International Relations Notes

What were the motives and aims of the Big Three at Versailles?
The leaders Lloyd George (Britain), Clemenceau (France) and Wilson (USA) met in the Paris Peace
Conference in January 1919 to draw up a peace treaty (Treaty of Versailles).
David Lloyd George (Britain)
Wanted Germany to be punished but not too harshly
Wanted Germany to lose its navy and its colonies as they pose as a threat towards the
British Empire.
Did not want Germany to seek revenge in the future and possibly start another war.
Keen for Britain and Germany to begin trading with each other again. Germany was Britain’s
second largest trading partner.
Woodrow Wilson (USA)
Was an idealist – aim was to build a better and more peaceful world. Yet he believed that
Germany should be punished.
Believed the treaty shouldn’t be as harsh; if Germany was treated harshly, as soon as it
recovers Germany wanted revenge.
Wanted to strengthen democracy in the defeated nation so that people would not let their
leader cause another war.
Propose to set up the League of Nations
Self determination – the idea that nations should rule themselves rather than be ruled by
Georges Clemenceau (France)
Germany was a threat towards France.
France suffered badly after the war: damages to its land, industry people, and selfconfidence. Two-thirds of the men who served in the French army has been killed or injured.
Wanted to cripple Germany so that it could not attack France again. They say the treaty as
an opportunity to do so.
German lands were not as badly damaged as the French.
France’s population was in decline.
Knew he would need to compromise with Wilson and Lloyd George.
Verdict of the Treaty of Versailles
Clemenceau problem: it wasn’t harsh enough. Also both Clemenceau and Lloyd George did not
support all of the Fourteen Points. ‘The future of colonies should be reviewed and the wishes of local
people taken into consideration’ France and Britain both had large colonies overseas that they
wished to keep regardless of the feelings of the locals, ‘there should not be secret deals or treaties
between states’ both had made secret treaties before and during WWI such as the Treaty of London
in 1915 and ‘the level of armaments should be reduced in each country’ the British navy was the
strongest navy in the world.
Lloyd George: described it as a great pity and believed that another war would abrupt
Wilson: disappointed with the treaty. Went along with it as he thought the treaty could be sorted out
at a later date.
Terms of the Treaty of Versailles:
War guilt – Germany had to accept the blame for starting the war
Reparations – Germany had to pay reparation to the Allies for the damages caused. 6600 million
German territories/colonies – Germanys overseas empire was taken away. These colonies
became mandates controlled by the League of Nations (basically means that Britain and France
controlled them).
Togoland & Cameroon – run by Britain and France
German South West Africa – to South Africa
German East Africa – to Britain
New Guinea – to Australia
Samoa – to New Zealand
The Marshall, Mariana and Caroline Islands – to Japan
Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia became independent states
West Prussia and Posen – to Poland
Danzig, run by the League of Nations, became a sea port for Poland
The Rhineland became a demilitarised zone
Alsace-Lorraine – to France
Saarland, run by the League of Nation, and then a plebiscite to be held after 15 years.
North Schleswig – to Denmark after a plebiscite
Germany’s Armed Forces – the German army became a threat to all powers, therefore the Treaty
degraded German armed forces to a weak level
Army was limited to 100,000 men
Soldiers had to be volunteers
No armoured vehicles, submarines or aircrafts are allowed
Could only have 6 battleships
No German troops were permitted into the Rhineland as it bordered between Germany and
League of Nations – set up as an international ‘police force’. Germany was not permitted to join
until it has shown to be a peace-loving country.
Impact of the Peace Treaty on Germany up to 1923
Economic Problems
bankruptcy – all reserved gold has been used in WWI. Also had to pay reparation
occupation in the Ruhr – French troops invaded the industrial region of Germany, the Ruhr,
and took all of its resources. Passive resistance was ineffective and the German troops were
unmatched by the French troops (750,000 soldiers). 80% of German coal and iron were
based there. This event increased Germany’s debt, unemployment and the shortage of
hyperinflation – the German government constantly printed out more money to pay off
debts. However as prices increase more money gets printed out which then increased prices
again. Everyone found it difficult to buy necessities as people had to carry a bundle of
money to buy goods which made it inconvenient. There were a lot of shortages as value of
German marks starts to become worthless. Foreign supplier did not accept German marks
so imports and shortages of food started to decrease. People with saving found their money
to become worthless. Those affected were mostly middle class. Despite this, farmers were
better off as they get to charge their goods for a higher price as well as businesses that have
loans as money starts to lose value which means loans are cheaper.
Other Peace Settlements
Treaty of St. Germain, 1919 dealt with Austria
Restricted to 30,000 and forbidden to reunite with Germany
Land given to Poland and Italy
Suffered severe economic problem, as much of the industry has gone to Czechoslovakia
New state called Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia
Treaty of Neuilly, 1919 dealt with Bulgaria
Lost land to Greece, Romania and Yugoslavia, and its access to the Mediterranean.
Limit its armed forces to 20,000
Pay 100 million euro
Treaty of Trianon, 1920 dealt with Hungary
Numerous of territories went to Romania
Lost substantial amount of its territory and its population
Suffered from lost of population and resources
Was due to pay reparation but the economy was so weak it never did
Treaty of Sevres, 1920 dealt with Turkey
Egypt, Tunisia and Morrocco were turned into independent state or were run under French or
British protection.
Treaty of Brest-Litvosk 1918, dealt with USSR
Forced to accept treaty by the Germans
Lost 34% of its population, 32% of its agricultural land, 54% of its industry, 26% of its
railways, and 89% of its coalmines.
Had to pay 300 million gold roubles
To what extent was the League of Nations a success?
Successes and failures in peacekeeping during the 1920s
Aalands Islands 1920
Finland who had recently broken away from Russia asserted themselves over the
island, many of the inhabitants were Swedes and thought they should have a right over
the running of the island
The league dealt with the dispute and the island was handed over to Finland
Greco-Bulgarian 1925
Both sides came close to all-out war
The league took prompt action and ruled that Greece was to blame
Ruhr Invasion 1923
France was entitled to reparations from Germany
France invaded the Ruhr, and the Germans asked the league for help but the league
failed to intervene
Corfu Incident 1923
Italy invaded the Greek island of Corfu
The Greeks asked for help from the league but again they failed to take action, as it
was more important for the great powers to keep Italy within the league
Strengths and weaknesses in its structure and organisation
42 countries had joined the league
World powers such as Britain, France, Italy and Japan were on the Council
The main strength came from the fact that it was set up by the Treaty of Versailles
Neither USA or Russia were in the league, without these great powers in the League it
was too weak to make a big country do as it wished
The Assembly could only make a decision by a unanimous vote (so it never made any
decisions), and on the Council, all the permanent members had a veto.
Economic sanctions were not as effective
The league had no arm which made military sanctions obligatory
How successful was the League in the 1920s?
With smaller disputed the league could intervene and easily settle the dispute (Aalands
The League took 400,000 Prisoners of War home and set up refugee camps
Without USA in the league resolving issues with more powerful countries was near
The League could not defend the Treaty of Versailles, get disarmament, or stop
powerful countries.
The League sometimes failed to enforce the Treaty of Versailles
Overall the League was not very successful
The impact of the World Depression on the work of the League after 1929
14 million Americans were unemployed
Millions now lived in poverty
Countries like Japan and Italy wanted to expand their empires so as to get hold of new
economies which led to the invasion of Manchuria
The League of Nations was not able to impose economic sanctions over Japan,
because USA who was not in the league would continue trading with them and none
of the members of the League wanted to stop trading because it would worsen their
Wall street crash lead to world trade slumping resulting in German loans being recalled,
leading to the rise of extremist parties
The failures of the League in the 1930s
Manchuria 1931-1933
Japanese blew up sections of their own railway and blamed it on the Chinese, giving
them an excuse to invade.
By 1932 they had annexed Manchuria
China appealed to the league due to the obvious violation of the Covenant
However Japanese used its seat in the council to veto any decision
The Lytton commission took two years to determine that Japan was guilty
Japan rejected the Lytton commission and left the league in 1933
The Japanese walked all over the League of Nations and got away with the invasion
and then continued to expand into the north of china
Abyssinia Crisis 1935 -1936
Mussolini aim was to avenge humiliation of 1896
Mussolini moved in with a large army and by 1936 he had occupied the capital
Britain and France “watered down” sanctions allowing Italian troopships and supply
ships through to provide materials for war
The league was only giving Mussolini a “moral sanction”
Creating the Hoare-Laval pact undermined the credibility of the league showing that
they gave into Italy and would do o other big powers
The league drove Italy into Germany’s hands
How successful was the League in the 1930s?
In the 1930s due to economic depression this encouraged nations to be more
aggressive towards each other
Fascist dictatorships took power in Germany, Italy and Japan
The failure to intervene in Manchuria and Abyssinia were the last few straws for the
league as it lost all credibility
These crises destroyed the authority of the League, and it was powerless to stop
Germany after 1935
This failure to control the big powers within Europe brought about the policy of
Without USA in the league the league could never have been successful
In 1939, international peace collapsed leading to the outbreak of yet another World War which
became known simply as World War II. There was much tension, rivalry and aggression
following the end of World War I and the Treaty of Versailles. Germany, Italy and Japan created
much debacle when they began remilitarisation.
The Causes
The peace treaties of 1919 - 1923 left behind with them extreme consequences. The first of
these consequences was that of German anger towards the treaties. They were mainly angry
with the Treaty of Versailles. In 1920, they termed it as a "Diktat" which in English mean
"Dictated peace". They were annoyed at the lost of so much territory in both Europe and in
Africa. They lost their resources as 74% of their iron ore production and 26% of their coal
production was taken away. The Rhineland and Saar regions were demilitrised and occupied
by foreign nations. They could not have a union with their closest ally, Austria. They had to
disarm on a large scale while other countries barely did and they had to pay a reparation fee of
£6600 million. However, what made them most annoyed was the fact that they had to accept
full responsibility for the war through Article 231 better known as the "War Guilt Clause".
There were a lot of resentments to the Treaty of Versailles and when Hitler came to office, he
set out to break all the terms of the treaty. He felt it was unjust and he hated the Germans who
signed it terming them the "November Criminals". He aimed to expand the German territory and
was in favor of a union with his homeland, Austria. He wanted to attain German minorities in
other countries such as Czechoslovakia and to shape out an empire in Eastern Europe to gain
more living space for his people. Hitler wanted to abandon Communism all together. Hitler's
aims would ultimately result in resentment by the British and French.
The League of Nations, which was created in 1920 as a term of the Treaty of Versailles was
supposed to preserve global peace. However, in the 1930's it failed to do so. As a result of its
failure, leaders such as Adolf Hitler became bolder as he realised he could take advantage of
the League. He began to violate the terms of the Treaty of Versailles. One such thing was that
he remilitrised the Rhineland which as a previously demilitrised zone under the Treaty of
As the League failed, the members began losing faith and Britain and France began to
rearm. One of the Treaty of Versailles' terms was for the complete disarmament however only
Germany did so. In the 1930's Britain and France in addition to its rearmament began pursuing
their own policies. One such policy was that of appeasement. This policy was aimed to prevent
aggressors from starting wars. This was signed by Germany in 1935.
In Britain, there were arguments that sided with the appeasement policy and there were some
that were against it. The appeasement policy was seen by some as a good decision since the
Japanese were threatening Britain for British colonies in the east. Britain could not afford to
fight Japan on the east and in the event of rivalry with Germany, a war in the west. The
appeasement policy was therefore seen to be a means of preserving peace with Germany. In
addition, Britain's military was not strong enough to part-take in a major war and therefore could
not risk going to war in two different places. The appeasement policy would give Britain time to
rearm. Britain did not have the support of USA since she did not want to become too intertwined in European affairs. Probably, the most important of all arguments that sided with the
policy was the fact that it would be good for Britain to appease Germany since the Treaty of
Versailles was very much harsh on Germany and this would be a means of sympathizing.
The policy also carried with it arguments that it was not a good take. Such of this nature include
that fact that aggressors do not have final demands meaning that they will not stop
demanding. Britain would therefore have to keep giving if they wanted to be on good terms with
Germany. This also meant that with Britain and France giving into Germany, she (Germany)
could once again become powerful thereby becoming a threat to the British Empire.
The policy was still signed into agreement despite the negatives. With time, it proved
fruitless. The policy failed! The critics who went against the policy and said, "aggressors do not
have final demands" were correct. Hitler's aim was to unite majority of the German speaking
peoples of the Sudetenland into Germany. The Sudetenland was a part of the democratic
republic of Czechoslovakia. Both Britain and France were happy about the creation of
Czechoslovakia but yet they gave part of it to Hitler.
Hitler began to break up Czechoslovakia when he demanded the whole of the
Sudetenland. This demand led to the Munich Conference on September 29th and 30th of 1938
where only Britain, France, Italy and of course Germany were present. This conference was
aimed at giving Hitler his demand of Sudetenland. Although this region (Sudetenland) was a
part of Czechoslovakia, she was not invited to the conference or even consulted. The
Sudetenland was transferred into Germany's Empire.
Czechoslovakia was abandoned by her allies and was severely weakened as she lost her
resources. Stalin of the USSR lost faith in Britain and France. In March of 1939, Hitler invaded
in remainder of Czechoslovakia called Bohemia-Moravia.
The policy of appeasement came to an end with this invasion which proved that Hitler could not
be trusted. Britain and France began to quickly rearm and Poland was assured that she would
be backed by both Britain and France as they believed that Poland would be Hitler's next target.
Cooperation failed on a drastic note in the 1930's. This was as a result of the Great Depression
which led to the collapse of international trade, the closure of banks, factories and businesses,
mass unemployment, economic rivalry and poverty. USA demanded the return of her money
that she loaned to Germany, Britain and France as part of the Dawes Plan which ultimately
resulted in aggression of nations towards USA. Additionally, Germany, Italy and Japan became
aggressive towards other nations tried to take land and resources and increase national
Dictators began to rise globally and people started to blame their governments for poverty and
lack of jobs and they began to give their support to people, many of which were dictators that
were offering them what they wanted. By 1929, over 20 countries globally became
In the early 1930's, Hitler began to pursue many foreign policies. These policies played a huge
role in international peace breaking up. In 1933, Hitler increased the army by approximately
300,000. The Versailles Treaty said that the Germany army could only have 100, 000
soldiers. Hitler also rearmed with was against the treaty and he developed an air academy to
train pilots and built over 1000 aircrafts. All this was against the treaty of Versailles however the
League of Nations did absolutely nothing, Hitler’s actions here angered the League though and
Britain and France.
The Saar Land was a part of Germany prior to the termination of World War I. With the signing
of the Treaty of Versailles, it was handed over to and ran by the League of Nations. In 1935, as
the League promised Hitler, a plebiscite occurred. The people declared as the votes showed
that they favored to be under German rule. This was an awe-inspiring success for Hitler as
roughly 90% of the Saar land region's people voted to be ran by Germany. This increased
Hitler's confidence.
In 1936 as well, Hitler reintroduced conscription which was banned by the Versailles
Treaty. Due to the reintroduction, they army was boosted from 300,000 in 1933 to 550,000 in
1936. This resulted in Britain, France and Italy forming the Stresa Front. The Stresa Front
mainly condemned Germany and their recent actions of rearmament and the reintroduction of
conscription. In 1936, majority of the European powers were united against Germany but this
nature changed a few months after the Anglo-German Naval Treaty was introduced. This treaty
was actually an agreement that prescribed that Germany could have a fleet that can be smaller
than Britain's but if Germany desired; they could have as many submarines as Britain. This
agreement totally overthrew the Stresa Front and Germany now violates yet another term of the
Treaty of Versailles. Britain went against her Stresa Front allies and it was this that angered
The Rhineland was remilitrised by Hitler in 1936. In 1919, the Treaty of Versailles said that this
region was to be demilitrised but as Hitler aimed to abolish this treaty he ordered his troops to
reoccupy the region. France was rather upset about this move because she was afraid that
Germany could invade her through the Rhineland which was right next to France. Both Britain
and France were upset with this however Britain refused to support France in taking action
against Hitler for this and France was reluctant to do so without Britain.
The Spanish Civil War erupted in 1936 and lasted till 1939. Here, Hitler won over the support of
Mussolini when he joined him (Mussolini) in sending troops to aid the Nationalists in Spain in a
revolution against the Communists who supported a Republican Government. Hitler hated
Communism and as a result used this as an avenue to fight off Communism but more
importantly to test out the strength of his new and improved army. Britain and France were
unenthusiastic about getting involved. In 1937, Germany’s air force devastated Spanish Cities
through bombing raids. The world looked on horrified at the mass destruction at the hands of
Between 1936 and 1937, an Anti – Communist Pact was formed called the Anti – Comintern
Pact. It aimed at limiting the spread of Communism around the world but was mostly centered
against the USSR. In this pact, Hitler and Japan agreed to work together against Communism
and Comintern which was the Soviet agency that was spreading Communism
globally. Mussolini, the Italian leader saw that Spain and Germany had a lot in common
militarily and so he joined as well. Hitler now had two powerful allies against the USSR. This
stirred up problems since aggression had now reached a new height between the Pact
members and the USSR.
In March 1938, Anschluss (union) occurred with Austria. Hitler was motivated by his successes
in 1936 and 1937. In Hitler’s publication while he was in jail, ‘Mein Kampf’ (in English it means
‘My Struggle’) he expressed his love for Austria, his homeland and stated that he wanted to
united Austria and Germany. Hitler felt the time was just right to unite the two. He had tried
previously in 1934, but he was unsuccessful (because Mussolini prevented it, but now, the two
wee allies). An election was held in Austria where people voted either to be united with
Germany or to remain independent. 99% of the Austrian population voted to unite with
Germany. However, historians have questioned the legitimacy of this since it has been popularly
felt that the Austrian people were forced to vote in such a manner. Hitler’s troops had been
present all over Austria on election day and armed. Some feel they Austrian were afraid to vote
against Hitler. However, despite this, Hitler was able to again defy the Treaty of Versailles since
union between the two had been forbidden. Hitler’s achievement here concluded in his mind
that the allies were weak and were afraid of him.
Hitler’s achievement of Anschluss with Austria led him to push harder to unite all German
people across Europe. His next move triggered the Sudetenland Crisis. Shortly after Germany
and Austria were united, Hitler annexed the Sudetenland from Czechoslovakia. The crisis
emerged when he then began to invade the entire of Czechoslovakia. The allied powers did
nothing. As this democratic country who had been assured of her safety by the allied powers
was being invaded, it portrayed the extreme failure of the policy of appeasement and the
realisation that Hitler could not be trusted.
Another aspect of Hitler’s foreign policy was the Nazi – Soviet Pact of 1939. This was basically
an agreement between USSR (Russia) and Germany to not invade each other. The reason for
this pact was the fact that Hitler was trying to reclaim all land that the Treaty of Versailles took
away. He wanted to take back the Polish Corridor. He knew that Britain and France would not
do anything if he invaded, but he was not sure about USSR. As such, he took precautions. He
presented the idea of this pact to Stalin of the USSR. The agreement entailed that the two
(Germany and USSR) would attack Poland together. When they conquered Poland, they would
ration out the land between each other. Stalin agreed and in the later part of 1939 they invaded
Poland and conquered her quite easily. This Pact ended all possible cooperation (for the time
being) between Britain and France with USSR.
All these things that Hitler did paved the way for the collapse of International Peace and thus the
start of yet another World War. Each of these things discussed here lead to hostility between
The Second World War broke out shortly after USSR and Germany invaded Poland. This
invasion did not go down well with Britain and France and can be said to be the ‘breaking point’
for them. The two declared war of Germany in September 1939. Hitler had not expected this. He
felt that both Britain and France were afraid of him and thus would not retaliate. But the two
were very much astonished and ashamed that they allowed Hitler to undermine all the terms of
the Treaty of Versailles. They declared war to prove they were not weak and to try to make up
for their failure in dealing with Hitler.
It is important to note though, that Hitler did intend to cause another World War but he expected
that to happen two years later.
The Cold War was a period of hostility which lasted from 1945 to 1991. It was a bunch of proxy wars and
involved the battle of two conflicting ideologies – Communism led by the Union of Socialist Soviet
Republics (USSR) and Capitalism led by the United States of America (USA). It started with ending of
World War II where the temporary alliance between the USA and the USSR was terminated as the
common enemy – Germany – was defeated. The ending of WWII sent most of Europe in a downward
spiral and placed the USSR and the USA in superpower positions. The two superpowers clashed on an
ideological, political, military and economical scale with each thinking that their respective ideas were the
Why did the Cold War start?
There is no known reason(s) for why the Cold War started; however, it has been a popular topic of debate
amongst historians. Over the years, historians have coined three justifications for the start of the Cold
War. The three are however very much conflicting.
The USSR is at fault. This is so because Stalin had desired to dominate the world under
Communism. His takeover of Eastern Europe was seen to be his first step towards this.
The USA is at fault. This is so because the USA wanted to control and influence her sphere of
influence without any intervention by another nation but she wouldn’t allow the USSR to do the same for
her sphere of influence. As a result, any action taken on the part of the USSR is seen to be defensive.
Neither the USSR nor the USA is at fault. This is so because the Cold war is seen to be an
inevitable war that was beyond the control of the two.
The Cold War however can be traced back to as early as 1917 when the Russian Revolution War
began. With this revolution, Communism became the ruling force in Russia which fueled the Western
powers want to “kill” its influence. The Western powers were staunch anti-Communists who did not agree
with the ideals of Communism.
~The Yalta Conference (February 1945)
In February of 1945, the allied leaders met in Yalta, Ukraine with the intention of discussing what was to
become of Europe seeing that Germany was about to be defeated. Stalin of the USSR, Roosevelt of the
USA and Churchill of Britain were present. The three agreed on the following:
Stalin would enter the USSR into the war against Japan.
Germany would be divided into four zones. The four zones would be the American, French, British
and Soviet zones. Berlin would also be divided into these four zones.
They would all punish the individuals who were responsible for the concentration camps and the ill
treatment of the Jews etc.
All the countries that were liberated from Germany would elect a government they desired by free
and fair elections.
They would all join the United Nations (UN) which took over from the League of Nations to preserve
The three however disagreed with what should happen to Poland. Stalin wanted to move the borders of
the USSR westwards into Poland. Churchill was not fond of the idea but could not do much as the Red
Army control both Poland and East Germany. Roosevelt, like Churchill had the same feelings towards
this idea. He was however persuaded by Churchill to accept it.
~The Potsdam Conference (July – August 1945)
Germany had surrendered in WWII and Hitler had committed suicide. The three allied powers once again
met, but this time in Potsdam, Germany. The relationship of the three allied leader were however
affected this time around for the following reasons:
Stalin was having his armies occupy most of Eastern Europe. By July 1945, the USSR was
controlling Poland, Finland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania and the Baltic states.
President Roosevelt of the USA died and Vice-President Harry Truman took over. He was however
an aggressive leader.
An atomic bomb was tested in the desert of the USA.
N.B: Halfway through the Potsdam Conference, elections occurred in Britain where Churchill was
replaced by Clement Atlee who also took his position at the Potsdam Conference.
The following disagreements occurred between the three allied leaders at the conference:
Stalin wanted to cripple Germany so she would be protected from future threats but Truman did not
want a repeat of the Versailles treaty.
Stalin wanted Germany to compensate her for the 20million Russian who died while Truman did not
want a reoccurrence of the mistake made with the Versailles Treaty.
Stalin had received the “go ahead” from the initial representatives from the USA and Britain to set
up governments in Eastern Europe but Truman was not fond of this and assumed a “get tough” approach
towards Stalin.
At Fulton, Missouri, in March of 1946, Winston Churchill made speech that would forever be famous. This
speech is termed the “Iron Curtain” speech which declared that Europe was divided into two by Soviet
policy. Under this, Western Europe was free and democratic led by the Western powers while the East
was under Soviet rule and subject to Communism. The East was behind an “Iron Curtain”. As a result of
this speech, Stalin accused Churchill of trying to stir up war with the Soviets.
This occurred in three phases:
Phase 1: Poland
Phase 2: Romania & Bulgaria
Phase 3: Hungary & Czechoslovakia
in 1945
Stalin had promised to set up a joint Communist/non-Communist government at Yalta, but then he invited
16 non-Communist leaders to Moscow and arrested them. Thousands of non-Communists were arrested,
and the Communists won the 1947 election which strengthened their power.
in 1946
In the 1945 elections, a Communist-led coalition was elected, but the Communists executed the nonCommunists. In 1946, the monarchy was abolished.
in 1947
In the 1945 elections, a Communist-led coalition was elected to power. The Communists gradually took
over and in 1947 they abolished the monarchy
in 1947
The non-communists won the 1945 elections with Zoltan Tildy as president. However, the Communists'
leader, Rakosi, took control of the secret police (the AVO), and executed and arrested his opponents.
Tildy was forced to resign and Cardinal Mindzenty, head of the Catholic Church, was imprisoned. By
1948, Rakosi had complete control of Hungary.
in 1948
A coalition government was set up and led by the non-Communist Benes. However, the Communists'
leader Gottwald made sure they controlled the radio, the army and the police. Gottwald became prime
minister and set up a secret police force. Non-Communists were arrested. In 1948, Communist workers
went on strike, the non-Communist minister Masaryk committed suicide and Gottwald took over the
From 1944, Britain had been supporting the Greek government in its civil war against the
Communists. However in February 1947 Britain ended her support. The Greek government turned to the
USA for help. Truman provided $400 million in the form of aid. Truman did this because he thought that
once one country fell to Communism, the nearby ones will also fall in its trap. This thought is referred to
as the “domino theory” – where one falls nearby one will too. This resulted in the USA taking up a policy
of containment. This here is the Truman Doctrine. (See information under next heading)
In the end, Greece ended up defeating the Communists resulting in the rivalry between the USA and the
USSR increasing. The USA was now fully committed to its policy of containment. The events in Greece
led to the creation of Cominform – the Communist Information Bureau – which linked Communist parties
in Eastern Europe and the world together.
The Truman Doctrine stated that the USA would help any country in the fight against Communism.
Marshall Plan was where aid was given to European countries to get their economies up and running
again. It was introduced in March 1948 after Czechoslovakia became Communist however it was sent to
Congress by General George Marshall and Truman in June 1947 after Marshall saw the destruction in
Europe but Congress said no at that point. Aid was given in the form of food, grants to buy equipment,
improvements to transport systems, and everything "from medicine to mules".
In 1948 Stalin had planned to starve the people of West Berlin but this failed. Stalin closed off all roads
and railway systems that led into West Berlin which was run by the Western allies. To get to West Berlin,
one would have to pass through East Germany ran by the USSR. This closing of the roads and railway
systems to West Berlin was done in an effort to cease the transportation of goods to West Berlin resulting
in the people being starved. This was therefore the blockade of Berlin.
This came as a surprise to the Western powers. USA was not sure how she should respond. She had
two options:
Let Stalin have his way as 2million people would soon starve.
Use force by sending troops and tanks to blast the blockade.
If the latter was used, a full scale war could have resulted and this made the USA wonder if she should
use this option. It was a dilemma for the USA. She needed to make her decision quickly. The
government later decided it would not be wise to provoke the USSR as war could very well result. They
decided that in order for them to undermine Stalin, they had to supply the West Berliners with suppliers
through airlifts.
The airlift plan succeeded. In May 1949, the Soviet Union ended their blockade. It must be noted, during
the time of the blockade, over 200,000 airlifts occurred. This is a testament of how much the USA wanted
to fight off and contain Communism.
NATO is an alliance between the Western powers that was created in April 1949. It stands for the North
Atlantic Treaty Organisation. The dominant country here is none other than the USA with every single
commander of NATO being an American. This alliance provided troops on ground for its members. As a
result of NATO, the Soviets created their own version which became known as the Warsaw Pact.
Korea was a Japanese colony that was being occupied by the Soviets in the north and by the Americans
in the south. The division of North and South Korea was based on the 38th Parallel which was a line of
latitude that was 38degrees north.
In 1949, a civil war erupted in China which led to China becoming a Communist nation. Together, Stalin
and the leader of China influenced the North Korean leader (Kim II Sung) to attack South Korea. Aid was
provided as well as military equipment and the attack went underway in June, 1950. This resulted in the
Korean War. It must however be noted that the USSR never directly fought in the war.
With the Americans belief of the “domino theory”, it led to them getting involved. The USA influenced the
UN to get involved and the UN did so because the USA was seen to be her “good friend” however the UN
allowed the USA to take the lead. USA had all the power to control the military. General MacArthur was
appointed Commander-in-Chief of the UN forces by Truman.
Between June and September 1950, the North Koreans were invading South Korean which pushed the
South Koreans into the Pusan area. By November the UN and South Korean troops drove the North
Koreans back. China sent warnings to MacArthur not to cross the 38th Parallel. MacArthur however
disobeyed both China and Truman. As a result, the Chinese entered the war and sent the UN back and
once again made their way with the North Korean troops to South Korea in an effort to make them
surrender. MacArthur was soon dismissed by Truman because he desired to use an atomic bomb on
China but Truman disapproved as he saw this to be a trigger for nuclear war.
In 1951, the UN drove the North Koreans and the Chinese back to the Communist part of Korea but the
North Koreans and the Americans remained station at the 38th Parallel. In 1953, an armistice was signed
and war was over.
What were the results of the Korean War?
Over 30,000 Americans were killed and more than 1.5million South Koreans and 3.5million North
Koreans were killed.
The UN actually gained some respect because of its firm action unlike the League of Nations.
Some believed the Americans were only using the UN.
This led to the Cold War being no longer confined to just Europe. It had no spread to Asia.
America saw it was a success for them but Korea was still divided.
The USA had played a massive role in the development of Cuba up to 1959. They had invested money
in Cuban industries and were a major importer of Cuban good. In 1934, the USA aided Cuban military
officer Fulgencia Batista to assume power in Cuba. His government was however not popular. It was
rather corrupt and it was this that led to the eventual overthrow of him and the takeover of Fidel Castro, a
This takeover was a severe blow for the USA as a country in her sphere of influence was quickly
becoming a Communist one. How would it look for a strong anti-Communist country to have a
Communist country just 150km away from them? Moreover, the USA was fearful of the “domino theory”
occurring in this part of the world.
The American companies and industries in Cuba were soon chased out of Cuba by Castro.
The USA has to take some action. The following were done:
1. They seized all imports of Cuban sugar staring from 1960.
2. They ended all trade with Cuba in October 1960.
3. All diplomatic relations were ended with Cuba in January 1961.
These actions taken on the part of the USA could be quite severe for Cuba as the USA was the major
contributor to Cuba’s economy. It was therefore the hope of the Americans that Castro would give in but
this was not achieved. The opposite was in fact achieved. This resulted in Cuba turning to the USSR,
the USA’s enemy for help and protection. Castro began to receive aid from the Soviets in the form of
The CIA in the USA formed a group in Florida which comprised of ex-politicians from Cuba who were
exiled. The aim of this group was t take over Cuba from Castro. In 1961, the new President of the USA,
Kennedy pushed for the invasion of Cuba by these exiles that were being trained by CIA personnel in
Guatemala. They were all so confident that the Cubans in Cuba would support then and praise
them. The exiles invaded at the Bay of Pigs but it was a disaster. The Cubans did not support
them! They actually liked Castro. The exiles were being challenged by over 20,000 Cuban troops. The
operation had failed tremendously and it was none but humiliating for the newly appointed President of
the USA.
What were the results of the Bay of Pigs invasion?
Cuba was declared a Communist nation by Castro in December 1961.
Castro asked Khrushchev to provide arms for Cuba so she can protect herself for future invasions
by the USA.
Khrushchev agreed to the give arms to Cuba but he secretly hoped to make Cuba a Soviet Missile
base because it was in close proximity to the USA and the USA had three missiles facing the USSR while
the USSR had none facing the USA.
The Americans developed a greater fear of Communism with Kennedy warning the USSR not to
set up missiles in Cuba.
Soviet missiles in Cuba
The placing of Soviet missiles in Cuba was done secretly in an effort to not allow the USA to find
out. There have been no definite reason(s) to explain why Khrushchev placed missiles in Cuba but the
following are possible reasons:
To defend Cuba due to the Bay of Pigs invasion
To force the USA to remove their missiles in Turkey
To catch up with the USA in the arms race
To prove that the USSR was in fact powerful
In August of 1962 a US spy plane was flying over Cuba. While doing so, they spotted weapons. By
September, Khrushchev was secretly sending nuclear weapons to Cuba. Given the fact that Kennedy
was now aware of the weapons in Cuba, he warned to the USSR not to set up missile bases on the
Caribbean island. The USSR promised Kennedy that they would not set up any bases but the ironic thing
is that they were already setting up the bases.
On the 14th October, U-2 planes took some investigative photographs of the island. The following day,
experts noticed a site that was being prepared to host a number of medium range missiles. This scared
Kennedy and he called a meeting with high level advisers. A few days later, some more investigative
photographs discovered more missile bases on the island.
The missiles had the power to reach as far as Canada. Therefore it could be extremely fatal in the USA.
With all this, Kennedy had to make some fast decisions. He had five options:
1. He could do absolutely nothing because the USA had much more missiles than the USSR and so
they were well capable of destroying the USSR so it would mean the USSR would not use their
missiles. However, on the flipside, it would show extreme weakness on the USA’s part as they
did in fact issue a warning to the USSR.
2. Destroy the missile bases by the use of air attacks. This would actually destroy the bases but
there would be a very high likely hood of Soviet retaliation.
3. They could invade through the air and sea. This would get rid of two obstacles seen as bad by
the USA – the missile bases and Castro. However this would result in the Soviets responding,
probably in the same way.
4. They could simply be diplomatic and sort their issue. This would avoid any conflict but it would be
seen to be weak on the part of the USA.
5. Form a blockade of Cuba so as to prevent the USSR from transporting any more missiles etc into
Cuba. This would show boldness for the USA but it would not solve the main problem – the
missiles would still be in Cuba. As a result, the Soviets could launch it at any time.
Kennedy ended up choosing the latter option. Under this option, all ships that were transporting weapons
to Cuba were ordered to be turned around. On the 22nd October, the USA stated that if the USSR
launched any missile, the USA would retaliate. The following day, the USSR said that their only motive to
placing the missiles in Cuba was to safeguard the island from an American attack. Khrushchev blamed
Kennedy for wanting the world to enter a nuclear war. On the 26th October, a letter from Khrushchev
was sent to Kennedy stating that he was ready to come to an agreement with Kennedy. It was initially
stated that the USSR would consider removing the missiles if the USA promised not to invade Cuba. But
then he sent another on canceling his previous term and stated that they would only remove the missiles
if the USA removed theirs from Turkey.
On October 27th a U-2 plane was shot down over Cuba and the pilot died. Kennedy was very much
angry by this and he believed that Castro was acting on the orders of Khrushchev. Kennedy was urged
to attack Cuba by his advisers. Kennedy however was reluctant to adhere to this. He was advised by his
brother to reply to the first letter and forget the second one as it was aggressive. He did. He stated that
he would not invade Cuba. He also added that he was unable to make a decision about Turkey until he
speaks with his NATO allies. The letter was sent.
On the 28th October, Radio Moscow announced that Khrushchev was removing the missiles from
Cuba. The USA agreed to remove their missiles from Turkey once it was kept a secret.
The Cuban Missile Crisis was over! It lasted for a mere 13days in October.
What were the results of this crisis?
Khrushchev claimed that he had achieved his aim of preventing the invasion of Cuba by America
but he was condemned by China for backing down. It is believed that this led to his eventual loss of
power two years after the crisis
Kennedy was praised for avoiding war both at home and worldwide.
Cuba remained a Communist nation and was still dependent on Soviet aid
Khrushchev and Kennedy realized
Vietnam was once a French colony called Indo-China along with Laos and Cambodia but the French
were driven out by the Vietminh in 1954. The Vietminh were a Vietnamese Communist group who were
freedom fighters. As a result, Indo-China, by protocol of the Geneva Conference of 1954 was divided into
four parts. These four parts were to be Laos and Cambodia which would be independent. North Vietnam
would be Communist and South Vietnam would be ruled by a right wing dictator called Diem. This
division was made along the 17th Parallel. The Vietcong forces won against France for four factors:
1. The Vietminh made use of guerrilla warfare which was new to the French.
2. The Vietnamese people supported the Vietminh
3. France was still suffering from WWII. She did not have a large enough army to send, nor enough
4. China aided Vietnam. China had recently became Communist and she supplied Vietnam with
ammunition, arms and equipment.
It had been agreed that there would be a general election to reunite the country either under Communist
ideals or democratic ideals. Although the US initially supported this, President Diem and the US
government was afraid of the results going against them which could lead to what President Eisenhower
of the US described as the "Domino Effect". This is whereby one country falls to communism, then the
region will follow and fall prey to communism as well. The falling prey to communism is seem to be
synonymous of a row of domino's falling. Elections were never held and civil war soon broke out as the
people as well as opposition groups were demanding a democratic coalition government so the country
could be united. Amongst these opposition groups were the National Liberation Front and the Buddhists
w ho were well known for setting themselves afire as a form of protest.
USA's presence in Vietnam only made matters worst. Her Policy of Containment was in full force here as
she tried to restrict its influence in the region if not kill it off completely. She began to increase the arms
and army in Vietnam. Generally USA was somewhere she was not wanted. The Vietnamese just wanted
to be united under a Vietnamese government and not another foreign nation.
As the civil war intensified more freedom fighting groups emerged. The Vietcong, the major one was now
in both North and South Vietnam.
Bombings began in early 1965 with the US bombing the North on a regular basis however to President
Johnson, this was not enough. He approved for some 180 000 US troops to move into Vietnam. Within
three years, Vietnam had almost 550 000 US troops. US involvement in the war was widely criticized by
US citizens. It should be noted that the atrocities of this war was broadcasted over the Television and
radio. It was the first time people could actually see the intensity of the Cold War period and a war on a
whole. To top this off, the US was not doing well. She was losing despite her obvious advantage as it
related to technology however the Vietcong used guerrilla tactics which the US was not accustomed
to. The US used two tactics to try to combat this issue:
1. massive airpower
2. chemical defoliants (eg. Agent Orange incident)
These did not work to eliminate the Vietcong presence though but it did have a psychological influence on
the citizens. It led the Vietnamese to push further away from the US and give support to the Vietcong and
North Vietnam's leader Ho Chi Minh.
Two significant events occurred. The first being the Tet Offensive. This occurred in 1968 whereby the
North Vietnamese Communist forces struck the Southern capital, Saigon. What was most significant was
that it occurred during Tet. Tet is a Vietnamese religious festival. The attack saw the US embassy being
bombed. The aim was to set off a revolution in the South but this was not achieved. Their plan backfired
as the US sent in a large force which killed over 50 000 communist troops within three months. This
event however is seen to the the turning point of the Vietnam War because it was one of the main
reasons that North Vietnam ended up wining the war in the long run. Though the Communists were
humiliated, this humiliation did not amount to US humiliation as the US politicians began to rethink the
true reason behind their involvement if there existed any. This further intensified US citizens disgust.
The second major event is the My Lai massacre in 1968. US soldiers went into the vilage of My Lai
because they thought that a Vietcong force was hiding in the village. They killed almost 500 villagers
including the elderly and babies. The soldiers were ordered to shoot and kill "anything that moved". This
further angered US citizens.
A policy of Vietnamisation was pursued by President Nixon of the USA. Under this policy, the US would
re-arm the South Vietnam army. The soldiers would be trained and little by little, the US would pull
out. As Nixon did this, he increased the bombings on North Vietnam. In 1973, peace talks began
following the Summer 1972 Offensive by the North Vietnam Communist forces which echoed the Tet
Offensive but this time a bit more successful. Following this, it became clear that no end would come as
no side could see victory in the horizons. A cease-fire was arranged in 1973 and US troops started going
home. Though a cease-fire was arranged, fighting continued. It was only two years after that the war
finally ended after the North launched an attack on the South. By this time the US was all gone and the
South had no help. The Saigon government could not resist leading to the fall of South Vietnam. The
North Vietnamese captured Saigon on the 29th April, 1975 bringing the Vietnam War to an end.
The end of the Vietnam War was however a big blow to the US who felt even more humiliated now. The
leaders of the US following the end of the Vietnam War however decided to engage in a policy of 'detente'
and so they set up peaceful relations with the Communist superpowers - the USSR and China. US self
confidence was restored in the 1980s to some extent with Ronald Regan who ended this peaceful period
of relations known as detente and aggressively challenged the USSR leading to a new arms race known
as the Star Wars.