The Origins of the Cold War 1945-1960

HideShow resource information
  • Created by: remybray
  • Created on: 03-06-16 16:54

Why did the USA and USSR become rivals 1945-49?

Ideological differences and their effects

  • America had a short history. Its geographical position made it secure, making the American people feel strong and safe. It had strong industries, efficient farming and much overseas trade. These things made America the richest country in the world.
  • The Soviet Union had a long history. It had an unsafe Western border, across which many invaders had come. The Soviet Union was rich in natural resources but its industries and farms were not yet fully modernised.
  • America's government is democratic - the government is chosen through free elections. America's economic system is capitalist - all industry and land is owned by private individuals or businesses who keep the profits.
  • The USSR's government was a one party dictatorship - people could only vote for communists. The USSR's economic system was Communist - everything is owned by the state and not run for private profit.
  • These differences led to different policies, which aroused fears in the minds of Americans and Soviets. Both were suspicious that they each wanted to impose their own system of government on the world.
1 of 26

Why did the USA and USSR become rivals 1945-49?

Ideological differences

  • At the end of the war, Stalin, the Soviet leader, tried to get as much territory for the USSR and Communism as he could.
  • The Americans and the West thought that this was because Stalin wanted 'World Communism'.
  • The Soviets claimed that Stalin wanted to protect the USSR from future invasion.
  • Some of the actions of the Allies during the war had aroused Stalin's suspicions.
  • The Americans had delayed in opening a second front in Europe by invading France to relieve pressure on the USSR. Stalin thought that this was because they wanted Soviet Russia to be exhausted by fighting the Germans, leaving the USSR open to attack. 
  • Stalin tried to prevent further attacks on the USSR by building a 'buffer zone' of states friendly to the USSR between the USSR and the democratic countries in the West.
2 of 26

Why did the USA and USSR become rivals 1945-49?

The Yalta and Potsdam Conferences

Yalta

  • This conference was held in February 1945, just before the end of the war to decide what to do with Germany after its defeat. The conference was attended by Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill. The leaders agreed on the following:
  • Germany was to be divided into 4 zones occupied by Britain, France, the USA and USSR.
  • Berlin was also to be divided into 4 zones of occupation.
  • Nazi war criminals were to be hunted down and tried for their crimes.
  • Countries in Eastern Europe were to have free elections.
  • The Soviet Union was to declare war on Japan within 3 months.
  • A United Nations (UN) organisation should be set up to replace the League of Nations and to keep peace. 
  • Germany should pay reparations for the war.
3 of 26

Why did the USA and USSR become rivals 1945-49?

Potsdam

  • This conference was held after the defeat of Germany, but while the war against Japan was still going on.
  • Roosevelt had died in April 1945 and was replaced by Truman, who was more suspicious of Stalin and did not get on as well with him. Churchill was defeated in a general election in Britain and replaced by Attlee.
  • Soviet troops had occupied most of Eastern Europe and stayed there. Part of East Germany was taken over by the new communist government in Poland, which had the support of Stalin. There had been no free elections. This was against what had been agreed at Yalta. 
  • On 16 July the Americans successfully tested the atom bomb. Stalin was not told immediately and it was clear that the USA was not going to share the secret with its allies. This increased Stalin's suspicions.
  • On reparations it was decided that each country could take its own reparations from its own occupied zone, but the Western powers did allow the USSR to receive industrial equipment and goods from their zones.
4 of 26

Why did the USA and USSR become rivals 1945-49?

The dropping of the atom bomb and its effects

  • On 10 August 1945 the war against Japan ended after the USA dropped atom bombs on Hiroshima (6 August) and Nagasaki (9 August).
  • Stalin had promised to declare war on Japan in return for receiving territory in the Far East at the Yalta Conference in February, but he delayed entering the war against Japan.
  • Although Stalin was made aware of the successful testing of the bomb, he was not told that the Americans planned to use it against Japan.
  • The atom bombs killed as many as 140,000 people in Hiroshima and 80,000 in Nagasaki.
5 of 26

Why did the USA and USSR become rivals 1945-49?

The Iron Curtain: Soviet expansion in the East

  • The USSR and Communism expanded after the Second World War. Stalin was determined to build his 'buffer' states on the western frontier, whcih would prevent any future invasion of Soviet Russia. 
  • The Red Army remained in control and communist governments that supported the USSR were set up.
  • At Yalta, the powers agreed that all the countries freed from German control should be allowed to decide their own government in free elections.
  • In Czechoslovakia, a coalition government was freely elected in 1946. Communists seized power in 1948 before elections. The leaders of rival political parties were arrested and executed. The Czech Jan Masaryk was murdered.
  • Churchill appeared to fear this Soviet advance as early as 1945.
  • In 1946 in the USA Churchill made his famous speech in which the term 'Iron Curtain' was born. 
  • The Iron Curtain is used to describe the imaginary line between Communism in the East and the democratic governments of the West.
6 of 26

Why did the USA and USSR become rivals 1945-49?

The Truman Doctrine

  • Truma showed his open opposition to Communiam after events in Greece where there was a civil war.
  • In 1944 British troops freed Greece from Nazi control and restored the monarchy. Since then Britain had been helping the Greek King in the fight against communists who were trying to take over the country. Elections had taken place in 1946 and the parties that supported the monarchy were successful. 
  • This was not accepted by the communists, who continued their resistance using guerilla tactics against the governement. The communists were being helped by Albania, Bulgaria and Yugoslavia.
  • Elsewhere the Soviet Union was also putting pressure on Turkey. Communism was getting close to the Middle East, whose oil supplies were vital to the West.
  • President Truman feared that if Greece fell to Communism, other countries in Western Europe, e.g. Italy and France, might follow suit.
  • By 1947 Britain was unable to continue its support for the monarchy and informed the Americans of this.
7 of 26

Why did the USA and USSR become rivals 1945-49?

The Truman Doctrine

  • On 12 March 1947, Truman gave a major speech in which he persuaded the US Congress to support Greece and Turkey. This became known as the Truman Doctrine.
  • Congress accepted Truman's argument and granted $400 million, which was used to support Greece and Turkey against communist influence.
  • With the help of American arms and money, the communist threat in Greece was defeated by 1949 and Turkey was able to resist pressure from the USSR, particularly over the Dardanelles.
  • The Truman Doctrine showed that the USA was not going to revert to isolation and Truman made it clear that the USA would aim to stop the spread of Communism throughout the world. This became known as the 'policy of containment'.
  • Communism would be contained within its exisiting boundaries and not allowed to spread.
  • Many communists felt that it was a declaration of war against Communism and so regarded it as the start of the Cold War.
8 of 26

Why did the USA and USSR become rivals 1945-49?

The Marshall Plan

  • The economies of Europe has been ruined by the Second World War and governments in France and Italy were being threatened by strong communist parties.
  • Truman sent George Marshall to Europe to see the situation first-hand. He reported back that Europe would need around $17 billion to aid its recovery.
  • Congress refused this until events in Czechoslovakia played a part. In 1948 the communists carried out a purge of non-communists and Jan Masaryk, a minister who supported the West, was murdered. The communists took full control in Czechoslovakia.
  • In June 1947 the Americans came up with the Marshall Plan. Marshall Aid was given to 16 countries and was used first of all to improve agriculture and then to build up industry. Britain and France received the most. $13 billion dollars of aid flowed into Western Europe over the next 4 years.
  • Stalin refused to allow any Eastern European countries to share in Marshall Aid. President Tito defied Stalin and received Marshall Aid, and as a result was expelled from Cominform in 1948.
9 of 26

Why did the USA and USSR become rivals 1945-49?

The Marshall Plan

  • The Soviets claimed that the Marshall Plan was dollar imperialism: the Americans were using dollars to bribe European countries so that they would become dependent on the USA and join them against the USSR. This increased suspicions between the USA and USSR.
  • By helping the recovery of Western Europe, Marshall Aid strengthened it against the threat of Communism. The Americans believed Communism thrived where there was poverty.

Cominform and Comecon

  • Stalin's reaction to the Truman Doctrine and Marshall Plan was to set up Cominform in September 1947. All the communist parties in Europe were involved in this and it was intended to defend Communism against the aggression of the USA.
  • It increased Stalin's control of communist states in Eastern Europe. They were to be satellite states of the USSR. Plans for recovery were established and members were expected to trade with each other, not the West.
  • The USSR offered aid to the satellite states in 1949 with the introduction of Comecon. This was intended to unite the economies of the communist states, but it increased the control that Stalin had over them.
10 of 26

Why did the USA and USSR become rivals 1945-49?

The Berlin Blockade and Airlift

  • At Yalta, it had been agreed that Germany should pay reparations to the Allies for damage caused during the war. When the war had ended, the USSR confiscated many of the resources of its zone. It wanted to keep Germany weak.
  • At Potsdam, the Allies agreed that the Soviet Union should be given a quarter of the industrial goods made in the Western zones, in return for food and coal from the Soviet zone.
  • The British and Americans sent the industrial goods to the Soviet Union, but Russia failed to send back food and coal. In May 1946 the British and Americans stopped sending industrial goods to the Soviet zone.
  • Truman began to think that a recovered Germany would be a good barrier to the expansion of the USSR. Germany was given Marshall Aid to enable economic recovery to take place.
  • In January 1947, the British and American zones were joined together. Later, in June 1948, the French zone was added, to form one Western zone. Preparations were made for an independent state of West Germany to be set up. This alarmed the Soviets.
  • The difference between the relative prosperity of the western zones thanks to Marshall Aid and the poverty of the east was clear.
11 of 26

Why did the USA and USSR become rivals 1945-49?

The Berlin Blockade and Airlift

  • Berlin lay 100 milies within the Soviet zone. To protect Berlin, free 'access rights' using agreed roads, rail, canal and air routes existed across the Soviet zone to allow the movement of people and goods between the Western sectors and the Western zones of Germany.
  • Western Berlin stood out as an 'Island of Capitalism' surrounded by Soviet controlled communists.
  • In 1948 Britain and America decided to set up a new currency for West Germany. This was intended to help unite the Western zones and strengthen Germany's economy. The USSR was not involved in this decision and Stalin argued that it was against what had been agreed at Potsdam. 
  • Stalin decided that the whole of Berlin should belong to the Soviets. In 1948 the Soviet Union began to make Western access by road and rail to Berlin more and more difficult. By 23 June 1948 all routes into West Berlin had been closed by Stalin. His plan was to force the West to withdraw from Berlin by starving the people of West Berlin.
  • This was the Soviet Union's first direct challenge to the American idea of 'Containment'. The Americans feared that if they gave way on West Berlin, the Soviets would threaten West Germany next.
12 of 26

Why did the USA and USSR become rivals 1945-49?

The Berlin Blockade and Airlift

  • West Berlin had about 6 weeks of fuel and food left. 
  • Britain and America decided to use the three air routes into West Berlin and take goods in by air. It was estimated that at least 4,000 tonnes of supplies would be needed every day.
  • By Spring 1949, 8,000 tonnes were being flown in each say. In all, 2 million tonnes of supplies were flown in.
  • The Soviet Union tried to stop the airlift. They 'jammed' the airwaves used by Allied pilots. They 'shadowed' Allied flights with Soviet fighter aircraft to make sure they stayed within the air corridors.
  • To stop the airlift inside the agreed 'air corridors' Russia would have to shoot down Western planes. Stalin realised that if he did it would be a declaration of war and he was afraid of the American nuclear weapons.
  • On 12 May 1949 Stalin lifted the blockade, after 11 months.
  • The USA and the West had prove that they were prepared to stand up to the USSR and resist any further expansion. 
  • It was the first main crisis of the Cold War.
13 of 26

How did the Cold War develop 1949-60?

The formation of NATO

  • The Berlin Blockade convinced the Americans that the West needed a common defence strategy to oppose any acts of aggression. 
  • On 4 April 1949, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation was signed.
  • This was a military pact in which all countries agreed to help each other against any act of aggression. It was to have an army with a common command.
  • In 1949 it had 12 members: USA, Britain, France, Italy, Belgium, Holland, Luxembourg, Denmark, Norway, Iceland, Portugal and Canada.
  • In 1952 Greece and Turkey joined, as well as West Germany in 1955.
  • It meant that the Americans could build air bases in Western Europe where planes equipped with nuclear bombs could be stationed ready for use in the event of an act of aggression from another power.
  • The Soviet Union saw NATO as an attempt to 'encircle' their nation with countries hostile to Communist ideas, and made official protests.
14 of 26

How did the Cold War develop 1949-60?

The nuclear arms race

  • The dropping of the atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 started the nuclear arms race betwen the two superpowers. 
  • The nuclear arms race was how the USA and the USSR made sure that 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. In 1949 the USSR exploded its first atomic bomb.
  • The hydrogen bomb, a more powerful bomb that could destroy the whole of Moscow, was successfully tested by the Americans in 1952. The H-bomb was much smaller than the bombs used in 1945, but more than 2,000 times more powerful.
  • The Soviets responded with their own hydrogen bomb in 1953.
15 of 26

How did the Cold War develop 1949-60?

The Korean War

  • At the end of the Second World War, Korea was freed from Japanese control. North Korea was occupied by Soviet soldiers and South Korea was occupied by American soldiers.
  • It was agreed that there should be free elections and Korea should be united in the future.
  • By 1948, this proved impossible and two independent states of North and South Korea were set up, divided by the 38th parallel.
  • South Korea was ruled by an anti-communist government led by Syngman Rhee. The Soviets set up the communist government of North Korea under Kim Il Sung.
  • The Chinese Revolution in October 1949 meant that now North Korea had two friendly Communist giants on its northern border.

Possible causes of the Korean War:

  • A show of Soviet strength towards the Americans to get back after Berlin.
  • A show of Soviet strength towards the Chinese to show Mao that Stalin was the leader.
  • A North Korean attack planned in Moscow to strengthen USSR's defences in the Pacific.
  • An independent attack by North Korea.
  • An attack provoked by South Korea to regain American help against Communism.
16 of 26

How did the Cold War develop 1949-60?

The Korean War

  • The Communists claimed that they were acting to protect themselves because troops from South Korea had crossed the 38th parallel.
  • On 25 June 1950 North Korean forces attacked South Korea and advanced quickly, crossing the 38th Parallel and capturing Seoul.
  • Truman and the Americans considered that events in Korea were part of a grand plan by the USSR to spread Communism throughout the world. They believed in the Domino Effect and felt that they had to resist the spread of Communism. This was to be the Truman Doctrine and its policy of containment in action.
  • The Americans referred the invasion to the Security Council of the UN, but began to move their troops in Japan to Korea before a decision was made by the UN.
  • The Security Council appealed to North Korea to withdraw its troops from the south and, when this was ignored, declared that North Korea was the aggressor and called on all member states to send help to the South.
  • The USSR would have used its veto if it had been present, but it was boycotting the UN Security Council because the new communist China had not been accepted as a member.
17 of 26

How did the Cold War develop 1949-60?

The Korean War

  • A UN army made up of contributions from 16 nations was sent to Korea. It was led by the American General Douglas MacArthur.
  • The North Koreans were surprised by American marines, who landed at Inchon and cut off their supplies.
  • Eventually the UN forces captured Seoul. By October 1950 the North Koreans had been forced back behind the 38th Parallel.
  • MacArthur and Truman saw this as a chance to unite Korea. Not content with containment, they wanted to free North Korea from Communist control.
  • China saw the American plans as a real threat. If UN forces captured North Korea, they might press on to attack the border with China. They could use North Korea as a base for bombing raids on Chinese industry.
  • Despite this warning, Truman ordered MacArthur to cross into North Korea on 7 October. The UN forces advanced and captured the North Korean capital. Then they continued north, towards the Chinese border.
18 of 26

How did the Cold War develop 1949-60?

The Korean War

  • About 250,000 Chinese troops, described as volunteers, entered Korea.
  • There were too many of them for the Americand and, by January 1951, they had drien the UN troops out of North Korea and once again captured Seoul.
  • In February, MacArthur managed to push the Chinese back to the 38th parallel again. 
  • President Truman was keen to set up a cease-fire along the 38th Parallel, but MacArthur pressed on into North Korea. MacArthur wanted to launch an all-out attack on China using the atom bomb.
  • Truman felt that this would cause a major war, so he dismissed MacArthur and decided to go back to his policy of containing communism out of South Korea and defended the frontier.
  • Peace talks began in 1951 and there was very little fighting for the next two years.
  • In November 1952, Eisenhower replaced Truman as America's President. In 1953 Stalin died.
  • An armistice was signed on 17 July 1953 but no peace treaty could be agreed.
  • Korea had been devastated by the fighting, about 4 million soldiers and civilians had been killed and 5 million became homeless. American losses were around 50,000, with other UN troops losing about 17,000. The Chinese suffered about 900,000 casualites.
19 of 26

How did the Cold War develop 1949-60?

The Korean War

  • It extended the Cold War into the Far East.
  • It indicated that Truman was prepared to stick to the Truman Doctrine and to the principle of containing Communism.
  • It appeared that the superpowers did not want to make the Cold War into a 'hot war'. 
  • It marked the emergence of communist China as a world power. China became more friendly with the USSR.
  • The UN had resisted an act of aggression.
  • Korea was still divided as North and South and it appeared as if the division was now permanent.
20 of 26

How did the Cold War develop 1949-60?

The 'Thaw'

  • The death of Stalin in 1953 led to a new direction is 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 wa 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 Austrain State Treaty, which ended occupation of Austria that had continued since 1945. Austria became independent.
  • Kruschev emerged as the new leader of the USSR. He appeared to be keen to make a fresh start with the West.
  • In 1956 he used the phrase 'peaceful co-existence' to describe the policies of living in peace with the West, even if the Soviets did not like its ideals and policies.
  • He showed his willingness to be friendly to the West by his visits to Britain and the USA.
  • A Summit Conference was held in Geneva in 1955. This was attended by the leaders of America, China, Britain, France and the USSR. This was seen as a turning point in the Cold War.
21 of 26

How did the Cold War develop 1949-60?

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, which the USSR signed along with Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, East Germany and Albania. 
  • It was described as a Treaty of Friendship, Co-operation and Mutual Assistance between the countries who signed it. 
  • All the 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 andn their troops would be used in the future to prevent Soviet sattelite states from leaving their control.
  • The formation of the Warsaw Pact meant that the division of Europe was now marked by two rival alliances.
22 of 26

How did the Cold War develop 1949-60?

Hungary, 1956

  • Stalin had treated East Germany, Poland and Hungary almost as 'slave colonies' of the Soviet Union. Hungary had to pay war reparations in food and goods to the Soviet Union. 
  • The standard of living in Eastern Europe got steadily worse; shortages of food were common.
  • Each satellite had a feared secret police, prisons and labour camps.
  • In Hungary alone 25,000 people had been executed without trial since 1945.
  • Stalin-style Communism in Eastern Europe had left the people downtrodden and angry.
  • In 1955 the satellites had been forced to sign the Warsaw Pact, binding their military fate to the Soviet Union.
  • Kruschev's condemnation of Stalin and events in Poland which had led to Kruschev accepting a change of leader, encouraged the Hungarians to protest against Rasoki's leadership.
  • They were protesting about the falling standard of living and increased poverty, which they blamed on Soviet policies.
  • Many in Hungary saw this as an opportunity to end Soviet domination and improve relations with the West. This they felt would bring an improved economy and higher standard of living.
  • The protests increased and in October riots broke out in Budapest. Street fighting lasted for five days.
23 of 26

How did the Cold War develop 1949-60?

Hungary, 1956

  • Only the security police, many of whom were hanged by rebels, remained loyal to the USSR.
  • Rakosi was forced to resign and Soviet tanks moved in. The more popular Nagy became Prime Minister and Soviet troops withdrew.
  • The Hungarians celebrated what looked like a victory. It appeared that the USSR had been defeated by one of its satellites.
  • On 1 November 1956, the new Hungarian government began to make reforms. These reforms would lead to free elections, the end of the secret police and the removal of the Soviet army of occupation. Kruschev seemed to be accepting this. However, this changed when Nagy demanded the right for Hungary to withdraw from the Warsaw Pact and follow a neutal role in the Cold War.
  • This was too much for the USSR. Free elections could mean the end of Communism in Hungary. If Hungary withdrew from the Warsaw Pact, there would be a gap in the Iron Curtain and the Soviet buffer zone with the West would be broken.
  • Soviet troops re-entered Hungary on 1 November. By 4 November they had reached Budapest. Over 1,000 tanks moved into the city to crush the rising.
24 of 26

How did the Cold War develop 1949-60?

Hungary, 1956

  • Nagy appealed to the West for help but none came.
  • Two weeks of street fighting followed, but the Hungarians were no match for the Soviet forces and a new pro-Soviet communist government under Kadar was set up.
  • Nagy was imprisoned and later executed.
  • Between 2,500 and 30,000 Hungarians, mostly civilians, were killed along with 700 Soviet troops.
  • Over 200,000 refugees fled Hungary and settled in the West.
  • There was no active support for the rising in the West - the Americans simply protested.
  • Other satellite states in Eastern Europe did not dare to challenge Soviet authority.
  • Kruschev strengthened his position in the USSR and showed the West that peaceful co-existence had its limits.
  • It marked a stalemate in the Cold War - the West did not interfere with Soviet activities in Eastern Europe.
25 of 26

How did the Cold War develop 1949-60?

The continuation of the nuclear arms / space race

  • The USSR developed the technology to fire a satellite into space before the USA. This not only upset the pride of the Americans, it also affected their security. The space race was closely tied in with the development of nuclear weapons and the nuclear arms race.
  • Up to 1957 the USA were always ahead in the development of nuclear weapons. The launch of Sputnik 1 in 1957 changed this. 
  • The launch of the Sputnik 1 meant that the Soviets had developed rockets which could carry nuclear warheads and reach the USA.
  • The USA developed its own Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) in 1957 and, by 1959, they could be stored underground and ready for use in 30 seconds.
  • The firing of a Polaris missile from a nuclear submarine by the USA in 1960 meant that a missile could be fired from the sea closer to the USSR, therefore be more accurate.
  • ICBMs were placed in friendly powers near the USSR. The USA placed missiles in Turkey in 1959 and the USSR tried to place them in Cuba in 1962. 
  • They had to continue the arms race to keep the balance, which was expensive but prevented war. This was known as the 'nuclear deterrent'. By the end of the 1960s the superpowers had enough nuclear weapons to destroy the rest of the world. This became known as Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD).
26 of 26

Comments

No comments have yet been made

Similar History resources:

See all History resources »See all The Cold War resources »