Soviet Expansion from 1945

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The Use of the Atomic Bomb

  • On 16th July 1945, the Americns tested the first atom bomb. It was a success.
  • Truman failed to tell Stalin at Potsdam ----> Stalin was angry that he hadn't been informed.
  • Truman eventually told Stalin about the bomb but Stalin wasn't suprised as his spies had aleady told him about it.
  • On 6th August 1945, an American B29 bomber called Enola Grey, dropped an atom bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima.
  • 78 000 were killed right away and some historians believe that the use of the atom bomb in Japan was a warning to Stalin.
  • 3 days later, a second atom bomb was dropped on Nagasaki and 74 000 were killed right away.
  • Japan surrendered. WW2 was over.
  • The USA had overtaken the USSR as the leading global superpower. Stalin felt betrayed.
  • In 1949 the USSR developed its own atom bomb ----> There was now no chance of 'hot war' between the two sides as there was Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD)
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Potsdam Conference - 1945 (after Yalta)

The Big Three = Stalin, Clement Atlee and President Truman

What was agreed?

  • The British and Americans agreed that the USSR could take 25% of the industrial equipment from the Western zones of Germany as reparations.
  • They allowed the USSR to send all Germans living in Poland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia back to Germany.
  • Poland's boarders were 'fixed', with land being taked by the USSR in the East and land being gained by Germany.
  • Free elections were now held in Poland.
  • All the war criminals were put on trial.

Unfortunately, Stalin was ignoring the agreements and, by July, he basically controlled 7 countries including Poland, where he established a Communist government.

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Soviet Expansion into Eastern Europe

  • The USSR had gained control over 7 countries by 1948, creating a buffer zone along the West border of Russia.
  • Winston Churchill called the boader between Soviet influence and Eastern Europe the "Iron Curtain".
  • Stalin took over many of these 7 countries using rigged elections or force - only 2 countries, Albania and Eastern Germany, were taken over by agreement or were too weak to resist.

Why would Stalin want control of Eastern Europe?

  • To protect the USSR and stop Capitalist invasion
  • To gain more power
  • To increase army size
  • To expad Communism
  • To help economically (resources)
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  • Life in Hungary was harsh.
  • No freedom of expression was allowed.
  • The presence of Soviet troops was similar to being occupied during WW2.
  • There were severe food shortages.
  • Many goods made by Hungarian factories were sent to the USSR.
  • Soviets had complete control of education and taught a Communist version of history.
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  • After Japan was defeted it had to pull out of Korea, which it had occupied since 1910.
  • Korea was divided along the 38th parallel. The USSR occupied the North and USA occupied the South - this was only meant to be temporary.
  • Kim Il Sung ran a Communist state in the North.
  • Elections were held in the South and an anti-Communist, military dictatorship led by Syngman Rhee won.
  • There were often minor clashes at the demilitarised 38th parallel.
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The Berlin Wall

  • East Berlin was run by the USSR, the West by USA.
  • Defectors tried to leave the East in favour of the West.
  • The East had food shortages, poor living standards, long working hours and tightly controlled press and radio.
  • The West had Marshall Aid, freedom of press and radio, more and better food, well paid jobs and luxury items as well as good living standards and the right to choose political parties.
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Yalta Conference - 1945 (before Potsdam)

The Big Three = Winston Churchill, Presedent Roosevelt and Stalin

What was agreed?

  • Germany was to be split into four zones of occupation.
  • Free elections for new governments would be held in countries previously occupied in Eastern Europe.
  • The United Nations would replace the failed League of Nations.

Then the situation changed. Roosevelt Died and was replaced by Harry Truman, who was suspicious of the USSR. Winston Churchill was replaced by Clement Atlee and the USSR expanded Westwards into the Baltic states and parts of Finland, Czechoslovakia, Poland and Romania.The allies were now suspicious of each other and, because Truman and Atlee were new to their jobs, Stalin thought they'd be weak leaders so he could do whatever he wanted.

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Increasing Tensions

  • Increasing tensions between the USA and USSR became known as the 'Cold War'.
  • It was called the Cold War because there wasn't any direct fighting ('Hot War'), only plans and alliances being made, trying to gain the upper hand.
  • Both sides were afraid of another war because of the amount of nuclear weapons being developed.
  • Just one nuclear bomb could wipe out an entire city and people thought that it could be the end of humankind if a proper war broke out.
  • Most of Eastern Europe was controled by the USSR but the countries in Western Europe tended to support the USA.
  • Winston Churchill once called the divide between Capitalism and Communism through Europe the 'Iron Curtain'.
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US Influence

  • The USA was worried about the spread of Communism.
  • President Truman was worried about other countries falling to communism so he made two new plans.
  • He made Marshall Aid. This promised American aid to European countries to help rebuild their economies. The USA was worried that if Western Europe remained weak, it might be vulnerable to Communism.
  • West Germany benifitted the most from this.
  • Britain recieved the most money, then France and then West Germany was given the third biggest amount of money.
  • The USA also offered Marshall Aid to Yugoslavia which was suprising because they were under USSR control. They agreed and the USSR kicked them out of Cominform.
  • Truman also made the Truman Doctrine. This meant that  the USA would support any nation threatened by a Communist takeover.
  • The USA gave $400 million of aid to Turkey and Greece to try to stop Communism spreading.
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The Berlin Blockade

  • There were four zones of occupied Berlin.
  • The USA and Britain agreed to combine their zones to created Bizonia in 1947.
  • France then also agreed to combine their zone to create Trizonia.
  • The new Western zone had a single government and a new currency to help economic recovery.
  • The USSR opposed these decisions. Stalin wanted to keep Germany weak so he decided to blockade Berlin.
  • Berlin was in Eastern Europe, which was controlled by the USSR so Stalin ordered that all land Communication between West Berlin and the outside world should be cut off.
  • Because there were still air paths into West Berlin, the USA and Britain managed to fly supplies into the city between June 1948 and May 1949. This was called the Berlin Airlift.
  • By 1949, 8000 tons of supplies were being flown into West Berlin each day.
  • In 1949, Stalin ended the blockade.
  • Two new states were formed - West Germany and Communist East Germany.
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