Beginning of the Cold War

HideShow resource information


  • Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 created the communist USSR
  • USA capitalist
    • Free and regular elections, individual rights protected by law
    • Government plays small role in the economy, goods and services privately owned
    • Free trade between nations
  • USSR communist
    • One party government, no elections, limited political freedom to protest etc.
    • State planned economy, goods and services produced according to a government plan and sold at fixed prices
    • Freedom only achieved through world revolution of communism
  • British and US troops supported the whites in the 1918-20 Russian Civil War
  • Comintern 1917 was aimed at spreading communism around the world
  • Western powers refused to recognise the USSR as a legitimate state
  • Refused to admit them into the League of Nations following WW1
  • Red Scare in the USA in the 1920s- hunting down left-wing radicals
  • USSR's foreign policy 1917-41 largely based on the assumption that Western powers were hostile to communism, Soviet propoganda anti-capitalist
1 of 9


  • Military alliance (France, Britain, USA, USSR) formed after Hilter's Operation Barbarossa in 1941 which violanced the Nazi-Soviet Pact of 1939, post war they wanted:
    • USA: world free trade zone, creation of the UN, continued post-war alliance
    • USSR: security, reperations from Germany, for Germany to be weakened, territory, pro-soviet friendly regimes in Eastern Europe
    • Britain: perservation of Empire, friends with USSR and USA, block Soviet expanision, creation of an independant Poland with a democratic government
  • USA in 1945: 
    • War production had created an economic boom, doubling USA's GDP
    • USA manufacturing x3 the Soviet Union 
    • Had developed the atomic bomb
    • Fear that poverty created communism, left over from the Great Depression
  • USSR in 1945
    • 27 million had died in WW2, destruction of 1700 towns/cities, destruction of industry and agriculture
    • But had the biggest role in defeating Hilter so guarenteed role in post war settlement
    • Largest army in the world (11 million) and fasted growing economy
2 of 9


  • Tehran (1943)- Stalin, Churchill, Roosevelt
    • Confirmed Germay's conditional surrender
    • USSR had the biggest right to reperations
    • Stalin wanted territory from Poland and of the Baltic States
    • USA pressured USSR to open a second front against Japan
  • Moscow (1944)- Stalin and Churchill
    • Agreed that Britain would allowed to station troops in Greece
    • USSR allowed to station troops in Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary
  • Yalta (Feb 1945)- Stalin, Churchill, Roosevelt
    • Churchill wanted pro-West Polish government returned to power
    • Stalin gets 50% of the $20 million paid by Germany in reperations, wanted to de-nazify Germany and get Poland as part of the Soviet sphere of influence
    • Roosevelt wanted the UN and the second front in Japan
3 of 9

Potsdam and Truman

  • Potsdam (July 1945)- Stalin, Attlee, Truman
    • Truman more hardline, lacked experience so trying to prove his creditials
    • Still agreed that Germany be split into 4 zones
    • New borders for Germany and Poland (curzon line) that suited Stalin
    • Stalin setting up communist states in Eastern Europe- creates distrust
  • Truman drops the atomic bombs in Japan in August 1945
    • Seen as an agressive action as he didn't tell Stalin
    • Stalin no longer needed in Japan so he doesn't get any territory
4 of 9


  • Kennan Telegram (Feb 1946)
    • From a diplomat based in the USSR, sent a telegram telling the US government that the USSR were planning world domination
    • Predcited a life/death struggle between communism and capitalism
    • Recommended a hardline approach and containment
  • Novikov Telegram (Sept 1946)
    • Soviet ambassabor in the US sent Stalin a telegram saying the US was using its wealth to gain influence across the world
    • USA starting to act like an imperialist power, network of military bases proved the US was planning global domination
  • Iron Cutain Speech (March 1946)
    • Churchill speaking at Fulton, Missouri about divisions that existed between rival power blocs in Europe- an Iron Curtain
    • Stalin responded saying Churchill was a warmonger, had misunderstood and the alliance was over
  • Both sides now conviced that the other was planning world domination
  • Grand Alliance at an end in 1946- but diplomats still taking part om bilateral negotiations
5 of 9

Truman Doctrine and Marshall Plan

  • Truman Doctrine (March 1947)
    • Truman committed the US to providing military and economic resources to stop the spread of communism
    • In response to Britain's finacial incapabilities to finance the war in Greece anymore
    • Could be dollar diplomacy, desire to have the dominant political and economic position in Europe
    • Trying to get Europe dependant on the USA to benefit them with trade links
    • Cominform established to counteract this
  • Marshall Plan (June 1947)
    • Aid package to promoite economic recovery in Europe
    • Increased trade would lead to sustained economic growth- had to agree to free trade
    • $13.7 billion 1948-52
    • Stalin established Comecon in 1949 and forbade his Eastern bloc countries to accept Marshall Aid
    • Lead to recovery of West German zones and a stable state
  • Emergence of two economic areas in Europe
6 of 9

Europe 1945-7

  • Poland: Stalin sets up provincial governement, leaders of the London Poles joined but refused the Peasant Party to encourage Western invervention, West knew Poland was in Western sphere of influence, communists gained 394 seats using terror
  • Romania: Soviets claimed they needed it for vital security, March 1946 socialist party merged with the communists
  • Hungary: 1947 elections rigged to ensure Soviet victory
  • Yugoslavia: Communist party won power independantly (90% votes in 9149 election), allowed Tito to implement a revolution- the USA thought he was acting on proxy of the USSR
  • Czechoslovakia:Jan Masaryk had tried to accept Marshall Aid so Stalin staged a coup in 1948 to overthrow the government and replace it with communist one, Jan Masaryk 'fell' out of window and replaced with Klement Gottwald
    • Caused congress to allow Marshall Aid
  • Greece: Stalin didn't help communists because it was Western sphere, US intervention in 1947, monarchists won the Civil War
  • Finland: active communist party but they got almost not backing from the USSR, Stalin signed a 'Friendship, Cooperation and Mutal Assistance Treaty' in 1948 and left them alone
  • France: communists joined coalition and worked with socialists and Christian Democrats but expelled May 1947
7 of 9

Berlin tensions

  • Stalin wanted to stop Germany re-emerging as a military/ economic power and invading
  • US thought the conditions Germany was in would enourage radicalism, so wanted to economically recover it
    • Currency was worthless- no food, black market
  • Germany was split into four zone as was Berlin- inside the Soviet zone as they had won the race for Berlin
  • Stalin wanted a fully unified Germany as he feared the military threat of the Western powers- US thought this would cause the state to be absorbed into Soviet sphere of influence
  • Moscow Meeting March 1947, US proposed monetary refirm which the Soviets rejected (fear of US dependancy)
  • London Conference of Foreign Ministers Nov 1947- USSR wanted to avoid paritsian of Germany- broke up and Stalin accused the West of not allowing him fair reperations
  • May 1948- three Western powers agreed to work together on currency reform
  • April 1949- Trizonia formed and created the Deutschmark
  • Four days later the Soviets created the Ostmark- was worth a lot less that the Deutschmark
8 of 9

Berlin crisis

  • Stalin blockaded Berlin 18th June 1948, argued to be defensive to stop the Soviet Zone being swapped with West Currency, blocked all travel links and cut power supply
  • The West airlifted in 26th June along 3 air corridoors, airelifted 2.3 milluin tons of supplies into the city
  • In August 1948 the US deployed 60 B29 bombers in Britiain, pressured the USSR so he did not stop the airlift
  • 12th May 1949 Stalin ended the blockade significant because:
    • Resolve of West to stand up in a peaceful way
    • Propoganda disaster for the USSR- showed Stalin as willing to starve 2 million people
    • Formal unification of 3 Western zones in the FRG 23rd May 1949
    • GDR created in the East under Ulbricht
    • West set up NATO in April 1949
    • Showed that neither side wanted to risk nuclear war
9 of 9


No comments have yet been made

Similar History resources:

See all History resources »See all Cold War resources »