The Cold War 1945 1991 Jo

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The Cold War

1945 - 1991


History GCSE


The long-term causes of the cold war 3

american capitalism 3

Soviet communism 3

the common enemy 4

why did the wartime alliance fall apart in 1945? 4

yalta and the argument over poland 4

why was poland the centre of attention at yalta? 5

the meeting at yalta 5

the weakness of the yalta agreement 6

yalta in practice 6

a new face at the white house 6

Truman takes a tough line 7

The potsdam conference 7

the iron curtain 7

why did Stalin take control of eastern europe? 8

liberation? 8

the war (ww2) as a triumph for Soviet communism 9

never again: the level of the Soviet wartime sacrifice 9

Soviet strategic thinking 9

us imperialism 9

how did the USA react to the Soviet take-over of eastern europe? 10

1946: cold war attitudes develop 10

the crisis of 1947 10

the Truman doctrine 10

the marshall plan 11

the Soviet response 11

comecon 11

what were the consequences of the berlin blockade? 12

towards a divided germany 12

the berlin airlift 13

Stalin ends the seige 13

results of the blockade 13

how successful was the USA in the korean war? 15

a divided land 15

invasion 15

impact of the korean war 16

khrushchev and the west 18

the geneva summit 18

results of the rising 19

the spy in the sky 20

the American response 20

the end of hopes for peace 20

Berlin: an embarrassment to the USSR 21

propaganda 22

who gained and who lost from the building of the Berlin wall? 22

cuba and the USSR 23

the bay of pigs 1961 23

the USSR arms Cuba 23

kennedy and khrushchev 24

Kennedy responds 24

the world holds its breath 25

results of the crisis 25

dubcek and the prague spring 26

the Soviets respond 26

results 27

détente 28

pressure for détente in the USSR 28

pressure for détente in the USA 28

the beginnings of détente 28

salt 1 1972 29

helsinki agreement 1975 29

results 29

criticisms of détente 30

SALT II 1977-79 30

Soviet involvement in afghanistan 30

the USSR invades 30

reactions from around the world 31

development of new weapons 32

the strategic defense initiative (SDI) 32

the birth of solidarity 33

Soviet failure in afghanistan 34

weaknesses in the Soviet bloc 35

new Soviet policies 35

the USA responds 36

trouble in eastern europe 37

the collapse of the Soviet union 38

The Roots of the cold war

Almost as soon as WW2 ended a bitter struggle developed between the USSR and USA.

Historians have produced three conflicting explanations for the start of the Cold War:

  1. The USSR was to blame. Stalin planned for a communist takeover of the world. The takeover of Eastern Europe was the first step towards world control.

  2. The USA was to blame. Soviet actions were defensive. The USA wanted to control its area of influence but refused to allow the USSR to do the same.

  3. Neither side was to blame. The Cold War was based on misunderstanding and forces beyond the control of both sides.

The long-term causes of the cold war

The roots of the Cold War are to be found earlier in history – in 1917 when Soviet communism was born during the Russian Revolution.

The USA and USSR were both rich and enormous countries – having great natural resources. But they were starkly separated by their different beliefs.

american capitalism

  1. People should be free to make as much money as they can.

  2. Factories and other property should be owned by individuals and companies.

  3. The government should interfere as little as possible in the lives of ordinary people.

  4. At elections people should be allowed to choose anyone they want for the government.

  5. The Press should be allowed to criticise the government.

  6. The government should not interfere with religion.

Soviet communism

  1. Rich people are wicked and selfish. They should be forced to share their wealth.

  2. Factories and other property should be owned by the state on behalf of all the people.

  3. A communist government should get involved in every aspect of life.

  4. At elections people should only be allowed to choose communists for government.

  5. The Press should never criticise a communist government.

  6. Religious belief is nonsense and should be wiped out by the government.

Each side thought they were completely right.

Tension and hostility increased during the civil war in Russia between the White Russians and Bolshevik revolutionaries (reds). In 1919 the USA, Britain and France invaded the Soviet Union in order to destroy communism by supporting the Whites. This failed, increasing tension between the countries.

the common enemy

In 1941 hostility was suspended between the USA and the Soviet Union as they were linked by their common wish to destroy Hitler. But the end of the war proved a difficult situation. Nazi power over Europe had been destroyed but what should replace it?

Shortly before his death, Hitler predicted the start of the cold war.

After the collapse of the German Reich, and until there is a rise in nationalism in Asia, African or Latin America, there will only be two powers in the world: The United States and Soviet Russia. Through the laws of history and geographical position these giants are destined to struggle with each other either through war, or through rivalry in economics and political idea.’ Hitler’s Political Testament, April 1945

1945: the breakdown of the wartime alliance

The Victory over Hitler created new worries for the winners. They had different views as to the future of Europe after the war. Before the end of 1945 deep division were emerging between the leaders of the USA and the Soviet Union.

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