GCSE Edexcel History: The Cold War: How did it develop? (1943-56)

Part one of three in the exam in the summer, where you'll get a 2 mark, a 6 mark and a twelve mark question. Good luck guys~

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Rivalry between Superpowers before 1945.

There were differences between the ideas of the two sides - communism and capitalism.

  • Capitalist countries, such as the US, feared the spread of communism, which they regarded as less free - Winston Churchill called it a "tyranny". They intervened in the Russian Civil War in 1918-21. giving arms and help to the rebel groups who tried to overthrow Lenin and the communists.This made Eastern leaders very suspicious of the west.

Nazi-Soviet Pact.

  • Britain, France and the US disliked Stalin more when he signed an alliance with Hitler in 1939, and feared that Stalin wanted to seize part of Poland and expand.

Stalin's beliefs and WW2.

  • He believed that the USA and Britain wanted the USSR to destroy itself fighting Germany alone in WW2 ((The allies invaded France in 1944, which left Stalin fighting Hitler alone in continental Europe))
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The Conferences: Teheran, November 1943

From 1943 onwards, The Big Three met at conferences.

Teheran was the first in November 1943 - Roosevelt wanted to cement relations between the leaders.

Topics discussed: Finally opening a second front by invading France in May 1944 and starting an East offensive against Germany

  • USSR waging war against Japan after Germany was defeated
  • Creating a United Nations Organisation to prevent this from happening again
  • Stalin getting land that the USSR had lost to Poland in 1920

This was a sucess for Stalin, as he got most of what he wanted for Russia.

Strains in the alliance:

  • Churchill: he was suspicious of Stalin's motives in Europe.
  • Warsaw Uprising: The Soviet army did nothing while the German army crushed rebellion, leaving the Poles defenceless against Soviet occupation
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The Conferences: Yalta, February 1945

Events at Yalta:

  • Divided Germany into 4 zones, one for each of the allies. Also divided Berlin.
  • Poland would be given land from Germany, while the USSR got theirs back
  • They all agreed to join the United Nations Organisation to maintain peace when the war ended.
  • That Eastern Europe would be a Soviet "Sphere of influence"

How did Yalta change relations?

  • Relations were still tolerable.
  • There was still some trust: Roosevelt was prepared to believe that Stalin would hold elections in Poland.
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Changes between Yalta and Potsdam.

So, what happened in the 5 months between?

  • Soviet troops had liberated european countries, such as Finland, Lithuania and Czechoslovakia, but they remained in them.
  • Stalin had set up a communist government in Poland, ignoring the wishes of the Polish and the agreements at Yalta.
  • While the West demilitarised, the Red Army continued to expand.
  • Roosevelt died. and Harry Truman, who distrusted Stalin, replaced him. He was determined to stand up to the Soviet leader.
  • When the USA developed the atomic bomb in July, Stalin was furious he hadn't been consulted before hand.
  • Churchill had been replaced with Attlee.

It's safe to say relations went south.

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The Conferences: Potsdam, July 1945

The agreements:

  • Germany's division.
  • Germany was to be demilitarised, with all naval ships to be given to the Allies.
  • The Nazi Party was to be dissolved.
  • Free elections in Germany, along with freedom of speech and free press
  • To move Poland's frontier more to the west, for more land.

The disagreements:

  • Reparations: Stalin wanted Germany to be completely crippled, but Truman didn't agree as that's what happened with the Treaty of Versailles in 1919
  • Truman wanted free elections in the eastern European countries that were occupied by Soviet troops, but Stalin refused, as they were interfering. Truman was furious.

How did Potsdam change relations?

The countries worked together, but tensions got worse - Stalin went against his word about Eastern Europe and Truman was furious, and said he wanted to "get tough" with Russia.

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Soviet Expansion: How did it lead to the Truman Do

The west viewed the Soviet take-over as Stalin putting an "iron curtain" ((quote, Winston Churchill)) up, dividing Europe.

The Truman Doctrine and Marshall Aid.

To stop the spread of Communism, Truman, in March 1947, promised that the US would help any country that was being threatened inside or out. It was introduced in response to the situation in Greece: The Greek government was fighting against Communist rebels, and the British government had helped out, until they announced that they could no longer afford to help them.

Other reasons for the Doctrine:

  • To persuade some eastern European countries to break away from communism
  • to help Europe recover from WW2
  • It was a warning to Stalin - even though it didn't mention the USSR, it was obvious that it was a warning that they wouldn't get away with controlling europe
  • to show that the US was prepared to use its economic and military strength to protect the world from communism.
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The Truman Doctrine and Marshall Aid.

Also, at the same time, Marshall Aid was announced.

  • This was a plan to allow the US to control countries which recieved it, as they'd have to join the EEC or the European Economic Co-Operation, an organisation with capitalist aims. 
  • Also, the Marshall Plan would control how the money was to be spent in the country. Truman hoped this would influence the eastern countries and undermine communism
  • When the USSR realised what Truman was doing, countries like Czechoslovakia was forced to withdraw applications.

How did the Truman Doctrine and Marshall Aid change relations between the USA and the USSR?

  • Further increased tension
  • USSR felt Marshall Aid was an attempt to work against communism and inflence Europe
  • They resented it.
  • Marshall Aid was a reason for the Berlin Blockade.
  • Cominform and Comecon were created, which proves that Stalin felt threatened by the actions of the West
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The Berlin Blockade, 1948-49

Short-term causes: 

  • Allies gave Bizonia (the merger between British and US zone of Germany) money for economic recovery giving the people a new currency
  • Very different policies.
  • Free elections in Bizonia.
  • The economic prosperity of the West is shown in Western Berlin - Stalin doesn't want that.

Long-term causes:

  • The way Germany and Berlin were divided - Stalin had to deal with the West in their sector.

On the 24th of June, Stalin accuses the west of interferance and cuts off all roads, rail and canals to Berlin, expecting the West to pull out.

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Results of the Blockade.

copyright, BBC GCSE Bitesize :3

Results of the Berlin Crisis of 1948

  1. Germany was divided into the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) and the Democratic Republic of Germany (East Germany) until 1990.
  2. The Iron Curtain became permanent.
  3. The Cold War broke out into open confrontation, and the two superpowers began an Arms Race.
  4. In 1949, the Allies set up the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) as a military alliance to resist Soviet Russia.
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How did development in 1949-55 increase rivalry?

NATO: Set up in April 1949.

  • Confirms Truman's commitment to containment and preventing Soviet Expansion.

The Warsaw Pact: Set up in 1955.

  • Miliatary alliance of 8 nations headed by the USSR to counter the threat of NATO

The Arms Race:

  • USSR test their first atomic bomb - 1949
  • Both sides suspect the other wanted to build enough weapons to strike first - inc. defense spending.
  • Both get the more powerful hydrogen bomb at a similar time.

Other developments: 

  • China becomes communist, the Korean War. USA's theory - If one Asian country falls to communism, others will follow.

Stalin dies in 1953 - replaced by Nikita Khruschex in 1955.

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