- June 1941: Germany invaded Soviet Union. This led Britain and Soviet Union to form alliance against Hitler.
- December 1941: Japan attacked USA. Hitler also declared war on USA. This brought Britain, the Soviet Union and the USA together as allies.
- The three powers together became known as the Grand Alliance. Leaders – Churchill (Great Britain), Roosevelt (USA) and Stalin (Soviet Union) became known as the ‘Big Three’.
- There was constant tension in this alliance throughout the war.
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Points of view
- During war Soviet people suffered terribly. By 1945, 26 million Soviet citizens had died.
- Western Allies had intervened in the Civil War in 1918-9 and Stalin suspected they had encouraged Hitler in the 1930s.
- Britain and France had turned down an offer of an alliance with the Soviet Union in 1939.
- Stalin believed that the Allies had deliberately delayed invading France until 1944.
- Stalin thought USA and Britain wanted the Soviet Union to destroy itself fighting Germany.
- West believed Stalin wanted to impose communism (capitalism vs. communism).
- Stalin did not allow Red Army to intervene in Warsaw Uprising (1944) to help the Poles.
- Stalin had not declared war on Japan despite Britain and USA fighting it across Asia and Pacific.
- Churchill said he had not fought against one dictator for six years to see another one take his place.
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Teheran November 1943
- First meeting of ‘Big Three’. Main discussion was opening a second front in Western Europe.
- Roosevelt hoped this conference would creaye close relations between the leaders.
- Agreed Britain and USA would open up a second front by invading France in May 1944. The Soviet Union would also mount an offensive in the East against Germany.
- Help would be given to partisan forces in Yugoslavia who were fighting Hitler.
- Soviet Union would declare war on Japan once Germany was defeated.
- A United Nations organisation was to be set up after the war
- Stalin promised lands that Soviet Union had lost to Poland in 1920. Poland’s borders with Germany would move to the rivers Oder and Neisse.
- Discussions about splitting up Germany after the war but no firm decisions made.
- Roosevelt was prepared to believe Stalin's promises about free elections, provided that Stalin was prepared to declare war on Japan and to join the UNO.
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Yalta February 1945
- Tension between Churchill and Stalin. Stalin needed if it was necessary to invade Japan.
- Soviet Union was advancing through Eastern Europe. Churchill thought Soviet troops would remain in countries they liberated from German occupation.
- Germany would be divided into four zones. Stalin accepted France after persuasion by Churchill. Berlin would also be divided into four sectors.
- Poland would be given land in west (taken from Germany) and would lose land to USSR.
- Members of Polish government in exile (London Poles) allowed to join Polish government (Lublin Poles) set up by Stalin. Free elections would be held in all occupied countries.
- USSR would declare war on Japan three months after the end of the war with Germany.
- Nazi war criminals would be tried in an international court of justice.
- San Francisco conference April 1945: United Nations. Aim would be to keep peace.
- No agreement reached about reparations.
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Potsdam July-August 1945
- President Roosevelt died on 12 April and replaced by Harry Truman. During conference Churchill was replaced by Clement Attlee. By July USA had developed the atomic bomb so Truman no longer needed Soviet Union in the war against Japan.
- Germany's division settled. De-militarised. Naval and merchant ships given to Allies.
- Nazi Party dissolved. Nazis removed from important positions and leaders put on trial for war crime. These trials were held in Nuremberg during 1946.
- Free elections in Germany, freedom of speech and a free press.
- Germans living in Eastern Europe would be transferred into Germany.
- Reparations would mostly go to the USSR, either in money or goods.
- All Allies agreed to take part in the United Nations.
- Truman tried to force USSR to allow free elections in occupied countries of Eastern Europe.
- Stalin was angry that USA had not mentioned the new atomic bomb.
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War of Words
- Iron Curtain 1946: Border between East and West in Europe called Iron Curtain (serarating communism and non-communism). Came from speech by Winston Churchill.
- Stalin wanted to protect USSR against another invasion by Germany which had invaded twice in his lifetime 1914 and 1941. Wanted Germany kept weak.
- Western Allies wanted Germany to be allowed to recover from the effects of the war.
- During the years 1945–48, all countries occupied by Red Army were brought under Soviet control (e.g Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary).
- Stalin was trying to prevent western influence reaching the west and refugees leaving the east for Western Europe.
- Long Telegram 1946: From USA ambassador in Moscow said Stalin had given speech opposing capitalism and USSR was building up military power.
- Novikov's Telegram 1946: Soviet ambassador said USA wanted to dominate world and was preparing for war.
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Soviet Control of Eastern Europe
- When countries were liberated from the Nazis, Stalin ensured that Soviet troops remained there.
- Hungary and Romania fought on Nazis’ side so Stalin felt justified in keeping Soviet troops there as occupying forces.
- Any new governments were coalitions which meant the Communist Party would have a say in the running the country.
- Gradually the Communist Party would infiltrate key areas of government and security organisations.
- When elections took place Communist Party used any means necessary to discredit and frighten opponents.
- This enabled the Communist Party to take over the government of the country and establish a communist state.
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- Czechoslovakia: Communist Party was largest party in coalition government by 1947. Stalin ordered Gottwald, the Communist leader to remove the non-communists in the government. In 1948, all communist opponents were removed. Masaryk, a leading opponent of Gottwald was found dead.
- Poland: Communist Party was a member of coalition for two years. Fixed elections of January 1947. Polish Communist Party set up a government which took its orders from Stalin in Moscow
- Bulgaria: November elections of 1945 fixed and Communists won a majority of seats. In 1946, a one-party sate was established.
- Hungary: Communist Party secured large share of vote and took over government following the general election of August 1947. All other parties were banned and Communist leader, Rakosi, established a Stalinist regime.
- Romania: By November election 1946, Romanian Communist Party had won a huge majority and set up a government which forced King Michael to abdicate in 1947.
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- February 1947: British government informed USA that it could no longer afford to support Greek government against Communist rebels.
- US government stepped in with an offer of 4 hundred million dollars. Also offered aid.
- Truman Doctrine announced by Truman in March 1947. He offered to help any country that was being threatened either from within or from without its own borders.
- Thought Soviet Union would spread communism through Eastern Europe to the west and beyond. Argued the world was becoming two armed camps: capitalist camp (free camp) and communist. Hoped he might persuade countries of eastern Europe to break away from Communism.
- Wanted to help the countries of Europe recover from the effects of the Second World War.
- Did not mention Soviet Union but it was a warning that Truman was not going to let Stalin take control of Europe. Was going to ‘get tough with Russia’ (containment).
- USA would use economic and military strength to protect world from threat of communism.
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- March 1947: Truman offered grants of American money to all European countries. Named after his secretary of state George C Marshall. Attempt to rebuild Europe after war.
- Marshall Aid available to all countries in Europe, but only countries in west accepted it.
- Marshall Plan controlled how Marshall Aid was spent. Individual countries would not decide for themselves so USA could influence countries of the east and undermine communism.
- When Soviet Union realised what Truman was up to, other Eastern Bloc countries, Czechoslovakia in particular, were forced to withdraw applications for Marshall Aid.
- 17 countries received over 13 billion dollars. They recovered from war quicker than eastern countries. Italy, which had been an ally of Germany during the war, received 6 hundred million dollars.
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Cominform and Comecon
- Cominform (Communist Information Bureau) established in September 1947. To co-ordinate activities of Communist Parties in the world not only in Soviet dominated countries.
- To indicate how Stalin’s foreign policies were to be followed and to encourage the introduction of policies such as collectivisation and the command economy.
- Any Communist state/Party which did not follow Moscow line was expelled from the organisation.
- January 1949: Comecon (Council for Mutual Economic Assistance) launched. Soviet version of Marshall Aid. Offered aid to communist countries to help them recover from effects of war.
- Founding members: Soviet Union, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, Romania and Poland. East Germany joined in 1950.
- Soviet Union wanted each member to develop its own specialisms e.g. Romania on agriculture, Czechoslovakia on industry.
- Soviet Union lacked financial strength of the USA and the attempt led to bankruptcy and ruin.
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- June 1948-May 1949: Stalin stopped all traffic between West Germany and West Berlin.
- January 1947: British and US zones joined together in ‘Bizonia’ to help future economic planning. Stalin said this broke the Potsdam agreements.
- April 1948: French zone added. Now 'Trizonia'.
- 1948: Western Allies announced introduction of new currency, the Deutschmark, in Trizonia to prevent inflation and stop black market trade and bartering which were still common.
- East Berliners/ East Germans were trying to escape to the west
- US commander in Berlin General Clay ‘If West Berlin falls, West Germany will be next’. Offered to fight out of West Berlin but Truman said no. USA had reduced its army after war.
- Airlift began on 28 June 1948. Reached its peak on 16–17 April 1949 when almost 1400 flights landed nearly 13,000 tons of supplies in 24 hours.
- 12 May 1949: Stalin called off blockade. More than 320,000 flights made and 79 pilots died.
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Response to Blockade
- Tensions of USA and USSR now clear for world to see. It was a sign that relations between the Superpowers were now so bad that some form of military alliance was necessary.
- Many East Germans began to try to escape from the Soviet zone to the other three.
- April 1949: North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) set up. Members were: USA, Britain, France, Canada, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Iceland, Norway, Denmark, Italy and Portugal.
- Any attack on NATO territories would be considered an attack on the whole alliance.
- NATO led to US troops and aircraft being stationed in European countries to protect them against a possible attack by the countries of Eastern Europe.
- May 1949: Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) set up.
- October 1949: German Democratic Republic (East Germany) set up.
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Communism in Asia
- 1949: Chinese Communist Party led by Mao Zedong defeated Nationalists.
- USA was concerned about spread of communism to such a large populous country.
- USA had been keen to contain the spread of communism in Europe containment; however, the spread of communism into Asia saw the development of the domino theory.
- 1950–53: Korean War. North Korea ruled by communist forces, supported by Soviet Union and China. South Korea had US-supported democratic government. North Korean forces invaded South Korea.
- US forces sent to help South Korea against invading communist forces. After three years a truce was signed and Korea remained divided in two – as it had been in 1950.
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Arms Race begins/Stalin dies
- 1945: USA developed atomic bomb and used it at Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
- 1949: Soviet Union exploded its first atomic bomb. Now that both Superpowers owned atomic weapons, each sought to have more than the other.
- Each wanted to develop more destructive weapons and huge amounts of money was spent developing these weapons of mass destruction.
- 1952: USA tested its first hydrogen bomb.
- 1953: Soviet Union tested its first hydrogen bomb.
- March 1953: Stalin died and was replaced by Khrushchev.
- Khrushchev believed in co-existance.The Soviet Union should accept that West had a right to exist.
- Khrushchev did not intend to weaken Soviet control over Eastern Bloc.
- In 1953 workers in East Germany were shot when they demonstrated against conditions.
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- 1955: Warsaw Pact (Pact of Mutual Assistance and Unified Command) set up. Was communist equivalent of NATO. Set up in response to West Germany joining NATO.
- Showed fear that Soviet Union had of further invasion by Germany. An attempt to protect USSR by drawing the countries of Eastern Europe even closer together.
- The members of the Pact were the Soviet Union, Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Romania, Bulgaria, Albania and East Germany.
- It created a joint command of armed forces of the alliance and set up a Political Committee to co-ordinate the foreign policies of the members.
- Increased influence of Soviet Union in Eastern Europe. More Soviet troops were stationed there. This made the crushing of the Hungarian Rising of 1956 all the easier.
- Forces outnumbered West and an invasion through northern Germany always seemed very likely.
- Support for the Pact helped the bankruptcy and collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.
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Poland and Hungary
- 1956: Khrushchev made ‘Secret Speech’, which criticised Stalin. Led to rioting in Poland.
- 21 October: Gomulka became new leader of Polish Communist Party.
- Khrushchev allowed Gomulka to take power and removed some unpopular Stalinists from government. Gomulka promised that Poland would remain member of Warsaw Pact.
- Defence Minister Rokossvky was summoned to Moscow and accused of taking part in a conspiracy to overthrow Gomulka.
- Hungary had been an ally of Germany in the war. In 1945 Hungary payed Soviet Union reparations of $300 million. Soviet forces occupied Hungary.
- After November 1945 elections leader of Soviet forces, Voroshilov, ensured that Hungarian Communist Party became part of coalition government.
- After elections in 1947 Hungarian Communist Party took complete control and established a one-party state. The new leader was Rakosi who followed Stalin’s ideas, set up a communist dictatorship and joined Cominform.
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- Hungary not allowed to receive Marshall Aid.
- Trade never on fair basis. Exports to Soviet Union always below market price. Agricultural output fell and progress in industry was slow.
- Rakosi imposed control on people. Secret police (AVH) were Rakosi’s main means. More than 2,000 opponents were murdered. Estimated 200,000 opponents imprisoned and 150,000 removed from their jobs.
- Controlled communications and the media.
- Religious education was not permitted in schools. The leader of the Hungarian Catholic Church, was imprisoned for life in 1949.
- Rakosi's government became increasingly unpopular. When Stalin died Rakosi was replaced by Nagy who had ‘New Course’ (more liberal regime) ideas. Promised to improve economy and increase production of consumer goods.
- Soviet Union disliked his policies and he was sacked in April 1955.
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- October 1956: fighting between Hungarians and Soviet troops.
- 24 October: Nagy became prime minister of Hungary once again. Led to fighting between Hungarian and Soviet troops. Khrushchev withdrew Soviet troops. Nagy's new government included non-communists. Thought he had USA support.
- 30 October: Nagy announced free elections in Hungary. Some political prisoners released.
- 2 November: Nagy said Hungary would withdraw from Warsaw Pact.
- 4 November: 200,000 Soviet troops and 6000 tanks returned to Hungary.
- 10 November: Ceasefire agreed, some fighting continued. Nagy arrested and executed.New leader of Hungary was Kadar. Remained leader until 1965.
- West protested but were afraid military action would lead to war. Also involved in Suez Crisis.
- About 200,000 Hungarians escaped to Austria during the uprising.
- Next attempt to move away from Soviet control was Czechoslovakia in 1968.
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