history unit two: beginnings of cold war in europe 1945-48

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1      Beginning of cold war in Europe 1945-48

1.1    Deterioration of relations between USA and USSR

History of Suspicion:

-        The Cold War can be traced back to 1917 when Lenin’s Communists took power in Russia. This revolution greatly worried Western countries which were capitalist democracies as Bolshevik’s believed in communism and wanted to destroy the capitalist system.

-        Russia wasn’t invited to the 1919 Paris Peace Settlement and wasn’t allowed to join the League of Nations. It wasn’t until 1924 that the British Government officially recognized the communist regime as Russia’s government. The USA followed in 1933.

-        When Britain and France failed to agree an alliance with the USSR against Hitler, Stalin signed a non-aggression pact with the Nazis in August 1939. Stalin and the Allies joined together when Germany invaded Russia in June 1941.

-        However, Stalin remained suspicious of the West, claiming they delayed D-day until June 1944 to see if Germany and the USSR would wear each other out. Stalin was determined to ensure his country could never be invaded again. He therefore sought the creation of a buffer zone of communist countries between Western Europe and Russia as a way of protecting the Soviet Union from attack.

Level of Wartime Sacrifice:

-        There was a history of suspicion between the USSR and USA before WWII, especially ideological distrust between communism and democracy.

-        Though the USSR and the USA fought on the same side in WWII, it was an alliance of convenience, held together by a common enemy, Germany.

-        Germany had invaded the USSR on two occasions in the 20th century and 26million Russians were killed in WWII, compared to 35,000 Americans. Therefore Stalin was very concerned about the USSR’s future security and was determined to prevent another invasion of Germany and wanted to keep Germany weak.

Yalta + Potsdam:

-        In February 1945 the big three met at Yalta to discuss post war Europe.

-        Churchill wanted to ensure the survival of the British Empire. He also saw the USSR as a danger to the West that had to be stopped.

-        Roosevelt sought the creation of a free world that would be protected by the UN, a new peacekeeping body. He wanted the USSR to join the UN and was prepared to work with Stalin to ensure this happened.

-        Stalin sought the creation of a buffer zone between Western Europe and the USSR as a way of protecting the USSR from further attack. To ensure the countries making up this zone would be friendly to Moscow, Stalin wanted them to be communist.

-        The Allied leaders failed to reach agreement on the future of Germany after its defeat. In a compromise, Germany was to be divided into four sectors and they would pay reparations.

-        Eastern Europe was to come under the influence of the USSR but there was to be democratic elections in these…


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