Revision Notes on Cold War

A detailed set of notes on the whole topic of Superpower relations for the Edexcel exam.

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  • Created on: 19-06-11 16:55
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Key features
Tehran conference 1943
Roosevelt wanted to improve relations between the 3 allies and agreed to hold the conference in Iran. The
conference was mainly a success for Stalin who achieved most of what he wanted. This was because Roosevelt was ill
and generally sided with Stalin rather than Churchill.
Main agreements:
Britain and the USA agreed to open up a 2nd front by invading France in May 1944.
The Soviet Union would wage war on Japan when Germany was defeated.
A United Nations organisation would be set up after the war.
An area of eastern Poland was added to the Soviet Union. Stalin insisted that after the war, the borders of
Poland would be along the Oder and Neisse rivers.
USA develop A-Bomb (1945)
The USA successfully tested its first atomic bomb on the 16th July 1945 at a desert site in the USA. Halfway
through the Potsdam conference they told Stalin this who was furious that he had not been consulted
This atomic bomb was used against Japan in August 1945, first in Hiroshima and then in Nagasaki. The
project which had first started trying to develop the atomic bomb was known as the Manhattan project
which was started to rival Germany in WW2 after the US had been warned that Germany may be creating
atomic bombs.
Yalta February 1945
At the time of the conference German was close to defeat and the allies were deciding what to do with Europe once
the war was over. This was the last meeting of the Big 3 as Roosevelt died and Churchill lost an election. Stalin and
Roosevelt were also said to have had a good relationship causing Churchill to feel isolated.
They agreed:
To divide Germany and Berlin into 4 zones
To hunt down and try Nazi war criminals in an international court of justice
That eastern Europe would be a soviet `sphere of influence'
Allow countries previously occupied by Germany to have free elections
They disagreed:
How much Germany should pay in reparations. Stalin wanted a higher figure than the others- this decision was
delayed until the next conference.
About Poland- Stalin wanted the Polish/German border nearer to the west giving him a larger buffer zone.
He also wanted a friendly government to have protection from Germany for the future. The west persuaded
Stalin to allow elections as they feared this would be a soviet controlled government.
Potsdam July 1945
Many changes occurred in the months between Yalta and Potsdam:

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Soviet did not remove military from the countries they occupied and occupied many more countries like
Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia...
Stalin set up a communist government in Poland ignoring the USA, Britain, the opinions of the poles and
agreements at Yalta. He said he did this to protect the USSR against future attacks.
The red army was the biggest in the world. The west were all demilitarising while the Red army was
expanding its army.…read more

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Events in Greece- royalist government won elections but communist refused to give up and starters a
guerrilla war. Britain had troops but could not keep supporting Greece and turkey. USA stepped in out of fear
that they would become communist countries.
To put pressure on the Soviet Union. They had an atom bomb and wanted to use this as well as their superior
economic strength to pressure them.…read more

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Stalin feared a reunited Germany with western currency and democratic ideas would spread to soviet zone
and undermine eastern Berlin.
Key features:
Truman saw Berlin as a test; if they gave in to Stalin he would soon take over Germany, He wanted Berlin to
be a symbol of freedom behind the iron curtain. The only way to enter Berlin was by air so he airlifted in
supplies.…read more

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Communism was growing in the east. China had fallen under communism in 1950 and this soon led to the
domino theory becoming reality.
They went backwards and forwards for three years before the US (Eisenhower) offered peace but
threatened using an atomic bomb if China declined the offer.
An armistice was signed and a demilitarized zone set up.
Death of Stalin- Election of Khrushchev 1953
Stalin died in 1953; there were no real changes in policy as no clear leader emerged.…read more

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The speech was only made public a month later in Belgrade and Washington and only publicised in the
Soviet Union in 1988.
It had a dramatic effect on Eastern-Europe, many countries of which thought de-Stalinisation would lead to
change. Poland and Hungary were especially expecting change due to Stalinisation.
Hungarian Uprising 1956
Hungary after WW2- Hungary was an ally of the Nazis during WW2 and the Soviets continues to occupy it
once they had driven out the Nazis after WW2.…read more

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Nagy released political prisoners (Leader of Catholic Church in Hungary; Cardinal Mindszenty - imprisoned for
life in 1949 by Rakosi and published his reforms (free elections, freedom of press, speech and worship...)
One controversial decision was his plan to withdraw from the Warsaw pact.
Khrushchev was being pressured by China to be firm with Hungary so as not to show weakness to other
countries in the Warsaw pact. On 4 November Soviets invaded, capturing bridges airports and roads.…read more

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Berlin Crisis 2 (the wall) 1961
Problems in East Germany- Berlin continued to be a problem for both the USA and the Soviet Union. The
soviets wanted to remove allies from West Berlin as it was a symbol of the success of capitalism and
Western Europe within communist territory. Between 1949 and 1961 around 4million East Germans fled
to the west through Berlin, it was seen as a gap in the iron curtain.…read more

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Due to this humiliation the US were even more determined to succeed and so formed NASA
resulting in a successful rocket launching in January 1958.
The ultimate humiliation for the USA came on the 12th of April 1961 when Yuri Gagarin was successfully
launched into space and completed a 108 minute round-the-world flight. Khrushchev was extremely
happy and treated Gagarin like a Hero, as did everybody in the Soviet Union.…read more

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Cuba from war and succeeded in the removal of missiles from turkey, he was eventually removed in
There was a huge relief that the superpowers had not gone to war and to prevent this from happening
again an emergency hotline was set up so that the two leaders could communicate in a crisis. Partial
Test ban treaty was signed in august 1963 and the Nuclear non-proliferation treaty was signed in
1968. Countries who signed agreed not to develop nuclear weapons.…read more


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