Cold War

My own revision cards using a mixture of John D Clare Material and the CPG GCSE History AQA B: Modern World History Revision Guide.

HideShow resource information


More advanced warfare:

  • Worldwide- Europe, Africa, Asia + Pacific.
  • Technology- Tanks + Aircraft.
  • Civilian poulation affected- bombing, evacuation, occupation, shortages. Economy + society helping war effort.
1 of 30


  • February 1945
  • "Big three":
    • USA- Franklin D Roosevelt
    • USSR- Stalin
    • GB- Churchill
  • Decisions:
    • Germany split in to 4 zones of occupation- GB, France, USA, USSR.
    • Free elections fpr new governments held inn countries previously occupied in Eastern Europe.
    • UN to replace failed League of Nations.
2 of 30


  • FDR died, succeeded by Harry Truman.
  • Tory PM CHurchill voted replaced by Labour Clement Atlee.
  • USSR expanded west inot Baltic states, parts of FInland, Czechoslovakia, Poland + Romania.
  • Allies suspicious of eachother.
    • Stalin wanted to control Eastern Europe so didn't want elections- USA + GB suspected this.
    • Truman + Atlee new to their jobs- Stalin thought they'd be weak leaders so he could do what he wanted.
3 of 30


  • Germany surrendered in May 1945.
  • August 1945.
  • Decisions about post-war Europe:
    • New boundaries of Poland.
    • Divide Berlin- in USSR's zone.
    • Legal trials of Nazi leaders for war crimes in Nuremburg.
  • USSR wanted huge reparations from Germany.
4 of 30


  • USSR--> Communist--> State control of industry + agriculture--> One-party state--> Aimed at world revolution--> Seen as danger to their democracy by Americans.
  • USA--> Capitalist--> Valued private enterprise- 'American dream, anyone could work their way to the top to be successful + wealthy--> Political Freedom--> COmmunists feared worlwide American influence.
5 of 30


  • USA + USSR competitive- strongest, threatened.
    • Germany surrended in May 1945, war in Japan continued. August, USA dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima + Nagasaki (Japan). 1000s killed. Japan surrendered immediately.
    • USA kept A-bomb secret from USSR until just before using it on Japan. For 4 yrs, USA was the only nuclear power.
    • 1949, USSR exploded their first A-bomb. USA developed more powerful Hydrogen-bomb in 1952. USSR's H-bomb, 1955.
6 of 30


  • End of WW2- USSR's Red Army occupied Eastern Europe. Stalin had no intention of keeping his promise about letting there be free elections in Poland.
  • Between 1945 + 1948, Stalin installed pro-Soviet puppet-governments in Poland, Hungary, Romania, Bularia + Czechoslovakia. Free speech was suppressed.
  • Non-communist parties were banned, and even communist parties were controlled by Cominform (Communist Information Bureau), October 1947, to consist solely of Russian-style communists.
  • Comecon (the Council of Mutual Economic Assistance), set up in 1949, worked to nationalise the states' industries + collectivise agriculture.
  • For a while it seemed that Czechoslovakia might remain democratic. But when the Communist Party seemed likely to loose ground in the next election, it seized power in February 1948.
  • The exception to Soviet domination was Yugoslavia, which had freed itself form the Germans without the Red Army. Yugoslavia was Communist, but more open to the West. Its leader, Tito, argued with Stalin over political interference. Stalin cut off aid but didn't invade.
7 of 30


  • Churchill's Fulton speech, March 1946- "Iron Curtain" dividing Europe. Stalin believed this was necessary to mantian the safety of the USSR. Russia called the speech a declaration of war.
  • 'Cold War' because there wasn't any direct fighting- instead either side tried to gain the other hand with alliances + plans.
  • Both sides scared of another war because of the power of atomic weapons.
  • Countries in the east tended to support the USA. Most countries in Eastern Europe were dominated by the USSR.
8 of 30


President Truman was worried that other countries may fall to communism. He tried to stop the spread of communism by:

  • Greece, February 1947
    • US supplied arms + money to defeat the Communists.
  • The Truman Doctrine, March 1947:
    • The USA would support any nation threatened by a communist takeover. For example, the USA gave $400 million of aid to Turkey + Greece to try to stop communism spreading. A civil war had started in Greece in 1946 between the pro-Western government + communists- Truman wanted to give the government all the help he could.
  • The Marshall Plan, June 1947:
    • This promised American aid to European countries to help rebuild their economies- West Germany benefitted massively. The USA was worried that if Western Europe remained weak it might be vulnerable to communist.
9 of 30



  • Cold war was beginning to bite- created tension.
  • Aims- USA+UK wanted Germany to recover/ Stalin looting German industrial capacity.
  • Bizonia/Trizonia-The USA + Britain agreed to combine their zones into a zone called Bizonia in 1947.The French agreed to combine their zone with them- the new western zone had a single government.
  • American Aid- Marshall Aid was voted 31st March 1948.
  • New Currency- Britain + America introduced new currency- destabilised the East German economy. Stalin said that this was the cause of the blockade.
10 of 30

THE BERLIN BLOCKADE- events + results


  • 24th June 1948- Stalin closed rail + road links ot Berlin. Lasted 11 months.
  • Allies airlifted supplies to Berlin. 275,000 flights, 1.5 tonnes.
  • In winter, Berliners lived on dried eggs + potatoes.
  • 4 hours of electricity/day
  • US had B29 bombers on standby
  • 12th May 1949- Stalin re-opened the borders.


  • Cold war got worse.
  • East/West Germany- German Democratic Republic/ Federal Republic of Germany.
  • NATO + Warsaw Pact- NATO (1949) defensive alliance against USSR, Warsaw Pact (1955) by Russia
  • Arms Race- USA + USSR competed for world domination.
11 of 30



  • Domino Theory- 1949, China Communist. Truman scared that others would fall 'like dominoes'.
  • Undermine Communism- April 1950. American National Security Council made a report which said that they should stop its 'containment' policy, but start 'rolling back' communism.
  • Cold War- By supposrting South Korea, USA could fight communism without directly attacking USSR.
  • Kim Il Sung- North Korean leader. 1949, persuaded Stalin he could conquer South Korea. Agreed so he could irritate USA 'at arm's length'.
  • Singman Rhee- 1950, boasted that he would invade North Korea. Used as excuse- North Korea attacked South Korea.
12 of 30



  • UN ordered immediate attack against N Koreans.
  • September 1950, UN forces pushed divide past 38th parallel.
  • Truman allowed General McArthur (UN commander) to invade N Korea
  • This worried China, who feared western invasion.
  • October 1950, China joined N Korea in an attack which drove UN forces back.
  • January 1951, Captued Seoul (capital of S Korea).
  • UN counteroffensive retook city + drove North Koreans back to near the original border.
  • MacArthur wanted to attack China but Truman disagreed, MacArthur sacked after arguing with President.
  • 1953, Truman looked for peace, and a ceasefire was agreed.
13 of 30


  • Khrushchev became leader of the USSR when Stalin died in 1953.
  • He was crtical of Stalin- Destalinisation:
    • Political prisoners freed,
    • Chief of secret police executed,
    • Stalin's statues and portraits removed from public places,
    • Censorship relaxed- more freedom in media and arts, 
    • Less brutal control- didn't kill opposition.
  • Good image- made Stalin look bad and him good, eventhough he was responsible for thousands of deaths himself.
  • Made up with President Tito of Ugoslavia.
14 of 30


  • Peaceful coexistance between cummunist and capitalist states, but really Peaceful Competition:
    • 'Destalinisation'- still communist, just less harsh.
    • Khrushchev sent in Red Arms when reforms went too far.
    • Gave Afghanistan and Burma economic aid if they would support Russia.
    • Arms Race and Space Race-
      • 1956- USSR, Sputnik 1st artificial satellite,
      • 1957- USSR, Launched 1st Intercostal Ballistic Missile- fly further and more acuurate targets.
      • 1957 & 1960- USA's ICBM and 1st Submarine launched ICBM.
      • 1961- USSR, Yuri Gagarin orbitted Earth,
      • 1969- USA, Neil Armstrong was first man on the Moon,
    • 1955, set up Warsaw Pact- military alliance of communist companies to rival NATO- had to attack if any member was invaded.
    • Witch hunt for Communists in USA
    • U2 spy planes over USSR.
15 of 30


  • Rakosi in power after WW2- brutal Stalinist.
  • Events:
    • October 1956- Budapest, student riots, pulled down Stalin statue.
    • Liberal Imre Nagy allowed to take power by Khrushchev.
    • Red Army pulled out.
    • Nagy's reforms:
      • Freedom of religion (Catholic leader freed),
      • Democracy,
      • Freedom of Speech,
      • Leave the Warsaw Pact.
    • 4th November- 100 Russian tanks entered. Brutal street fighting. Captured radio.
    • Nagy arrested and later shot.
    • Janos Kadar, Russian supporter, put in control by Khrushchev.
  • Results:
    • 4000 Hungarians killed fighting.
    • 200,000 refugees fled to Austria.
    • Western people and leaders horrified- more determined to 'contain' communism.
    • Other Eastern bloc countries too scared to revolt themselves.
16 of 30


  • Causes:
    • 1949- 1961: 2.5m East Germany--> West through East Berlin, many skilled workers. Worried communist E Germany gov.
    • Soviets claimed USA used Berlin for spying and sabotage.
  • Events:
    • 13th Aug 1961, 30mile barrier built through night by Soviets- fortified by barbed wire and machine gun posts.
    • Anyone trying to escape was shot.
  • Results:
    • USA complained, but did not try to take it down- not worth a war.
    • Separated from relatives, friends and jobs- 30 years.
17 of 30


  • Background:
    • Batista, military dictator ruled since 19522- ruthless and corrupt.
    • Allowed American businessmean and Mafia to make huge profits while most people lived in poverty.
    • 1953- Fidel Castro tried to overthrow gov, but defeated and forced into exile.
    • 1956- Guerrilla war an marched on Cuba's capital, Havana- successfully overthrew government.
    • Castro wanted to get rid of American influence.
    • Castro made big impact. Shut down casinos & brothels. Nationalised American-owned sugar mills.
    • USA cut off diplomatic relations with Cuba.
    • Castro began work with USSR- always influencecd by communism.
    • USSR offered to buy Cuba's sugar instead of USA.
    • Bay of Pigs- Cuban rebels train in guerrilla warefare by Americans, but easily defeated. Castro decided Cuba needed Soviet military assistance.
18 of 30

19. CUBAN MISSILES CRISIS- events + results

  • Events:
    • U2 planes detected missiles in Cuba. 100 miles from USA.
    • Kennedy ordered naval blockade of Cuba. Stop & search Soviet ships to prevent more missiles entering Cuba.
    • Kennedy demanded that Khrushchev withdraw all missiles an dprepared to invade Cuba. Soviet ships steamed on to Cuba.
    • World on brink of nuclear war.
  • Results:
    • Khrushchev removed missiles from Cuba,
    • USA secretly removed missiles from Turkey,
    • Hotline between White House and Kremlin
19 of 30

20. U-2 CRISIS

  • Events:
    • 1960, American spy plane shot down over USSR.
    • Eisenhower denied it (lied).
    • Pilot, Gary Powers, put on trial for spying. Soviets used him and photographs from the plane wreck as evidence.
    • Americans had to admit it was a spy plane.
  • Results:
    • Paris Summit:
      • Khrushchev demanded Eisenhower cancel spying missions and apologise.
      • Eisenhower cancelled all future spying missions, but refused to apologise.
      • Khrushchev walked out of the summit.
    • Eisenhower's planned visit to Russia was cancelled.
    • Khrushchev and Russians grew in confidence.
    • Eisenhower voted out to John F Kenndy because Americans thought he was losing the Cold War, and Kennedy promised to be tougher on Communism.
20 of 30

21. ARMS & SPACE RACE 1950s + 1960s



  • 1957:
    • Test 1st ICBM (Intercontinental Ballistic Missile).
    • Launch of Sputnik 1 (1st artificial satellite).
    • Atlas ICBM
  • 1960:
    • Polaris missile (1st Submarine-launched ICBM).
  • 1961
    • 200 ICBMs launched.
    • Yuri Gagarin- first man in space.
  • 1967
    • 1000 ICBMs launched
    • American resources started being diverted into the Vietnnam war giving USSR a chance to catch up.
  • 1969
    • First man on the moon.
21 of 30


  • Alexander Dubcek became Czechoslovakian leader in 1968 and made changes:
      • Living standards raised
      • Workers to have greater say in how factories are run
      • Free elections & opposition parties allowed
      • Travel to the west allowed for all
    • Dubcek was still Communist and tried to assure Moscow that Czechoslovakia wouldn't leave the warsaw pact, but the USSR weren't convinced and didn't want the Eatern Bloc to be weakened.
  • 24th August 1968:
    • 500,000 Soviet troops invaded Prague
    • Dubcek was removed from office
    • Soviet control was restored
    • Many countries criticised the Soviet's action, but nothing was done oppose it.
    • UN help was vetoed by the USSR.
  • Brezhnev Doctrine:
    • Leonid Brezhnev (replaced Khrushchev in 1964) said that if SOcialism was threatened in any country, the USSR would intervene.
22 of 30

23. Detente

1963- JFK gave a speech in West Berlin criticising communism.

  • USSR couldn't afford to spend more on nuclear arms.
  • USA wanted a better relationship with communism- tried to end Vietnam war (long war in SE Asia against communists, cost many US lives & very unpopular with American public).

1972- SALT 1 (Strategic Arms Limitations Talks)- USSR + USA agreed to limit nuclear weapons.

1975- Helsinki Accords. US, USSR + others:

    • recognised European boarders decided in WW2 including division of Germany.
    • commitment to human rights- eg. freedom of speech & travel. However there was no enforcement procedure, so promises were not always kept by the communist countries.

1979- SALT 2- US/USSR summit in Vienna fell apart with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

23 of 30


  • December 1979- USSR invaded Afghanistan to prop-up a pro-Soviet government besieged by rebels. Decision turned out to be a disaster. USSR got stuck in a seemingly unwinnable conflict in difficult mountainous terrain.
  • American distrust of USSR increased- worried that USSR had its sights on oil-rich Persian Gulf (close to Afghanistan). President Carter warned US would use force to prevent outside powers gaining control of the Gulf region.
  • Carter withdrew SALT 2 from consideration by the Senate & called for an increase in the defence budget.
  • USA aided Afghan resistance with military equipment during 1980s.
  • USSR gave up & began withdrawing their forces from Afghanistan in 1988.
24 of 30


War in Afghanistan and election of Reagan in 1980 ended detente.

  • Reagan= harsh anti-communist, called USSR 'Evil Empire'.
  • Arms race- keen to show off power and new technology.
  • Developed new cruise and pershing missiles that could be launched from almost anywhere.
  • Star Wars- (Strategic Defence Initiative) laser weapons to shoot down Soviet missiles.
  • US athletics team boycotted the Moscow Olympics in 1980.
  • Soviet team boycotted the LA Games in 1984.
25 of 30


  • Early 1970s Poland, under communist leader, acheived some rise in living standards.
  • Late 1970s economy from foriegn debt and shortages, so government raised prices.
  • 1980- Lech Walesa led shipyard workers in the port of Gdansk in protest against high food prices with some success. They set up their own independant trade union called 'Solidarity' & demanded the right to strike & to be consulted on all major decisions affecting their living and working conditions. Lech Walesa became the leader.
  • Solidarity became an anti-communist social movement which by the end of 1981 had 9m members. Nothing like it had been seen before in the communist world. The movement was especially strong because of the support of the Catholic Church.
  • Polish government was in a fix. It was scared to ban solidarity, but it couldn't meet the demands for political reform for fear of Soviet intervention.
  • 1981- Polish Army General took control and inforced army law:
    • Solidarity was banned.
    • Lech Walesa was arrested & imprisoned.
    • The price of basic food stuffs was increased by 40%.
  • Solidarity continued as an underground organisation.
  • Lech Walesa was seen as a symbol of rebellion and Soviet oppression, & was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1983.
  • 1988- further nationwide strikes forced the government to negotiate with the union.
26 of 30



  • Arms race with USA was too expensive.
  • Farming was inefficient- couldn't produce enough food& millions of tonnes of grain had to be imported from the USA.
  • Communist government was becoming more corrupt & was unable to give the Soviet people the same high living standards as people had in the West.
  • Afghanistan war was a disaster- billions of dollars & 15000 Soviet troops.


  • Glasnost (New Freedom & Openness)- 1000s political prisoners released, atrocities committed by Stalin's government, Free speech was allowed, Military conscription soon abolished.
  • Perestroika (Economic Restructuring)- Allowed people to make their own profits.
27 of 30


Foreign Policy:

  • 1987- Disarmament Treaty (INF-Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty). USA & USSR agreed to remove mid-rande nuclear missiles from Europe in the next 3 years.
  • 1988- Reduction of weapons stockpile & troops in Soviet armed forces.
  • 1985- Geneva Summit. Met with Reagan several times to try to improve realtions with the West.
  • 1988- Complete withdrawal of Soviet Troops from Afghanistan.
  • 1988- Abandon Brezhnev Doctrine- Eastern European countries now had a choice- USSR wasn't going to control them anymore.
28 of 30


Eastern Europe:

  • May- Hungary opened its frontier with Austria.
  • June- Fee elections in Poland- Solidarity won & new non-communist government came to power.
  • Many East Germans moved into west Germany through Hungary & Austria.
  • November- Berlin Wall torn down.
  • December- Anti-communist demonstrations in Czechoslovakia & communist government collapsed.
  • December- revolution against cruel & corrupt regime of dictator Nicolae Ceausescu in ROmania. Executed in on Christmas Days.
  • 1990- Germany was reunited after45 years- powerful symbol to many that Communism was over.
  • 1991- Warsaw Pact officially ended.
29 of 30



  • Main nationalities in USSR demanded independence, especially Baltic republics- Latvia, Estonia & Lithuania. Gorbachev tried to prevent the rise of nationalism in the baltic states, but he gradually lost control.
  • 1991- Anti-communist Boris Yeltsin was elected as Russian President, & became popular & powerful. Demanded end of communist domination & breakup of USSR, but this led to crisis.

Attempted Coup 1991:

  • Old communists feared new reforms & got rid of Gorbachev.
  • Military group tried to seize power by capturing Gorbachev, but Yeltsin rallied the Russians to resist & the army supported him, so the coup failed.
  • Soon Soviet republics became independent- no more USSR.
  • Gorbachev had no power & had to resign. Communism in Russia was dead.
30 of 30


No comments have yet been made

Similar History resources:

See all History resources »See all The Cold War resources »