The Yalta conference was held because by early 1945 it was clear Germany would be defeated. They big three met to decided what would happened after the war ended and also what to do with Japan and how to keep peace.
The Yalta conference was held in Yalta, Ukraine in February 1945
The big three were Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin. They agreed to:
Divided Germany into four zones by USA, France, Britain and USSR and divided the capital Berlin, which would be in the Soviet zone, into four zones.
Allowed European countries to hold free elections to decided how they wanted to be governed
The USSR would join in the war against Japan
After the war the Potsdam conference was held. The big three had changed, Stalin had stayed the same but Roosevelt had died and was replaced with Truman and Churchill had been voted out and replaced with Atlee.
They agreed on trying the Nazi Party leaders as criminals and the boarders of Poland but disagreed on things. Stalin wanted to force Germany to pay huge reparations but Britain and France were nervous because of the treaty of Versailles. Stalin felt that the allies did not trust him and he was suspicious as to why they wanted to help Germany rebuild its economy.
Atom Bomb and Iron Curtain
On 6th of August 1945 the USA dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, this killed 75,000 people instantly and many more of radiation poisoning, three days later they dropped the next on Nagasaki with 60,000 killed. Stalin was annoyed the bomb had been kept a secret for so long. He saw it as a warning to the USSR and this began the arms race as Stalin tried to get an atom bomb
this divided Europe into east and west. Stalin had a soviet sphere of influence and forced communism onto Bulgaria, Albania, Poland, Romania and Hungry. He murdered those who opposed him. In 1946, whilst speaking in America Churchill said :
“An iron curtain has descended across the continent”
In 1948 the Czech foreign minister Jan Masarsyk was found below his window, it was thought he was pushed rather than jumped. In May 1948 the soviets held communist only elections which meant Czechoslovakia had also fell to communism. This worry Truman as he felt Greece was going to fall too and he made the promise that the USA would help stop communism in and provide military help to those who needed it, this would begin the USA policy of Containment. This was known as the Truman Doctrine.
In June 1947 Secretary of state George Marshall visited Europe and thought it was so poor it was about to turn communist and came up with the plan of recovery from Europe. The plan had two main aims to stop communism and to help Europe recover so this would help American markets too. The USA gave Europe up to 13 billion dollars. 16 countries accepted this and promised not to turn communist. Stalin banned his satellite states from accepting and instead retaliated
Cominform and Comecon
In 1947 Stalin set up an alliance of communist countries called Cominform and its aim was to spread communist ideas and help Stalin to tighten his control and the communist countries and restrict their contact with the west. Marshal Tito of Yugoslavia was the only leader who did not accept this, but Yugoslavia did remain communist.
In 1949 Stalin set up Comecon, this promised money and trade for the eastern countries to help spreading communist ideas.
Berlin Blockade and Airlift
French, America and Britain merged there zones in Germany to create West Germany and with the help of Marshall aid which helped West Germany recover and prosper, It was very different in East Germany which was called by the USSR and here there was poverty and hunger. This worried Stalin and when the new Western Germany currency of the deutsche mark was intruded this was the last straw and Stalin closed of the window to the west as I thought this would show his people the best conditions there.
Within a month he closed of all roads, canals and rails into West Berlin. Which left the western allies with two choices: Withdraw from Berlin and risk humiliation or fly supplies in. They decided to Airlift supplies in. At the peak , there was a plane landing every 3 minutes , they flow in everything from electricity , dried eggs, dried potatoes, clothing and oil. Stalin didn’t risk looking bad and shooting planes down and so finally called the block off after 11 months.
NATO and arms race.
The north Atlantic treaty organisation or NATO was set up in 1949. All the members of NATO agreed to if an attack should happen then it would be taken as an attack on all the countries. The countries were USA, Canada, Iceland, UK, France, Italy, Greece, Norway, Turkey, Netherlands, Denmark, Belgium and West Germany.
NATO showed the USA was committed to the defenced of Western Europe and Stalin did not see NATO as too much of a threat and also the USA was able to build bases in Europe.
1945-1949 – Only USA has atomic weapons
1949 – The USSR tested an atomic bomb
1952 – USA detonated a hydrogen bomb
1953- USSR detonated a hydrogen bomb
The USA with the united nations , got involved in Korea to stop the spread of communism. The USSR had taken control of North Korea at the end of WW2. In 1950, North Korea invaded South Korea.
North Korean forces pushed back South Korean forces and Truman asked the United Nations to help. UN forces from many countries (mainly America) drove the communist back to the boarder of China. This worried communist China as they didn’t want a non-communist neighbour with US troops. So china joined the war and pushed UN forces back. When this happened, General MacArthur called for the atomic bomb, Truman sacked him.
Once again UN troops pushed beck the communist and by June 1951 fighting settled around the 38th parallel and in 1953 truce was agreed at the 38th parallel or the Panmunjom
Khrushcehev and the warsow pact
In 1953 Stalin died and after a power struggle in USSR, Nikita Khrushchev was named the leader. He was less aggressive than Stalin and wanted peaceful co-existence with the west. Khrushchev seemed to encourage freedom within the USSR and seemed willing to talk about problems. In 1955 he agreed to sign the Austrian State Treaty meaning Austria finally got independence.
Although he wanted Peaceful co-existence he wanted to strength Eastern Europe too and was annoyed that west Germany was part of NATO so he responded with the Warsaw – a communist version of NATO which included East Germany, Poland , USSR , Czechoslovakia , Hungry, Romania, Bulgaria and Albania.