of Containment (started by Keenan, 1947)


  • meaning of the term

  • aims of containment

  • US actions in Europe and Asia

  • Success and failure



***Containment- a defensive posture by the US


  • Underlying assumption was that USSR would extend its power by applying pressure on the weak points beyond their sphere of influence by supporting communist movements (Europe, Asia)

  • Objective was to stop its spread beyond where it already existed and to keep it out of western Europe

  • Keep the USSR from gaining access to the Atlantic seaboard and keep vital resources (Ruhr Valley coal and steel of west Germany) out of Soviet control

  • Destabilize existing governments through propaganda and industrial workers strikes

  • Containment is also an economic initiative to counter communism

- US policy is that the US would be more powerful than the USSR

- American dollars would nurture democratic and capitalist states- Marshall Plan would aid Europe - NATO would aid Japan

- Vietnam and Korea was still low priority

- US would take advantage of atomic monopoly

- US would assume leadership of the “free world”

Key Issue- Truman Doctrine: What was the immediate historical background to the Truman Doctrine? What important principle did Truman announce?

D. Containment: Why Greece?
Post WWII Greece had a civil war (which Stalin stayed out of) between Royalists and communists; American view was that a move to the left would draw Greece into Stalin’s sphere of influence. Supplies to the Greek communists came from Yugoslavia/Tito who was attempting to incorporate Greece into a Balkan federation under his control.
E. Containment: Why Turkey?
It borders the USSR. And also because of nearby Middle East oil resources. Historically UK had protected the eastern Mediterranean against soviet encroachment (until 1947) but UK could no longer give financial aid so the US filled that role.

Truman needed congressional support to send advisors to Greece and Turkey. Congress was controlled by Republicans; elected on platform of cutting taxes after the war. Truman had to persuade a conservative Republican congress to allocate funds to combat communism; Truman exaggerated the threat and dramatized the conflict between the USSR and US as a contest of competing sets of ideas. (his ideology is reflected in speech to congress on March 12, 1947)



  • Greece is threatened by terrorist activities of communists

  • Greece needs US support to become a democracy

  • US must help protect free elections, representative gov’t, individual liberties, freedom of speech and religion, freedom from political oppression.

  • US must have a policy to support Greece’s resistance to communist pressure

  • 400 m. granted (250 to Greece, 150 to Turkey)

In reality Greece and Turkey were not models for democracy- the gov’ts were corrupt, political opponents were imprisoned (characteristics Truman saw as communist) The US had to assess the hostility of communism rather than attachment to democratic ideals as the test as whether overseas nations received financial aid. This made for some unpleasant “alliances” in the struggle against international communism.
Truman Doctrine was accompanied by an increase in military preparedness.

  • Selective service

  • Increased stockpile of atomic bombs (Approx.13 to 50)

  • Increased B-50 Bombers to carry the A-Bombs


F. NSA (1947) National Security Act merged the Navy and War Depts. and became the Defense Dept at the Pentagon. NSA also established the CIA; function was to gather intelligence, allowed for espionage, secret operations abroad- an important tool for containment. NSA also created NSC- National Security Council headed by National Security Adviser- important to any administration.


VII. Marshall Plan (1947) named for George Marshall, Sec. of State.

Key Issue- What was the motives for the Marshall Plan? Why did it intensify the Cold War?



  • Large money grants to western Europe to purchase food, raw materials, industrial machinery in the US- helped the US economy, American farmers, and industries.

  • Prevent hungry, unemployed people from turning to communism or extreme parties

  • Rise of the left was a reality; in France and Italy communists serving in coalition govt’s had as much as 20% of the vote. If gov’ts sought ties with Moscow then USSR would indirectly control western Europe and the global balance would shift.

The USSR and eastern Europe were invited to join the Marshall Plan (US can’t exclude USSR which would exacerbate the Cold War. US hoped USSR would refuse (which it did) but not eastern Europe. USSR saw Marshall Plan as a challenge to their political control in E. Europe

Stalin cautioned Czech. and Poland not to participate and that the Marshall Plan was an attempt by the US to create an economic empire and the disintegration of soviet sphere of influence will follow.


  • Soviets introduced their own version called the Molotov Plan- to bind Eastern Europe to USSR in a single economic area.

  • Two blocs emerge, both politically and economically

  • Stalin did accept a degree of free enterprise in Hungary but in 1948 non-communists were expelled from the Hungarian gov’t. and replaced with Stalinists.

  • Czech pursued interest in the Marshall Plan but rejects it; Czech communists seized power in Feb’48 in an armed coup and the pro-western foreign minister was murdered.

  • This prompted the US Congress to grant $17b., by 1952 the total was $13b.

  • The major recipients were Britain, France, Germany

  • Marshall aid nations increased industrial production by 35%, agric. By 10%

  • Comiform was the USSR response to the Marshall Plan

VIII. Creation of West Germany
Key Issue:

How, why and with what consequences did the US establish a new West Germany state?
Geopolitical importance- frontier between non-communist and soviet controlled Europe.
A. US wanted to end military occupation- combined the 3 western zones into West Germany

  • US would be an ally and there would be a buffer zone against communist central Europe

  • Kept coalfields and heavy industry of the Ruhr away from USSR

  • W Germany would be major beneficiary of the Marshall Plan

B. US wanted to win the support of the German people



  • US relaxed the 1947 restrictions on industrial production

  • Increase in supply of west German coal and steel would help rebuild the economy

  • It would remind Germans that the occupiers did not want harsh controls over Germany

  • A new currency was issued in the three western zones

The long-term goal of the US was to create a democratic and economically viable west Germany to fortify Europe’s frontier w/ USSR

C. What was the USSR concerned with? How did Stalin respond?



  • Old German currency lost its value, many areas used barter

  • German rearmament would occur (once forbidden under the Potsdam Conference)

  • Revived fears of German/west invasion


D. East Germany was established in 1949 after West Germany was established in 1948.
First crisis of the Cold War:

Stalin initiated land blockade of Berlin- this put pressure on western powers. Berlin had been divided into the four zones. The location of Berlin is important as it lay deep within the Soviet occupation zone so the three western powers were sealed off from the rest of Germany since 1946.

US, France Britain depended on road, rail, and land transportation.
E. June ’48 Berlin Blockade began, purpose was to force western powers to end plans for a west German state, or at least drive them out.
US airlift began, lasted 320 days, delivered vital supplies of food and coal

Stalin ended the blockade in May ’49. Blockade failed (airlift succeeded and eventually an independent West Germany was established- FRG)

Free elections followed and FRG began in Sept. ‘49

Oct. ’49 soviet occupation zone became East Germany/GDR- German Democratic Republic- firmly in soviet sphere and had a one-party state. The “iron curtain” is complete.


The Cold War meant that neither superpower could allow the whole of Germany to fall within the other’s sphere of influence- having half a Germany was better than none.

IX. NATO (Apr ’49) North Atlantic Treaty Organization- military alliance of 12 states- a collective security whereby an attack on one member would be considered an attack on all and could be met with armed force. Members were US, Canada, Britain, France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Italy, Portugal, Denmark, Norway, Iceland

  • Europe wanted permanent US presence on the continent

  • Americans encouraged European allies to form their own defense organization in 1948- the Western European Union without the US

  • US joined NATO for political and economic reason -joined to secure France and Britain’s consent to a West German statehood

  • US did get military advantages- evasion of sole responsibility for Europe’s defense, gained military bases for air attacks if necessary.

NATO was weaker than the Warsaw Pact up to 1980 (Reagan becomes president) with NATO forces only having 60 divisions of troops and the Warsaw Pact having 102 with 3X the number of tanks


X. Warsaw Pact
Signed in 1955 after West Germany was admitted into NATO.

It is a mutual defense agreement for the European communist bloc


Part 2 of the Cold War

Berlin Wall goes up in August of 1961.

Cuban Missile Crisis

Korea and Vietnam


Summary of Historical Views
Western historians saw Stalin’s motives as sinister (Kennan) and he intended to spread communism throughout Europe and Asia as well as destroy capitalism. NATO and Korea were the west’s self defense against communist aggression.
Revisionist viewpoints became popular during the Vietnam War when American government became obsessed with hostility toward communist states. Soviet historians (1960’s) and American historians (1970’s) argued that the Cold War ought not to be blamed on Stalin and the Russians. Their theory is that Russia suffered enormous losses and therefore expected that Stalin would try to make sure neighboring states were friendly. Stalin’s motives were purely defensive and there was no real threat to the West. Some American historians claim the US should not have challenged the idea of a Soviet sphere of influence. The actions American politicians, especially Truman, provoked unwarranted Russian hostility.
Post-revisionist view was interpreted in the 1980’s once documents and archives became available.

Both sides were to blame. The Marshall Plan was to intentionally increase US influence in Europe. Stalin had no long term goal to spread communism but he did take the opportunity to expand soviet influence in Eastern Europe. Every international act could be taken by the other as evidence of aggressive intent. Open war was avoided because the US did not want to use the A- bomb again unless attacked directly while the Russians dared not to risk such an attack.


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