The Cold War


Hot to Cold War

during the war, Britain and USA were allies of the Soviet Union againt Germany. after the war they became enemies. 

after Hiroshima and particularily 1949 when Russia developed the atomic bomb, politicians realised that another hot war would kill all humankind it would be MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction).

so they did everything short of war (cold war). 

the cold war lasted until 1989.

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Causes of the Cold War


  • Soviet Union was a communist country. ruled by a dictator who cared little about rights
  • The USA was a capitalist democracy which valued freedom


  • Stalin wanted reparations from Germany and a 'buffer of friendly states'
  • Britain and the USA wanted to protect democracy and help Germany recover
  • Britain and the USA were worried about eastern Europe falling under Soviet control

Resentment about History:

  • Soviet Union couldn't forget that in 1918 Britain and the USA tried to destroy the Russian Revolution. they also thought they hadn't helped enough in WW2.
  • Britain and the USA couldn't forget that Stalin signed the Nazi-Soviet pact in 1939


  • neither side trusted each other. they hated each other more and more as time went on
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Who Caused the Cold War?

  • Russian Historians blamed Churchill and Truman as they wanted to destroy the USSR, which was just defending itself.
  • the Western writers first balmed the Soviet Union as Stalin was trying to build up a Soviet empire.
  • later, some Weastern historians blamed the USA as Truman didn't understand how much Russia had suffered during WW2.
  • now, historians think both sides were to blame as there were hatreds on both sides.


  • Yalta (Feb 1945)
  • Potsdam (Jul 1945)
  • Salami Tactics (1945-48)
  • Fulton Speech (Mar 1946)
  • Greece (Feb 1947)
  • Truman Doctrine (Mar 1947)
  • Marshall Plan (Jun 1947)
  • Cominform (Oct 1947)
  • Czechoslovakia (Feb 1948)
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Yalta- Feb 1945

the only thing that united them was their hatred for Germany.

in 1945, there were two conferences- at Yalta (Feb), and Potsdam (July)

Yalta- Feb 1945

  • Russia would join the United Nations
  • divide Germany into 4 zones
  • Nazi criminals to trial
  • Polish Provisional Government of National Unity for free and unfettered elections 
  • helping freed people of Europe set up democratic and self-governing countries by helping them maintain law and order; carry out emergency releif measures; set up governments and hold elections (Declaration of Liberated Europe)
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Potsdam- July 1945

America had a new president - Truman, who was determined to get tough with the Russians.
he had just learnt that America had just tested the first atomic bomb, giving them a huge advantage over everyone else.
in March 1945, Stalin had arrested the non-Communist Polish leaders, meaning that at Potsdam the arguments came out in the open:

agreed on:

  • set up four zones of occupation in Germany
  • bring Nazi war-criminals to trial
  • recognise the Polish Provisional Government of Unity and free elections as soon as possible
  • Russia allowed to take reparations fromt the Soviet zone and 10% of industrial equipment from the western zones as reparations

disagreed on:

  • details on how to divide Germany
  • size of Germany's reparations
  • Russian policy in Eastern Europe
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Salami Tactics- 1945-48

during 1946-47, Stalin made sure that communist governments came to power in all countries of Eastern Europe (countries Soviet Union had conquered in 1945). getting rid of opposition bit by bit.

  • Albania (1945)- no opposition
  • Bulgaria (1945)- executed leaders of all other parties
  • Poland (1947)- coalition government in 1945, exiled non-communist leaders 
  • Hungary (1947)- got hold of poluce and arrested opponents 
  • Romania (1945-47)- left-wing coalition in 1945, gradually took over control
  • Czecholslovakia (1945-48)- left-wing government in 45, 48, communists banned other parties
  • East Germany (1949)- turned their zone into German Democratic Republic
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Fulton Speech- March 1946

5th March 1946- Winston Churchill gave a speech at Fulton in America. saying how a shadow had cut off eastern Europe by an 'iron curtain'

he said the people of eastern Europe were subject to Soviet influence, totalitarian control and police governments


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Greece- Feb 1947

by 1946, Greece and Czechoslovakia were the only countries in eastern Europe that weren't communist. 

although the government was being supported by the British soldiers, they were still having to fight a civil war against the communists.

Feb 1947- the British told Truman they could no longer afford to keep their soldiers in Greece and so he stepped in and paid for the British troops to stay there.


Stalin's view on how the Greek government was being 'helped' by America

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The Truman Doctrine- Mar 1947

in the 1930's, America kept out of Europe's business 

in March 1947 Truman told the American people that it was their duty to intefere with Europe's issues.

his policy towards the Soviet Union was 'containment'

he didn't try to destroy the USSR but wanted to stop it from growing any more than it already had done.

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Cominform- Oct 1947

in June 1947, the American general George Marshall went to Europe. he said that every country in Europe was so poor that it was in danger of turning communist

he said that America should give $17billion of aid to get Europe's economy going again and stopping them from becoming communists.


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the Soviet Union hated Marshall aid and therefore forbade the communist countries to ask for money.

in October 1947, he set up cominform. Every communist party in Europe joined, it allowed Stalin to control all the communist countries in Europe.


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Czechoslovakia- Feb 1948

at first, the American Congress did not want to give the money for Marshall Aid 

in February 1948, the communists took over in Czechoslovakia .

Congress was scared and therefore voted for Marshall aid on 31st March 1948.


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The Start of the Berlin Blockade

there were already disagreements about what should be done with Germany, it had been split into four zones, Berlin, in Russia's zone, was also split into four zones.


Cold War- just getting started e.g Czechoslovakia in March 1948

Aims- Stalin wanted to destroy Germany, Britain and the USA wanted to rebuild Germany

Bizonia- Russians taking German machinery back to the USSR. in January 1948, Britain and the USA joined their zones together to try and get the industry going, they called it 'Bi-zonia"

American Aid- on 31st March 1948. Immediately, the Russians started stopping and searching all road traffic into Berlin.

New Currency- 1st June, America and France anounced they wanted to create the new country of West Germany, on the 23rd June, they introduced a new currency into 'Bizonia' and west Berlin. but Stalin was trying to force the USA out of Berlin.

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The Berlin Blockade-1948-49

the American army wanted to fight it's way into Berlin but that would have caused a war, so instead, Truman decided to supply Berlin by air. the situation was bad at worse, as the blockade went on, things got better. on 12th May 1949, Stalin gave up and opened the borders.


Cold War got worse-
almost started an all-out war
East and West Germany- 
Germany split up. May 1949, America, Britain and France united their zones into the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany)
October 1949, Stalin set up the Democracic Republic (East Germany)
NATO and the Warsaw Pact- 
1949, the western allies set up NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) as a defensive alliance against Russia, the NATO countries surrounded Russia.1955- the Soviet Union set up the Warsaw Pact (alliance of communist states)
Arms Race- 
After Berlin, the USA and the USSR realised they were in competition for world domination, they began to build up their arms.

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Stalin died in 153, big celebrations. Krushchev became new ruler of Russia

the western powers hoped that he would be the start of a thaw in the cold war

  • often met western leaders at summit meetings
  • made all communist countries do what he wanted- fell out with Yugoslavia, 1955, Krushchev went to them and said there were different roads to communism. western leaders thought he would no longer insist on communist countries taking orders from Russia.
  • 1956, he gave a speech which attacked Stalin calling him a murderous tyrant. he began to de-Stalinise Russia. political prisoners were set free ect. 
  • he said he wanted 'peaceful co-existence' with the west. the west hoped this would mean the end to the cold war.


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'Peaceful Co-existence'

de-stalinisation didn't mean a change back to capitalism or freedom from Russia. when communist countries went too far in their reforms, Krushchev sent the Red Army to stop them

his peaceful co-existence was more like peaceful competition, he started to build up Russian Power:

  • visited countries like Afghanistan and Burma and gave them economic aid if they'd support Russia
  • Russia began the 'space race' 
  • he started the 'arms race' with America- 1953, Russia got the hydrogen bomb
  • he set up the Warsaw Pact in order to rival NATO

America then became just as aggresive:

  • Senator McCarty led a witch hunt for communists in America
  • they had the arms race with Russia, in 1955, NATO agreed to a West German Army of 1/2 million men 
  • they used U2 planes to spy on Russia 
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More Tension

After 1957, tension grew between Russia and America

  • Russia's sputnik satellite(57) and space orbit(61) gave a physcological advantage
  • in 1959, communist Castro took over in Cuba, right next to America. 1960- trade agreement with Russia.
  • China aggressive. when Kruschev made a visit to America in 1959, they accused him of going soft. making him demand that America withdraw from West Berlin.
  • a summit was planned for May 1960 to discuss Berlin and nuclear weapons
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the U2 crisis- May 1960

in May 1960, 9 days before the summit, Russia shot down an American U2 spy plane. at first the Americans tried to say it was a weather-plane off-course. when the pilot was put on trial, they admitted it was a spy plane.

Krushchev refused to take part in the summit meeting unless they apologise. President Eisenhower siad he'd call off spy planes but wouldn't apologise. 


  • Paris summit ruined- cold war continued
  • Eisenhower visit to Russia cancelled
  • Krushchev and Russians gained confidence
  • Americans became angry with Eisenhower. they elected John F Kennedy who promised to be tougher on communism.
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The Berlin Wall- 13th Aug 1961


  • growing tension- Kennedy tried to get tough on communism. financed the forces fighting communists in Vietnam and Laos. in 1961, he helped an invasion of Cuba.
  • refugees- East Germany poor and strict, West Berlin wealthy and free. by 1961, 3million East Germans fled to the West through Berlin. by August 1961, there were 1,800 a day.
  • this was an embarassment to Russia and many who left were skilled workers
  • sabotage- the Russians claimed that Americans used West Berlin for spying and sabotage

at the Vienna summit of June 1961, Krushchev again demanded that Americans leave West Berlin. but Kennedy refused and increased spending on weapons in July.

on the 13th August 1961, Krushchev built a wall between East and West Berlin.

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The Cuban Revolution- 1959

  • failed attack on Moncada Barracks, ended in triumph with ousting of dicator Batista
  • nearly all rebels killed or captured after Moncada. Fidel Castro pardoned after only 2 years
  • when released, forced into exile for safety, trained army for guirella war in Mexico
  • Dec 2 1956, landed in Cuba, most important leaders survived into the mountains
  • rebel forces relied on peasants for support. Batista ruthless against pro-Castro towns
  • city movement began too
  • May 24 1958, Operacion Verano- heavy casualties on army
  • army unprepared for guirella warfare
  • Batista fled to Spain having amassed $300million to bribery and embezzlement 
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Causes of the Cuban Missiles Crisis

  • Superpower Tension:
    all tensions including space race, arms race, nuclear testing, American funding, failed Vienna summit, Berlin wall

  • Fidel Castro's Cuba:
    took power in 1959, very threatening to the USA. Cuba sent sugar to Russia in return for machinery, oil and 1960, American's stopped trade with Cuba. Cuba nationalised all American-owned companies

  • The Bay of Pigs:
    Jan 1961, Eisenhower broke off diplomatic relations with Cuba. in April, Kennedy gave the go-ahead to fund, train and transpotrt an attempt by anti-Castro Cuban exiles to invade Cuba. failing miserably as they were beaten on the southern coast 'on the bay of pigs', the US navy stood out to sea watching but could not intervene as it would have been seen as open war. 
    in September 1961, Castro asked for weapons to defend themselves from America, which was publically promised by Russia
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The Cuban Missiles Crisis- 1962

on the 14th Oct, U2 spy planes took pictures of a nuclear missile base in Cuba. Kennedy had 10 days until Cuba could fire missiles at America.

  • 16 Oct- Kennedy set up Committee of the National Security Council for advice
  • 22 Oct- Kennedy announced Naval blockade of Cuba
  • 23 Oct- Krushchev accused America of piracy. 20 Russian ships heading for Cuba
  • 24 Oct- Russian ships carrying missiles turned back. Russia still building missile bases
  • 26 Oct- Krushchev told Kennedy he would dismantle sights if Kennedy stopped blockade and           didn't invade Cuba
  • 27 Oct- Krushchev sent another letter demanding he also dismantle bases in Turkey, Kennedy ignored 2nd letter but agreed to the first
  • 28 Oct- Krushchev agreed. the crisis finished
  • 20 Nov- Russian bombers left Cuba and Kennedy lifted the naval blockade

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Results of Cuban Missiles Crisis

  • Krushchev lost prestige- he had failed. China broke from Russia
  • Kennedy gained prestige- faced down the Russians
  • both sides more careful in the future- they set up a 'hotline' to talk directly in a crisis
  • 1963- agreed a Nuclear Test Ban Treaty
  • Cuba remained a communist dictatorship but America left it alone


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