Causes of the cold war [bare] Beliefs

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Cold War Revision
A war short of full scale war because of the development of the Atomic bomb.

  1. Beliefs: Russia was a Communist country, ruled by a dictator who cared little about human rights.

America was a capitalist democracy, which valued freedom.

  1. Aims: Stalin wanted reparations from Germany/ a buffer of friendly states.

Britain and the USA [led by President Truman] wanted to help Germany recover/ to prevent large areas of Europe from coming under Communist control.

  1. Resentment about history: The USSR did not trust Britain and the USA – They had tried to destroy the Russian Revolution in 1918/ Stalin thought they had not helped the USSR enough in WW2.

Britain & USA did not trust USSR – Stalin had signed the Nazi-Soviet pact in 1939.

  1. Events turned the mistrust into war: Yalta/ Potsdam/ Salami tactics/ Fulton/ Greece/ Truman Doctrine/ Marshall Plan/ Cominform/ Czechoslovakia

YALTA Conference (February 1945)

  1. Churchill, Stalin and Roosevelt agreed to Divide Germany into 4 zones (France, Britain, USA, USSR)/ to hold free elections in Eastern European countries./ to set up the United Nations./ to set up a government of Communists and non Communists in Poland.

  2. On the surface, everything seemed friendly, but there was tension behind the scenes

POTSDAM Conference (July 1945)

  1. At Potsdam the tensions surfaced.

  2. Stalin, Truman and Atlee agreed to bring Nazi war criminals to trial/ divide Germany into 4 occupied zones.

  3. There were disagreements over Soviet policy in Poland./ The size of German reparations.

SALAMI TACTICS (1945–48) ‘Slice-by-slice’, Stalin ensured all E Eur.countries had Communist govts

  1. Albania (1945) – the Communists took power after the war without opposition

  2. Bulgaria (1945) – the Communists executed the leaders of all the other parties.

  3. Poland (1947) – the Communists forced the non-Communist leaders into exile.

  4. Hungary (1947) – Russian troops stayed / Stalin allowed elections (non-communists won a big majority)/ Communists led by the pro-Russian Rakosi./ Rakosi demanded that groups which opposed him should be banned./ He got control of the police, and arrested his opponents./ He set up a secret police unit, the AVH.

  5. Romania (1945–1947) – the Communists gradually took over control.

  6. Czechoslovakia (1948) – the Communists banned all other parties/ killed their leaders.

  7. East Germany (1949) – Russians turned their zone into German Democratic Republic.

EVENTS 1946–1948

  1. Fulton speech (March 1946)

  • Churchill described the Soviet bloc as an ‘iron curtain’ – Stalin believed this was necessary to maintain the safety of the USSR.

  • After Fulton, the Cold War worsened. Russia called the speech a declaration of war.

  1. Greece (February 1947)

  • US supplied arms and money to defeat the Communists.

  1. Truman Doctrine (March 1947) – The USA implemented a policy of ‘containmenttowards the USSR – to prevent Communism spreading any further.

  2. Marshall Plan (June 1947) – Marshall believed poverty was a breeding ground for Communism. American introduced ‘Marshall Aid’ – $17 billion to get Europe’s economy going.

    1. Cominform (October 1947) – Stalin forbade Communist countries to accept Marshall Aid. (October 1947) Cominform was set up to control all Communist countries in Europe.

    2. Czechoslovakia (February 1948) – Communists took control

Panicked the US Senate into granting Marshall Aid (31 March 1948)

  1. Causes [CABAN]

  • Cold War was beginning to bite – created tension.

  • Aims – USA+UK wanted Germany to recover/ Stalin looting German industrial capacity.

  • Bizonia – USA, UK, France merged zones – became more prosperous than the Soviet.

  • American Aid – Marshall Aid was voted 31 March 1948.

  • New Currency –Britain and America introduced new currency – destabilised the East German economy. Stalin said that this was the cause of the blockade.

  1. Events – (24 June 1948) – Stalin closed rail + road links to Berlin / Lasted 11 months/ Allies airlifted supplies to Berlin – 275,000 flights, 1.5m tons/ In winter, Berliners lived on dried eggs and potatoes/ 4 hours of electricity a day./ US had B29 bombers on standby./ (12 May 1949) – Stalin re-opened the borders.

  1. Results [CENA]

  • Cold War got worse.

  • East/West Germany: German Democratic Republic/ Federal Republic of Germany.

  • NATO and Warsaw Pact – NATO (1949) defensive alliance against USSR/ Warsaw Pact 1955 by Russia

  • Arms Race. The USA and USSR competed for world domination.

KOREAN WAR (North Korea [Communist] invaded South Korea [Capitalist])

  1. Causes [DUCKS]

  • Domino theory – Truman thought that Far Eastern countries would fall like dominoes. China Communist (1949). Truman feared Japan would follow.

  • Undermine Communism – The National Security Council recommended (NSC 68 – April 1950) abandoning containment to ‘roll back’ Communism.

  • Cold War – America & Russia for world domination – Korea a ‘war at arm’s length’.

  • Kim Il Sung – got Stalin’s and Mao tse Tung’s agreement to attack South Korea.

  • Syngman Rhee (1950) – boasted he would attack North Korea – gave an excuse.

  1. Events

  • By June 1950 – the NKPA captured most of South Korea from the ROKs.

  • July 1950 – UN troops (Americans led by MacArthur), drove the Communists back to the Chinese border.

  • October 1950 – China attacked/ drove the Americans back/ advanced into South Korea.

  • March 1950 – American reinforcements drove back Chinese (200,000 dead). Truman told the troops to stop t the 38th parallel. Truman sacked MacArthur for criticising his orders.

  • 1953 – Truce: America claimed successful containment.

KHRUSHCHEV succeeded Stalin.

  1. It seemed he would bring a thaw in the Cold War – He advocated ‘Peaceful Coexistence’/ He met Western leaders at summit meetings/ He was friendly to Yugoslavia, telling Tito there were ‘different roads to Communism’/ He criticised Stalin, executed Beria, set free political prisoners and de-stalinised the eastern bloc countries.

  2. In fact 1955–1963 was the time of greatest tension in the Cold War

  • Khrushchev used Russian troops when countries tried to leave Russian control.

  • By peaceful co-existence, Khrushchev meant ‘peaceful competition’ (He loved to argue (Kitchen debate with Nixon)/ He gave economic aid to countries like Afghanistan and Burma/ Space Race (1957: Sputnik. 1961: Yuri Gagarin orbits the earth)/ Arms Race (1953: Russia got the hydrogen bomb)

    • Warsaw Pact (1955) – USSR/ Albania/ Bulgaria/ Czechoslovakia/ E Germany/ Hungary/ Poland/ Romania

  1. In retaliation, in America McCarthy conducted a ‘witchhunt’ for Communists/ In 1955, NATO agreed to an army of 0.5 m men in W Germany/ rushed to put a man on the moon/ American U2 planes spied on Russia

Hungary (1956)

  1. Causes:

  • Poverty – When most of Hungary’s food was sent to Russia

  • Russian Control – The Hungarians were very patriotic/ They hated censorship, the AVH, and Russian control of education./ They hated having Russian troops stationed in Hungary

  • Catholic Church – Communism tried to destroy religion, but Hungarians were Catholics

  • Help from the West – The Hungarians thought Esienhower or UN would help.

  • Destalinisation –Led to protests against Rakosi’s harsh government.

  • Events (3 key dates)

  • 23 October – Student riots – attcks on AVH and Russian troops

  • 24 October – 3 November – Reforming government led by Imre Nagy (Democracy/ Freedom of speech/ Freedom of religion/ Aimed to withdraw from Warsaw Pact.

  • 4 November – Soviets sent 1000 tanks to crush/ Western powers protested but didn’t want a war.

  1. Results

Janos Kadar put in control of Hungary/ 4,000 Hungarians killed/ Nagy shot./ 200,000 Hungarians flee to West./ Many westerners leave the Communist party./ Russia stays in control in Eastern Europe./ Western leaders all the more determined to ‘contain’ communism.
U2 Crisis

1 May 1960 Soviets shot down American U2 spy plane over USSR, and captured pilot Gary Powers./ Americans had to admit he was a spy./ Khrushchev demanded apology + end to spy flights./ Eisenhower refused.


Khrushchev walks out of Paris summit (14 May 1960)/ Eisenhower’s planned visit to Russia cancelled/ Khrushchev demands US leaves West Berlin/ Americans came off badly – been caught lying- propaganda victory for USSR./ New American president Kennedy promises to get tough on Communism.

Berlin Wall

  1. Causes

  • Growing tension (U2 crisis/ Kennedy finances anti-Communist forces in Laos and Vietnam)

  • Refugees (West Berlin enjoyed much higher standard than East Berlin./ 1945 –1960 3 million people crossed the border – a propaganda point for the US – most were skilled workers)
  • Sabotage –The Russians claimed that America used West Berlin for spies and sabotage in east Germany..

  1. Events

13 August 1961– East Germans erected a barbed wire wall overnight (later stone)/ All East – West movement was stopped./ Wall fortified with barbed wire and guns./Western powers could do nothing.

Cuban Missile Crisis

  1. Causes

  • Superpower tension – U2 – Berlin Wall – Laos – Vietnam

  • Fidel Castro’s Cuba – only 90 miles off coast of America./ Close relationship with USSR (oil, machinery and money in return for sugar)/ Cuba nationalises American companies

  • Bay of Pigs – (April 1961) America sent in rebels in but they were defeated (a humiliation).

  • Missile bases – 14 October 1962: USA U2 spy planes photographs Soviet missile sites on Cuba.

  1. Events

  • Kennedy ordered a naval blockade and threatened invasion.

  • For 10 days the world was on the brink of nuclear war.

  • Kennedy promised to remove US missiles from Turkey

  • 28 October Khrushchev removed the missiles and the crisis was over

  1. Results

  • Khrushchev seemed to have failed

  • Kennedy became the hero of the Western world

  • Telephone hot line set up between Moscow and Washington.

  • (1963) – Nuclear test ban treaty signed.

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