The Long Telegram (1946)
A secret report from the US ambassador Kennan in Moscow to President Truman said:
- the USSR saw capitalism as a threat to communism that had to be destroyed.
- the USSR was building its military power.
- peace between a communist USSR and a capitalist USA was not possible.
Novikov's Telegram (1946)
A report from Novikov, Soviet ambassador to the USA, told Stalin that:
- the USA wanted world domination and was building up its military strength.
- the USSR was the only country left after the war that could stand up to the USA.
- the USA was preparing its people for war with the USSR.
Said communism enslaved people to the state. Capitalism was based on freedom and democracy:
- Everyone should be free to make money for themsleves.
- Individuals are better at deciding what to make/sell than the state.
- Trade between countries makes everyone richer.
Said capitalism exploited the workers to make the rich even richer. Communism was based on fairness:
- Capitalism only makes some people rich by exploiting everyone else.
- Individuals are not as strong as everyone working together for the same aim.
- The state should take control of the economy and run it to benefit everyone.
- Europe was devestated after the war.
- In many countries people had no money, no jobs and were feeling hopeless.
- Communism was attractive to people: it made sure everyone had enough.
- Many in Eastern Europe had been liberated from Nazi rule by the Soviets.
- Countries like Poland, Romania and Bulgaria had already had communist governments forced on them.
- Some governments (e.g. Greece and Turkey) were too poor to combat communist revolutions in their own countries.
- If Greece and Turkey became communist, then other countries across Europe and the Middle East would follow.
The Truman Doctrine (1947)
In a speech in 1947, US president Truman set out why the USA should get involved:
- Countries faced a choice between either capitalism or communism.
- Communism was bad because it meant people could not be free.
- The USA must try to contain (hold back) this spread of communism.
- The USA should provide money and troops (if necessary) to help free governments to combat communist takeovers.
The Marshall Plan (1947)
- $13 billion from USA to help rebuild Europe.
- Communism appealed most to people with nothing to lose, so the Marshall Plan hoped to stop communism by giving people a stake in the capitalist system.
- Countries must trade with the USA to get the money.
- Sixteen Western European countries took the money.
- The USSR criticised the Marshall Plan as an attack on them.
The Berlin Airlift
West Berlin couldn't last for many days without supplies. It looked like the Western powers would have to pull out of Berlin. That would look weak, undermining the USA's image in particular. So Western powers responded with an airlift - thousands of tonnes of supplies were flown into Berlin.
- The Berlin airlift made the USA appear peaceful and generous.
- In September 1949, West Germany (FRG) was officially formed, with US support.
- In 1949, Western European countries and the USA formed NATO to counter the Soviet military threat.
- The Berlin Blockade made the USSR appear agressive and threatening.
- In October 1949, East Germany (GDR) was officially formed as a Soviet state.
- In 1955, the USSR formed the Warsaw Pact to counter the military threat from NATO.
Bizonia and western Germany
- It made sense for British and US zones to join together, as it would be easier to administer. The area was called Bizonia and was included in the Marshall Plan.
- This was not popular with the USSR, as Stalin was not consulted. He thought Bizonia went against the agreements made by the Potsdam Conference, and he suspected the USA was aiming to permanently divide richer western Germany from poorer eastern Germany.
Eastern Germany and the Berlin Blockade
- The USSR had 1.5 million troops in its zone, whereas the Western countries had sent most of their troops home.
- Eastern Germany grew almost all the food that Western Germany ate.
- Berlin was deep in USSR-controlled Germany, and divided into US, British, French and Soviet zones.
- The USSR blocked all supplies into Berlin to show it had the power to stop a divided Germany working.
The USA wanted a united, capitalist Germany that it could trade with and would help prevent the spread of communism.
The USSR wanted Germany to be weak,communist and divided, so that it would never be able to attack the USSR again.