The Cold War 1945 - 1991

A full timeline of the entire Cold War with everything you need to know for GCSE History.

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The Cold War 1945 ­ 1991
1939 to 1945 Second World War was fought between the Axis Countries (Nazi Germany,
Japan and Italy) and the Allies (chiefly Britain, the USA and the USSR).
The USSR and the USA were bound only by the need to defeat their common
enemies: the Nazis and the Japanese. However, they were divided by ideology.
Even before the war ended, there were open tensions between them.
1945 February Yalta Conference:
Stalin, Prime Minister Winston Churchill and President Franklin D.
Roosevelt met at Yalta, a Soviet city.
There they agreed that; Germany was to be divided into four zones,
one each for Britain, France, the USA and the USSR; Berlin likewise;
Stalin could have some influence over Eastern Europe but the
countries there could have free elections; and that Germany should
pay reparations.
Relations between Stalin and Churchill were especially frosty.
Poland was the greatest source of conflict: Soviet troops had
already liberated much of Poland from German control and
established a communist government there. The USSR wanted a Polish
`buffer- zone' to protect them from Germany. Western Allies did not want a
Soviet-dominated government in Poland.
Only a framework settlement was agreed upon. The details were to
be agreed later at the Potsdam Conference.
8th May Germany surrendered.
July Potsdam Conference:
President Harry S. Truman, Clement Attlee and Stalin met at
Potsdam, a German city.
An increasingly hostile atmosphere:
Truman was determined to deal with the Soviets.
Attlee was deeply suspicious of Stalin (in Poland, Stalin had arrested
the non-communists and refused to allow democratic elections to
take place.
They agreed; the boundaries of the four zones of Germany, and
agreed on how they would be governed; the USSR, which had
suffered the most, was allowed to take reparations in the form of
equipment and materials, mostly from its own zone, but Allied zones
would contribute an additional 10%; Truman agreed to recognise
the Polish government; Stalin granted each of the Allies an air
corridor, leading from Allied zones in West Germany into West Berlin.
Hiroshima and Nagasaki:

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August At 8:15 AM an American B29 bomber dropped an atom bomb,
codename `Little Boy' onto the Japanese city of Hiroshima. 78,000
people were killed outright.
9th August Americans dropped `Fat Man' atom bomb onto city of Nagasaki. A
further 74,000 people were killed.
15 August Japan surrendered. It seemed that the Second World War had come
to an end.
The dropping of the atom bombs increased tension between the
two superpowers.…read more

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According to the Truman Doctrine, Eastern European countries had
been forced into communism but the USSR. It was the USA's duty to
protect any democratic countries under threat: the `Containment of
United States Congress announced that it was giving $400 million of
aid to Greece and Turkey. This money helped the Greek government
defeat the communists.…read more

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There was a strong communist party in Italy which belonged to Cominform and had
plans to take over the government. Likewise in France.
Marshall Tito in Yugoslavia split with the USSR: Stalin ordered Cominform to expel Tito,
because he would not give in to Stalin's wishes.
This suggested to the West that Stalin wanted complete control of the communist world
and would allow no opposition at all.…read more

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Truman had two options: surrender West Berlin or go to war. Neither seemed like a
good idea, so the British and the Americans devised a less aggressive way of
keeping the people in West Berlin from starving. They flew in the supplies.
26th June The first flight.
The airlift began slowly. On average, only 600 tonnes of supplies
were brought in every day. If they were to succeed, 4,000 tonnes
would be needed a day.…read more

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The original members were the USA, Canada, Britain, France,
Belgium, the Netherlands, Iceland, Luxembourg, Italy, Norway,
Denmark and Portugal.
All members agreed to go to war if any one of them was attacked.
It meant the permanent presence of a US army in Europe: the
Americans had made a lasting agreement to defend Europe from
communism ­ by force, if necessary.
NATO members saw this military presence as a deterrent against
Soviet attack. Stalin saw it as an act of war.…read more

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Normally, the USSR would have vetoed any attempt to support
South Korea, but it was boycotting UN meetings in protest at the
UN's refusal to admit communist China as a member. Therefore the
UN Security Council declared North Korea to be the aggressor.
(After the Korean War broke out, NATO set up a unified command in
Paris under US control.)
Sixteen nations, headed by the USA, immediately went to Korea.
Later, 32 countries participated in the war.…read more

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The American army in West Germany received its first nuclear weapons designed for
use on the battlefield.
However, American politicians claimed that they had fewer nuclear weapons than
the USSR; in fact the USSR had only about 50 atom bombs, (and did not catch up
with the USA until 1978.) However, the USSR had a huge conventional army of
soldiers, tanks, artillery, and so on. Truman feared this army. (So during the Korean
War Truman ordered a massive increase in American spending on conventional
weapons.…read more

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Although no decisions were made, the Geneva Summit marked the
high point in the `thaw' of Cold War relations.
1956 Khrushchev made a secret speech to the communist party. In it he denounced Stalin
as a cruel tyrant. Stalin's statues came down, cities were renamed, the secret police
became less active, Stalin's body was removed from the Kremlin, and more
consumer goods were produced. This was called `destalinisation'. It was very
popular in the Soviet Union.…read more

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November The Red Army returned in strength and crushed the uprising. 4,000
Hungarians were killed. Perhaps as many as 200,000 fled to the West.…read more


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