The USA and USSR become rivals
Between 1945 and 1949 (after the Second World War), two great superpowers emerged; these were the USA and the USSR. However, soon these two states became rivals, and the tension built up by this rivalry led to the Cold War. There were several aspects that contributed to this.
Type of Government: The USA had a democratic system, where people elected representatives and had a choice of candidates from different parties. The USSR had a one party dictatorship; people could only vote for the communists.
Economic System: The USA had a capitalist system; private individuals owned industry and kept the profits. The USSR had a communist system, and everything was owned by the state.
Individual Rights: In the USA, the freedom and rights of each person were considered important and Americans objected to the state interfering with their lives. In the USSR, individual rights were closely controlled by the state, because the most important thing was the good of Russian society as a whole.
History of the West: America and Britain had invaded Russia in 1918 to 1919 to destroy communism. According to Stalin, they had also delayed the opening of the second front to let Russia and Germany destroy each other on the eastern front. In the Russian revolution, America had supported the White Army, who were against communism.
The USA and USSR become rivals II
History of the East: The USSR had signed the Nazi-Soviet Pact in 1939, meaning the USA and Britain had lost a valuable ally. Furthermore, Stalin then double crossed Hitler; it is possible that the USA felt that because of this, they could not trust the Russians. Russia had been invaded 3 times in Stalin's lifetime, and he did not want it to happen again.
Geography: The Americans thought that Stalin wanted 'World Communism', because at the end of WWII, he tried to seize lots of land.
The USSR was suspicious of democracy: Stalin believed that the West had deliberately delayed the opening of the second front in France. America would not reveal its secrets to the USSR; Harry Truman, the new President who hated Communism, did not share the news of the American Atom Bomb until 11 days before its use in Japan. Russia feared that America would attack them to get rid of Communism.
The West could not trust the USSR: The USSR signed the Nazi-Soviet Pact, although they later became enemies and double crossed each other. Stalin was invading countries and founded Communist governments in Eastern European countries to create a buffer zone. The Red Army contained 100 million Eastern Europeans.
The Yalta Conference
During February 1945 in Yalta, Ukraine, the Big Three (Winston Churchill for the UK, Franklin Roosevelt for the USA and Joseph Stalin for the USSR) met to agree on the results of the war. This became known as the Yalta Conference. Below is a list of things agreed:
- Germany was to be divided into four zones occupied by Britain, France, the USA and the USSR.
- Berlin was also to be divided into four zones, although it lay in Soviet territory.
- Nazi criminals were to be hunted down and tried.
- Free elections were to be held in the states of Eastern Europe once they had been freed from German control.
- Stalin agreed to enter the war against Japan in return for Soviet gains in the Far East.
- The UN shoud replace the League of Nations to maintain peacce. This was later established in San Francisco at a conference 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 frontiers of Poland once it had been freed of Nazi occupation. This was to cause problems later.
The Potsdam Conference
During July 1945, at Potsdam (Germany), Harry Truman for the USA, Clement Attlee for the UK and Joseph Stalin for the USSR met to consolidate what had been agreed at Yalta. Roosevelt had died in April 1945 and Churchill was defeated in the general elections. This conference became known as the Potsdam Conference.
Soviet troops had occupied most of Eastern Europe and stayed there. Part of East Germany was taken over by the new Polish Communist government, who had the support of Stalin. There were no free elections; this went against what had been agreed at Yalta. Below is a list of what was agreed at Potsdam:
- The division of Germany and the treatment of war criminals agreed at Yalta was confirmed.
- 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.
The co-operation of war time had come to an end; the alliance between the USSR and the West appeared over. Neither trusted the other.
The Impacts of the Atom Bombs
To prevent further American casualties, Truman decided to use the atom bombs. On 10 August 1945, the war against Japan ended after the USA dropped atom bombs on Hiroshima (6 August) and Nagasaki (9 August). Truman had not told the Soviets about these bombs until 11 days before their use. Stalin had promised to declare war on Japan in return for receiving territory in the Far East, but had delayed entering the war with Japan till the 8 August. There were several impacts of the Atom Bombs, which were dropped in Japan, both long term and short term:
- There was a massive loss in life: 140,000 people died in Hiroshima and 80,000 people died in Nagasaki. Roughly half of the people were killed on the days of the bombings.
- It further damaged relations between the East and West, because Stalin delayed the war entry with Japan and Truman delayed telling Stalin about the atom bombs.
- It ended the war on the 10 August 1945, so less American soldiers died.
- There was massive radiation pollution, so the locations became uninhabitable for the Japanese and thousands more werekilled by injuries or illnesses caused by radiation exposure.
- It made Stalin want to have his own nuclear weapons programme, which started the nuclear arms race between the USA and USSR, and led to the development of the hydrogen bomb (H-bomb), which was 2,500 times more powerful than the Hiroshima one.
- Complete destruction of industry and infrastructure, so the Japanese economy suffered dearly.
The Iron Curtain
The Iron Curtain was a metaphorical divide of ideologies and a physical boundary between West and East. It was set up to prevent invasion of the West, to prevent the citizens from escaping and to prevent Western ideologies from influencing the citizens of newly founded communist states.
Opinions on the Iron Curtain
- He wasn't very concerned about the Soviet Union being a threat on the surface; he felt the USA the USA could comfortably overrule Russia and enforce their systems globally.
- Deep down, he knew that war is imminent between them, but could not afford another war.
- He was very worried about the USSR's movements and intentions for the future.
- He felt that an 'Iron Curtain' had been put up in between the USSR and the West, hiding the USSR's true plans for the future.
- He felt that America should intercept Russia in Berlin and stop them before it was too late.
- He thought Stalin was starting to instigate World Communism, and wanted to prevent another war.
- He wanted to prevent another invasion of Russia (claimed his actions were defensive).
- Did not trust the West.
The Introduction of the Truman Doctrine
After WWII, Britain freed Greece from the Nazi regime, and established a monarchy. However, the communists started to fight against the monarchy, even though the royalists, with the support of Britain, had won elections in 1946. By 1947, the communists, with the support of other communist countries, were still rebelling, and Britain could not afford to keep supporting the royalists, They called on their American allies to help.
Turkey, which neighboured Greece and the USSR, had come under threat from Soviet Russia. If Turkey were to come under Russia's influence, then Greece would be surrounded by communism.
Truman proposed that America give $400 million of military aid to help Turkey and Greece defend themselves against the pressure of the USSR.
He feared that Europe, having been devastated by war, was susceptible to Communism. In 1947, Greece was in bitter Civil War, and a communist threat was evidently present. The Soviet Union was also putting pressure on Turkey and Communism was getting dangerously close to the Middle East, whose oil supplies were vital to the West.
The Truman Doctrine was the speech Truman gave to Congress asking for aid for Greece and Turkey.
The Impact of the Truman Doctrine and Containment
As a result of America's action $400 million was used to help Greece and Turkey. The communist threat in Greece was overcome in 1949 and Turkey was ablt to resist the threat of the USSR, particularly over the Dardanelles.
The policy of containment was Truman's policy of holding back the spread of Communism, largely by giving money and other forms of aid. This therefore contrasted with previous policies from the States, which were to refrain from getting involved with world affairs.
Truman justified the containment policies and Truman Doctrine by explaining that it was America's moral duty to help those who's rights were being oppressed by Communism and who were being oppressed in general.
The USSR may have felt threatened by these policies; they may have seen them as the start of World Capitalism.
The Marshall Plan
The Marshall Plan was the other half of the Yruman Doctrine. The economies of Europe had been ruineed by WWII 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. This aid would be the Marshall Plan.
Congress was on the point of refusing this when 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 of Czechoslovakia. This decided Congress; they granted the money, because they feared World Communism was spreading.
Marshall Aid was given to 16 countries and was used first to improve agriculture and then to build up industry. Britain and France received the most. Other countries which benefitted from the Marshall Plan included Ireland, West Germany, Italy, Greece and Turkey. It was available for all countries who were in threat of a Communist take over.
The Americans certainly wanted to help, but they also realised that the recovery of Europe was to their advantage. They needed European markets to recover to avoid another depression. It was also seen to help hold back Communism, which was believed to thrive in poverty.
Cominform and Comecon
Stalin's Reaction to the Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan was to set up Cominform (the Communist Information Bureau) in September 1947. All the Communist parties in Europe were involved in this and it was intended to defend Communism against the agression of the USA. They were to be satellite states (countries that are independent, but under heave influence/control from another country) of the USSR. Plans for recovery were established, and the members were expected to trade with each other, not the West. When Yugoslavia showed too much independence by claiming Marshall Aid, Stalin expelled it form Cominform in 1948 and Yugoslavia followed its own brand of Communism under President Tito.
The USSR offered aid to the satellite states in 1949 with the introduction of Comecon (the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance). This was intended to unite the economies of the communist states but, in fact, it increased the control that Stalin had over them. The Soviets claimed that the Marshall Plan was dollar imperialism; the Americans were using dollars to bribe the European countries so tha they would become dependent on the USA and join them against the USSR. In this way, it increased suspicions between the USSR and the USA and contributed to the Cold War.
Germany at the end of WWII
As agreed at Yalta and Potsdam, Germany was divided into four parts between Britain, France, America and the USSR, with the Western zones on one side and the Eastern zone on the other. Similarly, Berlin was divided between the four countries, but the West constantly feared the Soviets would take over, since Berlin lay deep within the Soviet province. The Western zone of Berlin was an island of capitalism within deep Communism.
Britain, America and France decided to build up industry in their zones; in January 1947, Britain joined their zone with America's, and in June 1948, the French zone was added to form one Western zone. Stalin, deeply suspicious of a fresh and strong Germany, watched these events with distrust; the Soviet Union forced its zone to accept Communism. In contrast, in the Western zone elections, the Communists never gained much support.
In 1946, the USSR wanted Germany to pay $10 million in reparation for the loss of population the war had caused. At Potsdam, the Allies agreed that the Soviet Union should be given a quarter of the industrial foods made in the Western zones in return for food and coal from the Soviet zone. Although the West kept to their agreement, East Germany never sent anything in return, so the West stopped sending their supplies.
Causes of the Berlin Blockade and Air Lift
The Soviets feared the recovery of Germany and the rise of Nazism and were angered. They did not want West Germany's economy to recover more than East Germany's and leave the Soviets behind. The crisis developed over the issue of a new currency for Germany. If Germany was to recover, then the Western Allies decided in 1948 that they needed to introduce a new Mark (Deutschmark) into their zones but not into Berlin. The Soviets responded by introducing their own currency into Berlin. The Western Allies had no choice but to introduce their Mark into Berlin as well. Stalin reacted by quickly cutting off all roads, canals and railways between Berlin and West Germany.
Long Term Causes of the Berlin Blockade and Air Lift:
- December 1946 - the American and British zones were merged into one, with the addition of the French zone June 1948 to form the Federal Republic of West Germany in May 1949.
- The American government thought that a strong German economy was vital for the growth of a non-Communist West Europe.
- Marshall Aid was used to stimulate the German economy.
- Under the Truman Doctrine, America was prepared to send money, equipment and advice to any country which America considered to be under threat from a Communist take over.
- The Russians set up the German Democratic Republic in their zone.
Causes of the Berlin Blockade and Air Lift II
Long Term Causes of the Berlin Blockade and Air Lift
- In 1949, the Soviet government set up Comecon to develop trade between Eastern European countries.
- The Western Allies believed that the USSR was scheming to set up a central German government that would be Communist-controlled.
Trigger Cause: On 20 June 1948, a new currency was introduced iinto the western zone to reform and stimulate the Germany currency.
Consequences of the Berlin Blockade and Air Lift:
- During the height of the crisis in April 1949, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) was formed in Washington between the USA, Canada and ten Western European coutnries.
- The Berlin Blockade alarmed people and governments in the USA and Western Europe.
The Berlin Blockade and Air Lift
Stalin blockaded West Berlin in 1948 - 1949 as a demonstration of power. In retaliation to the new currency America and Britain wanted to introduce, Stalin wanted an excuse to show his power, and so decided that since Berlin lay deep within Soviet territory, Berlin should become under Communist control. His overall plan was to force the West to withdraw from Berlin by starving the people of West Berlin. Truman was not prepared to allow his policy of containment to fail. The Americans feared that if they gave way on West Berlin, the Soviets would threaten West Germany next.
Since West Berlin only had essential supplies for the next six weeks, America and Britain decided to fly supplies through three air corridors into West Berlin. They started off by only flying 600 tonnes a day, but once the pilots had become used to the narrow air corridors, the number of deliveries increased and 8,000 tonnes of supplies were being delivered each day by 1949. 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.
The Soviets also tried to stop the Air Lift by cutting off the electricity supplies in 1948, in order to persuade the people to support the Soviets. It failed, because the USA ad Britain managed to deliver the necessary supplies and only 2% of the West Berliners converted to Communism. The blockade ended on the 12 May 1949, because Stalin accepted his plan had failed.
Significance of the Berlin Blockade and Air Lift
Below is a list of things which made the events of the Berlin Blockade and Air Lift significant.
- It showed the extent to which both sides were prepared to go to defend their ideologies.
- It showed West Germans and West Berliners the support they had from the West.
- It increase the tension between both sides.
- It was a propaganda victory for the West.
- The USA and the West had proved that they were prepared to stand up to the USSR and resist any further expansion - the Truman Doctrine in action.
- It ended any possibility of a speedy unification, not only of Berlin, but also of Germany. It 1949, it was divided into the pro-West Republic of West Germany and the pro-Soviet Communist East Germany.
- It was the first main crisis of the Cold War and set the pattern for the future - it consisted of threats, not war, but deepened hostility between the West and the East.
- It was seen as a victory in the West and led to the formation of NATO.
The North Atlantic Treaty (NATO) - 1949
NATO, or the North Atlantic Treaty, was signed in Washington (USA) on the 4th April 1949. The original members of NATO were Britain, France, Belgium, Holland, Luxembourg, Portugal, Denmark, Iceland, Italy, Norway, Canada and the USA. However, there were some later members; Greece and Turkey joined in 1952, and West Germany joined in 1955. The treaty consisted of several key aspects:
- The alliance was designed to be purely defensive.
- All members agreed to regard an attack on any one of them as an attack on all of them.
- All agreed to place their defence forces under a joint NATO command.
- NATO Command would coordinate the defence of the West.
- America was NATO’s strongest member by far.
- America agreed - for the first time ever - in advance, to go to war on another country’s behalf. Showed America's development, and the Truman Doctrine in action.
Western European countries such as Britain saw the NATO agreement as a sort of ‘insurance’, so that if they were attacked again, they knew that the other democratic states, now united, would offer them support.
The Nuclear Arms Race
The dropping of the atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 started the nuclear arms race between the two superpowers. This became a major theme of the Cold War. People began to believe that the more nuclear weapons you had, the more powerful you were as a country. 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 fecelop deadlier and more effective weapons.
The Soviet Nuclear Bomb - 1949: Until 1949, the USA had the advantage; the Soviet Union would not risk a war against the USA because of the destructive power of the bomb. On the 23rd September 1949, the Soviet Union announced years ahead of prediction that it had successfully explored its first nuclear bomb. As a result, it became the second world super power, and so East-West tensions were increased. The fact that Russia now had nuclear weapons showed the West that they were capable of a higher form of battle, on par with the USA. The hydrogen bomb, a more powerful bomb that could destroy the whole of Moscow, was successfully tested by the Americans in 1952. This H-bomb was much smaller than the 1945 bombs, but more than 2,000 times more powerful. The Soviets responded with their own H-bomb in 1953. Both countries felt they had to continue this race to protect themselves.
West Germany and East Germany - 1949
The Berlin crisis also led to important political changes. The aim of German unification agreed at Potsdam only four years earlier was in tatters. Each side accused the other. The West claimed that only Russia’s refusal to permit free elections prevented the complete German unification. The East claimed that the West had broken the Potsdam agreement by separating off their three zones. It was now clear that Germany could not be united. The process of creating two separate German states was speeded up.
In August 1949, the German Federal Republic (West Germany) came into being. Its territory was based on the three occupation zones controlled by the Western Allies. Bonn became its capital city. Doctor Konrad Adenauer became its first Chancellor.
In September 1949, the Soviet Union responded by re-naming their zone of Germany the German Democratic Republic (East Germany). Berlin itself also became split into two halves: West and East.
The Soviet Union saw NATO as an attempt to ‘encircle’ their nation with countries hostile to Communist ideas, and made official protests. They also viewed the creation of West Germany as another step towards rebuilding a strong, aggressive, anti-Russian state. Its long standing fear was that Nazism would rise again.
Background of the Korea War
The Chinese Revolution saw Communists and Nationalists fight for power in China. The Nationalists had the support of the USA, but were driven back to Taiwan. The Communists, who had the aid of the USSR, established a government in 1949. At the UN, the USA refused to let the Communists take China's seat, so the USSR boycotted the UN. This meant that they were not there when important decisions were made regarding Korea.
At the end of WWII, the Allies agreed that Korea should become an independent country. A temporary dividing line was drawn up along the 38th Parallel of latitude. The North part would belong to the Soviet Union and the South to the USA. Later it was intended that Korea should hold free elections and be united.
As the Cold War developed in Europe, the division between North and South Korea deepened. Although the Soviet Union and America had withdrawn their forces, they continued to provide support. This meant that elections were never held.
As all attempts to unite the countries had failed, two separate countries were set up in 1948. North Korea had a Communist government led by Kim Il Sung, whereas in South Korea, a non-Communist state was formed under Syngman Rhee. The Chinese Revolution in October 1949 meant that now North Korea had two friendly Communist giants on its norther border.
Possible Causes of the Korean War
There are several possible reasons for the Korean War:
- It could have been a show of Soviet strength towards the Americans as a part of the Cold War in order to get their own back after the 'climb down' over Berlin.
- It could have been a show of Soviet strength towards the Chinese, so Stalin could show Mao that he was the leader of Communism in Asia.
- It could have been a North Korean attack planned in Moscow and backed by Peking, as it would strengthen the Soviet Union's defences in the Pacific.
- It could have been an independent attack by North Korea, without Soviet or Chinese backing, because America had not included Korea in her defence plans for the Pacific.
- It could have been an attack provoked by South Korea, to regain American help against Communism.
The Koreans were not satisfied with the division of their country and both Syngman Rhee and Kim Il Sung claimed to be the leader of the whole country. What cause the war to break out is uncertain. Stalin certainly encouraged the North Koreans and supplied them with tanks and planes and the Communists in China probably urged them to attack. The Communists claimed that they were acting to protect themselves because troops from South Korea had crossed the 38th Parallel.
Events of the Korean War
25 June 1950 - South Korean forces were swept aside as the armies of the North moved southwards. The Southern capital Seoul fell within three days and by the end of August, the whole of South Korea had been occupied except for the small area around Pusan in the south-east.
27 June 1950 - The USA was able to get UN backing. Fortunately for the USA, the Soviet delegate had walked out of the Council in protest against the US refusal to recognise the new communist government in China. This meant that the USSR could not use its veto. The Security Council was therefore able to recommend to UN memvers that military aid be sent to South Korea. A UN army was hastily assembled and placed under the command of General Douglas MacArthur. Like it's commander, most of the troops in this UN army were in fact from the USA, though there were also contingents from Britain, Australia, New Zealand and many other countries.
By October 1950 this UN army had forced the North Koreans back as far as teh 38th Parallel.
The USA then persuaded the UN to change the nature of the war from the defensive one of simply freeing the South to the offensive one of liberating the North and reuniting Korea under a democratic government. By the end of October, the North Korean forces had been pushed back almost as far as the Yalu river, the boundary between North Korea and Communist China.
Events of the Korean War II
October/November 1950 to January 1951 - Fearing that MacArthur might go on to invade China, the Chinese government now poured troops into North Korea. There were so many Chinese troops that they pushed the UN and South Korean forces right back beyond the 38th Parallel. Seoul, the South Korean capital, was lost a second time.
1951 - A UN counter offensive succeeded however in regaining the lands as far north as the 38th Parallel. At this point, the character of the war changed. What had previously been a war of movement now became a static war, with both dies fortifying their positions against each other. This military stalemate enouraged the two sides to agree to peace talks.
17 July 1953 - An armistice between North and South Korea was signed.
Summary of the Korean War
America became involved in the Korean War because they feared that if Korea were to succumb to Communism, then the Domino Effect would take place; they felt that Containment was needed again to prevent total Asian Communism. When China became a Communist country, the USA refused to let Communists take China's seat at the UN. This resulted in the USSR boycotting the UN, meaning they were not there to veto important votes about events in Korea.
America tried to 'liberate' North Korea in order to contain the spread of Communism in Asia. China sent 'volunteers' over to North Korea to help defend itself and invade the South. They were called 'volunteers' so that China would not have to declare war on the UN forces.
In February 1951, MacArthur pushed China back to the 38th Parallel, and continued into North Korea, despite President Truman wanting to set up a cease-fire. He wanted to extend the war into China itself and to defeat Mao Zedong, with the aid of Chiang Kaishek's forces. He even suggested using America's nuclear weapons against the Chinese. However, Truman was determined that the Korean War should not develop iinto a full scale Asian War.
Truman, though unpopular, stuck with his policy of containment. It made him question whether containment was a policy that was defensive or offensive as well.
End of the Korean War
At the suggestion of the Soviet Union, peace talks began at Panmanjom in June 1951. All hopes of winning the war, or of uniting Korea, had now vanished. The talks were complex, and often broke down. In November 1952, General Dwight Eisenhower replaced Truman as America's President. Eisenhower wanted to end the war. He tried to pressurise the Chinese into a truce, but the fighting went on. In 1953, Stalin died. China could not be sure that the USSR would continue to provide help and supplies, so it agreed to peace talks.
An armistice was signed on 17 July 1953, but no peace treaty could be agreed. It took over 30 years to finally resolve all th issues caused by the war.
The Gains and Losses of the Korean War
Korea: Korea did not gain anything. They were left many casualties: 1.3 million South Korean soldiers and 520,000 North Korean soldiers were either dead or wounded, and over 3 million civillians were in the same condition. Much of the Korean industry was destroyed, agriculture was ruined and there were millions of refugees.
UN: The UN gained respect by taking prompt, direct action. They used combined force to stop aggression, and they achieved joint action by members. However, they had 17.000 casualties, and their conduct of war was almost entirely controlled by the US. Their decisions were weakened by the power of veto.
America: The USA managed to save South Korea from Communism, and their containment policy was seen to work against Asian Communism. However, they had 42,000 casualties, and their defence spending went up from $12 billion to $60 billion. They failed to liberate North Korea.
Soviet Union: The USSR achieved closer friendship with China, and the conflict between China and America was to their advantage. However, they were forced into an expensive arms race with America.
China: China gained the respect of Asian Communists, and they saved North Korea from the USA. They kept a crucial buffer state on the eastern frontier, and achieved a closer friendship with the Soviet Union. However, they had 900,000 casualties, and their cost of war was great. They failed to win South Korea for Communism, increased American protection for Chiang Kaishek in Formosa and were isolated by America in trade and politics.
The Importance of the Korean War
Below are several factors which contribute to the importance of the Korean War:
- It indicated that Truman was prepared to stick to the Truman Doctrine and to the principle of containing Communism.
- At the same time, it appeared that the superpowers did not want to make the Cold War into a 'hot' war: the Soviets did not become directly involved. Some Americans agreed with MacArthur and wanted to take the war to Communism, but Truman refused to support MacArthur and the war did not spread beyond Korea.
- The USSR had not been directly involed in the war, although it did supply weapons to the North Koreans.
- Korea was still divided as North and South and it appeared as if the division was now permanent.
- The UN had resisted an act of agression - something that the League of Nations had never been able to do - but it was condemned as a capitalist tool by the communists because its forces had fought against Communism under the leadership of the USA.
- It marked the emergence of communist China as a world power. The Chinese had prevented the USA from uniting Korea and China became more friendly with the USSR.
- It extended the Cold War to the Far East. China also helped Communist rebels in Indo-China (Vietnam) against the French.
The death of Stalin in 1953 led to a now direction in Soviet foreigh policy. Now that East and West had the power of the hydrogen bomb, it seemed sensible enough 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 co-operation was 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 Austrian State Treaty, which ended the occupation of Austria that had continued since 1945. Austria had been divided into four zones at the end of wwII and the Soviets had taken many food supplies in reparations from their zone. This now came to an end: Austria became independent and was restored to its 1937 frontiers.
The new Soviet leadership was at first a coalition but eventually Khrushchev emerged as the leader. He appeared to be keen to make a fresh start with the West. He argued that in the days of the hydrogen bomb, the ideas of supporting a communist revolution in other parts of the were over. It was necessary to live in peace with the West, even if the Soviets did not like its ideas and policies. In 1956, he used the phrase 'peaceful co-existance' to describe these policies. He showed his willingness to be friendly with the West by his visits to Britain and the USA. A Summit Conference was held in Geneva in 1955 - the first since 1945. This was attended by the leaders of America, China, Britain, France and the USSR. Very little was agreed, but it was seen as a turning point in the Cold War. East and West were meeting and talking to each other.
The Warsaw Pact - 1955
In Soviet eyes, the events justified the need to create a counter military force. This Treaty became known as the Warsaw Pact, and was between the People’s Republic of Albania, the Hungarian People’s Republic, the USSR and the Czechoslovak Republic. Between 1949 and 1989, NATO and the Warsaw Pact acted as the umbrellas for collective defence of the West and East.
The Warsaw Pact was in some ways a ‘mirror image’ of NATO, but in the Communist world. Its creation put the finishing touches to the opposing military blocs - East versus West, communist versus capitalist. There was, however, a vital difference between the two blocs. NATO was an organisation of independent countries that chose to come together and could leave if they wished. The Warsaw Pact countries were all firmly linked before the treaty was signed through their communist parties and Soviet control.
The Pact was dominated by the USSR. Although there was a thaw, Khrushchev was keen to ensure the safety of the communist states that surrounded Soviet Russia and the position of the USSR as their leader. He even strengthend this by visiting Yugoslavia and resuming friendly relations with President Tito.
On paper, the forces of the Warsaw Pact were stronger than NATO, if nuclear weapons were discounted. The formation of the Warsaw Pact meant that the division of Europe was now marked by two rival alliances.