Part B notes (The start of the Cold War and the end of the Cold War)

Notes from the Edexcel GCE History textbook for the Part B question either on the beginning or end of the Cold War

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How did the Cold War develop between 1944 and 1953?
How did the legacy of the Second World War make a Cold War more likely?
WWII created a power vacuum in Europe ­ defeat of Nazi Germany left large areas of Europe
without any meaningful government.
The war highlighted the emergence of the USA and the USSR as powers with the capacity to
dominate Europe.
Both didn't want the other to fill the vacuum completely and the result was a division of Europe
into spheres of influence. Tensions were to develop over the limits and extent of these spheres.
The power vacuum caused by the defeat of Nazi Germany was a short-term cause of the Cold War.
Ideological differences gave their attempts to fill the vacuum another edge.
They had lost their common enemy. Distrust was mounting ­ Stalin suspicious of USA and Britain
when they delayed the opening of a second front. The USA were uneasy with Stalin's ruthless
policies, especially the purges.
Development of the Atomic bomb which was dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 ­ USA
military superiority. Failure of Truman to inform Stalin added to Soviet suspicions of US motives.
Attitudes of the main powers to the situation in Europe in 1945
Soviet attitudes 1945
Over 20 million Soviet citizens had died as a direct result of the war, whole cities had been reduced
to rubble so Stalin's main aim was to safeguard and rebuild the SU.
Wanted to prevent another invasion from the west (invaded from the west 3 times in the 20th C so
were insecure), this policy meant occupying as much of E.Europe as possible to create a buffer
zone that would act as a barrier against further invasion of the USSR.
To the West this was seen as evidence of the expansionist nature of communism.
US attitudes 1945
Change in attitude from one of accommodation to one of confrontation when Truman replaced
Roosevelt as President in 1945.
Roosevelt ­ "too soft on communism" ­ saw negotiation and compromise as the most effective
methods of safeguarding Western interests while avoiding having to commit resources to Europe.
Truman ­ not prepared for foreign affairs ­ policy of containment (Iron fist approach).
Fears of an economic recession made the US keen to protect Europe (potential market) from
Soviet expansion. Arms industries would benefit from international tensions.
How did the Cold War develop in Europe between 1945 and 1950?
The alliance of the `Big Three' lost its' reason for being when Nazi Germany were defeated in 1945.
Tensions and differences kept below the surface during WWII came to the fore.
Stages in the process of diplomatic breakdown:
1) The Yalta and Potsdam conferences 1945
Agreements reached at Yalta: the division of Germany into zones of occupation, principle of free
elections in E.Europe, SU to join the war against Japan

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Disagreement at Yalta: Poland. Communist government based in Lublin when the Soviets
liberated Poland from Germany, despite there being the Polish government in exile in London.
Stalin agreed to allow members of the London-based government into the new Lublin
administration and to uphold free elections.
Roosevelt died, new President Truman. Churchill replaced by Atlee during the conference at
Potsdam. Stalin had the advantage over newcomers.
Communist groups being positioned in important government roles throughout E.Europe.…read more

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Causes: Germany and Berlin divided into 4 occupational zones agreed at Yalta and Potsdam. The
Western Zones benefitted from Marshall Aid. Living conditions in E.Germany remained low.
Difference between East and West living standards embarrassingly obviously especially in Berlin.
Established separate West German state in 1948, introduced a new currency (Deutsche Mark) to
provide economic stability. Symbol of the growing prosperity of the Western sectors compared
with the East.
24th June 1948, Stalin took action.…read more

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The red scare and McCarthyism
Hardening of the US foreign policy towards the threat of Soviet world domination was in part a
response to the vulnerability felt by Americans who feared the spread of communism.
Anti-communist feeling was high in 1950s. Wave of hysteria generated by fear that the USA was
being undermined by the enemy within.
1950, McCarthy accused many working for the government of being communists and therefore
disloyal to the US. No evidence to support his claims but Americans believed him.…read more

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Why did the Cold War between the superpowers emerge in the
years to 1953?
How far was the USA responsible for the Cold War?
Truman Doctrine and Marshall Plan marked a more strident stance against the USSR and led to
deterioration in relations that made negotiation and compromise with Stalin difficult.…read more

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Seeking to regain control of areas that had been part of the Tsarist empire under the Treaty of
3) Defensive actions to create a buffer zone against attack from the West
John Lewis Gaddis, Post Revisionist.
Underlying motive of Stalin's foreign policy was defensive. Concerned to protect its' borders
after WWII. Losses in the war created sense of insecurity.
Extension of Soviet control to E.Europe defensive measure to create a buffer zone to protect
the US from invasion from the West.…read more

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Debate over who started the war.
Long term causes of tension in Korea: the country had been annexed by Japan in 1910 but when
Japan surrendered at the end of WWII, Korea was to be occupied by the military forces of the
USSR and the USA. 38th parallel was a dividing line between the Soviet North and USA South.
Temporary until the elections organised by the UN.…read more

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Strategic Defensive Initiative (1983) (SDI) was the development of anti-ballistic missile systems
in space. It was a system that would require vast sums of money and resources to develop and
in order for the ISSR to keep pace with this they would face bankruptcy.
Aim of this arms programme was the regain American military supremacy against the SU to the
extent that they would not be able to continue the Cold War.…read more

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The USSR was worried this would encourage groups elsehere in the Soviet bloc and would
threaten their hold over E.Europe so put military along Polish borders. Jarwzelski (Polish leader)
declared martial law and used the army to settle the unrest. Soviets would have invaded otherwise
and caused greater bloodshed. Solidarity was abolished but many groups still worked together
underground.…read more

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Glasnost: a policy of openness that encouraged the population to put forward new ideas and
show initiative.
Democratisation: an attempt to get more people involved in the Communist Party and political
Result was a more critical approach towards communism and encouraged reforms to push for
further liberalism.
By 1988 `Gorby-mania' was sweeping much of Eastern Europe as those pushing for change called
for Gorbachev's ideas to be implemented in their own country.
1989, a non-communist government was elected in Poland.…read more


Ditsy Ninjaa


It's very clear and concise.

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