The Cold War

Revision notes on the events in the cold war

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Origins of the cold war

Ideological Gap

  • -Capitalism (West) - government with free elections
  • - free industry and trade with concept of profit
  • -Communism (East) - one party dictatorship
  • -Both East and West feared the others policies and concepts
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Yalta Conference

FEB 1945

 who was present?

Churchill - prime minister of Britian

Stalin - Leader of USSR

Roosevelt - president of USA

What was agreed?

France would be regarded as one of the 4 superpowers Germany and berlin would be divided into 4 sectors for each of the superpowers Poland was to get land from Germany The USSR was to declare war on Japan Stalin was to allow free elections in the Eastern Bloc Countries ( these never happened) Germany was to pay $20 million in reparations to the Allies, mostly to Russia

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Posdam Conference

JULY 1945

who was present?

Atlee - Britain's new labour prime minister,

Truman - replaced Roosevelt as US President after Roosevelt's death

Stalin - the only remaining leader present at Yalta felt he could control the terms of this conference however Truman was a strong anticommunist and didn't allow this.

What was agreed?

German People to be re-educated Austria to be divided into 4 zones (independance granted in 1955) USSR wanted full control of German industry - Stalin Decided that he was going to have a "Buffer Zone" of "Friendly States" between him and Western Europe.

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  • - Stalin Summoned All international communist leaders to warsaw
  • - They created the cominform with Stalin in control, the purpose was to try and spread the commumist ideas to the world and to protect one another form capitalist invasion
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The Truman doctrine & marshall Plan

March 1947 - 1952

-The Truman Doctrine was a speech made by president Truman declaring that any country who asked for financial or military assistance to suppress the communist purge would be given it by the USA

-It also stated that the USA from now on would play a major role in international politics

-The Marshall plan aimed to give financial assistance and recovery aid to those cuntries devastated by war

- Over $15 billion was given in aid to 16 countries including; Britian, France, West Germany, Italy and Greece

- This made the communist influence in these countries decrease

- After receiving aid industry in Western Europe increased by 25%

Stalin responded to this by creating his own communist version because he didn't want his satellite states to accept aid from the west, he blackmailed and intimidated leaders until they joined

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Why was Berlin and Germany so Important in the Col

  • - Germany and more so Berlin was the Cold War in Microcosm, representing the fight in miniature between the communist East and Capitalist West.
  • - It became a physical battleground as a consequence of the post war agreements at Yalta and Potsdam
  • - West Berlin was the West's fortress behind the Iron Curtain, this led to practical and logistical problems


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Berlin Blockade

24 June 1948

- West Berlin was a shining beacon for Capitalism behind the Iron Curtain as millions of dollars were being pumped into it through Marshall aid.

- This was making communism look bad by comparison so Stalin wanted it back

-Stalin realised that West Berlin relied entirely on trade from the West and that West Berlin only had enough stockpiles to last for 6 weeks so on June 24 he blockaded off all ground trade routes into West Berlin and sent out the message to the USA; " Surrender West Berlin or the inhabitants starve."

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Berlin Airlift

26 June 1948 - may 1949

- Trumans generals advised Truman to ignore the blockade and drive the tanks through it he decided that an airlift was the best option because he didn't want to risk starting a war and Stalin wouldn't shoot down his planes

-Everything from food, coal, and medicine was flown in with an average at the peak time of 8,000 tonnes a day in 1949

- Stalin tried to Bribe west Berlinners to come to East Berlin Promising them extra rations however only 2% did

-The west used this as a propaganda idea and showcased the Candy Bombers dropping sweets on parachutes into crowds of children

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The Arms/Space race

1949 - 1963

To Try and intimidate one another the USA and the USSR spent billions of government funds on trying to improve weapons and military technology

- Both wanted to out do each other on how powerful and deadly their bombs could be leading to the detonation of 'A' Bombs by both sides, 'H' bombs

- The USSR made one of the most makor steps in 1957 by developing the ICBM, a long range missile capable of travelling around the world in a couple of minutes in orbit and couldn't be stopped.

- The USA's responce to this was to develop medium range missiles that could be fired from submarines, Polaris Missiles, in 1959

- This continued until both sides were capable of destroying the world hundreds of times over but yet they kept on stockpiling weapons just to intimidate the other

- Nuclear testing was eventually banned by the nuclear test ban treaty in 1963.

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NATO & Warsaw Pact

NATO - 1949

Warsaw Pact 1955

North Atlantic Treaty Organization- a group of western allied countries teamed together to vow to protects one another in case of invasion.

- countries who signed up included : Britain, France, Italy, West Germany, and The US

This action angered The USSR so in response Khrushchev, new soviet leader, created the Warsaw Pact in 1955 Described as a defensive alliance of communist countries

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The Hungarian Uprising (1956)


  • - Desalinization inspired hope into people
  • -The People of Hungary wanted independence from the soviet union
  • -Imre Nagy, the Hungarian Prime minister, wanted to leave the Warsaw Pact
  • -Hungary was a very strong Catholic country but weren't allowed to be so under soviet control so were angry with the USSR for this

-In November 1956 Soviet tanks and troops were sent to intimidate Hungarians by practicing military exercises on the border. Khrushchev  not happy with reforms that Imre Nagy was putting down&tried to make him reason but when he didn't stop implementing capitalist ideas Khrushchev sent in the tanks

 Novemberrevolutions occured in Hungary and there was viscious fighting which lasted for 4 days

Khrushchev sent 1000 tanks + 30,000 troops to put down revolution.  700 soldiers died

-30,000 Hungarian malitia died and hundreds executed and imprisoned. -200,000 civilians fled through western borders until they were closed

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U2 Crisis (MAY 1960)

A U2 spy plane is a spy plane fitted with a very high quality camera and the best cloaking devices available at the time which allows it to fly above the sight of radar undetected

On May 1st 1960 the spy plane was shot down by a soviet missile and the pilot, Gary Powers, taken for questioning and the plane was recovered by soviet engineers.

The USA tried to cover it up however they didn't know that the pilot had admitted spying

On the 7th of May Khrushchev announced he had the pilot and plane with the pictures and asked for a full US apology but Eisenhower didn't give one.

This led to a breakdown of talks at the Paris summit and the cold war getting colder as Khrushchev described the US as someone impossible to deal with.

Gary Powers was sentenced to 10 years in prison but was swapped after 1 year for another top soviet spy

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Berlin Wall (August 1961)

13 August barbed wire mesh armed with machine gunners was erected around west berlin and  grew into a huge wall keeping East Berliners out of West Berlin, in the first Year 41 People were shot trying to cross.

  •  it was built ...- to stop East Germans ( particularly young skilled workers ) escaping communism through west Berlin. 2 million had done so up to 1961.
  • It was seen as a cheaper and better alternative to having a war with the USA as only Berliners suffer.

Did It Work? Yes

  • -Stopped the huge flodd of refugees
  • -only 400 people managed to cross in 28 years

No because Kennedy used it as a propaganda source saying " if communism is so good why do they have to keep them fenced in" he used this occasion to make his famous speech in which he said "Ich Bin Ein Berlinner"

  • -USA seemed better by comparrison & Increased Tension as US tanks placed on checkpoints
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the cuban Missile Crisis (1962)


The capitalist dictator Batista was overthrown be the supporters of Fidel Castro, a man who the US believed was a marxist, so the US refused to trade with Cuba, this led to Castro turning to the USSR and asking for alliance in turn for trade. This led to a neighboring country to the USA being allied to their greatest rival, this scared Kennedy.

Bay Of Pigs 1961

April 1961 with help from the CIA supporters of Batista landed on the bay of pigs. This was a massive failure as they were quickly defeated and received little support

This led to Castro publically declaring himself a marxist, he now totally relied on the USSR for support making Kennedy convinced that Cuba was now a Soviet Satellite State

June 1962 shipments of "defensive" weapons were shipped in from the soviet union however U2 spy planes photographed medium range offensive missiles capable of reaching most of the major US cities.

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cuban Missile Crisis. the 7 options

Kennedy was faced with 7 options of what to do about these missiles:

  • 1. Do nothing and allow allow Khrushchev to build up missiles on Cuba
  • 2. Make a diplomatic protest to Khrushchev
  • 3. Discuss them directly with Castro
  • 4. Place a naval blockade around Cuba searching all entering ships
  • 5. Launch a non-nuclear air-strike on cuba and destroy the missiles and Castro
  • 6. Invade Cuba and seize the missiles
  • 7. Launch a nuclear attack on Cuba

He went with option 4 and on 22 october he made a televised statement declaring that a 500 mile naval blockade was to be put around Cuba.

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cuban Missile Crisis. what happend next?

On 24 October the first Soviet Ships turned back when faced with the Blockade

This did not end the Cuban Missile crisis. there were still missiles on Cuba. This led to a series of letters being sent from Kennedy to Khrushchev.

The Americans insisted that the soviet missiles on Cuba be dismantled.

Khrushchev replied with 2 letters on the 26th and 27th October.

  • 1. He would remove the missiles if Kennedy promised not to invade Cuba and called off the naval blockade.
  • 2. He would only remove the Cuban missiles if Kennedy removed his from Turkey.

Kennedy agreed to the first letter however he said that if Khrushchev didn't reply by the 28th he would invade Cuba.

Khrushchev agreed and started removing missiles on the 3rd november.

The Blockade was called off on the 20 november

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cuban Missile Crisis. the consequences.

  • - Showed how close the world could come to nuclear war
  • - lead to the nuclear test ban treaty in 1963
  • - telephone link was set up between Moscow and Washington
  • -Missiles banned from being put into space
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czechoslovakia. (1968)

Prague Spring

January 1968, Alexander Dubcek took over as the leader of Czechoslovakia and he introduced reforms known as the prague spring promising ' socialism with a human face'

his reforms included more democratic cencepts such as free trade with the west, easing of state control and censorship and allowing the capitalist ideas of competition and profit within industry

Brezhnev, the new leader of the Soviet Union was not happy with these reforms even though Dubcek promised not to leave the Warsaw Pact, he felt that it could threaten the prosperity of the other soviet nations and encourage the growth of capitalism.

when Dubcek promised to start allowing free elections and other non-communist parties he crossed the line and Brezhnev sent in 500,000 soviet troops

Having learnt lessons from Hungary 1956 the czech people were encouraged not to use violence, a largely peaceful resistance was encouraged in the form of peaceful demonstrations, sit-ins, and peaceful protests.


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czechoslovakia continued.

However there was some light-weight resistance mainly in the form of home-made petrol bombs made by students called molotov cocktails.Underground radio and TV were kept going to inform the outside of events.

However the protests were crushed and Dubcek was forced to resign.He was replaced with Gustav Husak who reversed all the reforms put in by Dubcek in the prague spring.

This led to Brezhnev creating the Brezhnev Doctrine which declared that a threat to one socialist country was a threat to all of them. he indicated that force would be used to keep the satellite states under soviet control if needed.

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Reasons For Detente

  • Detente

easing of tensions between east and west. Extension of Khrushchevs policy of peaceful co-existance.

  • Economic Problems

The USA was suffering economically from the war in vietnam and was sufferning from inflation early 1970. The USSR was suffering because they were running out of money due to the low standard of living and poor industrial efficiancy. They needed trade with the west.

  • Weapons

Both sides were spending vast amounts of money on weapons. The soviet union was spending 20% of it's money of weapons. Both sides had enough stockpiles of weapons to destroy the world many times over.

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reasons for detente.

  • Oil

Both the Soviet Union and the USA were worried about the conflict in the middle east. oil supplies from that area were vital for both countries, and the suez canal was important for sea routes. communist and non-communist countries had become involved in the conflict between arabs and israelis.

  • Initiatives from Nixon

President Nixon was keen to establish better working relations between Ussr and also China who was now regarded as another major superpower. Both Nixon and Brezhnev were keen to improve relations so that they could increase trade.

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-Afghanistan is an oil rich country in the middle east and both the USA and the USSR wanted to take advantage of this

since 1955 the soviet union had been giving aid and armaments, the USA tried to compete but never gave more than one third of the USSR's aid.

1979, a communist president, Amin, took over with many large muslim groups opposed to him.

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afghanistan -soviet invasion

December 25 1979 the soviet troops invaded Afghanistan and quickly took over the airport and the presidents palace. The president was killed and the old president, Barak Karmal took over again with soviet help.

on new years day over 50,000 troops were in Afghanistan and a new government was set up.

Reactions to the soviet Invasion

Brezhnev addressed the world saying that the invasion was justified and that they were invited by the government. US president Jimmy Carter was furious describing the soviet invasion as a threat to world peace. China said that they would support the islamic guerilla group, the mujaheddin to try and regain control of the country.Carter also reacted by boycotting the moscow olympic games, stopping trade with the soviet union to starve them economically and sending 1800 marines to protect the oil routes in the middle east.

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afghanistan - the consequences

The new leader of the soviet union Mikhail Gorbachev was elected in 1985 and started talks with the USA in 1987 which ended 1n 1988 at geneva with Reagen

In 1988 the soviet troops started to leave and by February 1989

Over 3 million afghans had fled to Pakistan or Iran and 1 million civilians died.

Fighting continued between rival rebel groups even after the soviets had left and those Afghans left suffered major food shortages as the fighting had destroyed so much of the farmland.

The Soviet Union had lost 20,000 soldiers and the economy was greatly damaged as the war had cost them billions of dollars per year.

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changing soviet attitudes

Changing Policies

Gorbachev realised that the soviet union needed modernizing and introduced two new main policies.

Perestroika Means Restructuring - that is, changing some economic policies to allow more competition and incentives to produce goods. Gorbachev believed that they could only survived if they changed from the policies put down by Stalin and modernized.

Glasnost Means Openness, -in this case, restoring faith in government and ending corruption. Gorbachev believed that people shoiuld not be punished for simply disagreeing with government policies, there should be a more open debate. He also beleived that the USSR should cut back on its commitments which meant loosening control over the satellite states.

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changing soviet attitudes - continued

Arms Reduction

Reagan and Gorbachev met several times in the 1980's

Geneva 1985 both agreed to cut their number of offensive weapons by 50%

Iceland Summit 1986 more cuts agreed but Reagan refused to give up SDI. The soviet union agreed to leave Afghanistan and not to test any nuclear weapons.

December 1987 Both leaders agree to start dismantling all medium and short range nuclear weapons ( INF ) this was a major step in the end of the cold war.

Reforms in the Soviet Union

  • -Political Prisoners were to be released
  • - 1987 People were allowed to buy and sell for profit for the first time in 60 years.
  • - Gorbachev allowed freedom of speech
  • These reforms angered hardline communists
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End of Soviet control in Eastern Europe

in 1989, Gorbachev' popularity in the world was at an all time high, in october he was awarded the noble peace prize then in December he and the new US president , George Bush, met to discuss the end of the cold war.

The communist countries of Eastern Europe had become more and more with the control from Moscow during the 1980's. particularly using more and more demonstrations and the declining economic problems.

March 1989, Gorbachev told the communist leaders of Eastern Europe that the Red Arm would no longer be able to defend them.

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collapse of communism in Eastern europe - Poland &


June 1989 free elections were held after the increasing pressure from the people in Demonstrations, this was the first time since 1939. Solidarity won nearly all the seats and Lech Walesa became the new prime minister. This led to the collapse of the rest of the countries in Eastern Europe

East Germany

By the Autumn of 1989 Thousands of people were fleeing East Germany through Austria. Massive demonstrations took place in East German cities when Gorbachev visited the country in support of him shouting " Gorby". Gorbachev told the unpopular East German leader Erich Honecker, to allow reforms. He responded by telling his troops to fire on the demonstrators, but they refused. Honecker was forced to resign. On 10 November 1989 thousands of East Germans marched to the Berlin Wall, and even the guards joind the demonstrators in pulling it down. The symbolic barrier that divided East and West was gone.

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Communism collapse- czechoslovakia & hungary


Thousands of people demonstrated in Prague, tha capital city, on 24 November 1989. The police tried to stop the demonstrations. However Alexander Dubcek and the playwright Havel re-appeared and inspired the demonstrations to continue. This led to the breaking down of the border to the West. In December, The communist leader was replaced by Havel. Free elections were held in 1990.


The communist government under Imre Pozsgay accepted the need for change and led the moves for reform in Hungary. Other political parties were allowed, and in November 1989 the communist party was renamed the socialist party and allowed free elections in 1990

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collapse of the soviet union

People were unhappy at the slow effect that Gorbachevs reforms were having and saw the easy collapse of communism in Eastern Europe as a weakness.

February 1990, 200,000 people demonstrate in Moscow against communist and on the may-day ceremony Gorbachev was booed. People within the soviet union disliked Gorbachev, some felt he was doing too much to reform communism and some felt that the wasn't doing enough.

August 1991, Hardline communists put Gorbachev under house arrest. Yeltsin, the Russian Prime minister, led demonstrations against the coup which gained him much popularity as he was seen as the man to save Russia from sliding back into communist control.

Yeltsin went on the end the communist party and disbanded the soviet union in december 1991, the communist flag was lowered for the last time over the Kremlin.

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Wow there's so much information! I'm resitting this one and your revision cards really help in just going over everything! Thank you :)

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