The Origins of the Cold War 1945-1955 (Pt. I)

Explains what happened during the cold war etc.

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  • Created by: Animal II
  • Created on: 05-04-12 17:37


  • Yalta
  • 12th April - death of Roosevelt
  • 30th April - death of Hitler
  • 7th May - Germany surrenders (V.E Day)
  • 16th July - America tested atomic bomb
  • Potsdam
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Why did the USA and the USSR become rivals in the

  • In December 1942 America entered the war on the same side as Britain and the USSR (France was occupied with Germany).
  • In June 1941 Germany invaded USSR breaking the Nazi-Soviet Pact and this meant Russia changed sides.
  • In June 1944 after D-Day landings American and British forces liberated France and advanced upon Berlin in the west. In the east the Russians were also advancing upon Berlin.
  • Before the death of Hitler and the surrender of Germany the Big Three met at Yalta which was in the Crimea to discuss what was going to happen once the war was over.
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The Yalta Conference, February 1945

  • 'The Big Three':
    • Joseph Stalin (USSR)
    • Winston Churchill (Britain)
    • Franklin Roosevelt (USA) - (quite ill, in a wheelchair, very close to death, health was deteriorating and didn't realise how devious and manipulative Stalin really was)
  • The meeting was regarded as a success and the leaders agreed to the following:
    • Germany was to be divided into 4 zones occupied by Britain, France, the USA, and USSR.
    • Although Berlin, the capital of Germany, was in the Soviet Zone, it was also to be divided into 4 zones of occupation.
    • Nazi war criminals were to be hunted down and tried for their crimes
    • Free elections were to be held in the states of Eastern Europe once they had been freed from German control
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  •  Stalin agreed to enter the war against Japan in return for Soviet gains in the far east.
    • A United Nations (UN) organisation should be set up to replace the League of Nations and to keep peace. This was established at a later conference in San Francisco in April 1945.
    • Germany should pay reparations for the war, but the amount was to be decided later.
  • There was some disagreement over the government and frontier of Poland once it had been freed from Nazi occupation. This was to cause problems later
  • Each leader had an agenda for the Yalta Conference:
    • Roosevelt wanted Soviet support in the American Pacific War against Japan; Churchill wanted free elections and democratic governments in Eastern Europe; Stalin wanted Soviet influence in Eastern Europe.
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The Potsdam Conference

This conference was held after the defeat of Germany, but while the war against Japan was still going on. There had been several changes between Yalta and Potsdam which altered the relationship between the 3 powers.

  • On 17th July 1945. It did not go as smoothly as Yalta.
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Who were the 'new' Big Three?

  • 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. Roosevelt had been prepared to negotiate with Stalin, but Truman hated Communism and wanted to be tough with him.
  • Churchill (Conservative) was defeated in a general election and replaced by Attlee (Labour)
  • Stalin from USSR - (Stalin's real name was Joseph Djugashvili)
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What Changed?

  • The biggest change was what had happened in Poland. 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 16th July 1945 the Americans successfully tested the atomic 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.
  • the bomb was tested at a desert site in the USA. At the start of the conference, Truman informed Stalin about it.
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What was agreed?

  • Confirmed everything at Yalta
  • The division of Germany and the treatment of war criminals agreed at Yalta were confirmed at Potsdam
  • However, the co-operation of wartime had come to an end
  • the alliance between the USSR and the west appeared to have ended.
  • On reparations it was decided that each country could take its own reparations from its occupied zone, but the western powers did allow the USSR to receive industrial equipment and goods from their zones (20 million [including civilians] died in the USSR)
  • Austria was also divided into 4 but re-united in 1955 (getting rid of all Nazis)
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Areas of disagreement (USA)

  • Democratic - elected by the people who had a choice of candidates from different parties
  • Capitalist - private individuals owned industry and kept the profits
  • The freedom and rights of each person were considered important and Americans objected to the state interfering in their lives
  • It was the world's wealthiest country. but, as in most capitalist countries, there were extremes - some great wealth and great poverty as well
  • Americans firmly believed that other countries should be run in the American way
  • Many Americans were bitterly opposed to Communism
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Areas of disagreement (USSR)

  • One party dictatorship - people could only vote for communists
  • Communist - everything owned by the state
  • For Communists, the rights of individuals were seen as less important than the good of society as a whole, So individulas' lives were tightly controlled
  • It was an economic superpower because its industry had grown rapidly in the 1920s and 1930s, but the general standard of living in the USSR was much lower than in the USA. Even so, unemployment was rarer than in the USA.
  • Soviet leaders believed that other countries should be run in the communist way
  • Many people in the USSR were bitterly opposed to capitalism
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They Disagreed over what to do about Germany

  • Stalin wanted to cripple Germany completely to protect the USSR against future threats.
  • Truman didn't want to repeat the mistake of the Treaty of Versailles.

They disagreed over reparations 

  • 20 million Russians had died in the war and the Soviet Union had been devastated.
  • Stalin wanted compensation from Germany.
  • Truman, however, was once again determined not to repeat the mistakes at the end of the First World War and resisted this demand.
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They disagreed over Soviet policy in eastern Europe

  • At Yalta,Stalin had won agreement from the Allies that he could set up pro-Soviet governments in eastern Europe.
  • He said ' if the Slav (the majority of eastern Europe) people are united, no one will dare move a finger against them'
  • Truman became very unhappy about Russian intentions and soon adopted a 'get tough' attitude towards Stalin.
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The dropping of the atom bomb and its effects

  • The end of the Potsdam Conference
  • The USA dropped atom bombs on Hiroshima - 6 August
  • The Soviets did join the war against Japan on 8 August and made some gains in the far east, but they were not allowed to share in the defeat of Japan
  • Atom bombs dropped on Nagasaki - 9 August
  • On 10 August 1945 the war against Japan ended
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The Iron Curtain: Soviet Expansion in the east

Albania: Communists took control in 1944, there was little opposition

Bulgaria: Communist coalition took power in 1944, the communists executed leaders of other parties

Czechoslovakia: Coalition government freely elected in 1946. Communists seized power in 1948 before elections, the USSR purged the civil service. Masaryk was murdered and the security police moved in

East Germany: Ruled directly by the USSR until 1949 when it became the communist German Democratic Republic

Hungary: In 1945 Communists got only 17% of the vote. In 1948 Communist rule was established, opposition was stamped out

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Poland: Coalition set up but dominated by communists who were unpopular and ruled alone from 1947, the USSR refused to have free elections

Romania: Communist People's Republic formed in 1947, the King was forced to abdicate

Yugoslavia: Tito elected president in 1945 - a communist who was not controlled by the USSR, expelled from Cominform by the USSR in 1948

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The Cold War

  • It was clear by 1946 that the wartime friendship between the Allies had broken down. It had been by suspicion and accusation between west and east and not just between the USA and USSR.
  • West: USA, Britain, France, Italy, Portugal, Norway, Iceland and other countries
  • East: USSR, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Finland and other countries
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Key aspects of the Cold War

  • The leaders of other countries were denouncing other countries leaders e.g. Truman denouncing Stalin
  • Increased expenditure on weapons and military - lots of money on nuclear weapons. The Nuclear arms race also same technology used for space race
  • The use of propaganda against other countries
  • The increase use of intelligence services so both sides were spying on each other
  • During the cold war there was constant tension between the west and east. Especially the USA and USSR. They were constantly accusing each other

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The Truman Doctrine and Marshall Aid (1947-1948)

Subjugation (Conquest)

" I believe that it must be the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures.

The free peoples of the world look to us for support in maintaining those freedoms. If we falter in our leadership, we may endanger the peace of the world"

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Why did Truman make this speech on March 12th 1947

  • Britain announced that they could no longer afford the cost of such a war and were withdrawing their troops
  • They were unable to support the monarchy
  • Truman realised that unless they intervened then communism would spread
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Why was there civil war in Greece?

  • 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
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Why did Truman feel that the Greek Communists must

  • Because there would be a domino effect
  • If they didn't stop the Greeks, this could have a knock-on-effect on Turkey as they are neighbouring countries
  • Turkey controlled the Dardanelles and had come under threat from USSR
  • If Greece under the influence of the USSR, then Turkey would've been isolated and surrounded by communism
  • The iron curtain would be complete, because Turkey would form this curtain
  • If the USSR take control of the Dardanelles then the Americans would be worried that they would be able to control trade in the Black Sea, Mediterranean Sea
  • The domino effect could spread towards the east
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How much money did Congress make available?

  • $400 milliion - used to support Greece and Turkey against communist influence
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Was this money decisive?

  • It automatically gave the monarchists the ability to buy weapons, ammunition, pay their troops so the troops will fight for them
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Explain what is meant by CONTAINMENT.

  • Under the Truman Doctrine, the USA was prepared to end money, equipment and advice to any country which was, in the American view, threatened by a communist take-over
  • Truman accepted that eastern Europe was now Communist
  • His aim was to stop Communism from spreading and further and contain it within its existing boundaries and not allowed to spread
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The Marshall Plan/Aid

The Marshall Plan was named after George Marshall who was the secretary of state (foreign secretary)

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Why did Truman send Marshall to Europe in June 194

  • The Marshall Plan was the other half of the Truman Doctrine
  • Truman believed that communism succeeded when people faced poverty and hardship
  • The economies of Europe had 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
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What did Marshall find out when he travelled aroun

  • He reported back that Europe would need around $17 billion to aid its recovery, to rebuild Europe's prosperity. "Our policy", he said " is directed against hunger, poverty, desperation and chaos"
  • What he found was a ruined economy
  • The countries of Europe owed $11.5 billion to the USA
  • There were extreme shortages of all goods
  • Most countries were still rationing bread
  • There was such a coal shortage in the hard winter of 1947 that in Britain all electricity was turned off for a period each day
  • Churchill described Europe as ' a rubble heap, a breeding ground
  • In December 1947, Truman put his plan to Congress
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What was the initial reaction of Congress?

  • For a short time, the American Congress refused to grant this money. Many Americans were becoming concerned by Truman's involvement in foreign affairs.
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What events changed the mind of those in Congress?

  • Events in Czechoslovakia played a part
  • Americans' attitude changed when the communists took over the government of Czechoslovakia
  • Czechoslovakia had been ruled by a coalition government which, although it included communists, had been trying to pursue policies independent of Moscow
  • The communists came down hard in March 1948
  • Anti-Soviet leaders were purged (got rid of)
  • One pro-American minister, Jan Masaryk, was found dead below his open window
  • The communists said he had jumped
  • The Americans suspected he'd been pushed
  • Immediately, Congress accepted the Marshall Plan and made $17 billion available over a period of 4 years
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Which Countries received Marshall Aid?

  • Marshall Aid certainly rescued the economies of the west
  • It 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
  • It was extremely generous, but also perhaps motivated by American self-interest
  • They wanted to create new markets for American goods
  • The Americans remembered disastrous effects of the Depression of the 1930s and Truman wanted to do all he could to prevent another worldwide slump
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What was Stalin's reaction to the Marhsall Plan?

  • Stalin viewed Marshall Aid with suspicion
  • After expressing some initial interest, he refused to have anything more to do with it
  • Stalin prevented any communist countries in the east from receiving it
  • President Tito in Yugoslavia defied Stalin and received Marshall Aid, and as a result was expelled from Cominform in 1948
  • 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
  • In this way it increased suspicions between the USSR and USA and contributed to the cold war
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What were America's motive's for helping western E

  • The generosity of the USA did much to bring about the recovery of western Europe
  • The Americans certainly wanted to help, but they also realised that the recovery of Europe was in their own interests
  • They needed European markets to recover to avoid another depression such as the one that had occurred in the 1930s
  • It was also seen as means of holding back communism, which the Americans believed thrived where there was poverty
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TIPS: What do some books call Marshall Aid

  • European Recovery Program (ERP)
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Cominform and Comecon

  • Cominform was set up in September 1947 due Stalin's reaction to the Truman Doctrine and Marshall Plan
  • It's full name was 'The Communist Information Bureau'
  • It's aim was to defend communism against the aggression of the USA
  • All communist countries in eastern Europe had to join. But Yugoslavia was expelled in 1948
  • The Eastern European countries now became satellite states (a country that is independent, but under the heavy influence or control of another country), of the USSR
  • Comecon was set up in 1949, Russia offering aid to the satellite countries (Russian equivalent to Marshall Aid)
  • This was intended to unite the economies of the communist states, but, in fact, it increased the control that Stalin had over them
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The Berlin Blockade and Airlift 23rd June 1948 - 1

Despite all the threatening talk of the early years of the cold war, the two sides had never actually fired on one another.

But in 1948 they came dangerously close to war.

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Explain the different attitudes of Truman and Stal

  • Germany had become a real headache for the western allies
  • After the destruction of war, their zones were in economic chaos
  • 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
  • Stalin wanted to keep Germany weak and crippled as he feared a recovering Germany
  • But it was clear to the Allies that Germany could not feed its people if it was not allowed to rebuild its industries.
  • The Soviet advance in eastern Europe changed the view of the Americans
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  • Truman began to think that a recovered Germany would be a good barrier to the expansion of the USSR
  • Accordingly, Germany was given Marshall Aid to enable economic recovery to take place
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What 3 actions did the western powers take in 1948

  • In 1948 they reformed the currency and within months there were signs that Germany was recovering (Britain and America decided this for west Germany)
  • The USSR was not involved in this decision and Stalin argued that it was against what had been agreed at Potsdam
  • The 3 western zones were merged to form one and 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 east was clear
  • Stalin could do nothing about the reorganisation of the western zones, or the new currency, but he felt that he could stamp his authority on Berlin
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  • This was the excuse he needed to show his power
  • It was deep inside the Soviet zone and was linked to the western zones of Germany by vital roads, railways and canals
  • Berlin had been divided into 4 zones - like the rest of Germany - but it was 160km inside the soviet zone
  • The western powers were given free access to west Berlin through the Soviet zone
  • West Berlin was recovering; East Berlin was still weak
  • West Berlin received Marshall Aid
  • Stalin decided that the whole of Berlin should belong to the Soviets.
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What was the purpose of the blockade?

  • By 23 June 1948 all routes (blocked roads, railways and canals - claims is due to communication tech.) into west Berlin had been blocked by Stalin, cutting off the 2 million strong population of west Berlin from western help
  • This meant that no food supplies could reach west Berlin
  • His plan was to force the Allies to withdraw from Berlin by starving the people and make Berlin entirely dependent on the USSR
  • It was a clever plan. If US tanks did try to ram the road-blocks or railway blocks, Stalin would see it as an act of war
  • However, the Americans were not prepared to give up
  • They saw west Berlin as a test case
  • If they gave in to Stalin on this issue, the western zones of Germany might be next
  • Truman wanted to show that he was serious about his policy of containment
  • He wanted Berlin to be a symbol of freedom behind the iron curtain
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Why was Truman in a difficult position when the bl

  • West Berlin had about 6 weeks of fuel and food left
  • The people would soon starve unless the USA handed over west Berlin to the Soviets or provided them with food and other essentials such as fuel
  • If the Americans forced their way into the city using tanks, it would have looked as if they had been the aggressors and could cause a war
  • They decided to use the 3 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

Remember: Berlin is closer to Poland than France. It is actually IN east Germany.

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Why was the airlift dangerous for the pilots invol

  • The pilots had to put up with ice and fog as well as being tracked by Soviet fighter planes that were ensuring that they did not stray out of the air zones
  • 79 American and British pilots and German ground crew lost their lives during the airlift
  • The food increase may have had an affect on the weight
  • Even so the planes got through and for the next 10 months west Berlin was supplied by a constant stream of aeroplanes bringing in everything from food and clothing to oil and building materials, although there were enormous shortages and many Berliners decided to leave the city altogether
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How much food was being supplied to west Berlin at

  • At first, British and American planes were only flying in 600 tonnes a day
  • However, once the pilots had got used to the narrow air corridors, the number of deliveries increased and 8,000 tonnes a day were being flown in day and night by 1949 - western determination, good propaganda
  • Stalin tried all he knew to persuade the west Berliners to give up the struggle
  • In the winter of 1948, the electricity supplies were cut off
  • Stalin promised the west Berliners extra rations if they moved to the east, but only about 2%f the population accepted his bribe
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Why was Stalin forced to lift the blockade on 12th

  • On 12 May 1949 Stalin accepted that his plan had failed and lifted the blockade
  • Stalin knows he cannot win, because his plan of starving the people failed as the amount of food and other essentials were flown in without using the main transportation (which Stalin blocked), or forcing their way in (would be seen as aggressive),
  • Britain and America defied Stalin, which he came to accept as he found that they weren't going to hand west Berlin over to him.
  • Stalin had considered attacking the American and British planes, but realised that if he did it would be a declaration of war and he knew America was incredibly rich and Stalin was afraid of the weapons they had especially the nuclear weapons
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  • His image was becoming tarnished
  • Only 2% accepted his bribe - promised west Berliners extra rations if they moved to the east
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Why were the blockade and airlift such important e

  • The USA and the west had proved that they were prepared to stand up to the USSR and resist and further expansion (they had contained communism) - the Truman Doctrine in action
  • It ended any possibility of a speedy unification, not only of Berlin but also of Germany
  • In 1949 it was divided into the pro-west republic of west Germany and the pro-Soviet communist east Germany
  • West Germany - Federal Republic of Germany, Capital: Bonn
  • East Germany - German Democratic Republic, Capital: East Berlin
  • Re-unification occured in 1990
  • It was seen as a victory in the west and led to the formation of NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation)
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It was the first main crisis of the Cold War and set the pattern for the future - it consisted of threats, not war, but deepended the hostility between the west and east

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