Cold War

  • Created by: Megan
  • Created on: 07-06-15 11:19



  • Democracy; free, regular elections, individual rights protected by law
  • Capitalism; government plays a small role, privately owned business
  • Free trade


  • Single party government; Communist party only legal party, dominates government, limited rights for citizens
  • State socialism; planned economy, government control and plan
  • World revoultion 

Ideological Conflict 

  • 1918-1920 British and US troops intervened in Russian Civil War
  • Wester powers refused to recognise SU as legitimate state and admit it to the League of Nations after WW1
  • 1919 'Red Scare'
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Ideological Confrontation


  • Cold War was inevitable conflict as Capitalism and Communism were fundamentally antagonistic to one another
  • Opposite ideologies that conflicted each other
  • This interpretation explains why there was East-West conflict before the Cold War
  • However it assumes that the leaders of the superpowers were entirely guided by their ideologies which is too simplistic as they were often prepared to act pragmatically 
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After the War

1945 US

  • Economic boom; GDP doubled 1941-45
  • Half of worlds manufacturing capacity
  • Developed atomic bomb; military supremacy 
  • Bretton Woods Conference; dollar prinipal trading currency 
  • But scarred by the Great depression

1945 USSR

  • 27 million dead
  • 1700 homes destroyed
  • Industrial and agricultural infrastructure destroyed
  • But largest army in world; 11 million men
  • 1945-53 fastest growing economy in world
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Stalin's objectives

  • ensuring dominance over Poland
  • Keeping Germany weak
  • Expanding Soviet territory 

Key interpretation: Stalin's aggression

  • Stalin's policies in years following WW2 main cause of Cold War
  • Determination to create sphere of influence, refusal to tolerate opposition parties, Czechoslovakia, Berlin 1948 all proof of soviet aggression.
  • According to this interpreation the US played a purely reactionary role.
  • This interpretation overlooks Stalin's commitment, until 1947, to peaceful coexistence
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Tehran (1943) and Moscow (1944)

  • Discusses post-war sphere's of influence 
  • At Moscow Stalin and Churchill agreed that Britain would be allowed to station troops in Greece and the SU would retain troops in Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary

Yalta (February 1945)

  • Churchill wanted the pro-Western Polish Government (exiled in London) to be returned to power in Poland
  • Stalin wanted to ensure that Germany remained weak and Poland was part of its sphere
  • Roosevelt wanted the acceptance of the UN and SU agreement to enter war against Japan
  • Accepted Soviet demands and Stalin agreed to UN and war against Japan

Potsdam (July 1945)

  • Divided Germany temporarily and established new borders for Germany and Poland that suited Stalin. Became clear Stalin wouldn't accept return of Polish government. Key questions over future of Germany and EE still unresolved
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Great Power rivalry


  • The Cold War was a continuation of existing trends... Russian empire building and US open door policy for expansion.
  • This interpretation plays down ideological divisions
  • Explains the two powers sought to extend their global influence which started the Cold War
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Growing tension

The Kennan Telegram (February 1946)

Stated the SU was preparing for world domination and advised the policy of firm and vigilant containment which decame defining feature of US policy in the first years of the Cold War.

The Novikov Telegram (Septermber 1946)

Showed concerns about the US government planning global domination through its wealth and that it was an imperialist power. Stalin studied this document heavily.

Churchill's Iron Curtain speech (March 1946)

Speech emphasised bitter relations that existed between the power blocs in Europe. Stalin responded and branded Churchill a warmonger.

Superpower relations end of 1946

Trust had broken down, Grand Alliance essentially at an end but still taking part in bilateral negotiations and not yet in a state of Cold War.

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Mutual misconceptions

  • Some suggest the Cold War started due to mutual misconceptions and the different perspectives of the two superpowers 
  • According to this both superpowers were motivated by the desire to protect their own interests however these were misinterpreted as aggressive policies designed to extend global influence
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Truman Doctrine and Marshall Plan

Truman Doctrine March 1947

  • Used to stop the spead of communism in Europe
  • Policy became known as containment 
  • Cominform was established in response

Marshall Plan June 1947

  • Aid package to promote economic recovery in Europe
  • Hoped it would increase trade with US and tie European nations into a relationship with the US
  • To recieve aid governments had to agree to free trade
  • 1948-52 $13.7 billion 
  • Led to economic recovery in Western Zones of Germany
  • But branded as dollar imperialism by Soviets 
  • Soviet response was Comecon
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US dollar diplomacy


  • US economic interest main reason for development of Cold War
  • US used the Marhsall Plan to have dominant economic position in Europe
  • Wanted to avoid another depression so needed to stimulate growth through trade
  • Used superpower tension to justify massive government spending on arms to stimulate the US economy
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Stalinisation of Eastern Europe

1947-49 Cominform created one-party dictatorships across Eastern Europe

For example 

1947 Hungary rigged elections were used to ensure communist victory

1948 Czechoslovakia a coup was staged to overthrow elected government and replace it with a communist government. The foreign minister Jan Masaryk was murdered.

By 1949 the majority of Eastern European states had been reduced to satellite states

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Berlin Crisis 1948-49


  • May 1947 British and US zones became Bizonia 
  • May 1948 began to work on Monetary reform
  • 1949 Bizonia joined French zone to create Trizonia 


  • 18th June 1948 the new currency was issued in Western zones 
  • Stalin called a blockade; he ordered all travel links from Trizonia to West Berlin closed and cut power supply 


  • 26th June US launched Operation Vittles 
  • British launched Plainfare
  • By May 1949 2.3 million tons of supplies had been flown into the city
  • August 1948 US deployed 60 B29 bombers to Britain to increase pressure on SU
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Significance of Berlin Crisis

  • showed resolve of the West to stand up to Soviet pressure peacefully
  • propaganda disaster for SU 
  • showed Stalin was willing to starve 2 million people to achieve geopolitical objectives
  • failed in objective of preventing the formal unification of the three Western Zones
  • May 1949 the Federal Republic of Germany was established
  • In response the German Democratic Republic was established
  • the US agreed to guarentee security of Western Europe, NATO was set up in 1949
  • showed neither side wanted to risk nuclear war
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Stalin's personality


  • Historians point to feelings of insecurity, his desire to dominate and his willingness to do anything to safeguard the future of the Soviet Union as the key factor in the development of the Cold War.
  • Evidence comes from documents that have become available after the Cold War
  • Stalins suspicions certainly played a role in his policy towards Berlin
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US aggression

  • Some Historians argue that the Cold War developed due to US determination to confront the SU.
  • In light of this view the Marshall Plan, Truman doctrine and NATO can all be seen as the US asserting its power against Soviet influence 
  • The movement of the B29 bombers in Europe can also show US aggression
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The Korean War

Stalin was willing to help Kim because;

  • The SU had ended the US's nuclear monopoly 1949
  • China had turned communist 1949
  • US secretary of state had excluded South Korea from the US's Asian 'defensive perimeter' 1950


  • The China Lobby held Truman responsible for the loss of China to communism
  • NSC-68 1950


  • showed superpowers were prepared to commit military force to defend their interests
  • showed superpowers wanted to avoid direct conflict and were willing to fight 'proxy wars'
  • demonstrated importance of domestic political pressure on US policy.
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US domestic politics


  • Linked development of Cold War to domestic politics 
  • They point to the role of Republicans and Democrats in the Truman administration and in Congress, and their attempts to win public support by exploiting Cold War fears e.g. the china lobby
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