International Relations: Origins of the Cold War

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  • Created by: Phoebe
  • Created on: 29-12-12 10:23

Ideological Differences - USA

  • The richest country in the world.
  • A democracy with free elections, led by an elected president.
  • Freedom of speech and belief.  
  • Capitalism - private ownership and the right to make money.  
  • Led by Truman, who believed that Communism was evil.
  • Had the atomic bomb - but was scared of Russia's conventional army.
  • Feared the spread of communism throughout the world. 
  • Angry about the Nazi-Soviet Pact that was a major factor in starting the Second World War.  
  • Wanted reconstruction - to make Germany a prosperous democracy and a trading partner.
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Ideological Differences - USSR

  • The biggest country in the world, A one-party state led by a dictator. There were elections, but you could only vote for the Communist Party.
  • State control: censorship, secret police, terror and purges.
  • Communism - state ownership of the means of production, and the belief that wealth should be shared.
  • Led by Stalin, who believed that capitalism was evil.
  • Had the biggest army in the world - but was angry that Truman had not warned that he was going to drop the atomic bomb.
  • Was angry because America and Britain had invaded Russia in 1918-19 to try to destroy communism.
  • Believed that America and Britain had delayed opening the second front (attacking France) to let Germany and Russia destroy each other on the eastern front. Had also supported the Whites in the Civil War - AWKWARD
  • Wanted to wreck Germany, take huge reparations for the damage done during the war, and set up a buffer of friendly states around Russia to prevent another invasion in the future.
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The Yalta Conference - Feb 1945

  • The big three - Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill - managed to agree to split Germany into four zones of occupation,  and also divide Berlin, the capital city and to allow free elections in Eastern European countries. 
  • Russia was invited to join the United Nations
  • Russia promised to join the war against Japan when Germany was defeated.
  • Nazi War criminals would be brought to trial
  • Set up a commission to look into reparations


  • USSR had established a communist government in Poland so that the USSR would have a friendly neighbour and protection from Germany
  • They persuaded Stalin to include Polish people who were opposed to communism in the government and hold free elections
  • Stalin wanted to punish Germany severely as Russia had lost the most, but Roosevelt was wary of repeating history a la T of V
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The Potsdam Conference - July 1945

  • Germany had been defeated
  • Roosevelt had died and Churchill had lost the 1945 elections
  • Clement Atlee was deeply suspicious of Stalin, as he had arrested the non communists in Poland and refused to allow democratic elections
  • Truman came away angry about the size of reparations and the fact that a communist government was being set up in Poland - he was "tired of babying the Soviets"
  • Truman did not tell Stalin that he had the atomic bomb (but Stalin's spies had told him)

The Following Protocols were agreed upon:

  • 4 "zones of occupation" were to be set up in Germany - allies disagreed on the details of how to divide Germany
  • Nazi war-criminals were to be brought to trial
  • Recognize the Polish Provisional Government  of National Unity and hold free elections - there were disagreements on Russian influence in Eastern Europe
  • Russia was allowed to take reparations from their zone of Germany, and 10% of the industrial equipment of the western zones - this was Truman's "compromise", as they had disagreed with Stalin on the size of Germany's reparations
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The Atoms Bombs - 6th and 9th Aug

  • America was suffering massive casualties in taking the Japanese islands and defeating Japan
  • To prevent further casualties, Truman decided to use the atom bomb
  • On 6th August they bombed Hiroshima, and on the 9th AugustNagasaki, leading to the end of the war on the 10th August
  • Truman did not tell Stalin he was planning to bomb Japan (but he did tell Churchill)
  • So although the Soviets did join the war against Japan on 8th August and made some gains in the Far East, they were not allowed to share in the defeat of Japan
  • The Atom Bombs sparked the "Nuclear Arms Race" between the USSR and USA, but probably prevented the conflict from turning to a "hot" war, because both sides were terrified, and so was everyone else for about half a century of the Cold War
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Soviet Takeover of Eastern Europe

  • Many Russians had died in WW2, so Stalin said he wanted a buffer zone of friendly states around Russia to make sure that Russia was "safe"
  • Stalin was planning the takeover of Eastern Europe.During the war, Communists from the occupied countries of Eastern Europe escaped to Moscow and set up Communist governments in exile there. 
  • As the Red Army drove the Nazis back, it occupied large areas of Eastern Europe and Churchill in the so-called percentages agreement - agreed that Eastern Europe could be a Soviet "sphere of influence" - salami tactics
  • In the countries that the Red Army "liberated", communist-dominated governments took power.
  • The Communists made sure that they controlled the army, set up a secret police force, and began to arrest their opponents. 
  • Non-Communists were gradually beaten, murdered and terrified out of power.
  • By 1949, all the governments of Eastern Europe, except Yugoslavia, were hard line Stalinist regimes.
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Eastern Europe

  • Albania - Communists took control in 1944 - little opposition
  • Bulgaria - Communist coalition took power in 1944 - executed leaders of other parties
  • Czechoslovakia - Coalition government freely elected in 1946. Communists seized power in 1948 before elections - The USSR purged the civil service. Masaryk was murdered and the security police moved in
  • East Germany - Ruled directly by the USSR until 1949 when it became the communist German Democratic Republic - industrial machinery and resources were moved to the USSR. Scientists and technicians moved to the USSR
  • Hungary - In 1945 communists only got 17% of the vote. In 1948 Communist rule was established - opposition was stamped out
  • Poland - Coalition set up but dominated by communists who were unpopular and ruled alone from 1947 - The USSR refused to have free elections
  • Romania -Communist People's Republic formed in 1947 - king forced to abdicate
  • Yugoslavia - Tito elected president in 1945 - a communist who was not controlled by the USSR, but he expelled from Cominform by the USSR in 1948
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Iron Curtain Speech - March 1946

  • In March 1946
  • A speech at Fulton in the USA
  • Churchill declared that an Iron Curtain, a political and economic division, had come down across Europe
  • Soviet power was growing and had to be stopped
  • Stalin called Churchill's speech a "declaration of war"
  • In 1947, Stalin set up Comintern - an alliance of Communist countries designed to make sure they obeyed Soviet rule.
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Truman Doctrine - 1947

  • By 1947, Greece was one of the few countries in Eastern Europe that hadn't turned communist.
  • The Communist rebels in Greece were prevented from taking over by the British Army.
  • America was becoming increasingly alarmed by the growth of Soviet power. 
  • So, when the British told Truman they could no longer afford to keep their soldiers in Greece, Truman stepped in to take over. 
  • In March 1947, he told the American Congress it was America's job to stop communism growing any stronger: 
  • This was called the Truman Doctrine.
  • Congress accepted the argument and granted $400 million to support Greece and Turkey from communist influences. 
  • It is often said that Truman advocated containment (stopping the Soviet getting any more powerful)
  • Many Americans spoke of "rolling back" communism.
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Marshall Plan - June 1947

  • General George Marshall visited Europe to see the problems
  • He came away thinking Europe was so poor that the whole of Europe was about to turn Communist 
  • Marshall and Truman asked Congress for $17 billion to fund the European Recovery Programme nicknamed the Marshall Plan - to get the economy of Europe going again.
  • Congress eventually agreed in March 1948 when Czechoslovakia turned Communist. 
  • The aid was given in the form of food, grants to buy equipment, improvements to transport systems, and more.
  • Most (70 per cent) of the money was used to buy commodities from US suppliers - helping themselves most of all.
  • ANYONE was allowed to apply for Marshall Aid (even USSR)
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Soviet response

  • Stalin forbade the Cominform countries to use Marshall Aid.
  • His reaction was to set up Cominform (the Communist Information Bureau) in September 1947.
  • All the communist parties were involved, and it increased Stalin's control of Eastern Europe, and these countries all became satellite states.
  • Members were expected to trade with each other, not the West.
  • Yugoslavia was eventually expelled for taking Marshall Aid
  • Stalin claimed that the Marshall Plan was "dollar imperialism", and was bribing European countries away from the USSR. 
  • The USSR offered aid to the satellite states in 1949 with the introduction of Comecon.
  • This increased suspicions between the two superpowers
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Berlin Blockade and Airlift

  • The USSR took huge reparations from its zone in eastern Germany, but Britain, France and America tried to improve conditions in their zones.
  • West Germany (and West Berlin) were now considerably wealthier and happier than the East, so many people tried to abandon the Communist ship, especially in Berlin where the inhabitants could see a better life
  • Stalin's solution: Get the Western Powers out of Berlin without a war.
  • In June 1948, Britain, France and America united their zones into a new country, West Germany. On 23 June 1948, they introduced a new currency.
  • The next day, 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 (only 6 weeks supplies left), so they decided to supply west Berlin by air - containment :)
  • The Berlin Blockade lasted 318 days. During this time, 275,000 planes transported 1.5 million tonnes of supplies and a plane landed every three minutes at Berlin's Templehof airport.
  • On 12 May 1949, Stalin abandoned the blockade.
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The Berlin Airlift

  • Truman was not prepared to allow his policy of containment to fail
  • The Americans feared that if they gave way to West Berlin, the Soviets would threaten West Germany next
  • West Berlin had about six weeks of fuel and food left
  • The people would starve unless the USA handed over West Berlin to the Soviets or provided them with food and other essentials such as fuel
  • They decided to use the three air routes into West Berlin and take goods by air
  • It was estimated that at least 4000 tonnes of supplies would be needed every day
  • Once the pilots got used to the narrow air corridors, the number of deliveries increased and 8000 tonnes a day were being flown in day and night by 1949
  • In the winter of 1948, the electricity supplies were cut off
  • Stalin promised West Berliners extra rations if they moved to the East, but only 2% of the population accepted his bribe
  • Stalin considered attacking the American and British planes, but realised that if he did it it would be a declaration of war and he was afraid of the American nuclear weapons - on 12th May 1949 - Stalin lifted the blockade
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The importance of the Berlin Blockade and Airlift

  • The USA and the West had proved that they were prepared to stand up to the USSR and resist any further expansion - the Truman Doctrine in action
  • It ended any possibility of a speedy unification, not only of Berlin but also of Germany
  • In 1949 it was divided into the pro-West republic of West Germany and the pro-Soviet communist East Germany
  • It was seen as a victory in the West and led to the formation of NATO
  • It was the first main crisis of the Cold War and set the pattern for the future - it consisted of threats, not war, but deepened the hostility between West and East
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NATO and Warsaw Pact -

  • Ernest Bevin, the British foreign minister feared that if war came, Western Europe was badly under-defended against the Soviets.
  • The West formed the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation in 1949, which agreed to go to war if any of the members were attacked.
  • This meant the permanent presence of a US army in Europe. 
  • In 1949 it had 12 members: the USA, Britain, France, Italy, Belgium, Holland, Luxembourg, Denmark, Norway, Iceland, Portugal and Canada
  • In 1952, Greece and Turkey entered NATO
  • Stalin saw this as an act of war, and speeded up plans for a Soviet nuclear weapon to rival the atomic bomb.
  • In 1955 West Germany was admitted to NATO.
  • It meant that the Americans could build air bases in Western Europe where planes equipped with nuclear bombs could be stationed ready for use 
  • 10 days later, Nikita Khrushchev set up the Warsaw Pact in 1955 - a military alliance of communist countries - to rival NATO. America responded by increasing the number of NATO troops in Germany.
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The nuclear arms race

  • The dropping of the atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 started the nuclear arms race between the two superpowers
  • The nuclear arms race was how the USA and the USSR made sure they did not get left behind in the number of nuclear weapons they possessed, so they would never be disadvantaged
  • This competition for arms became very expensive for both countries as they tried to increase their stockpiles of nuclear weapons and develop deadlier and more effective weapons
  • Until 1949 the USA had the advantage: the USSR would not risk a war against the USA because of the destructive power of the bomb
  • The hydrogen bomb, a more powerful bomb that could destroy the whole of Moscow, was successfully tested by the Americans in 1952
  • This H-bomb was much smaller than the bombs used in 1945 but more than 2000 times more powerful
  • The Soviets responded with their own hydrogen bomb in 1953
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  • The Japanese had occupied Korea from 1910 to 1945.
  • After its defeat in WW2, Japan left Korea, and USSR and USA divided it between them (supposedly temporary). 
  • In 1945, Korea was split along the 38th parallel between a communist north led by Kim IL Sung, and a non-communist south led by Syngman Rhee.
  • But communism was growing in the Far East. In 1949, the Communists had taken power in China. 
  • The US developed the 'domino theory' - the idea that, if one country fell to communism, others would follow like a row of dominoes. 
  • Then, in 1950, a report by the American National Security Council recommended that the US stop containment and start to roll back communism.
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The Korean War Part 1

  • In 1950, assisted by USSR and China, and urged by Stalin, Kim Il Sung crossed the 38th parallel and captured Seoul.
  • Only the Pusan Pocket remained free
  • The North Korean People's Army easily defeated the Republic of Korea's one
  • By September, the NKPA had conquered almost the whole of South Korea.
  • The USA went to the UN and got them to send troops to defend South Korea.
  • The Russians couldn't veto the idea because they were boycotting the UN at the time because China had not been accepted.
  • In September, UN troops, led by the US General MacArthur, surprised NK by landing in Inchon and cutting off their supplies.
  • They invaded NK, captured Pyongyang and occupied 2/3 of the country.
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The Korean War Part 2

  • By October, the UN forces had reached the Yalu river, the border with China. China was now concerned about the American advances and decided to help NK.
  • In November 1950, about 250,000 of the Chinese People's Volunteers drove the USA back by Jan 1951.
  • They recaptured North Korea, and advanced into SK.
  • The Americans landed more troops and drove the Chinese back to the 38th parallel, where Truman ordered General MacArthur to stop and sacked him when he disagreed (MacArthur had wanted to use the atom bomb)
  • The war went on as border clashes until 1953 when America's new president, Eisenhower, offered peace, but threatened to use the atomic bomb if China did not accept the offer.
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The importance of the Korean War

  • It extended the Cold War into the Far East
  • China also helped communist rebels in Indo-China (Vietnam) against the French
  • It indicated that Truman was prepared to stick to the Truman Doctrine and to the principle of containing Communism
  • At the same time, it appeared that the superpowers did not want to make the Cold War into a "hot" war: the Soviets did not become directly involved
  • Some Americans agreed with MacArthur and wanted to take the war to Communism, but Truman refused to support him
  • It marked the emergence of communist China as a world power
  • The Chinese had prevented the USA from uniting Korea and China became more friendly with the USSR
  • The UN had resisted an act of aggression - something that the League of Nations had never been able to do - but it was condemned as a capitalist tool by the communists because its forces had fought against Communism under the leadership of the USA
  • The USSR had supplied weapons to NK but not been involved directly
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The "Thaw"

  • The death of Stalin in 1953 led to a new direction in Soviet foreign policy
  • Now that East and West had the power of the hydrogen bomb, it seemed sensible to ease the tension of the Cold War
  • The Americans were willing to negotiate because they regarded Stalin as the main cause of the Cold War
  • This new cooperation was first seen in the support that the USSR gave to ending the Korean War
  • This was followed in 1955 when the Soviets agreed to sign the Austrian State Treaty, which ended the occupation of Austria that had continued since 1945
  • Khrushchev emerged as the leader, and seemed to be keen to make a new start
  • He argued that in the days of the hydrogen bomb, the ideas of supporting a communist revolution in other parts of the world were older
  • In 1956 he used the phrase "peace co-existence" to describe these policies
  • A Summit Conference was held in Geneva in 1955 - the first since 1945 - and was attended by the leaders of America, China, Britain, France and the USSR
  • Very little was agreed, but it was seen as a turning point in the Cold War
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The Warsaw Pact

  • In 1955 West Germany joined NATO
  • This revived Soviet concern about the re-emergence of Germany and led to the formation of the Warsaw Pact
  • This pact was a military alliance for mutual defence between Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, East Germany and Albania
  • It was an insistence that the members still believed in the idea of the collective security of nations i.e. that all nations of the world should unite to prevent any war
  • It was described as a Treaty of Friendship, Co-operation and Mutual Assistance
  • All forces of the pact countries were placed under the leadership of a Soviet commander-in-chief and it permitted Soviet troops to be stationed in these countries for the purpose of defence
  • This became part of the USSR's methods of keeping the countries under its control and their troops would be used in the future to prevent Soviet satellite states from leaving Soviet control
  • The formation of the Warsaw Pact meant that the division of Europe was now marked by two rival alliances
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