The Cold War Stalemate

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  • Created on: 30-03-15 13:27

Khrushchev & Peaceful coexistence 1953-1960

  • Truman had ended his presidency and Eisenhower had an opportunity to forge a new relationship with USSR & East communist states
  • Opportunity increased 5th March 1953, Stalin died. Replaced by Krushchev 
  • After Stalin's death, chairman of council of ministers, Malenkov, called for peaceful coexistence - "we stand as we have always stood, for the peaceful coexistence of the two systems" " there is no dispute or outstanding issue which cannot be settled peacefully"
  • July 1953 Korean War ended - major source of national tension gone.
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The 'New Look'

  • Key figure in Eisenhower's administratio: John Foster Dulles (Secertary of State)
  • Dulles: loathed communism & criticised Truman for his lack of reponse to communism expansion 
  • Dulles: argued in favour of forecful American policy which would 'rollback' Russian occupation & dismantle the Iron Curtain.
  • Dulles: also introduced 'massive retaliation' as an ultimate nuclear deterrent strategy & security guarantee for the USA. 
  • This became known as the 'new look'. 
  • it was a committement that containment would not allow nations to restore democracy if they were controlled by pro- Soviet communist regimes. 
  • USA policy was moving towards a more proactive, and even aggressive position.
  • Eisenhower was keen to develop more cordial relations with the USSR. He did endorse the 'New Policy', but the reality was that containment remained the cornerstone of American foregin policy. 
  • When the American's faced actual 'rolling back- the Russians response to the Hungary uprising 1956- the USA did nothing, other than express load protests. 
  • Similar thing happened in June 1953 during the East Berlin uprising.
  • Rollback did not help improve East- west relations
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The 'New look' 2

  • There was potential for improving relations- but both leaders needed to make an effort.
  • The "new Look' did not move the USA away from containment
  • Eisenhower was keen to reduce the possibility of a nuclear war & his stimulated the gis willingness to consider a better relationship with the USSR
  • He saw that the USSR were catching up- nuclear terms 
  • He was also aware of the implications of the creation of the Warsaw Pact in 1955 in terms of deepening Cold war relations between the West & East
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Peaceful coexistence

  • 1956 - Krushchev speech to 20th congress of Soviet Communist Party, denounced Stalinism and emphasised that S.U policy should move from confrontation to coexistence

Krushchev had very clear foreign policy requirements:

  • USSR must remain as the unchallenged leaders of Communism, both in East Europe and in face of growing competition from China
  • firm grip maintained over Eastern bloc satelite states
  • Germany prevented from rearming and becoming future threat
  • USSR must continue to expand nuclear arsenal and remain in arms race
  • spending on military security+ conventional forces had to be reduced
  • International tension had to be defused - care taken not to unnecessarily provoke USA

Post Stalinist soviet leadership proposd to meet & counter the growing power of the USA through a policy of peaceful coexistence.

Khrushchev only saw two ways: either 'peaceful coexistence or the most destructive war in our history.' 

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Austrian State Treaty 1955

  • End of WW2 Austria divided into states like Germany. USSR focused on recieving economic aid from here like they had from Germany
  • Austrian leaders in West zones promoted idea that Austria could easily be absorbed into Soviet sphere in same way Czechsolovakia was. Some observers called Austria 'Europe's Korea'
  • 1955 USSR showed serious intentions of embarking on negotiations over future of Austria
  • May 1955, four occupying powers agreed in form of Austrian State Treaty
  • Led to the withdrawal of all occupying powers and Austria would become neutral
  • This was in line with USSR's willingness to let Finland and Yugoslavia stay neutral, and not liable to joining USSR sphere of influence
  • agreement showed serious intent toward mutual cooperation between cold war powers. removed a major source of potentail conflict
  • Following this, west powers removed troop occupation from West Germany
  • next step taken was decision to resume summit diplomacy. 
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Geneva summit 1955


  • Russia needed extensive forces in eastern bloc to keep compliance. Needed to promote economic growth in USSR - less confrontation with west would amke these goals much easier and protect national security + superpower status at same time
  • May 1955 FRG admitted into NATO and began rearmament - In order to reassure French that German militarism wouldn't reoccur, USA agreed to place large number of troops in Europe. Concerned Krushchev and increased urgency of organising a summit.
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Geneva summit outcomes

outcomes: two major issues discussed - nuclear disarmament and future of Germany - no outcome reached on either

The open skies proposal

  • end deadlock over superpowers inspecting each others nuclear arsenals - step closer disarmament
  • Eisenhower called for each side to provide the other with info about military bases, and allow ariel surveillance
  • Krushchev rejected the proposal as he was aware of U-2 spy plane and that the S.U had no equivalent

the future of Germany

  • Eisenhower proposed a reuinified Germany with free elections and ability to provide its own security - i.e becoming member of NATO
  • Krushchev would only agree if future Germany demilitarised and kept neutral
  • he refused to discuss future of eastern bloc states

Summit did not lead to any significant outcome but marked the beginning of dialogue. 

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The problems over Berlin & Germany 1958- 61

  • by 1958, future of Germany re-emerged as a test of peaceful coexistence
  • Sputnik space missiles convinced Krushchev that USSR finally dominated the missile race
  • Krushchev feared USA may deploy nuclear missiles in W.Germany
  • Krushchev also aware Sino-Soviet relations deteoreating - Moscow failed to support China in its conflict with breakaway non-Comm Taiwan in 1958
  • USSR needed to reinforce its credibility as a leader in the Communist world. Could be achieved by showing greater support for European allies
  • Walter Ulbricht believed GDR reached crisis in its future economy. Open boundary between East and West Germany allowed top talent to migrate west. 1949-58 188,000 trained/skilled/proffesional people left East Germany.
  • anything that seemed to help GDR and makes USA look weak was a win/win for Krushchev
  • 1958: Krushchev declared an ultimatum. West had 6 months to recognise existence of DDR and accept W.Berlin as an independent political entity and free city.
  • If USA refused, USSR would surrender control of its zone to DDR. Meant East germans would control all access to West Berlin.
  • would force the USA to recognise DDR as an independent state. Would also oblige USA to accept permanent division of Germany and remove troops from W.Berlin
  • West powers ignored Kruschev's threats and bully boy tactics
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The problems over Berlin & Germany 1958- 61

  • March 1959 - British PM Harold Macmillan proposed a summit on Berlin.
  • Krushchev removed his ultimatum and commented " I believe that the U.S, Britain and France do have lawful rights for their stay in Berlin"
  • Krushchev became first PM to visit USA - Camp David Talks, 1959 - discussed disarmament and situation in Berlin
  • Agreed to settle international issues by diplomacy rather than force
  • visit caused deterioration in Sino&Soviet relations and reinforced that a Sino&soviet Communist power bloc had not been formed
  • Camp David talks calmed the German issue and led directly to Paris Peace talks, May 1960
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Paris Summit May 1960

  • Krushchev heavily committed to peaceful coexistence
  • faced great opposition from China and many in Soviet heirarchy
  • Krushchev wanted a deal over Germany and an agreement to prohibit nuclear weapons in Germany and Pacific
  • Agreement bound to fail when China announced it would not consider itself bound by something it didn't agree with. China nuclear arsenal almost complete by 1960
  • Summit collapse when USA U-2 spy plane shot down over Soviet Union. Allowed Krushchev to calm opposition from China.
  • 1961 Kennedy administration begins - "Let every nation know, whether it wishes us good or ill, that we shall pay any price, bare any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty"


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Paris Summit May 1960 (continued)

  • Kennedy's agenda damaged the future of peaceful coexistence - favoured expansion of USA nuclear arsenal
  • June 1961 - Kennedy and Krushchev meet in Vienna - Krushchev concludes Kennedy is young and inexperienced - he can manipulate him
  • Bay of Pigs reinforce Krushchev's belief
  • Kennedy refused to compromise on status of Berlin, caused stalemate in east-west relations
  • Berlin symbol of cold war confrontation. After Vienna, Kennedy asked congress to increase defence spending, call up army reservists and reactive ships about to be scrapped.      
  •  25th July Kennedy called for a build-up of NATO forces
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Berlin Wall 1961

  • 13th August - Soviet troops and East German police begin to seal off East Germany from West
  • Cold War symbolism of Berlin Wall immortalised when Kennedy visited Berlin, June 1963 and declared "all free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Berlin" "as a free man I take pride in the words 'Ich bin ein Berliner'"
  • USSR said it was to stop western spies, but was complete failure for Krushchev
  • propaganda disaster - noone convinced
  • clearly to keep East german citizens trapped in a Communist state
  • west took no action to stop it
  • Wall eased Cold War tensions over Berlin - status quo established.
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The bomb & nuclear arms race 1949- 62

  • USA had nuclear monopoly until 1949- primary influence was to stimulate the USSR into developing its own nuclear weapons  
  • any technological breakthrough by one side created urgency to replicate by other.
  • nuclear weaponry rendered conventional forces unimportant. The USSR's mighty ground and air forces were neutralised
  • process of action and reaction - nuclear arms race
  • Race began in 1949 Aug: when USSR carried out the first tests on its own atomic bomb- crucial in the development of the arms race. 

1950 strategic assesment - NSC-68 concluded:

  • when USSR had sufficient nuclear capability, the soviet leadrship may be tempted to strike quickly and by surprise.
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The bomb & nuclear arms race 1949- 62 continued

By time Truman left office in 1952 important principles had been laid down:

  • the USSR would not hesitate using nuclear weapons, if it was to its advantage
  • such attack would come in stealth/surprise
  • if war was eminent the USA would carry out a pre-emptive strike ( an attack made to prevent an attack by the enemy) 
  • accurate intelligience gathering would guide a pre-emptive strike
  • USA must devise anti nuclear defense systems. Nuclear strategic planning would be based on assessment of the danger, a readiness of the need to carry out a first strike attack & the creation of a defence system which would protect the USA's nuclear retaliation capablility 

Emergence of H-bomb

  • Nov. 1952- August 1953 U.S and S.U developed hydrogen bombs
  • Malyshev(soviet official) - "exceptional contribution to the cause of peace"
  • deterrence became central to S.U thinking on nuclear technology
  • After Stalin death nuclear weapons seen by S.U as key to preventing future war
  • S.U needed balance of power with U.S and west, should they threaten or start nuclear war.
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The bomb & nuclear arms race 1949- 62 continued

The USA and massive retaliation

  • formulated during Eisenhower admin.Truman's policy lacked detail 
  • Massive retaliation was established as the basis of American nuclear policy 
  • First formulated through: National Security Council document NSC-162/2 (1953) -  stated that the death of Stalin and rise of Krushchev had not diminished Soviet Union determination or capacity to attack USA 
  • USA intelligence  showed USSR nuclear arsenal growing
  • report concluded USA must be capable of inflicting massive retaliatory strikes
  • approach adopted because USA policy makers wanted to increase defense without crippling economy
  • assigned to convince USSR that any threat would be met with extreme nuclear response
  • massive retaliation designed to preserve USA security at cost effective price. Also kept relationship with allies by not abandoning containment
  • USA policy was founded on reliance of deterrence
  • USSR and USA were comparable in nuclear technology by 1955, but not in terms of delivery systems. USA had bases in Europe and Japan- capable of hitting USSR cities
  • 1955 USA developed B-52 stratofortress, 1956 - USSR responded through the TU-20 bear
  • Krushchev placed faith in missile development
  • May 1957 - USSR developed ICBM. 3000 miles 30 minutes - missiles by aircraft useless.
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The bomb & nuclear arms race 1949- 62 continued

Sputnik, 1957- USSR launched first satellite to orbit the earth 

  • October 1957
  • USA saw USSR as being superior in long range missile field
  • no known defence against a nuclear missile attack from space 
  • Eisenhower admin came under pressure from Democratic senators accusing him of falling behind to save money
  • Massive retaliation became under immense pressure
  • Gaither Report(1957) - anticipated huge USSR nuclear expansion. Based on assumption, not evidence. said USSR economy growing faster than USA, Soviets had capacity for 1,500 nuclear weapons and that they had developed an arsenal of short- & medium range ballistic. USSR surpassed USA in ICBM development
  • Gaither recommended rapid development in ICBM development. Development of anti-ballistic missile development
  • called for huge civilian defense program - production of nuclear fallout shelters
  • Sputnik launch confirmed Gaither's greatest fears about USSR missile development
  • Eisenhower didn't believe report. Some historians say he rejected it.
  • Shelter proposal rejected but some movement made on rest.
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the bomb & nuclear arms race 1949- 62 continued

the position by 1962

  • In reality USSR were not ahead of the USA in the arms race
  • the SS-6 rocket used to launch Sputnik was inadequate for a nuclear warhead
  • There was a stark gap between USA and USSR nuclear capability
  • USA feared that USSR would win the nuclear arms race
  • USA estimate suggested USSR deployment of 500 ICBM's in early 1961 and 1,000 by 1962. USA only had 70 in 1962. USSR actually only had 50 in 1961, only 4 ready and deployed. Krushchev was well aware of the disparity
  • Kennedy recognised that Soviet trailed in arms race, but recognised they were still capable of attacking and retaliating
  • Cold War by 1960's firmly founded on mutual suspicion
  • Soviets position by 1960's was to prevent war, but be prepared to engage in one effectively
  • defensive rather than aggressive, but was necessary to have supplies to defend self
  • These positions were to have great significance during Cuban Missile Crisis 1962
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