The Cold War

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Causes of the cold war

The USA president Roosevelt died in 1945. He was quickly replaced by Truman who was strognly anti-communist, and as the war ended the relationship between the USA and Russia began to fall apart.

Harry Truman was determined from the start to confront communsim.

But this isnt the only thing that caused 'hot waters', there were many differences between the soviet union (Russia) and the USA

  • Politics - Russia was communist, America was capitalist
  • Lifestyle - America had freedom and a two-party democracy; Russia had a secret police and a one party state
  • Aims - America wanted to strengthen Germany for a trading partner, Russia wanted to weaken Germany and create a buffer zone of friendly states around Germany

The collapse of the wartime alliance led to a Cold war between the two super powers.


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Yalta and Potsdam conference

The Yalta and Potsdam conference's were called to help the allies decide on what would happen to Europe, particulary Germany, at the end of the second World War.

Yalta - February 1945 : Germany was not yet defeated so although there were tensions about Poland, the big three - Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill - managed to agree to split Germany into four zones, and to allow free elections in Eastern Europe countries. Russia was invited to join the United Nations, and Russia promised to join the war against Japan once germany was defeated

Potsdam - July 1945 : Germany had been defeated - Roosevelt died and Churchill had lost the 1945 election - so there were open disagreements. Truman came away angry about the size of reparations and the fact that a communist government was being set up in Poland. Truman did not tell Stalin that he had the atomic bomb.

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Soviet Power in Eastern Europe

Twenty million Russians died during WW2, so Stalin said he wanted to create a buffer zone of friendly states around Russia, to ensure that Russia couldnt be invaded again.

Stalin was planning the takeover of Eastern Europe. During the war, communists from the occupied countires of Eastern Europe escaped to Moscow and set up Communist governments in exile there.

The communists ensured they controlled the army, secret state police and began to arrest their opponents. Non-communists were gradually beaten, excecuted and terrified out of power. By 1949 all the governments of Eastern europe were communist.

In 1946 Churchill declared that an Iron curtain had fallen across Europe and that soviet power was growing and had to be stopped. Stalin said Churchiulls comment was a declaration of war. 

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