Cold War Thaw


NATO and Warsaw Pact

  • Set up 4th April 1949 between Western countries (although French withdrew 1949)
    • Threat of China becoming fully commnist, the USSR atomic bomb of 1949
    • Promited political and economic stability
    • The USSR though it was encouraging military blocs to plan attacks on the USSR
  • USSR set up the Warsaw Pact in response in May 1955
    • Promised mutual aid in friendship, co-operation and assistance
    • Set up because West Germany joined NATO October 1954
    • Advantageous because the USSR could base it's troops in member states
    • Didn't prevent the 1955 Geneva Coference and still kept the option of a neutral Germany- said that if a 'General European Treaty of Collective Security' was signed then the Warsaw Pact would lapse
1 of 8

Eastern bloc post Stalin

  • Stalin died 5th March 1953, meant that Malenkov and Khrushchev emerged
  • Series of strikes and protests after Stalin's death- e.g. in Germany
    • East Germany under Ulbricht- low living standards and high inflation
    • Religious persecution and too much security
    • Work quotas increased by 10% which triggered protests
    • Ulbricht refused the USSR's request to modify his policies, protests escualted June 1953
    • People burned down SED buildings and attempted to free poltical prisoners
    • USSR sent in military forces to crush the uprisings- propoganda disaster
    • 51 killed, 13,000 arrested
  • Malenkov started his 'New Course'- diversiting resources from defensing to the production of consumer goods, attempting to reduce Cold War tensions to reduce arms spending
  • Foreign policy in the New Couse:
    • 1956 Porkkalal was returned to Finland and the USSR removed military bases, neutral
    • 1955 Austrian State Treaty- removal of arms from both sides and neutrality
    • Soviet army was cut by 20%- the West did not do the same, caused opposition in USSR
    • Worked to improve relations with Tito, who had clashed with Stalin
  • Peaceful co-existance- developed by Khrushchev, war between communism and capitalism no longer inevitable, no longer need for conflict so they could reduce defense budgets
2 of 8


  • Replaced Truman as president Jan 1953- had been a military commander in the Allied forces from 1943 and the first commander of NATO- therefore promised a stand against communism
  • His Secretary of State Dulle was also very religious,and believed communist was 'morally repugnant'
  • Eisenhower intoduced 'New Look'- focusing on nuclear arms more than conventional weapons, this meant money could be cut from defense
  • Emabarked on Operation Solarium- national security to include the defense of capitalist values and geographical territory
  • Ideas of massive relatiation- using all avalaible means to defend US interests, believe this would deter a Soviet offensive as he was very aware of the dangers of nuclear war
  • Brinkmanship- going to the brink of war without backing down
  • Believed nuclear weapons would deter war between 1st and 3rd world, but still carried out covert actions by the CIA against Soviet threats in Iran and Guatemala, often confused nationalism with communism- leaving scope for the USSR to move in
  • Network of alliances made to safeguard the US' allies: SEATO and CENTO
3 of 8


  • Emerged as leader in 1955- unpredictable temperament and inpulsive policies, made erratic, wild claims about the Soviet's nuclear arsenal
  • His Secret Speech on 25th Feb 1956 to the 20th Party Congress critised Stalin's cult of personaility and detailed Stalin's purges and terror, embarked on a policy of destalinisation and more political liberalisation- the West spread this via Radio Free Europe
  • He also cut the defense budget, caused problems with Kremlin hardliners and defence production industries
  • Tried to create allies in Asia and Africa and links with Egypt's president- funded the Aswan Dam project to counteract Western dominance, also created links with Castro post Cuban Revolution 1959
  • 1957 USSR victory of the testing of an ICBM and the launch of Sputnik 1, fears of a missile gap although U2 spy planes showed there was no Soviet supremacy
4 of 8

Unrest in Eastern Europe

  • Secret speech impact as well as Yugoslavia's example of a 'different road to socialism'
  • Protests in Poland June-October 1956
    • Caused by food shortages, lack of cosumer good and poor housing
    • Poznan work targets had just been increased
    • Khrushev wanted to reassert control but Gomulka made it clear that Poland would not abondon the Warsaw Pact or abandon communism- so they were left alone
  • Hungary uprisings October/ November 1956 inspired by events in Poland
    • Demonstrations caused 3000 tanks to be sent in, 2700 killed
    • Rakosi was replaced by the more moderate Gero by Moscow leadership
    • Students saw Gero as too close to Khrushchev so wanted Nagy
    • Nagy started to advocate multi-party elctions and withdrawal from the Warsaw Pact
    • Due to the Suez crisis diverting the West's attention, the USSR advanced to crush the uprising and executed Nagy in 1958
  • Showed West that the Soviet leaders had no interest in peaceful coexistance
  • However the West also didn't help because they didn't want to provoke nuclear war, Hungary was of no trade benefit, and they didn't want the Eastern European countries to always count on them for aid
5 of 8


  • Geneva Summit July 1955
    • Attempt to resolve the status of Germany and negotatiate arms control
    • Khrushchev wanted a united and neutral Germany which the US refused
    • Eisenhower suggested arms limitations with an 'open skies' policy- agreed limtes and authorisation for each to have surveillance flights of the other to check the limits were being adhered to- Khrushchev rejected this
  • 15 days before Paris Summit in 1960 U2 plane was shot down over Siberia, Eisenhower made a cover story but the Soviets had the pilot (Gary Powers) so could prove he was lying and it was actually a spy plane- good propoganda victory
  • Paris Summit 1960
    • Eisenhower refused to apologise but said there would be no further missions
    • Khrushchev walked out of the Summit
  • Vienna Summit 1961
    • Kennedy wanting to assert strength due to failure of Bay of Pigs incident
    • Khrushchev under pressure from Ulbricht to press Berlin ultimatum, as 2.7 million had left East Germany since 1945- Kennedy refuses
    • Also failed to make agreements on arms limitations- Khrushchev threatens Kennedy 
6 of 8

Berlin Crisis

  • Germany showing two ideologies side by side- great economic developments in the West and even arguing for nuclear weapons- alarmed the Soviets
  • Differing living standards clearly visible, Western espionage able to get through and by 1960 80% of the skilled work force had left for the West- brain drain
  • In 1958 Khrushchev made a 6 month ultimatum demanding the West demilitarise West Berlin and if they didn't he would hand over their acess routes to East Germnay
  • Eisenhower and Kennedy both refused
  • In August the Warsaw Pact begin to fix dates for sealing borders (40,000 flee) and then Khrushchev begins to construct a physical barrier which stoped access to the West, all crossing points were closed 
  • Cold War symbol of division, the West did not intervene as it reduced tensions and was good for anti-communist propoganda, also stopped espionage
  • Many East Germans just worked to improve their conditions as they recognised there was nothing to be done, also propoganda about the anti-facist wall, economic improvement due to a guaranteed labour supply, people could still cross for work (e.g. musicians)
  • Kennedy made his Ich Bein Ein Berliner speech in June 1953 to show solidarity 'democracy is not perfect but we will never have to put up a wall to keep our people in'
7 of 8

Prague Spring

  • Dubcek become party leader in Czechoslovakia in Jan 1968
  • In Feb allows public political discussion and a call for the repeal of press censorship
  • National assembly demands the rehabiitation of political priosners- they form Klub 231
  • Action prgramme introduced promoting democratic socialism
  • Censorship abolished in June and manifesto of the 2000 Words is published condeming communism
  • The Warsaw Pact start to do miltary excersises on the border, fears of democratisation even from Dubcek who could not assert control
  • Warsaw Pact 'received a note' from the Czech Presidium saying  socialism was under threat and they needed miltary intervention
  • So 500,000 Warsaw troops invade to assert control, leaders arrested and censorship reintroduced
  • 77 killed and 1000 injured
  • One part system enforced and introduction of the Brezhnev Doctrine
  • Policy of normalisaton under Hasak
  • Western media was enhanced by Czech studetns who had escaped and were advocating for human rights, moral legimacy of communism called into question
8 of 8


No comments have yet been made

Similar History resources:

See all History resources »See all Cold War resources »