The Origins of The Cold War 1945-55

  • Created by: Penny
  • Created on: 01-06-13 21:53

The Origins of The Cold War 1945-55


  • Usa and USSR had strong ideological differences- the USA was a Capitalist state and they believed in freedom which contrasted with the USSR's repressive communist dictatorship which comprised of a planned economy (under total control of the government) and general lack of freedom.
  • The Yalta conference February 1945- Decided Germany and Berlin would be divided into four the countries in Eastern Europe would be given free elections  and the USSR  would join the war against Japan to gain territory
  • The Potsdam Conference July-August 1945- President Roosevelt died and was replaced by President Truman (who was more stringently anti-communist) and during the conference Churchill was replaced by Clement Attlee. There was some agreement over the Nazi party being  banned and leaders would be tried as war criminals as well as the Oder-Neisse line would form the border between Poland and Germany. However there were many disagreements- Stalin wanted more reparations from Germany and Britain and the USA denied Stalin's request for a naval base in the Mediterranean an0d finally, Stalin had made the allies suspicious by setting up a communist government in Lublin and the capital of Poland .
  • On the 6th August 1945 the first Atom bomb was dropped on Hiroshima killing at least 75,000 people instantly and the second was dropped on Nagasaki on the 9th with 60,000 casualties.
  • The Soviet Red army advanced through Eastern Europe driving back the Germans and although elections were held, it was apparent that they were rigged allowing the communists to take control and in Hungary, Romania, Albania, Bulgaria and Poland anyone opposed to the communists were beaten, murdered or frightened into submission. In 1946 Churchill called the division between the two an 'iron curtain'
  • In Czechoslovakia in 1948 there was a possibility that the opposition would beat the communists in the elections and so communists ordered marches and protests forcing non-communist ministers to resign and Jan Masaryk, the foreign minister, to be killed.
  • The Truman Doctrine was drawn up in 1947 and was the USA committing to a policy of communist containment.
  • Greece appeared to be next in line to be taken over by communism and in early 1947 they asked the USA for help. As Truman was already very worried about the spread of communism he sent over arms, supplies and money.
  • The USA also dispatched military aid to Turkey to help them fight communism to ensure they could effectively combat communism
  • Truman officially announced his policy of containment following events in Greece + Turkey making it clear that the USA would not return to isolationism and the aim was to contain the spread of communism but not push it back.
  • The USA developed the policy of Marshall Aid  to help the economies of Eastern Europe recover in order to prevent the spread of communism.
  • Stalin refused Marshall aid and banned all the Eastern European countries from accepting it, setting up Cominform (an alliance of soviet countries to spread communist ideas) and Comecon (set up to co-ordinate production and trade in the Eastern European countries) as a response to the Warsaw pact.
  • Between 1948-49 the Berlin Blockade and airlift occurred when Stalin attempted to Blockade Berlin to prevent supplies from entering in a bid to gain control of the state. However, the USA came up with the strategy of airlifting in supplies and at the peak they were sending in 13,000 tonnes of supplies a day. By May 1949 the USSR lifted the blockade.


  • The Ideological differences made the USA mistrustful of the USSR and sparked an instant dislike between the two nations as their two beliefs contrasted so greatly. Additionally Stalin felt threatened by the USA's prosperity and felt that he needed to control the whole of Eastern Europe to stop the USA's 'imperialism' from putting hostile country
  • Although this did not contribute it did set up the rules for the nations and provided provocation for tensions when Stalin later defied these rules.
  • Truman and Attlee were extremely mistrustful of Stalin, and so the three nations did not have such a good relations and there were clear trust issues between the two nations which caused further tensions and set up an environment for a negative relationship. Stalin wanted to know why the other countries did not want to cripple Germany and the fact that the USA and USSR wouldn't allow him to set up a naval base was interpreted by him as clear evidence that they mistrusted him. Finally, the fact Stalin had set up a communist government made them suspicious as to why he would and indicated that he was trying to expand his 'empire' something which the Allies were distinctly against.
  • Stalin was only told about the Atom bomb at the start of the Potsdam conference and was extremely angry that it had been kept a secret- this increased the rivalry between the two superpowers and started the arms race.
  • The USSR had essentially defied the terms decided at Yalta and the allies were suspicious as to why they would need such a large 'buffer zone' increasing the tension between the two nations and making the USSR and Stalin feel more powerful and ready to deal with any conflict as a result.
  • This showed the Allies that the communists would go to violent lengths to quash any opposition and therefore made them feel like Stalin was definitely determined to have a communist empire as oppose to just the 'friendly governments' on his doorstep that he claimed to desire.
  • This was the USA's first official declaration that they were actively trying to stop communism and this made Stalin feel threatened.
  • Truman assisting countries in their resistance against communism escalated the tension between the two nations as it made it apparent that they were willing to involve resources in a conflict to prevent the spread of communism, therefore showing how much they disapproved of it as a political system.
  • Turkey had the same tension-increasing impact as Greece.
  • The official announcement of the Truman Doctrine made it clear to the rest of the world that the two nations were in conflict and it increased the tension as Stalin was made increasingly aware of the fact that Truman was willing to go to any lengths to prevent him from spreading Communism further than he already had.
  • Stalin thought this was part of 'Dollar imperialism' and was the USA's businesses trying to 'buy' western Europe  with their dollars which prompted him to be more determined to control western Europe with the Red Army.
  • Marshall Tito of Yugoslavia did not join as he did not want to totally accept Stalin's leadership and the response to the Warsaw Pact increased the tension between the nations as both were trying to obtain equal power.
  • This was the lowest point in relations between the two nations in many years. Future co-operation of Germany looked unlikely and the mistrust at dislike between the two nations had escalated considerably.

Overall summary

Mainly all these events heightened the mistrust between the two nations causing an increase in tension and providing the conditions necessary for the disagreements that followed at the height of the cold war.


Miss E


Brilliant example of a cause and effect table used to cover a large topic, the causes of the Cold War. Each cause has been explained in the effect column. Use this to create a mind map and practise exam questions on this topic.



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