This little chunk of history is probably the most terrifying of all... Because of the USA and USSR, we could all have been destroyed.
Communism vs. Capitalism
At the end of the Second World War in 1945, Russia and America were the best of friends, celebrating the defeat of Germany. However, even as they celebrated, in the background, these suspicions and divisions were beginning to grow...
The main reason for this, and the entire Cold War, where the political policies of the USSR and the USA. Capitalism and Communism are vastly different. If you need reminding, here are a few key differences:
The USA feared that the USSR were trying to spread communism across the world, while the USSR feared America wished to destroy them. These fears fueled the Cold War.
Things get cold...
After Germany was defeated, Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin came together at Yalta, in February 1945, to decide what would happen about the defeated countries.
They decided to carve Germany into 4 sectors, a British, a French, an American and a USSR sector. Berlin, the capital was in the Russian sector, though, so the four countries decided to split this likewise. Russia had suffered greatly during the war, so it's understandable they wished to extract everything they could from Germany.
They also decided that though Stalin would have influence in the eastern countries, these new countries were to be given free elections to decide who governed them.
Poland presented a problem though, for Stalin wished for a 'friendly' government to control it. He saw it as a buffer between Russia and Germany. However, Roosevelt and Churchill took this to mean a Soviet government, and they disagreed. They tried to persuade Stalin that a free election should be held, including anti-communists, and as soon as possible. Stalin, though, chose to ignore them, and democratic elections never took place.
Only the framework was set out at Yalta. Many of the things were confirmed in a second conference, the Potsdam Conference in July 1945.
Things had cooled down greatly between the three 'allies'. Both Churchill and Roosevelt had been replaced, (Attlee and Truman) and it seemed Stalin and Truman didn't get on. While they had originally agreed to keep Germany weak, the Western countries now realised a weak Germany was easy pray to communism. Therefore, they began strengthening their sectors. Stalin watched in suspicion.
In Eastern Europe, these 'free elections' didn't happen. One by one, countries fall to communism, becoming satellites to Russia, with the Soviets using force if necessary. This, to the Americans, proved that Russia was trying to spread communism over the world.
The Iron Curtain
***The rest of the information on this page was supplied by the brilliant Victoria! Got some stuff you want to add to Revision-GCSE? Email it now!***
Soviet Red Army had been advancing through areas of Eastern Europe whilst
they were driving back the Germans.
A year after the war had ended, the troops
were still there. This had been agreed at Yalta and Potsdam but everyone
really agree about it and Stalin’s motives were questionable. At first,
the liberated countries were known as ‘Peoples Democracies’ but
gradually other parties were frozen out and this just left the Communist
Parties. Elections were held in the liberated countries but it seems
that these were
rigged, allowing the Communist parties into power. In Bulgaria, Albania,
Poland, Romania and Hungary, the people that opposed Communism were either
murdered or frightened into submission.
“From Stettin on the Baltic to Trieste on the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the continent. Behind that line lie all the capitals of central and Eastern Europe … and all are subject to a very high measure of control from Moscow.”
The Truman Doctrine
The USA wanted to contain the spread of Communism in Europe – this was known as the policy of containment.
Greece – Greece looked to be next in line for Communisms. Greece was divided into two movements – the royalists, who wanted the return of the King and the Communists. After the German war had ended the King had been restored with the help of British forces. Then, in 947, Greece came under attack from the Communists forces. The British forces had withdrawn and Greece asked the USA to help. Truman was already worried about how Communism was spreading and he provided Greece with arms, supplies and money. In 1949 the Communists were defeated.
Turkey - Stalin demanded partial control of the Dardanelles (a strategic passage between the Black Sea and Mediterranean which belonged to Turkey at the end of the Second World War. The USA dispatched military aid to ensure that Turkey would remain in chief control of the passage.
These events convinced Truman that Communism would continue to spread unless he acted.
The Marshall Plan
Truman thought that poverty and hardship were a breeding ground for communism, meaning he wanted to make Europe prosperous again. He also wanted to make sure that America would have trading partners in the future (Europe’s economies were in ruins after the events of the war).
George Marshall, who was the American Secretary of State, visited Europe and came up with the Marshall Plan, which would help Europe recover. The Marshall Plan had two main aims which were;
Billions of dollars were poured into Europe, providing essential help to the European Economy. However, only 16 countries accepted it and all of these were Western countries. Stalin refused Marshall Aid for the USSR and also banned the Eastern Europe countries from accepting it.
Stalin saw the Marshall Plan as an attempt to try and buy the West of Europe and as an attempt to dominate business. This made him all the more determined to control East Europe with his Red Army and Allies.
The Berlin Blockade/Airlift 1948-1949
Britain and the US wanted Germany to recover because they were unable to afford to carry on feeding the people and they believed that punishing Germany wouldn’t help with future attempts to keep the peace. The French were unsure as to whether to rebuild Germany. The USSR didn’t want to rebuild and Germany and the fact that Britain and the USA did made them suspicious.
The French, British and American
zones combined in 1948 to become one zone, this was known as West Germany.
Marshall Aid was
recover. Many East Germans were leaving for the West because
the East was filled with
poverty and hunger and the West seemed like a more appealing
place to be. To Stalin, it seemed like the Allies were
building up West
Germany so that
would be able to attack him. When they introduced the Deutsche
1948 as a new currency, this was the last straw.
NATO was important because it proved that the US was committed to protecting and defending Western Europe. Stalin didn’t see NATO as a defensive alliance; he saw it as a direct threat to the USSR. The formation of NATO meant that the US was able to have air bases in Western Europe where planes that were armed with nuclear weapons would be ready to use in the case of an attack.
The Korean War
At the end of the Second World War, North Korea had been taken over by the USSR and they had set it up as a Communist state. In South Korea the Americans had also set up a government, this was supposed to be a democracy but relied mainly on military backing. Syngman Rhee (South Korean President) and Kim Il Sung (North Korean President) both claimed the right to be president of the whole of Korea. North Korea invaded the South in June 1950.
When China became Communist in 1949 the Americans were
very worried. They believed in the domino effect which
that if one country came under
then surrounding countries were also likely
to fall to Communism. The US was pleased with the results
Korean War. They
success but there had been massive damage to Korea
The Warsaw Pact