The Cold War

Long term causes for tension between the USA and USSR:
 The USSR had been a communist country since 1917
 The majority of politicians and business leader in Britain hated and feared
communist ideologies
 In the past they had helped enemies of the communists. Example USSR: In 1919 the USA joined Britain, France and other countries in an attempt
to destroy soviet communism by force. They invaded the USSR in support of
the white Russians who were engaged in a civil war with the Bolshevik
 The use of force failed, but the hostility between the two increased
 This made the USSR very wary of Britain and USA and vice versa
 USA: In 1920 suspected communists in the USA, were persecuted in a ‘Red
 Britain: In 1926 the British government reacted harshly to general strikes in
Britain because it was convinced that the strike was the work of the agents of
the USSR
 Relations between the USSR and Britain were harmed in the 1930’s as Britain
had adopted a policy of appeasement. It seemed to Stalin that Britain was
happy to see Germany grow and expand its territory east, toward Russia, so
Hitler could attack him.
 Stalin responded to this threat by signing the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, which
stunned Britain and the USA.
 A difference in ideology:
The USA was capitalist- Business
The USSR was communist, the
and property were privately owned industry was run by the state
It was a democracy- the
government was chosen in free
democratic elections
It was a one party dictatorship,
elections were held, but all
candidates belonged to the
communist party
Being free of government control
was more important than equality
The right of individuals was seen as
less important than the good of
society as a whole, so individual
lives were tightly controlled
The press was allowed/able to
criticize the government
The media was state media
The government did not interfere
with religion
Religion was banned by the
government- churches were broken
Americans firmly believed that
other countries should be run in
the American, capitalist way
The Russians firmly believed that
other countries should be run in
the communist, Russian way
People in the USA were alarmed by
the communist theory which talked
about a global communist
revolution with the spread of
communism across the world
The communists on the other hand,
were taught that this global
communist revolution was a duty
of each communist state and
Americans saw their policy as doing Many in the USSR saw the USA’s
the right thing rather than serving
actions as selfishly building its
the interests of the USA
economic empire and political
The Tehran conference:
 Date: November 1943
 Participants: Roosevelt, Stalin, Churchill
 Location: Tehran
 Purpose: to agree on a date to invade France
 Stalin at Tehran: he was obsessively secretive and wouldn’t share his battle
plans with Britain or the USA
 Churchill did not share his knowledge of enigma codes with the USSR
 Britain and American pilots that flew supplies to the USSR said the Soviets did
not trust them
The Yalta conference:
 When: February 1945
 Where: At Yalta in Ukraine
 Who: Stalin, Roosevelt, Churchill
 Why? It was clear that Germany was losing the war, so the allied leaders met
at Yalta to plan what would happen to Europe after Germany’s defeat
 Poland was the centre of discussion as it was largest country in Eastern Europe
and was likely to set a pattern for the rest of Eastern Europe
Attitudes of the leaders
Roosevelt was very ill (in 2 months he would die). He was keen that democracy
should be introduced in to Eastern Europe. However he trusted Stalin and wanted
to make sure that the USA and USSR remained on good terms after the war.
Churchill was very concerned about the future of Poland and Eastern Europe. He
did not trust Stalin. He wanted to stop Stalin from imposing communism on the
territory taken by the Red Army. Britain had gone to war in 1939 to help Poland
and Churchill did not want to abandon Poland to Soviet control.
Stalin was obsessed with the security of the USSR. He wanted the Soviet Union to
retain the Polish territory he had taken in 1939 as part of the Nazi-Soviet Pact. He
also wanted to make sure the new government of Poland would be friendly
towards the Soviet Union
What was decided at Yalta:
 A declaration of liberated Europe: It was decided that each liberated country,
would be given an emergency government with representatives from any nonfascist groups, and that free election would be held as soon as possible to set
up a democratic government
 The borders of Poland were to be altered so that the USSR gained a huge
amount of territory from Eastern Poland. In return Poland was promised land
taken from the Eastern parts of Germany
 A provisional government in Poland, would be established incorporating
members of the pro soviet government, of the Lublin Poles, and even the
exiled London Poles
 London Poles: The London poles were a few members of the Polish
government that were strongly opposed to the idea of communism and hated
Stalin personally because of his intention of dividing Poland through the
Molotov-Ribbentrop pact. They fled to England where they formed a
government in London while in exile. They were catholic and many were
 Lublin Poles: The Lublin Poles were the members of the USSR controlled future
Polish government, and believed in communism.
 Free elections would be held in Poland as soon as possible
Yalta conference terms regarding Germany:
 TERRITORIAL: Germany should be divided into four zones of occupation: one
controlled by the USSR, one by the USA, one by Britain and one by France.
Berlin, which was deep in the Soviet Zone was to be divided in the same way,
as allies felt that without Berlin their division would not be complete as they
felt they would not be able to fully control Germany without an equally
divided Berlin.
 POLITICAL AND SOCIAL: It was agreed that they would hunt down and punish
war criminals. The British and the Americans held many POWs from Soviet
territory. These were men from German occupied lands, who were part of the
German army. At Yalta it was agreed that they would be sent back to the USSR,
but upon return 10,00 men were executed, and the rest imprisoned
 REPARATIONS: reparations would be made in kind. A total of 20 billion dollars
to be paid a majority of which would be going to the USSR. The USSR agreed to
help against the war in Japan, and in return the USSR gained island territories
north of Japan. This proved to be quite good for the USSR as they did not have
to do much fighting before the war ended. It was agreed that Eastern Europe
would be seen as a soviet sphere of influence. Why? Because the USSR had
suffered terribly during the war. An estimated 20 million Soviets had died and
Stalin was concerned about the future security of the USSR, and thus it was
agreed that Eastern Europe would be a Soviet Sphere. The leaders agreed to
the setting up of the United Nations. Stalin successfully argued the veto
Yalta: Poland discussions, disagreements and boundaries:
 Stalin wanted the border of the USSR to mover westward into Poland
 He wanted Poland, in turn, to over its border westward into the German
 He thought that this would make Germany weaker and put a buffer zone
between Germany and the Soviet Union
 He wanted the USSR to retain the Polish territory he had taken in 1939 as part
of the Nazi-Soviet pact
 He wanted a pro-soviet government in Poland
Other perspectives about Yalta:
 Roosevelt trusted Stalin.
 He wanted to expand the government in Poland to include the London poles.
 He also wanted free elections in Poland as soon as possible
 Churchill did not approve of Stalin’s plans for Poland, but he could not do very
much because Stalin’s red army was in control of both Poland and Eastern
 Roosevelt was also unhappy about Stalin’s plan, but Churchill persuaded him
to accept it as long as the USSR agreed not to interfere in Greece where the
British were attempting to stop a communist takeover. Stalin accepted it.
 When: 17th July and 2nd august 1945
 Who? Truman, Stalin and Attlee
 Where: Potsdam, Germany
 Why: to put in practice what was decided at Yalta
 Germany would be divided as agreed at Yalta, and details of German zones of
occupation were finalized
 German reparations were agreed- each country was to take reparations from
its own area of occupation. The USSR was to receive some additional industrial
equipment from the western zones of occupation (little of this was ever
handed over)
 Germany would be de-Nazified and war trials were to be held in Germany and
 Germany would be governed as an Allied Controlled council in Berlin where
each decision required a unanimous verdict and the country would be treated
as a single economic unit
 Poland’s western border with Germany was decided. It was settled at the
Oder/Neisse (rivers)
 Poland’s eastern border with the USSR would move westward
 Population: Germans living in Poland, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia would be
sent back to Germany
 Japan would be attacked as planned
Disagreements at Potsdam over Germany between the USSR
and the USA
 The allies did not agree over the future government of Poland and the USSR
controlled government at Lublin continued to run the country
 Stalin wanted to cripple Germany completely to protect the USSR against
future threats. Truman did not want to repeat the mistakes of the TOV
 Twenty million Russians had died in the war and the Soviet Union had been
devastated. Stalin wanted compensation from Germany. Truman however,
was once again determined to not repeat the mistakes at the end of the first
World War and resisted this demand.
 They disagreed over Soviet policy in Eastern Europe. The Soviets kept forces in
Eastern European countries, despite Stalin setup pro-communist governments
in Eastern Europe including Poland
 Truman was very unhappy about Russian intentions and soon adopted a ‘get
tough’ attitude toward Stalin.
 The Soviet Union wanted to play a part in the running of the rich German
industrial area of the Ruhr. The USA rejected this idea.
 The Soviet Union wanted to share in the occupation of Japan. Truman firmly
blocked this idea.
 The USA and Britain asked for a say in what went on in Eastern Europe. Stalin
rejected this suggestion.
Why was there mistrust? Tensions? Breakdown of unity? And why was it difficult
to reach an agreement at Potsdam
The common enemies- Germany, and Japan had brought the two powers
together. Once defeated the mistrust and difference in ideology- capitalism vs.
communism returned
 The Soviet troops had liberated countries in Eastern Europe, instead
of withdrawing troops Stalin left them there
 Refugees were fleeing these countries fearing a communist takeover
 Stalin had setup a communist government in Poland, ignoring the
wishes of the majority of Poles. He insisted that it was a defensive
measure against possible future attacks
 Roosevelt was replaced by Harry Truman, in April 1945. Truman was
more anticommunist than Roosevelt and very suspicious of Stalin.
Moreover, Truman was less diplomatic than Roosevelt
 He saw the soviet actions in Eastern Europe as preparations for a
Soviet takeover of the rest of the world, and adopted a ‘get tough’
attitude toward Stalin.
 By July 1945, the Americans had successfully tested an atomic bomb,
and at the start of the conference, Truman told Stalin about it.
Truman believed that the bomb put the USA in a stronger position
for any arguments with the USSR
 Election in Britain: Churchill was replaced half way by Attlee. In the
absence of Churchill, the conference was dominated by Rivalry and
suspicion between Stalin and Truman.
 After Yalta it was clear that the Soviets had interpreted democracy in
a different manner than the Americans, i.e. the Soviet idea of
democracy was that of communism, and Roosevelt’s idea of
democracy was free speech and elections.
 There was tension because Yalta had raised false hopes in the USA.
The Americans were very disappointed by Stalin, as he did not allow
Western style governments to be setup in Eastern Europe.
What Stalin gained from Yalta and Potsdam:
- One Soviet zone in Germany: one Soviet Zone in Berlin
- Eastern Europe should be seen as a Soviet Sphere of influence
- The plans for Poland’s boundaries. This included a large amount of
territory from Eastern Poland
- POWs from Soviet territories were returned to the USSR to be dealt with
- An agreement that the USSR could enter the war against Japan
- An agreement that each country in the UNSC should have a veto
What did Churchill mean by the ‘Iron Curtain’
 After the Potsdam conference, over the next nine months, Stalin achieved
domination of Eastern Europe that he sought. By 1946 Poland, Hungary
Romania, Bulgaria and Albania all had communist governments which were
loyal to Stalin. Churchill described the border between the Soviet controlled
countries, and the west as the ‘Iron Curtain’.
o This was the mythical division of Europe into two halves, and the
separation of free democratic states, from communist dominated ones.
There was a denial of freedom and democracy
What was the Cold War?
 The cold war is a term broadly used to define a period of conflict, hostility, and
tension between the USA and USSR that stopped just short of actual war,
between 1945 and 1989
 It was a deep mistrust between two superpowers- the USA and the USSR
because of a difference in ideologies; capitalism, and communism’
 This started a rivalry in 1945 and lasted for over 40 years.
 It was an increase in tension which cast a ‘cold’ atmosphere but involved no
 It was a war of words and propaganda (proxy war), which lead to the space
race and the arms race.
 At Yalta the Allies decided that Eastern Europe would be a Soviet Sphere of
influence and Stalin would setup pro-soviet governments
 Why? Russia had lost 20 million people in the war, and wanted to make sure
that it would not be invaded again. To stop another attack Stalin was
determined to control Poland other East European states. In 1914 and 1941,
Germany had attacked Russia through Poland. In 1945, he was determined to
control Poland in order to Stop another attack.
 Before the Second World War, these countries were independent and almost
all of them had right wing anti-communist leaders. Stalin did not want them to
become anti-Soviet again. To create a buffer zone of friendly states in the
west, who would take their orders from Moscow and be communist.
 Privately the USA and the USSR seemed to accept the other super powers’
right to control their halves of Europe
 The soviet takeover was complete by 1948, but it began at the end of WW2
 As Eastern European countries were liberated (by the red army) from the
Germans, Stalin’s troops did not withdraw.
 Stalin made sure governments friendly toward the USSR were put in place
 In most countries the Soviet government setup anti fascist coalition
governments, but gave local communists leading positions
 These communist dominated governments, introduced nationalism, and took
away land from the landlords.
 The soviet leaders believed that they had largely won WW2 so they had a right
to shape the future of Europe as 80% of German losses were on the Eastern/
Russian front. Stalin believed that he had cut the heart out of the German
Stalin also saw the war as proof that communism worked (communist Russia
v. Capitalist Germany).
 This gave him confidence and determination
 The soviet government was convinced that the USA was trying to build up a
new form of World Empire, using economies rather than armed force. The
Soviet leaders thought that setting up a group of Communist friendly countries
was one way to prevent this
Developments in Czechoslovakia between 1945-1948:
Why? Stalin liberated Czechoslovakia. He wanted to create a buffer zone of
friendly states that would answer to Moscow (Communist)
 Communist troops left after the war and there were free elections and the
country was ruled by a coalition of communists and non-communists.
President Edward Benes and foreign minister Jan Masaryk were noncommunists while the Prime Minister Gottwald, was.
 There were free elections in 1946
 By mid 1947 there was an economic crisis (the harvest was bad and the
industry was in trouble). Elections were due for May 1948. The communists
were afraid that they would do badly and decided to seize power in an army
 Many non communists were arrested and Masaryk was murdered
 Rigged elections were held and the communists won, and took over
Poland. How did Stalin seize it?
Why? Stalin liberated Poland. He wanted to create a buffer zone of friendly states
that would answer to Moscow (Communist), since Poland was the route the
Germans took to invade Russia at the beginning of World War Two
 Stalin wanted a pro soviet government and the Polish Government was
completely dominated by the pro-Communist Soviets of the Lublin group, even
though a few London Poles were included. The western allies recognized the
widely communist government and accepted that they were in charge. By
1945 the Lublin communist government was in charge
 In 1947 rigged elections were held in Poland. The leader of the London Poles
Mikolaczyk thought his life was in danger and fled the country.
 And the government was totally communist.
Romania and Bulgaria:
 As the red army into Bulgaria and Romania, in 1944 coalition governments
dominated by communists were setup
 In February 1945, within days of the Yalta agreement, the Soviet politician
Vyshinsky ordered the king of Romania to appoint a new Prime Minister
chosen by Stalin
 The king refused but the soviets got their way
 By mid 1945 communists were in firm control of Romania
 And in 1947 monarchy was abolished and the king was forced to abdicate
Rigged election took place in Bulgaria in November and the Communist
Fatherland Front won. In 1946, the monarchy in Bulgaria was abolished.
 Stalin allowed free elections to take place in November 1945. The noncommunist Small Holders party was more successful than the communists
 In august 1947 rigged elections were held and the communist government
took power, and in November all non communist parties were banned.
Why were the Western governments suspicious of the USSR:
 After liberating most of Eastern Europe, he left his armies there in order to
create a buffer zone
 He did not allow free elections like it was agreed at Yalta
 Poland, Romania, Bulgaria
 Indication via Iron Curtain
The Truman Doctrine:
 This was the policy under president Truman, where the USA was prepared
to give advice, and military and economic aid, to any country which in
American view was threatened by a communist takeover
Why was the Truman Doctrine necessary and what was its
 At Yalta and Potsdam, Roosevelt Churchill, and their successors had agreed
that Eastern Europe would be a Soviet Sphere of influence, however, they
had not expected such complete communist takeover, and were startled by
 In 1945, Churchill had sent British troops to Greece, to help restore order,
and supervise free elections between the two rival groups there; the
Monarchists- whom the British supported, and the communists who
wanted Greece to be a Soviet Republic
 Britain managed to pop up the monarchy in Greece, but by 1946,
communists tried to take control of Greece by force
 A civil war followed
 In Turkey the Soviet Navy wanted to send ships through the Black Sea
Straits, and to set up Naval bases in the area
 Turkey felt threatened by this. Britain could no longer afford to pay for
troops in Greece and Turkey, and wanted to withdraw them, because they
had not recovered from the war, and there was an economic crisis because
the harvests in 1946 were poor and there were food shortages
 In Britain prices were soaring and food rationing was even more severe
than during the war
 Unless America replaced Britain in Greece and Turkey, these countries
could easily come under Soviet control
 The USA did not want to risk a potential communist takeover of a
strategically important country
 This might mean that other countries in the area would also be at risk, and
before long communism would reach America. This came to be known as
the Domino Theory.
 Truman adopted the policy of containment:
What the Truman Doctrine was
 It was a policy of the USA to supported nations in danger of a communist
takeover, from internal or external risk, by sending equipment, economic
and military aid, and giving advice
 The policy of containment consisted of two main elements; the Truman
Doctrine, and the Marshal Plan, or the creation of marshal Aid, the
European economic recovery program
 The Greek government was able to defeat the communists. Relations
between the USSR and the USA soured, which intensified the rivalry.
 Turkey resisted Soviet pressure
 America would not be isolationist
 America became officially committed to containment
 It led to the formation of NATO, the arms race, and the heavy involvement
of US troops, not only in Europe, but also in Asia, especially Korea and
 The USSR responded by forming Comecon and Cominform
What was the Marshall plan
 The Marshall Plan was created by General George Marshall, the United
States secretary of state
 Under the Marshall Plan the USA organized large economic loans, in those
countries, which due to economic hardships might have turned communist.
 The plan aimed at containing communism, through creating a stable, proAmerican economy in Western Europe, by helping war torn Europe, to reequip its factories and revive agriculture and trade
 The plan issued 17 billion dollars, and this money was made available to
any country that applied
 Under the OEEC, the Organization of European economy cooperation
 This turned out to be in favour of the United States, since they formed a
solid trading base. America expected the European countries to buy
American goods, and allow US’s companies to invest capital easily in their
countries in Europe
Why did the USA introduce the Marshall Plan?
 Marshal found that in 1947. Governments in Europe were struggling to pay
for the damage caused by the war, the Economies of the Western European
countries were in ruins.
 The countries of Europe owed 11.5 billion dollars to the USA
 There were extreme shortages of all goods. There was rationing of bread.
There was a coal shortage in the winter of 1947.
 It was clear that without American help there was little chance of economic
 Truman believed that Communism succeeded where people faced poverty
and hardship, and that communism could be stopped if Western Europe
became wealthy
 Weak European countries were more susceptible to communist idea which
promised equality, and a strong and prosperous Europe would lead to a
revival of trade and secure the future of the USA’s economy.
 Truman wanted to avoid another worldwide slump like the one caused by
1930’s depression.
 Motivated by self-interest: he wanted to create trading opportunities and
new markets for American goods and wealthy trade partners who would
buy them.
 Truman did not want to use military force to prevent communism but
wanted to rely on creating prosperity in Western Europe so that countries
would not be vulnerable to communism.
 16 countries applied for aid under the OEEC, and the Marshall aid. They
were given money, and technology was shared, and by 1953, the USA had
provided 17 billion dollars to help rebuild the European economy, and as a
result agriculture and trade recovered.
 This increased tension between the USA and the USSR
 Stalin’s views:
o He saw this as a threat and a plan to impose capitalist ideas on
European countries.
o Stalin called it ‘dollar imperialism’, and believed that the USA wanted
to create a sphere of influence in Western Europe.
o He called Marshall aid a plan motivated by American economical self
o Stalin felt that the anti-communist aims behind Marshall aid, would
weaken his hold on eastern Europe
o Stalin prevented Poland and Czechoslovakia from applying
o In theory, the USSR was applicable to the plan, however the plan
demanded that the applicant present its financial records as part of
the agreement. Stalin mistrusted the USA’s intentions and did not
want to reveal how weak the USSR was financially
o As a result, Stalin set up the Cominform, to strengthen the links
between communist parties in different countries.
o In January 1949, the USSR created its own economic block of
countries in Eastern Europe
 Comecon was the council for mutual economic aid, set up in January 1949.
 the USSR created its own economic block of countries in Eastern Europe, in
response to the Marshall plan
 It was to coordinate the industries and trade of the eastern European
 Members traded with one another rather than trading with the west
It was a trading organization of communist countries.
 It did not involve any injection of money in the Eastern European countries.
It a policy where the USSR financially supported Eastern Europe so they
relied on the USSR
 It benefitted the USSR as they controlled the economies of many countries
and allowed it to access other countries’ resources. Therefore it guaranteed
a cheap supply of raw material to the USSR, such as Polish coal.
 The USSR could tell other countries to make specific products for them.
Example: Hungary produced agricultural goods
 It provided the USSR with a market for its goods
 The communist information bureau was set up in September 1947
 It was setup in response to the Truman Doctrine
 It was an organization setup to strengthen the links between the
communist parties in Eastern European governments
 It followed Soviet aims. It introduced Soviet Style economic policies, like the
collectivization of agriculture and state control of industry
 Communists in Western countries were told to try and wreck the Marshall
plan through strikes. Example: in France and Italy, in 1947- communist
workers organized a series of strikes and demonstrations
 It benefitted the USSR because they used this to purge any member who
disagreed with soviet policies. For example: Tito
Why was the USA hostile toward the Soviet Union?
Ideology/ World’s leading nation
 After 1945 the USA was in excellent economic condition. The output of
American factories had increased by 50% during the war, and half of all the
manufactured goods in the world were made in the USA.
 1/3rd of all the worlds exports came from the USA and it held almost 2/3rds
of all the gold reserves in the World
 On the other hand Britain and France were in debt and could no longer
afford to maintain huge armed forces. Much of the soviet union was also
wrecked by the war
 As the leaders of the world’s richest and most successful country, American
politicians believed that American styles capitalism and free trade was the
way forward for all other countries.
 They were annoyed by Soviet communists who tried to stop the spread of
American business and said that American business was wicked
 The Americans expected to have a major say in the way the world was run
Nuclear Monopoly:
 The USA was very powerful with over 1200 major warships, and 2000 heavy
bomber, it had the strongest Navy and air force in the world
 They produced the atomic bomb in 1945 and believed that it would be 20
years before any country caught up with their atomic power
 American Politicians took a more aggressive line toward the Soviet union
because they thought they could use the bomb as a threat
Truman’s attitude:
 Truman was very anti-communist and was convinced that only threat or
force would stop the Soviets from taking over more countries and making
them communist.
 After the war, the American press portrayed Stalin like Hitler, which was as
a monster and a dictator.
 The lesson of the 1930’s was that appeasement does not work with such
The economic reason:
 American politicians were terrified of the idea that there could be another
depression such as the one in 1929-30, and depression could be avoided if
American factories were kept busy
 American business needed new markets to sell its goods.
 Communist countries were unlikely to buy any American goods, so the
spread of communism was a threat to the American economy.
 George Keenan was an American based in the American embassy in
 In February 1936, he gave the American government a detailed view of
Soviet motives which came to be known as the ‘Long telegram’, which
stated the Soviet government was determined to expand and must be
 America became committed to containment.
What caused it?
 Stalin was taking over Eastern Europe by Salami tactics, and Czechoslovakia
had just turned communist (march 1948)
 On the other side the USA had just adopted the Truman Doctrine to contain
the USSR
 The USA and the USSR had different aims for what they wanted to do with
 The USSR did not want Germany to recover and wanted to keep it weak, so
it would not be able to attack the USSR again, and was stripping East
Germany of its wealth and machinery
 On the other hand, the USA and Britain wanted to rebuild Germany’s
industry so that it could become a major trading partner and they did not
want to repeat the mistake of the TOV and a stronger Germany would also
act as a buffer against communism.
 In January 1947, Britain and the USA joined their two zones in Germany
together, in order to foster economic recovery. They called it Bizonia
 The Russians began to realize that they were trying to create a new,
stronger Germany and were very angry about that. In March 1948, the USA,
Britain and France, decided to unite their zones of Germany into one single
unit (called trizonia) in order to enhance the effectiveness of Marshall Aid.
 The Allies effected a new currency in their zone that replaced Germany’s
badly inflate currency called the Reich mark, with a new one called the
 Germany’s economy responded quickly as goods previously unavailable for
nearly worthless money was brought into the market. As part of this
process, the division of Germany became more and more evident
 West Berlin became a small island of capitalism and democracy,
surrounded by communism.
Stalin’s reaction:
 Stalin thought the introduction of the new currency was provocative and
was against the Yalta agreement and was undertaken without Soviet
 Stalin rightly saw this as an attempt to undermine Russian influence in
Eastern Europe
 He felt it was another step toward a divided Germany, with the wealthier,
larger part of the country closely allied to the USA. He had wanted to make
Berlin entirely dependent on the USSR, and stop economic development of
Western Germany.
 Stalin wanted to remove the allied troops from West Berlin
 After the introduction of the new currency, people in Eastern Europe began
to change their money into the new Western Currency which they thought
was worth more.
 Stalin claimed by the introduction of a new currency, the USA and Britain
were trying to wreck the East German economy
 As a protest against the currency reform and move towards a divided
Germany- Stalin put a blockade on west Berlin by closing the roads and
railways, and cutting off the supplies of over two million people who lived
in West Berlin, since West Berlin was deep inside the Soviet sector of
 Stalin felt the USA’s handling of West Germany (Marshall Aid, creation of
Bizonia, Trizonia and the deutschmark), though he could do nothing about
the Western Zones or the New currency, he felt he could respond by taking
action in West Berlin which was deep in the Soviet sector of Germany
 Since Western Berlin was linked to the Western sector of Germany by vital
roads, railways, canals and air corridors. In June 1948, Stalin blocked the
supply lines, cutting off the 2 million strong population of West Berlin from
Western Help.
 Stalin believed that this would force the allies out of Berlin and make Berlin
entirely dependent on the USSR
The USA responds:
 To the people in the West Stalin seemed to be acting with extreme
 If the USA’s tanks and troops tried to take down the road or railway blocks,
this could’ve lead to full scale war, as this would be seen as an act of
 The Americans were not prepared to give-up on West Berlin because they
saw it as a test case
 If they gave in to Stalin on West Berlin, this might open the way to Soviet
domination of West Germany, because the soviet zones would be next
 Truman wanted to show that he was serious about his policy of
containment and wanted Berlin to be a symbol of Freedom behind the Iron
 The government decided on a middle course; they decided not to provoke
war by sending troops, but to keep the city supplied by sending aircrafts
The Berlin airlift:
o In June 1948, the airlift started. The Americans and the British
organized airlifts of essential supplies such as food, fuel and
o The blockade continued for 11 months, and a total of 200-275
thousand flights (3 per minute), delivered an average of 4000 tons of
supplies per day
o The US, as a warning to the USSR stationed in Britain B29 aircraft
Bombers, capable of carrying atomic bombs
o Despite shortages and hardships, the allies were supported by the
West Berliners and rejected the Soviet pressure to become one city
under communist rule. In May 1949 the USSR reopened the land
routes to Berlin, as the USSR was in position to start an arms race/
war with the USA
Consequences of the blockade
 The airlift was a triumph for the British and Americans
 It showed how far international politics had changed between 1945, when
Berlin had been the symbol of defeated Nazism. By 1948, it was a symbol of
freedom and western communism. From the American point of view, an
oasis of democratic freedom in the middle of communist repression: from
the soviet point f view, an invasive cancer growing in the worker’s paradise
of East Germany.
 It was a costly operation for the western allies. Berlin was a powerful
symbol of cold war tensions
 The world was now divided into two clear blocks between the super
powers. It created a worldwide awareness and deepening about the cold
A divided Germany
 The Berlin Blockade setup a pattern for Cold War confrontations which was
on one hand, the two superpowers and their allies had shown how
suspicious they were of each, how they would obstruct each other in any
way they could. How they would have propaganda against each other, but
they were not willing to go to war with each other.
 As a result of the blockade Germany was sharply divided into two nations
 In May 1949, the British, American and the French zones became the
Federal Republic of Germany- West Germany and the communist Eastern
Zone was formed into the German democratic republic- East Germany
which was a communist one party state under Soviet control
 West Germany held its first elections in august 1949, and the party called
‘Christian Democrats’ won. Its leader Aden Auer hated communism, and
believed very strongly in linking West Germany to the USA and Western
 This was the exact opposite of what Stalin wanted
The Blockade encouraged the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in 1945.
 This was a defensive alliance against the USSR.
 If one member was attacked it would be considered an attack on all
 The alliance was dominated by the USA.
 The formation of NATO was a milestone in American foreign policy because
the USA had never been a member of a peacetime military alliance (it
reflected how committed
 NATO was more than a promise of American help in case of emergency.
The alliance was supported by a large number of troops on the ground
 In particular there was a large build-up of NATO forces in West Germany
 By 1953, 5 divisions of US troops were permanently based in Germany.
Soviet reaction:
 The USSR felt threatened by this, and saw this as an act of war and called
the NATO an aggressive alliance. ‘
 The USSR took action against this when West Germany joined NATO in
1955, it brought back terrible reminders of the Second World War to the
Soviet Union, and as a response the USSR setup its own military alliance a
treaty called the Warsaw pact.
 This alliance was formed by the communist states in Eastern Europe;
Poland, East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Romania, and Hungary
 The members promised to defend each other in times of attack, and
promised not to interfere in internal affairs, and assert the alliance. The
Soviet was to be a supreme commander.
 The world was now divided into two armed camps.
Who was to blame for starting the Cold War: the USA or
the USSR?
Refer to pages 49 – 50 of the red hammer revision guide