section 4:how did the cold war develop? 1943-56

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  • Created on: 18-03-14 17:59

what was the cold war

the cold war was a new kind of conflict in which america and russian soilders face each other in battle. nor did american and russian soilders face each other in battle.

the cold war had many characteristics of a real war. both sides were involved in a arms race, a military build up of nuclear wapons as well as armies,navies and air forces. both sides formed military alliances and were involved in syping onn each other. each side was committed to a diferent set of ideas. propaganda was an essential aspect of the cold war governments used propaganda to persuade their own citizens that they were under threat and therefore that the military build up was neccesary also it was essential to show enemies were evil and why they needed to be fought

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the grand alliance 1941

prior to the cold war, america and the USSR worked together as members of the grand alliance an alliance created in 1941 to defeat the nazis. however, the grand alliance was a marriage convenience between communists and capitalists united only in their opposition to hitler. once hitler had been defeated, the alliance became increasingly uneasy. between 1943 and 1945,the leaders of the grand alliance met at three international conferences: tehran, yalta and potsdam

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the tehran conference 1943

the tehran conference (28 nov-1 dec 1943) was designed to make plans for the reconstruction of europe following ww2. the 'big three'- american president roosevelt, british prime minister churchill and reussian leader stalin- agreed that the USSR should have a 'sphere of influence'-an area in which communism was respected. this would guarantee that the USSR was not threatned by any of its neighbouring countires. equally,western europe, would be a british and american 'sphere of influence', when capitalism would be dominant. the big three did not however agre on germans future. stalin belived germany should be punished by being forced to give up territory and paying reparations. on the other hand roosevelt and churchill belived that one of the causes of ww2 was germanys economic problems following ww1. they argued that a peaceful europe needed a prosperous germany.

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the yalta conference 1945

4-11 feb 1945 marked the highpoint of the grand alliance. the 'big three' made the following decisions:

  • stalin agreed that russian troops would help america defeat japan once hitler had been defeated
  • roosevelt and churchill agreed to the establishment of a communist government in poland
  • the 'declaration on liberated europe' commited the USSR, america and britain to work for democracy in europe
  • the allies agreed to establish the united nations, an organistion commited to maintaining peace
  • the 'big three' restated their agreement that the USSR should have a 'sphere of influence' in eastern europe
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the potsdam conference 1945

the potsdam conference was the final meeting of the three leaders of the grand alliance. they addressed the question of the government of europe following the german surrender. the allies agreed to ban the nazi party as war criminals. they also agreed to reduce the size of germany by approximately a quarter. finally they agreed to divide germany temporaily into four zones allocated to france,britain,america and the USSR


the USSR wanted to impose heavey reparations on germany, whereas america wanted germany to be rebuilt. the conference agreed a compromise wheerby each ally would take reparations from the zone they occupied. the part of germany that stalin controlled was poorer than the rest and had much less industry. as a result, the western allies agreed that the USSR could have a quater of industrial euipqment from the western zones, but stated that they would have to pay for much of this with east german raw material such as coal

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atomic bomb

truman atempted to assert his authority during the potsdam confernece. his first move was to postpine the conference to give american scientists more time to test the first atomic bomb. following the succesful test of the american atomic bomb in july 1945,churchill noticed a change in trumans attitude. truman believd that america posseed the ultimate weapon and therefore in churchills words told stalin where to go and generally bossed everyone around. truman believed that the atomic bomb was the master card in potsdam dicussions. it gave america the power to destroy entire anemy cities without risking a single american life

stalin refused to be pushed around. truman later remarked that whn stalin was informed about the bomb he showed no special intrest. however, stalin was well aware of the significance of the atomic bomb and had as early as 1940,instucted soviet scients to devlop their own. news of american bomb made stalin more determined than ever to protect the interests of the USSR. stalins plan was to protect he USSR by creating a 'buffer zone'-a communist area in eastern europe between the USSR and the capitalist west.

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trumans arrogance and stalins determination soured the relationship at the centre of the grand alliance. their relationship was further strained by the USSRs actions in oland, stalin had agreed to set up a government in poland that included both communists and capitalists. however by th time of potsdam confernece it was evident that he had broken his word. altthough the potsdam confernce finsihed with a show of unity,insiders at the conference were aware that there were bitter divisions between america and the USSR, which some thought would lead to a new war

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the war of words

during 1946 it became clear that europe had been divided between capitalism in the west and communism in the east. stalin representing the east and churchill representing the west, responded with a 'war of words', showing that the former allies now viewed each other with suspicion. this suspicion became an important part of the cold war

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secret telegrams

truman and stalin were concerned about the vreakdown of the grand alliance and the threat of a new war. both men asked for secret reports from their embassies to help them understand how their opponents were thinking. both reports were sent as telegrams

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the long telegram 1946

truman recieved worrying news in the long telegram. a secret report from kennan. americas ambassador in moscow, the telegram reported that:

stalin had given  a speech calling for the destruction of capitalism

there could be no peace with the USSR while it was opposed to capitalism

the USSR was building up its military power

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novikovs telegram 1946

novikov the soviet ambassador to america,sent a telegram to stalin which was equally concerning it reported:

  • america desired to dominate the world
  • following roosevelts death, the american government was no longer interested in co-operation with the USSR
  • the american public was being prepared for war with the USSR

following these secret telegrams, both governments beleived that they were facing the possiblity of war. indeed, the government of the USSR came to believe that war with america was inevitable. in america some soilders who had fought in ww2 and entered politics when the returned home called stalin 'the new hitler' their point was simple. stalin like hitler, was preparing for war

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the Truman doctrine 1947

following the 'long telegram', truman asked the american military to assess the strenght of the USSR army. he learned that the USSR was in no poistion to wage a war. nonetheless, truman beleived that the USSR had a second strategy that would allow it to conqeur more and more territory without having to declare war: stalin would encorage communist revolutions across europe. afer WW2,much of europe was devasted and citizens in countries such as italy,france,greece, turkey and the UK were suffering great hardships in these conditions communism was highly appealing because communists believed that the wealth of the richest people should be shared out among the poor. to address this threat, in 1947 truman set out a new policy-'truman doctrine':

  • the world had a choice between communist tyranny and democratic freedom
  • america had a responsibility to fight for liberty wherever it was threatned
  • america would send troops and economic resources to help governments that were threatned by communists
  • communism should not be allowed to grow and gain territory
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the significance of the Truman doctrine

it was important because it suggested that america, rather than the united nations had a responsibility to protect the world. this marked a reversal of the USA's tradditional policy of 'isolationism' by which america stayed out of international affairs

also, it divided the world according to ideology:it stated clearly that capitalism and communism were in opposition. this suggested that there could beno further co-operation between east and west due to their ideological differences and in this sense it marked the unofficial end of the grand alliance and the beginning of the cold war.

it set a realistic goal for american foreign policy:truman was commited to 'containment'. this implied that although america would not invade the USSR, it would make every effort to stop the spread pf communism

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the marshall plan 1947

first containment aimed to beat communism through military force. secondly, the marshall plan of 1947 commited $13 billion dollars to rebuild the shattered economies of europe. by encouraging prosperity the marshall plan would weaken the attraction of communsim. to those suffering economic hardship following WW2, the promise of sharing resources equally under communism had great appeal. if people were wealthy, however, the idea of sharing resources would have less appeal. in order to qualify for american money, european countries had to agree to trade freely with america. in this way, the marshall plan also helped the american economy

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initial reaction to the Marshall plan

european leaders met at the paris conference of 1948 to discuss the american offer. many european countires were keen to recieve marchall aid. however, representatives from the USSR walked out of the conference claiming that the americans were attempting to split europe into 'two camps'. they argued that marshall aid was the first step in creating a military alliance that would wage war on the soviet union. stalin also insisted that eastern european countries in the soviet 'sphere of influence' refuse to help offered by america. by contrast, 16 countries including britain and france welcomed the offer, seeing it as a way of rebuilding their economies and defeating communism in their own countries

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satilite states

a satillite state is a country that is officilly independant, but is in reality controlled by another country. between 1947 and 1949, the USSR extended its influence over eastern europe turning countries such as czechslovakia, hungary and poland into satilite states.

stalinn described the marshall plan as 'dollar imperialism', he believed that the americans were trying to buy influence over europe as any country that accepted 'marshall aid' would effectively become an american ally. to prevent this, stalin extended his control over eastern europe creating a series of stallite states.

cominform- set up in 1947, an international organistation that represented the communist parties accross europe, rejected the marshall plan, used to ensure loyalty of eastern european governments, investigated government employees and arrested any that were not loyal to stalin and political.

comecon-set up in 1949, stalins answer to the marshall plan, encouraged the economic development of eastern europe, rejected the marshall plan, economic and prevented trade with western europe

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first confrontation

the key issues arount the governance of germany:

  • should a reunited germany be part of the soviet 'sphere of influence': the american 'sphere of influence' or should it be neutral
  • should a reunited germany have a communist or capitalist government?
  • should a reunited germany recieve the marshall aid?
  • should troops from america and the USSR be allowed to remain in a united germany

1947, british and american zones were especially operating as one, and therefore became known as 'bizonia'. the relationship between bizonia and the french zone was also very good, and therefore 3 western zones were refered as 'trizonia'

first britain, france and the USA agreed to set up a german assembly to create a german consitution. secondly they introduced a new currency-the deutschmark which would become the official currency for trizonia

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stalin opposed the division of germany:

  • he was reluctant to allow america to have further influence over germany
  • he did not want american troops to remain stationed in germany
  • he relised that germanys most valuable economic resources were in the west and feared that they would be used to wage war on the USSR

in order to prevent the establisshment of a seperate state in western germany stalin set up a military blackage around west berlin in june 1948. his plan was to cut western germany. stalin hoped that this ould prove that a divided germany could not work in practice


the berlin blockage was a propaganda success for the americans, and an utter failure for the USSR. in may 1949, stalin ended the blockage and in sept 1949 west germany was offically created as an independant state. 1 month later, the USSR established a 2nd independant state-east germany

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the berlin blockade

the berlin blockade was the first military confrontation of the cold war. it raised the possibility of a war in europe. western europeon nations tried to establish an alliance in order to 'keep the usa in and the USSR out'

in april 1949, NATO was established as an alliance between america and many of the countries in western europe.NATO members agreed that if any NATO country came under attack, all members of NATO would come to their defence

the creation of NATO marked a significanct developmet in the cold war. the marshall plan had created a trading alliance but NATO went further. it was a military aliance with the specific aim of defending the west against communism. in 1955, the USSR responded by creating the warsaw pact a military aliance of western european countries which mirrored NATO

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hungary under soviet rule

stalin claimed that soviet troops had liberation hungary from the nazis. however, 1949 comminform imposed an oppresseive regime on hungary:

  • hungarian land was redistributed to other eastern european countries
  • hungarian coal, oil and wheat were shipped to russia while hungarian citizens were deprived of food
  • non-communsit political parties were abolished
  • russian officials controlled the government, the police and the army
  • cominform began a reign of terror, executing popular political leaders and their supporters
  • matyas koksoi was appointed as hungarys dikator

rakosi was hungarys diktator. he described himself as  'stalins best pupil' but the people of hungary nicknamed him 'the bald butcher' he developed  what were known as 'salami tactics' for dealing with his oponnents 'slice by slice' meaning he got rid of his oppostion by dividing it bit by bit

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nagy came to power because of stalins death. stalins style of government 'stalinism' was extremely oppressive russias new leader khruschev, opened the way for a more liberal approach to governing the USSR and eastern euroupe. he gave a 'secret speech' the speech did not remain secret for long promised an end to stalinism. hungary's people were clearly distatisfied with soviet rule, students rioted and attacked soviet troops. hungarys capital soon became violent, police lost control, krushchev agreed to the appointment of a more liberal leader, imre naggy

nagy's reforms

  • hungary should leave the warsaw pact and become neutral
  • communist government in hungary should end
  • hungary should become a western-style democracy with free elections
  • hungary should ask the UN for protection from russia
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Khrushchev response

nagys reforms ended hungarys alliance with the USSR. khrushchev belived tha the reforms were unacceptable and that if hungary was allowed to leave the warsaw pact other eastern european countries would follow. the secret intelligence reports reinforced his view that allowing greater freedom for these discontented countries could mean the end of soviet dominance in eastern europe. khruschev responded with a decisive show of force. november 1956, 200,000 soviet troops sent to hungary to crush the new governemnt. after 2 weeks of fighting 20,000 hungarians were killed. 200,000 escaped to austria. khrushchev defeated nagys government

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international reaction

  • american government belived it was a matter of highest priority to prevent the outbreak of a war which would lead to the nuclear annitillation of hungary and the rest of the word
  • america did offer $20 million worth of food and medical aid to nagy government
  • american president praised the bravery of the hungarian people and encouraged them to fight on
  • americans failure to support the hungarians proved that its commitment to liberating euroupe from communism did not include offering military support. consequently radicals in eastern europe were discoraged from following hungarys example
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how was soviet control reasserting

  • khruschev appointed janos kadar as new hungarian leader

kadars programme included

  • re-establishing communist contol of hungary
  • using hungarian troops to stop attacks on soviet forces
  • remaining in the warsaw pact
  • negotiating the withdrawal of soviet troops once the crisis was over

hungarian people soon accepted kadars new government. americas failure to support nagys government left them with no choice

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