Name: ___________________________________
The Cold War: 1945-1991
The student will demonstrate knowledge of major events in
the 2nd half of the 20th century by: a) explaining key events
of the Cold War, including the competition between the
American and Soviet economic and political systems and the
causes of the collapse of communism in the Soviet Union and
Eastern Europe; b) assessing the impact of nuclear weaponry
on patterns of conflict and cooperation since 1945.
Did the polarization of the world by the two superpowers
benefit or harm global development?
Cold War led to the creation of global alliances that continue
to impact the world today.
Background of the Soviet Union
In 1917, the Bolshevik Revolution eliminated
rule by the czar’s family and established rule
by the Communist Party in Russia. The leader
of the Bolsheviks was Vladimir Lenin. Russia
renamed the territory it controlled the Union of
Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). Upon his
unexpected death in 1924, the Russian
Communist Party was taken over by Joseph
Stalin. “Uncle Joe,” as he was called in the
U.S. as our ally during WWII, remained the
leader of the USSR until his death in 1953.
Capitalism: An economic system in which citizens
own private property and are entitled to profit from it.
In a capitalist country, almost all the natural resources,
factories, mines and land are owned by individuals.
Communism: An economic system in which the
people as a whole own all the natural resources,
factories, mines and land of their country. In theory, all
citizens profit from the resources of a country. In
practice, the government owns everything, sets all
prices, employs everyone and distributes all profits.
The Universal Declaration of
Human Rights: 1948
Adopted by the United Nations, this was the
first global expression of rights to which all
human beings are inherently entitled…
The Cold War was a global competition b/w two ideologies: the
Democratic/Capitalist world led by the United States (WEST) & the
Communist world led by the Soviet Union (EAST)
Greatest Danger?
Nuclear proliferation (the spread of nuclear technology) and the nuclear arms
race between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R.
U.S. & U.S.S.R. were allied in WWII against
Fascism; however, the common enemy had been
defeated & the need for cooperation was gone
Cold War Time Line
1945: End of WWII; Space Race begins; United Nations formed;
Potsdam Conference; Germany & Berlin divided; Cold War begins
1946: Churchill’s “Iron Curtain” Speech
1947: U.S.’s Policy of Containment; Truman Doctrine
1948: Marshall Plan; Soviets blockade Berlin; US launches Airlift
1949: NATO formed
1950: Korean War begins (1950-53)
1953: Stalin dies
1955: Warsaw Pact formed
1957: Space Race begins when the Soviet Union launches Sputnik
1959: Vietnam War begins (1959-1975)
1961: Berlin Wall goes up (torn down in 1989); Bay of Pigs Invasion
1962: Cuban Missile Crisis
What is a Superpower?
An extremely powerful nation with greater
political, economic, or military power than
most other nations.
Two superpowers emerged after WWII:
• United States
• Soviet Union
Beginning of the Cold War 1945-1948
At the Yalta &
Conferences, before
WWII was over,
basic philosophical
differences became
Churchill, Roosevelt, Stalin
Stalin, Truman, Churchill
United States & Western Allies
Soviet Union & Eastern
European Satellite Nations
Containment of Communism &
the eventual collapse of the
Communist world
Spread world-wide Communism
What to do with Germany?
Potsdam Conference
The victorious powers
of WWII – Great
Britain, France, the
Soviet Union & the
U.S. – decided to
divide Germany &
Berlin into four zones
of occupation.
Seeds of Fear & Distrust
After WWII: U.S. & Great Britain
wanted the Eastern European nations to
determine their own governments
(self-determination: determination
of one’s own fate or course of action
w/out compulsion; free will)…
Stalin’s Fears: the Eastern European
nations would be anti-Soviet if they
were allowed free elections… so, he
exerted his control & turned these
‘buffer’ states into Soviet Satellite
nations (satellite: formally
independent, but under heavy
political & economic influence or
control by another country)
Soviet satellite nations included:
Poland, Czechoslovakia, Romania,
Hungary, Bulgaria, Lithuania, the
Ukraine, and more…
The Soviet Union feared the Democratic
West & the U.S. feared Communism
“Iron Curtain”
East – Communist
West – Capitalist
The "Iron Curtain" was the
symbolic, ideological & physical
boundary dividing Europe into two
separate areas from the end of
WWII until the end of the Cold
War (r. 1945-1991)
“From Stettin in the Balkans, to
Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron
curtain has descended across the
Continent. Behind that line lies the
ancient capitals of Central and
Eastern Europe.”
-- Sir Winston Churchill, 1946
Iron Curtain Cartoon
Policy of Containment: 1947
In 1947, the U.S. adopted the
policy of containment: keep communism
within its existing boundaries and prevent
further Soviet aggressive moves
Truman Doctrine: 1947
Totalitarianism threatened
democracy… so, the U.S. put forth a
policy that would support Greece &
Turkey w/ economic & military aid to
prevent their falling into the Soviet sphere
Truman Doctrine: “it is the policy of the U.S. to
support free peoples who are resisting
attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by
outside pressures."
Effectively reoriented U.S. foreign policy from
isolation to possible intervention in far
away conflicts…
Marshall Plan 1948: Rebuild War-Torn Europe
Another attempt at
preventing the spread of
Communism in
“The U.S. should provide aid to all European nations that
need it. This move is not against any country or doctrine,
but against hunger, poverty, desperation, and chaos.”
~ Sec. of State, George Marshall
Berlin Blockade & Airlift: 1948-1949
The U.S., Great Britain & France united the three western
sections of Germany & Berlin
Stalin responded by
attempting to force the
western allies out of
Berlin altogether: he
cut off rail & road
access to West Berlin
The U.S. & Great Britain mounted a massive airlift to
keep the western sectors supplied w/ the food & fuel
that the city needed (10 months; 277, 264 flights; 1.5
million tons of aid)
The Berlin Wall: 1961-1989
On August 13, 1961 construction began on the Berlin Wall by the Soviet Union in an attempt to keep citizens of
communist East Berlin from escaping into democratic West Berlin
The Nuclear Arms Race
Goal: To stockpile nuclear weapons in preparation for any
potential attack from the other side
Mutual Assured Destruction
Whoever shoots first, dies second
Theory of Deterrence: each side knew that the other would also be destroyed if it launched its
nuclear weapons, which discouraged nuclear war… (“balance of terror”)
Space Race: Sputnik I (1957)
•Space Race: The race to put satellites, rockets & man into space
•Began When: Soviet Union launched Satellite, Sputnik in 1957
•Caused panic in U.S.: No formal space program
•NASA (National Aeronautics & Space Administration) was immediately formed to help the U.S.
catch up & compete with the Soviet Union’s space program
NATO: North Atlantic Treaty Organization
The Berlin blockade & the Soviet Union’s launch of an atomic bomb
provided compelling evidence that in order to deter the Soviets from
further aggression, an alliance was necessary b/w nations of Western
Europe & the U.S.
Stalin’s Response
Warsaw Pact
Bay of Pigs Debacle: April 1961
1950s: Fidel Castro led the Cuban Revolution & with the support of the Soviet Union,
transformed Cuba into a Communist nation
Bay of Pigs:
•The U.S. sent CIA-trained Cuban exiles to invade Cuban in an attempt to overthrow the Communist regime
•The Cuban armed forces, trained & equipped by Eastern European Communist nations, defeated the
invading combatants w/in 3 days
•The failed invasion severely embarrassed the JFK administration & made Castro wary of future U.S.
intervention in Cuba
Nikita Khruschev Embraces Cuban Dictator,
Fidel Castro: 1961
Cuban Missile Crisis: 1962
We went eyeball-to-eyeball with the
Russians, and the other man blinked!
Cuban Missile Crisis: October 1962
1958: The U.S. deployed more than 100 missiles to the UK, Italy &
Turkey, all of which had the capability to strike Moscow
1961: Unsuccessful Bay of Pigs invasion led the Cuban & Soviet
governments to secretly begin building bases in Cuba for nuclear
missiles that had the ability to strike most of the continental U.S.
Soviet Union sent nuclear missiles to Cuba
U.S. President, JFK, set up a military blockade & demanded that the
Soviet Union remove the missiles from Cuba
For 13 tense days, the world faced a risk of nuclear war over the issue
October 28, 1962: Confrontation ended when JFK & Khrushchev
reached a public & secret agreement
Publicly, the Soviets would dismantle their offensive weapons in Cuba & return them to the Soviet Union in exchange
for a U.S. public declaration & agreement never to invade Cuba
Secretly, the U.S. agreed that it would dismantle all U.S.-built missiles deployed in Italy & Turkey
The “HOT” Wars Within the “COLD WAR”
Brezhnev Doctrine: Whenever a nation had a civil war in which one side
was communist, the U.S.S.R. would give military aid, training &
equipment to the communist side in hopes that they would win &
communism would spread
Truman Doctrine: The U.S. would side with whoever was fighting
against the communist party, giving military aid, training & equipment to
the political or military groups opposing communism.
Mindful that a full-scale
nuclear war would be a disaster for both sides,
the superpowers fought each other through a variety of proxy wars in
Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan & dozens of other places
Proxy warfare: A war that results when opposing powers use third parties
as substitutes for fighting each other directly
Spread of Communism: Mao’s Revolution in China (1949)
and his
Little Red
-Communist Mao Zedong was victorious over
Chiang Kai-shek (leader of the anti-Communist
Nationalists, supported by the U.S.)
-Establishment of the People's Republic of China
(Maoist Phase 1949 – 1976)
Spread of Communism: China
People have come together to support the Communist Party
Spread of Communism:
The Korean War (1950-1953)
-Gained independence from Japan in
1945 (after Japan’s defeat in WWII)
North Korea: Kim Il Sung
-Korea split in ½ at the 38th parallel
(Soviets occupied the North & the
U.S. occupied the South)
-The Communist government of
North Korea tried to take over the
Capitalist South Korea
-The United Nations sent troops from
its member states to keep peace
-The U.S. was the most important &
richest country in the U.N. so it sent
the most troops & supplied most of
the weapons
South Korea: Syngman
Rhee (Capitalist)
Korean War: Who Wins?
July 27, 1953: Armistice signed
between U.S. & North Korea
South Korea remained free of
containment worked!!
North Korea & South Korea
never officially signed a peace
pact; it is only considered a
truce… technically, the Korean
War is still going on today
U.S. maintained presence along
the DMZ: Demilitarized Zone
Casualties in the Korean War
NK & Chinese soldiers
and civilians
SK civilians
Korea is still two separate nations today: Kim Jong Il (19942011) & now his son, Kim Jong Un, lead an impoverished &
backward country where people are starving & freezing to death
SK soldiers
USA soldiers
Other UN soldiers
Spread of the Cold War:
Vietnam War (1959-1975)
North Vietnam
(Ho Chi Minh & Viet Cong)
attempting to unify the country
under a Communist government
South Vietnam
(U.S. w/ the aid of the
South Vietnamese govt)
attempting to prevent the
spread of communism
Vietnam War
•Background: Vietnam was a French colony (“French
Indochina”) prior to WWII
•Communist & Vietnamese nationalist revolutionary, Ho
Chi Minh, formed the Viet Minh, the League for the
independence of Vietnam
•Ho Chi Minh defeated France & Vietnam was divided
along the 17th Parallel
North: Ho Chi Minh & Communists (+ supported the Viet Cong guerillas fighting the
southern government)
• South: Ngo Dinh Diem (President) & Western democracies
•Ho Chi Minh wanted to unite all of Vietnam under
•United States organized the South East Asia Treaty
Organization (SEATO) to protect the independence of
South Vietnam and to maintain its policy of containment
•Domino Theory: The U.S. was afraid
that if one country fell to Communism,
the rest would also fall
Major Events of the Vietnam War
American Military Advisors were sent to Vietnam to support France: Early 1950s
Gulf of Tonkin Resolution: August 1964
U.S. President Johnson claimed that North Vietnam attacked U.S. ships in Gulf of Tonkin
Congress passed the resolution & sent combat troops to Vietnam
Operation Rolling Thunder: 1965-68 – The U.S.’s bombing campaign against
North Vietnam
Tet Offensive: 1968 – Communists attacked 30 South Vietnamese cities (turning
U.S. leaders lose the American public’s support for the war
Concerns: huge casualties, length of war, cost of war (approximately $140 billion)
Protests: Kent State, dodging the mandatory draft
U.S. Withdrawals: January 1973 (cease fire b/w the U.S. & North Vietnam)
Fall of Saigon: April 1975 – South Vietnamese troops continued fighting after the
U.S. withdrew; however, the war ended when North Vietnam swept through the
South & captured Saigon (renamed Ho Chi Minh City)
Vietnam was united as a Communist country
The Vietnam War became a benchmark for what not to do in all future U.S. foreign
U.S. Presidents during WWII & the Cold War Era
Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933-1945)
• Led the U.S. out of the Great Depression (New Deal)
• Led the U.S. to victory in WWII
Harry S. Truman (1945-53)
• Made decision to drop atomic bomb
• Led the U.S. during the Korean War (1950-53)
Dwight D. Eisenhower (1953-61)
• WWII General & Hero
• Helped end Korean War
• Steered a moderate course during the Cold War
John F. Kennedy (1961-63)
• President during the construction of the Berlin Wall
• Cuban Missile Crisis
Lyndon B. Johnson (1963-69)
• Passed anti-poverty and civil rights programs
• Involved the U.S. in the unpopular Vietnam War
Richard Nixon (1969-74)
• Improved relations with the Soviet Union and China
• Wound down the Vietnam War
• Watergate Scandal
The End of the Cold War:
December 1991
Mikhail Gorbachev
Last leader of the Soviet Union (1988-1991)
The Cold War started to thaw
in 1985 when Mikhail
Gorbachev became the Soviet
Premier & urged major political
& economic reforms…
•Glasnost = political openness (ended censorship & encouraged people to discuss
the country’s problems – freedom of speech & of the press)
•Perestroika = economic restructuring (citizens can own their own business)
Tearing Down the Berlin Wall: 1989
Protestors motivated the Politburo to create a proposal that would allow refugees & travelers to exit East Germany & East Berlin.
A misinterpretation of the regulations led to the opening of the gates b/w East & West & the eventual demolition of the Berlin
At least 916 people were killed b/w 1949 & 1989 while trying to flee from East Germany across razor wire & minefields bristling
w/ machine-guns on tripwire.
Collapse of the Soviet Union: 1991
•The collapse of the Soviet Union began when the
Communist Party lost a majority in the June 1991 elections
•Boris Yeltsin became Head of State in the newly renamed
“Russian Federation”
•By December 1991, all 15 republics of the former Soviet
Union were independent
•On December 26, 1991, the USSR was officially
dissolved and…THE COLD WAR WAS OVER!!
The Soviet Union (1922-1991)
Final Reflection Question:
Because we live as free people
in a democratic system in the United States,
is it our responsibility and duty to ensure the
rest of the world becomes like us?
Cuban Missile Crisis (Showdown: Cuban M. Crisis)
Nuclear weapons and the theory of deterrence
The Policy of Containment
Massive military buildup
The Space Race
Soviet Satellite nations
Korean and Vietnam Wars

The Cold War: 1945-1991