Karl Marx, founder of
“Workers of the world,
Timeline of the Cold War
• 1917
Russian Revolution is
taken over by the Bolsheviks (Lenin)
• 1921
Russian Empire is officially renamed
the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (CCCP)
• 1924
Lenin dies
• 1925
• 1939
• 1942
Stalin gains control of the
Communist Party/USSR
FDR okays development of
atomic weapons (Manhattan
U.S. and U.S.S.R. are “uneasy allies” in
1945 Potsdam Conference between
Truman, Stalin, and Churchill – the three
agree on post-war boundaries
1945 Truman okays bombing of
Japanese cities (Hiroshima and
Nagasaki), leading to Japan’s
1945 WWII ends with USSR
occupying Eastern Europe and
US/Britain/France occupying
Western Europe
1946 Communist government set
up in Albania, beginning gradual
communist takeovers in all of
Eastern European countries.
1946 Kennan’s “long telegram”
warns of Soviet ambitions to
spread communism
1948 Marshall Plan implemented
to rebuild Western Europe and
save it from communism
1948 Berlin Airlift begins as
response to USSR blocking roads
and railroads into West Berlin
1949 Chinese Communists (Mao
Tse-tung) successfully defeat
1949 Russians explode their first
atomic bomb
1949 NATO (North Atlantic Treaty
Organization) formed as an alliance of
free countries
1950-1954 McCarthy “Witch Hunt” era or
Red Scare
1952 Eisenhower takes office
1953 Stalin dies
1953 First hydrogen bomb tested
1953Korean War observes 60-year
ceasefire, but isn’t officially ended
1955 Warsaw Pact formed, consisting of
the USSR and its eastern European
Bomb shelter
1955 Nikita Kruschev gains
control of the Communist
1956 Kruschev delivers
“secret speech” denouncing
Stalin’s brutality and
oppression; within a year he
has done a 180-degree
Mao’s Great Leap Forward
aimed at transforming Chinese industry
Mao’s Cultural Revolution
aimed at “purifying” China by eliminating old
(non-communist) ways of thinking
1957 Space Race begins as the Russians
beat the U.S. in putting the first satellite into
1959 Fidel Castro sets up communist
government in Cuba
1959 Kruschev visits U.S.
1960 Gary Powers’ U-2 plane shot
down over USSR
1960 Kennedy elected president
1961 Soviets are first to put a man
into space (Yuri Gagarin)
1961 Bay of Pigs invasion – JFK’s
failed attempt to help Cuban exiles
win Cuba back from Castro
1961 Berlin Wall constructed
overnight to prevent East Germans
from escaping into the West
1962Cuban Missile Crisis: The U.S.
and U.S.S.R. teeter on the brink
of nuclear war over the Soviets
shipping nuclear missiles to
Cuba; it ends in a compromise
1963 Kennedy assassinated; LBJ
(Lyndon B. Johnson) takes office
1964 Kruschev forced to resign;
Leonid Breshnev takes over
1967 U.S. puts first man on the
1968 Prague Spring crushed by
Soviet invasion
1968 Nixon elected president
1972 Nixon visits China and USSR;
Strategic Arms Limitations Talks (SALT)
with USSR bring about détente, a calming
of the Cold War
1973 U.S. troops out of Vietnam
1974 Nixon resigns over
Watergate Scandal; Ford takes
1975 South Vietnam falls to
1975 Helsinki Accords affirm
European borders, agreements on
human rights
1976 Carter defeats Ford
1978 U.S. and China establish
diplomatic relations; U.S.
withdraws support of Taiwan as
the “real China.”
USSR invades
Afghanistan; US boycotts Olympics
1980Reagan defeats Carter
1980 Polish Solidarity movement
challenges the authority of the
communist government
1985 Mikhail Gorbachev takes
over leadership of USSR
1986 Gorbachev announces
policies of perestroika and glasnost
(restructuring and openness)
1988 George HW Bush elected
1988 George HW Bush
elected president
1989 Berlin Wall is
demolished, symbolizing the
fall of communism
1990 East and West Germany
1991 The Soviet Union is
abolished; Boris Yeltsin
becomes president of Russia