GCSE History OCR Cold War 1945-1975

Cold War. Paper 1.

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  • Created by: Maddie
  • Created on: 11-06-12 16:02

Causes of the Cold War

There were many causes for the Cold War, some the blame of both sides, others only American or Soviet.

1. Different ideals (Capitalism vs Communism)

2. History of mistrust (West supported Russian Royal family during civil war 1917)

3. Yalta and Potsdam conferences

4. Atomic Bomb

5. NATO and Warsaw Pact

6. Soviet Takeover of Eastern Europe

7. Marshall Aid, Truman Doctrine

8. Berlin Blockade

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Yalta Conference

February 1945 (Before end of WWII)

Roosevelt (USA), Churchill (UK), Stalin (USSR).


  • Germany divided into 4 zones of occupation (France, UK, USA, USSR). 
  • Berlin would be within the Soviet zone and would also be divided in 4.
  • When Germany was defeated, the USSR would join the war against Japan.
  • United Nations would be set up to keep peace (after the failure of the league of nations).
  • Eastern European countries would have free elections after being liberated.
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Potsdam Conference

July 1945 (War had ended in west, not Pacific)
Truman (USA, Roosevelt had died), Attlee (UK, Churchill lost election), Stalin (USSR, no change).

  • Germany would be divided as agreed at Yalta.
  • Allies woould recieve reparations.
  • Poland's eastern border would move west.
  • Nazi party banned, and leader tried as war criminals.
  • Germans living in other countries (Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia) would be sent back to Germany.


  • USSR wanted severe reparations. USA blocked.
  • USSR wanted share of occupation of Japan. USA blocked.
  • UK and USA wanted more of a say in Eastern Europe. Stalin says that was agreed at Yalta. 
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Atomic Bomb

By July 1945 the USA had tested the atomic bomb.

Truman told the Potsdam conference that they had it.

This lead to Soviet suspision, as they had no gurantee it would not be used on them. 

USSR scientists are ordered to produce a atomic bomb.

This in turn worried the western allies, as they thought the USSr having a atomic bomb was a threat to world peace. 

After the USSR produced a atomic bomb it sparked a major arms race across the globe.

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NATO and the Warsaw Pact

North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.This was a defensive alliance between the Western Allies, USA and Canada. It was the first time the USA signed a military agreement.
USA, UK, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxemburg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Greece (1952), Turkey (1952) and West Germany (1955) 

Warsaw Pact

Similar thing, but with communist countries. 
USSR, Albania (expelled 1968), Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, East Germany Hungary, Poland, Romania. 

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Soviet Takeover of Eastern Europe

Baltic States - Formally annexed at the of the war. USSR also kept eastern half of Poland (from Nazi-Soviet Pact)
Bulgaria-Coalition government, mostly communist. 1945 rigged elections, communists won. 1946 the monarchy is abolished.
Czechoslovakia- Coalition government. 1946 communists largest party. 1948 army used to seize control. Foreign secretary is murdered. Rigged elections follow. All other parties banned.
East Germany- Controlled by USSR after the war. 1949, became a separate commmunist state called the German Democratic Republic.
Greece- Communists not successful. Fought a civil war. Royalists are supported by UK, and later USA. USSR offered no aid. Defeated in 1949.
Hungary- 1945 free elections. Communists lost. 1947 rigged election, communists win, all other parties banned.
Poland-June 1945 some non-communists in government. 1947 rigged elections, communists in power. Leader of anti-communist London Poles flees.
Rumania- Communist dominated coalition set up after war. 1945, communist prime minister appointed. 1947 monarchy abolished.
Yugoslavia - Communist resistance fought during war, leader appointed. Didn't follow USSR orders. Took western aid.

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Marshall Aid, Truman Doctrine

Both the Truman Doctrine and Marshall Aid/Plan were part of the American policy of containment.

Truman thought that communism would only spread in areas where money was scarce. Europe after the war was por and struggling for funds etc. Under Marshall Aid, money was given to European countries resisting communism. Communist countries under the control of the USSR were forbiden to take any aid. Under the policy of containment the USA paid UK soldiers to remain in Greece during the civil war.

The Marshall Plan was opposed by Comecon (Council for Mutual Economic Aid). However this didn't really work as most communist countries didn't have enough money to lend to each other.

Cominform (Communist Information Bureau) was also formed by the USSR to strengthen ties between communist countries.

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Berlin Blockade/Airlift

In May 194 the French, UK and USA zones of German formally combined to become the German Federal Republic.
June 1948 a new currency is introduced in Western Berlin.
1949 also is when the USSR developed the atomic bomb.

23rd June 1948 the Soviet Union blockaded western Berlin blocking all transport into the city. Stalin wanted to remove the Western Allies from his 'buffer zone'. The western alies decide to airlift everything the berlin people need into Berlin, as stopping planes would be a act of war. The operation was very risky for the pilots, some of whom flew in broken planes.

On May 12th 1949 the blockade is lifted by the USSR.

The results of the blockade were Germany stayed split until much later in the century (1990), a arms race was started.

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Cuban Missile Crisis

1898-Cuba gets indepence from Spaim with USA help. America owns large stakes in most companies, and builds a major military base (Guantanamo).
1934-Batista is helped to power by the USA, but he becomes corrupt, and the people begin to see him as a symbol of American control.
1959-Batista is overthrown by Castro. Promises to improve economy, end corruption, improve workers conditions. Communists appointed in government. Sugar is swapped for machinery, oil and aid. Takes back Amerian owned business.
1960-USA stops buying Cuban sugar, then bans all trade.
Jan 1961-Diplomatic relations broken off.
April 1961-Bay of Pigs, JFK supplied weapons and training to Cuban exiles to overthrow Castro. They fail, and most are killed. USSR thought this meant the USA was unwilling to get involved with Cuba.
May 1962- USSR says it is supplying arms to Cuba
Sept 1962-JKF syas he will take any means necessary to stop Cuba becoming a nuclear weapons base.


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Cuban Missile Crisis continued

14th Oct 1962 - U2 spy plane takes pictures of Cuba, experts decide they are nuclear missile sites.
16th Oct 1962 - JFK is informed.
22nd Oct 1962 - Kennedy announces naval blockade of Cuba and asks USSR to remove missiles.
23rd Oct 1962 - Khrushchev says Soviet ships will not observe the blockade.
24th Oct 1962 - Blockade begins. Seems that Soviet ships will not observe, but then they stop or turn around.
26th Oct 1962 - First letter from Khrushchev arrives, saying missiles were defensive and may be removed if US didn't attack and lifted blockade.
27th Oct 1962 - Second letter arrives, missiles will only be removed if American missiles are removed from Turkey. A U2 plane is shot down over Cuba. Kennedy accepts first letter, but says if USSR do not withdraw then USA will attack.
28th Oct 1962 - Krushchev agrees to Kennedy's terms.

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Vietnam is first occupied by the French, then the Japanese, then the French. After WWII Vietminh (guerilla fighters) fight the French for control. Aid is given to the French. 
1954 - Vietnam is split along the 17th parallel. North Vietnam is communist ruled by Ho Chi Minh. South Vietnam is non-communist and ruled by Diem, with USA support.
1954-64 - Vietminh fighting to unite Vietnam, and get rid of the Americans. USA sends money, aid and equipment.
1964 - American ship attacked at the Gulf of Tonkin (nobody harmed), this gives the America reason to bomb N. Vietnam and invade S. Vietnam.
1964-68 - War gets much bigger, with more and more Americna troops involved. Despite the better weapons the USA are making no clear advancment.
1968 - Tet Offensive, seems that Vietcong are winning. My Lai Massacre (civilians killed by soldiers). Johnson will not stand for re-election. Nixon becomes President promising to withdraw from Vietnam. 
1969-73 - American troops slowly withdraw under the policy of Vietnamisation. They promise to return should the war continue. Ceasefire agreed.
1975 - North invade South. Desite promises no soldiers are sent. South falls and Vietnam becomes 1 united communist counry. 

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Vietnam tactics

The American Army used all the latest technology, including helocopters and some very specific 'stuff'
Napalm - very flammable petrolium jelly, sticks to everything. Used to burn down parts of forrest.
Agent Orange - Strong chemical, removes leaves from trees. Also toxic.
Strategic Village - Villages were moved to compounds where entry and exit were controlled, to stop any Vietcong members entering.

However the Vietcong used a highly successful guerrilla warfare tactics, involving traps etc. They could also blend in with villagers, and were much more popular than the invading army. Their knowledge of the land also gave them a advantage. 

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Vietnam withdrawal

American troops began to withdraw from Vietnam for a number of reasons.

1. It was the first televised war. People across the world could see what was happening.

2. Low soldier moral, due to lack of advances. This lead to widespread drug use within the forces, and may have contributed to massacres.

3. Soldier committed massacres. Some like the My Lai Massacre had dreadful death tolls, and due to the television people across the globe could see it.

4. Opposition at home. There were protests such as the one at Kent University were many students argued against American involvement. The protest turned violent and some students were killed. Many draft cards were burned (illeagally).

5. The war cost a lot of American money (in 1967 it was believed to cost $400,000 to kill 1 Vietcong member)

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This was the policy that Nixon introduced when he came into office. The idea was basically to give the war back to the South Vietnamese. USA helps train and supply the S. Vietnamese army. Soon half of all men were in the army. They even resisted a big attack. A ceasefire was agreed in 1973, and all US troops withdrew. When the war returned in 1974 no soldiers returned. In 1975 North and south Vietnam were united into one communist country. The domino theory was nearly proved correct, when in 1976 Laos and Cambodia became communist, but that was as far as it went. 

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