GCSE Cold War EDEXCEL (in progress)


Tehran Conference


The main agreements were that:

-Britain and the USA agreed to open a second front by invading France.

-The USSR agreed to wage war against Japan once Germany was defeated.

-A United Nations was to be set up.

-Eastern Poland would become part of the USSR.

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Yalta Conference


The main agreements were:
-The USSR would enter the war against Japan.

-Germany (and Berlin) would be divided into 4 zones (USA, Britain, France and the USSR).

-Free elections for countries liberated from Germany and give them the right to join the UN.

-Eastern Europe would be a soviet 'sphere of influence'.

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Potsdam Conference


The main agreements were:

-Germany would be dividded into 4 zones as previously discussed.

-Germany would be demilitarised.

-Democracy would be reestablished in Germany.

-Germany had to pay reperations and the USSR to be given 1/4 of the goods produced in the western zone of Germany.

-The Nazi party was banned.

-Full participations in the UN.

-Poland's frontier to be moved to Odor and Neisse.

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Long Telegram:

Written by ambassador George Kenan in 1946. Warned the USSR should not be trusted: 'it is clear that the US cannot expect in the foreseeable future to be close with the Soviet regime. It must continue to regard the Soviet Union as a rival, not a partner, in a political arena.

Novikov Telegram:

Written by Novikov in 1946: 'obvious indictation of the US effort to establish world dominance are also to be found in the increase in military potential in peace time and in the establishment of a large number of naval and air bases both in the United States and beyond it's borders'.

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USA doctrine/plan:

Truman Doctrine:

The Truman Doctrine was the American policy in 1947 of providing economic and military aid to Greece and Turkey because they were threatened by communism. Informally extended to become the basis of the cold war policy of containment.

Marshall Plan:

The Marshall plan (1947)  was the Truman administration's plan to rebuild war-torn Europe in order to prevent the spread of communism, facilitate global trade and free markets, and encourage the European peace. Between 1945 and 1953, the US loaned $44.3 billion to countries accross the world.

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Soviet response


Cominform is also known as the communist information bureau. It was set up in 1947 and its aim was to control and co-ordinate communist parties through Europe. It was the USSR's direct response to the Truman doctrine.


Comecon or the council of mutual assistance was created in 1949 and was the Soviet response to the Marshall plan. The idea was that the USSR could financially support other communist countries. However, comecon was actually used to control other countries economy.

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The north atlantic treaty organisation was formed in 1949. It was a defensive measure but also diguise to stop Soviet expansion. NATO was a defensive alliance: if one member country was attacked, the other allies would jump to their defense.

Warsaw Pact:

Formed in 1955. The Warsaw pact was a military alliance of 8 countries (Ussr, Albania, Poland, Romania, Hungary, East Germany and Czechoslovakia) led by the USSR.

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East (Dictatorship):

-Known as the GDR

-Capital was east Berlin

-Main political figure in the GDR was Walter Ulbricht

-Economy was centrally balanced and increasingly state-owned

West (Democracy):

-Known as the FDR

-Capital was Bonn 

-Wirtschaftswadar (economic miracle) of the 1950s when west Germany rose from the exodus destruction wrought by WW2 to become the worlds 3rd largest economy.

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Berlin Blockade


-Britain and the USA created Bizonia and then Trizonia with France.

-Marshall aid and the Truman Doctrine.

-In 1948, a neo currency is introduced, Stalin felt this would be an economic threat.

-Stalin feels like the allies are trying to take over so cut off roads and rail links.


-Over the next 10 months, an estimated 2,245,315 tons of supplies were airlifted.

-The iron curtain became perminant.

-The cold war became an open confrontation and the 2 superpowers began an arms race.

-In 1949, the allies set up NATO as a military alliance to resist Soviet Russia.

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Hungarian uprising:


-Krushchev critisises Stalin (de-stalinisation).

-Polish revolt led to more freedom in 1956.

-Rakosi is replaced by Imre Nagy.

-Nagy wanted more freedom and rights for Hungarians.

-There are protests on the street of Budapest.

-The USSRare caught off guard at first and withdraws army, but this was tatical.

-The uprising was crushed, with 20,000 dying and 200,000 escaping west.

-Nagy was executed by the USSR and replaced by Kadar.

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Summit meetings

1958 Berlin Ultimatum:

Krushchev issues the Berlin Ultimatum. He says the allies have broken the Potsdam agreement and should leave Berlin within 6 months.

1960 Paris Summit:

Krushchev and Eisenhower were due to meet in May. A U2 spy plane was shot down amd this led to bitter exchanges between the two.

1961 Vienna Summit:

Krushchev felt he would be able to push around JFK. Krushchev again demands western forces leave Berlin.

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Construction of Berlin Wall


-Between 1949-61, 4 million East Germans feld west.

-In 1958, Krushchev issued his famous 'Berlin Ultimatum'.He gave the allies 6 months to leave.

-By January 1961, the number of East Germans fleeing was 20,000 a month.

-In June 1961 at the Vienna Summit, Krushchev again demanded the Berlin Ultimatum.


-The USA and its partners did nothing to stop the constructions.

-The building of the wall (3.6 metres high and 1.2 metres wide) ensured peace but at a high price.

-The refugee problem was solved, escape from the East became almost impossible.

-Krushchev felt he outmaneuvered Kennedy and won.

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Cuban Revolution

What happened:

Cuba is only 90 miles from the coast of Florida. The Cuban leader was called Batista and was backed by the US. Many American businesses were based in Cuba. Cuba was quite poor and in 1959, a revolution occoured and Fidel Castro seized power.

Why America was worried:
Castro was an unknown quantity. Was he communist? Castro nationalised/ took over US businesses. America responded by refusing to buy sugar. America wanted all countries in the area to be friendly to the US. In the end, Krushchev exploits the situation and offers to buy sugar.

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Bay of Pigs


The 1959 Cuban revolution where Castro replaces Batista. America is not happy so they train Cuban exiles (La Brigada) who have escaped and disliked Castro. The CIA plans an invasions led by the Cuban exiles.


The 1961 invasion is a disaster and the exiles are either killed or captured. Kennedy refuses to commit US groundtroops or provide air cover for the invasion as he does not want to provoke a nuclear war. America was humilitated whilst Castro and Krushchev became even closer. The USSSR puts nuclear ICBM weapons on Cuba and the cuban missilie crisis develops.

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Cuban missile crisis

What happened:

A U2 spyplane dicovered ICBM nuclear weapons launch sites in Cuba in 1962. JFK introduced a blockade of Cuba to stop soviet ships arriving, carrying more weapons. A crisis develops over 13 days but the soviet ships eventually turn around. A nuclear war is avoided by minutes.


The USA removes weapons from Turkey well after the USSR removes weapons from Cuba. Leaders began to recognise that an arms race had nearly brought the world to an end and started to consider arms limitations.Politicians in the USSR felt Krushchev had backed down and the USSR had been humiliated. They looked to remove him, which happened in 1964. A hotline telephone link was established between the white house in Washington and the Kremlin in Moscow (this would hopefully help tensions). Cuba remained a communist country 90 miles from America . They did nor trade or have diplomatic relations.

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The Prague Spring

What happened:

By the 1960s, the Czech economy was failing: Industrial materials (that were needed by the Czech people) were being sent to the USSR and the living standards were falling. The people were dissatisfied with the soviet system so Novotny tried to introduce reforms (known as the neo economics) but they failed. Novotny is replaced by Dubcek who introduces the Prague spring reforms.


More political freedom, work councils, reduced the power of the secret police, less travel restrictions, trading with the west and a ten year part programme to introduce democracy.


Dubcek and Brezhnev fell out. Brezhnev felt that Dubcek was trying to bring down the Warsaw pact (Czech was one of the most important Warsaw pact countries and if they left, it would be a security problem for the USSR). Brezhnev eventually invaded Czechoslovakia (30,000 were killed and 200,000 fled west). Dubcek was removed from power and replaced by Gustar Hasak.

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Brezhnev Doctrine


-According to the Brezhnev Doctrine, the USSR had the right to invade any country in Eastern Europe whose countries threatened the Eastern block.

-Brezhnev argued that he had no choice  but to invade Czechoslovakia because the actions taken by Dubcek threatened the security of the Warsaw pact and soviet control of Eastern Europe.

-Brezhnev was making it clear that all member countries had to remain part of the Warsaw pact.

-Brezhnev also made it clear that if a capitalist country threatened a communist country then other communist countries could intervene. 

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Strategic arms limitations talks (1972). The agreement was about limiting strategic arms like nuclear weapons. However, the talks did not limit the amount of strategic bombers each side could have and there were no limits on developing new weapons. Nevertheless, SALT I was a step in developing nuclear areas control and policy of detente.


Three baskets (security, cooperation and human rights). Despite the helsinki accords, the USSR sent military aid to communist fighting in the Angla and Ethiopia and 21 other African states. To respond, Carter increased the detente budget in 1978 and this showed the little impact SALT I had.


Introduced, for example, a limit of 2400 strategic nuclear delivery materials/vehicles for each side (this is something SALT I did not achieve). SALT II was never approved.

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The soviet invasion of Afghanistan


The Afghan communist party (led by Turiki), started making reforms that were hated by the people - especially religious reforms. Brezhnev was concerned about the unstable government and the threat of islamic extremes so he decided to invade in 1979.


A mujahideen fights the soviet armyusing guerrilla warfare tatics . They were added by the CIA - especially useful were stinger missiles. The USA tries to turn Afghan into the 'Soviet Vietnam', which puts the Soviet economy under pressure by the cost of the war

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