GCSE History Cold war detailed notes

Detailed revision notes that covers all of the Cold war

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The Cold War Section 1.Why the Cold War began

The End of the grand Alliance - USSR and USA became enemies. 

During the Second World War, USA (capitalist) and USSR (communist) worked together as members of the Grand Alliance which was formed in 1941 to defeat the Nazis and fascism. When Hitler waas defeated (1945) the relationship between the USSR and USA became uneasy. 
Between 1943 and 1945 the leaders of the Grand Alliance Roosevelt(USA), Churchill(UK) and Stalin(USSR) met three times at Tehran, Yalta and Potsdam.

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1.The Tehran Conference (1943)

They aimed to make plans for reconstruction of Europe after the defeat of Germany.  The leaders wanted to sort out a number of political problems which would arise after Germany’s defeat.

What they agreed:  The USSR should have a ‘sphere of influence’ (an area where communism was respected) in Eastern Europe. So she USSR would not be threatened by neighbouring countries.

 USA and UK would have a ‘sphere of influence’ (an area where capitalism was respected) in Western Europe.

What they did not agree on : German’s future;  USSR Germany should be punished for causing the send world war. Germany should be forced to give up territory and pay reparations. This would stop Germany from causing another war. 

USA and UK thought Germany should be rebuilt because they thought the Second World War had been caused by Germany’s economic problems.

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2.The Yalta Conference - February 1945

 What they agreed: USSR to help USA defeat Japan after Hitler was defeated. USA and UK agreed to allow a communist government in Poland.

  They all agreed they would work for democracy in Europe after the war had ended.  Agreed to setting up the United Nations – this was to help keep peace in the future.

The USSR should have a ‘sphere of influence’ (an area where communism was respected) in Eastern Europe.  USA and UK would have a ‘sphere of influence’ (an area where capitalism was respected) in Western Europe. 

The signs of tension between the Grand Alliance at Yalta; They had different ideas about democracy. For Stalin this was communism as this represented the working people. Roosevelt saw democracy as allowing different political parties and elections.  

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3. The Potsdam Conference(1945)

They agreed:  To destroy Nazism by banning the Nazi party and prosecuting Nazis as war criminals.  To reduce the size of Germany by approximately one quarter. To divide Germany into four zones.  USA, UK, France and the USSR would each zone. Disagreement at Potsdam  USSR wanted Germany to pay big reparations. The USA wanted to rebuild Germany. The compromised by each taking reparations from the German zone they controlled. Because USSR controlled the poorest part of Germany the Allies agreed that the USSR could have a quarter of industrial equipment from the Western zones.

Strained Relationships between the Grand Alliance:  Truman and Stalin did not get on together  The USA had the tested the atomic bomb by July 1945.  Stalin felt he needed a ‘buffer zone’ to protect East Europe from the West.  Stalin broke his word over the government of Poland – it would now be communist. 

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The Truman Doctrine 1947

Truman announced the aid to Greece in and Turkey in March 1947.    This was called the Truman Doctrine. It is often said that Truman advocated containment (stopping the Soviet getting any more powerful)

America had previously stayed out of international affairs. It divided the world into capitalist and communism.  Truman believed that when people are faced with poverty and hardship, they tend would turn to Communism as the solution to their problems. After the Second World War, {1939- 1945} Europe was in ruin, e.g.  shortages of food, coal and other essential goods. This was made worse by the fact that at this time European countries owed the USA $11.5 billion. 

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The Marshall Plan 1947

The Marshall Plan (Marshall Aid ) : to get the economy of Europe going again

13 billion dollars worth of food, vehicles and fuel was given to Western European countries.  

 This was to prevent European countries adopting Communism as a solution to the economic and social problems caused by the Second World War.

The Marshall Plan (from its enactment, officially the European Recovery Program, ERP) was the primary plan of the United States for rebuilding and creating a stronger foundation for the allied countries of Europe, and repelling communism after World War II.

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In 1947, COMINFORM was formed;  It was alliance of the communist countries.   It was set up to strengthen ties between the communist countries.   It  aimed to tighten Stalin’s control of the East European countries and to restrict their contact with the West.  It rejected the Marshall Plan.

Communist parties in Eastern Europe organised strikes against the plan. It was also used to ensure loyalty to the USSR. It did this to consolidate its power in the East of Europe. It did this by having any government ministers or workers in these countries ‘removed’ if they were disloyal.        

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In December 1946, the British and American governments agreed to merge their zones and make it a single economic unit {known as Bizonia}. In 1948, the French agreed to join and Trizonia was created.  Once the Western zones had joined together, The Marshal Aid was used to stimulate the economic recovery of Western Germany.

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Berlin blockade and airlift

The Berlin Blockade was Stalin’s reaction to the Western Allies dealings with Germany. Berlin was in the Soviet zone of Germany. June 1948, Stalin cut off all rail and road links to west Berlin - the Berlin Blockade. The west saw this as an attempt to starve Berlin into surrender, so they decided to supply west Berlin by air. This cut off the two million people living in Zones belonging Britain, France and the USA.  Stalin believed this would force the Allies out of Berlin and enable him to take complete control of Berlin.

 Berlin Airlift. Truman decided to airlift supplies into the affected areas.  June 1948 and May 1949, Britain and American aircrafts made 195,530 flights to Berlin. They kept Berlin supplied with up to 12,000 tons of food and fuel per day.  There were enormous shortages and many Berliners decided to leave the city altogether.

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NATO and Comecon

In 1949, NATO was formed. It was a military alliance of the European powers plus Canada and the USA. It as a defensive alliance in which the members agreed to help if any of them was attacked. 

In 1949, COMECON was formed – a rival to the Marshall Plan; • To help the economic development of Eastern Europe • To prevent trade with Western Europe and the USA. • This was reduce the influence of capitalism and to ensure any recovery was kept within the Soviet ‘sphere of influence’.   

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The Arms Race

 The arms race that developed was both the result and a cause of tension between the two superpowers.   By the end of 1955, both the USA and the Soviet Union possessed the Hydrogen bomb. In 1952, the USA tested its first Hydrogen bomb, the H-Bomb which was capable to destroying Moscow. 

 The following year, 1953 the Soviet Union also tested its own H-Bomb.  Soon both sides were capable of launching direct attacks on each other’s cities.  The race by the Soviet Union to catch up and overtake the USA raised fears in the USA that they would fall behind unless they continued to increase their arms.  Mutual Assured Destruction, {MAD}. When the Soviet Union caught up with the USA both sides knew that they could destroy all the other side’s nuclear weapons.

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9.Soviet rule of Hungary, 1949-56.

Khrushchev became the Soviet USSR leader. He was responsible for changes to Soviet foreign policy especially with regards to relations with the West.  Stalin consistently had the belief that the West was out to destroy Communism. He also believed that Capitalism will eventually collapse due to its weaknesses.  

Khrushchev on the other hand, had a more relaxed and practical approach in his relations with the West. The policy put forward by Khrushchev in the late 1950s was that Capitalism and Communism should accept the existence of the other, rather than use force to destroy each other. This was the policy was called Peaceful Coexistence. The idea of peaceful coexistence came from Khrushchev’s view that nuclear weapons made war between the two superpowers unthinkable. This led to an easing Cold War tension. Khrushchev believed that with time, the superior Communist system will triumph over the Capitalist system.   

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Hungarian uprising

Hungarians were very proud of their country and were fully aware of their history and traditions. This made them very resentful of the control the Soviet Union had over them.. Khrushchev’s ‘secret speech’ was a bitter attack on Stalin’s style of leadership and his harsh treatment and tight control of the East European countries.  The Hungarian people had also heard of the improvements in Poland, another East European country under Soviet control. Khrushchev had allowed some reforms that gave the Poles more freedom in the running of their country after a series of demonstrations against high prices. The news gave them hope  that the same thing was possible in Hungary.   On 20th October 1956, thousand of Hungarians began demonstrations in Budapest there was rioting on the streets.The demonstrators wanted  Nagy to be their Prime Minister.   Khrushchev allowed Nagy was named as the new Prime Minister for Hungary on 24th October 1956. However, Soviet troops and tanks were sent the capital.    On 29th October 1956, Nagy announced the end of one –party rule in Hungary, Soviet troops to be withdrawn and the withdrawal of Hungary from the Warsaw Pact. 

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The U2 incident

By the late 1950s tension had increased between the two superpowers, the USSR and USA. An American U2 spy plane was shot down over Russia and the summit collapsed.

On 1st May 1960 - thirteen days before the summit - an American U2 spy plane was shot down over Russia and the pilot, Gary Powers, was captured. At first, the Americans tried to say that it was a weather plane, but they were forced to admit that it was a spy plane when the Russians revealed that much of his plane had survived, and that they had captured Gary Powers alive.

When the summit met on 14 May, the first thing Khrushchev did was to demand that the US president, Eisenhower, apologise. When Eisenhower refused, Khrushchev went home.

The Cold War had just become substantially more dangerous.

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Berlin wall 1961

By the 1960s Berlin was still divided - the USSR controlled the East and the USA guaranteed freedom in the West. Thousands of refugees escaped to West Berlin each day - much to the embarrassment of the USSR - so in 1961 Khrushchev closed the border and ordered the construction of a wall to stop people leaving.

The problems in West Berlin

West Berlin was a worry and an embarrassment for the Soviet Union in 1961:

  • Nearly 2,000 refugees a day were fleeing to the West through west Berlin - hardly proof of the Soviet claim that the Communist way of life was better than capitalism!
  • Many of those leaving were skilled and qualified workers.
  • The Soviets believed (rightly) that West Berlin was a centre for US espionage.

On 13 August, Khrushchev closed the border between East and West Berlin and started building the Berlin Wall. At first, the Russians regarded it as a propaganda success, but as time went on, it became a propaganda disaster - a symbol of all that was bad about Soviet rule.

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Consequences of the building of the Berlin Wall

Berlin was physically divided into two free access from East to West of the city ended. Many families were split ,The flow of refugees ceased.  Kennedy refused calls from other Western Powers to break down the wall, as this might have led to armed conflict between the two superpowers.  Khrushchev believed that Kennedy was weak because he dismantled the Wall from Western Berlin.   The tension between the two superpowers and both began spending huge amounts of money on developing and testing more powerful nuclear weapons.   

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What were the causes of the Cuban Missile Crisis?

Batista’s government was corrupt, brutal and inefficient with most Cubans living in poverty.  In 1959 Batista was overthrown by Castro.  Castro proposed new reforms to improve the economy of Cuba, end the corruption in government and improve the living conditions of Cuban workers.  To achieve this Castro began appointing Communists to his government. He also signed a trade agreement with the Soviet Union whereby Cuban sugar would be exchanged for machinery, petroleum, economic and military aid.  The USA was concerned about these developments.  In 1960, the USA decided to bring Castro into line. The USA stopped buying Cuban sugar and then banned all trade with her. The US government had hoped that this will make Castro submit to US control.  However, this made Fidel Castro move closer to the Soviet Union.  

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The Bay of Pigs, 1961

 Kennedy decided to help Cuban exiles in the USA overthrow  Castro. These were Cubans who had left Cuba when Castro overthrew Batista.   The American CIA provided military training, weapons and transport to the Cuban exiles.  The exiles landed in Cuba but found themselves surrounded by over 20,000 Cuban soldiers. The operation was a failure and the USA denied involvement in the venture. It was a humiliation for Kennedy.   

The result of the ‘Bay of Pigs’ fiasco;    Castro started moving closer to the Soviet Union for protection from the USA. E.g.he asked for arms to protect Cuba from possible future attacks from the USA.  Khrushchev announced publicly that the Soviet Union would supply arms to Cuba. Khrushchev also secretly decided to turn Cuba into a Soviet nuclear missile base.  

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Lasting effects of the cuban missile crisis

  • In 1963, a telephone hotline was set up to give instant contact between the two leaders if there was a crisis.
  • In 1963, a Nuclear Test Ban Treaty was signed.
  • In 1968, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty was signed - the superpowers promised not to supply nuclear technology to other countries.
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Prague spring

For four months in 1968 Czechoslovakia broke free from Soviet rule, allowing freedom of speech and removing some state controls. This period is now referred to as the Prague Spring

causes of the prague spring  

  • The policy of détente encouraged the uprising. Romania had also broken free of Russian control, and was improving relations with the West.
  • The Czechs hated Russian control, especially:
  • Russian control of the economy, which had made Czechoslovakia poor.
  • The censorship and lack of freedom.
  • Some Czechs thought the USA would help them.

Effects of the invasion of Czechoslovakia

  • Czechoslovakia returned to communist control and Russian troops were stationed there. Half the leadership of the KSC, along with the directors of many firms (especially publishing companies) were sacked and 47 anti-communists were arrested.
  • Russia stayed in control behind the Iron Curtain. The Brezhnev Doctrine stated that Iron Curtain countries would not be allowed to abandon communism, "even if it meant a third world war".
  • Increase of the Cold War. People in the West were horrified and so were many communist countries, especially Romania and Yugoslavia.
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Détente in the 1960s-1970s,

Causes of détente(ease of tension)

  • America was shocked by the Vietnam War and wanted to stay out of world affairs. There was also a vociferous CND movement in the West.
  • The arms race was very expensive for both superpowers.
  • The price of oil rocketed in the 1970s, and both superpowers experienced economic problems.

Limitations of détente

  • Neither Russia or America kept to the SALT1 agreement. Neither side reduced their conventional weapons. Further talks were much less successful and a SALT2 Treaty in 1979 added little.
  • In the Arab-Israeli War of 1973, America supported Israel, and Russia supported Egypt and Syria.
  • The Helsinki Agreement achieved nothing - it confirmed the Iron Curtain and Russia ignored its promises about human rights.
  • Table tennis and space meetings were just one-off propaganda stunts.
  • Brezhnev said that Communists would still try to destroy capitalism. Some historians suggest that Nixon only went to China to drive a wedge between Russia and China
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Brezhnev’s Doctrine

brezhnevs reaction to the reforms: Well received by many e.g younger people, artists, workers and intellectuals, Older communists did not like the reforms. Brezhnev’s reaction;   concern the reform would weaken soviet control  tried to get Dubcek to admit the reforms had gone to far as this failed he ordered invasion – the Brezhnev’s Doctrine 

Brezhnev’s Doctrine: This stated the USSR had the right to invade any country in Eastern Europe whose actions threatened the security of the Eastern Boc – the Warsaw pact and Soviet control

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The end of the Cold War

  • In 1979, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan to try to prop up the communist government there, which was being attacked by Muslim Mujaheddin fghters. this immdealty caused a rift with America, which boycotted the 1980 Olympics. By 1985, the Soviet Union was in trouble.In 1985 Mikhail Gorbachev became leader of teh USSR.
  • He withdrew from Afghanistan.
  • He realised that the USSR could not afford the arms race, and opened the START (Strategic Arms Reduction Talks) with the USA. He signed the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty in 1987.
  • He began to reform
  • the Soviet system by allowing perestroika (competition in business) and glasnost (freedom).
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Problems facing the USSR in the 1980s

  • Afghanistan had become "Russia's Vietnam".
  • Russia could not afford the arms race.
  • The Soviet economy was backwards - factories and mines were decrepit and out of date.
  • Backward industry was causing increasing environmental problems - eg pollution, the Chernobyl nuclear power plant explosion of 1986, and the Aral Sea dried up.
  • Many people were much poorer than the poorest people in the capitalist West - unrest about shortages was growing.
  • Crime, alcoholism and drugs were out of control in Soviet towns.
  • The Soviet system had become corrupt and out of date - instead of dealing with problems, the government just covered them up (eg Chernobyl, 1986).
  • Many people were dissatisfied with the Soviet police state and censorship.
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End of the cold war

As relations between the USA and the USSR entered a new phase of détente.

 • Soviet control in Eastern Europe also declined.

  • In 1989, Gorbachev refused to support hard line unpopular Communist leaders in Eastern Europe as they faced mounting opposition to their rule.

  • In East Germany, protesters began taking down the Berlin Wall that divided the city one by one.

  • Communist governments throughout Eastern Europe fell from power and the Warsaw Pact collapsed

  • In 1991 the Soviet Union dissolved and was replaced by a ‘Commonwealth of Independent States {CIS} with the Russian Republic as the dominant member.

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did she mean to say second world war????

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