The Cold War


  • Student can understand why global power shifts took place and the Cold War broke out in the aftermath of World War II.
  • Student can explain how political, economic, and military conditions prevailing in the mid-1940s led to the Cold War.
  • Student can analyze major differences in the political ideologies and values of the Western democracies and the Soviet bloc.
  • Student can compare the impact of Soviet domination on Eastern Europe with changes that occurred in German and Japanese society under Allied occupation.
  • Student can explain how the Communist Party rose to power in China between 1936 and 1949 and assess the benefits and costs of Communist policies under Mao Zedong, including the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution.
  • Student can explain the causes and international and local consequences of major Cold War crises, such as the Berlin blockade, the Korean War, the Polish workers’ protest, the Hungarian revolt, the Suez crisis, the Cuban missile crisis, the Indonesian civil war, and the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia.
  • Student can analyze how political, diplomatic, and economic conflict and competition between the United States and the Soviet Union affected developments in such countries as Egypt, Iran, the Congo, Vietnam, Chile, and Guatemala.
  • Student can analyze interconnections between superpower rivalries and the development of new military, nuclear, and space technology.
  • Student can assess the impact of the Cold War on art, literature, and popular culture around the world.
  • Student can explain why the Cold War took place and ended and assess its significance as a 20th-century event.

Guiding Questions:

1. Why did the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union develop?
2. How and in what ways did the Cold War become a national political issue?
3. Why did the East and West become involved in such a long and dangerous conflict?
4. Why did this “Cold War” not turn into a “hot” third world war?

Cold War Map

What Was The Cold War? (6/2)


Cold War: First used by banker in 1947 describing hostility between U.S. and Soviet Union = both sides did everything possible to harm each other without using armed forces to fight a “hot” war.

Examples (see p. 2-3)
  • Fighting each other’s allies
  • Helping allies fight each other
  • Aiding opposing sides in civil wars
  • Using armed forces to get rid of pro-democracy or pro-communist governments in neighboring countries

Origins of the Cold War

Factors that split East and West (see chart p. 4)
  • Government
  • Human Rights
  • Social
  • Economic
  • Cultural

  • Treaty of Brest-Litovsk removing Russia from WWI
  • Western invasion to overthrow communist govt. in 1918
  • Russian expansion
  • Non-Aggression Pact of 1939
  • Soviet belief that Western Allies had not done enough to help the Eastern front

Yalta Agreement
  • FDR, Churchill and Stalin meet to determine the final strategy and future peace.
  • Becomes obvious that Soviets do not plan to follow the treaty in terms of supporting self-determining governments in Eastern Europe.
  • FDR dies and Harry Truman and Stalin do not get along.

Potsdam Conference
  • Truman, Attlee and Stalin agree on occupation of Germany
  • No peace treaty with Germany
  • No frontier between Poland and Germany
  • No promise for free elections in Eastern Europe

The Atomic Bomb
  • Americans firmly control Japan despite Soviet aspirations to control part of the country
  • Stalin becomes terrified of U.S. atomic superiority and starts race to develop bomb

The “Iron Curtain”
  • Name given by Churchill to the Soviet occupation of Eastern Europe
  • Six countries given communist governments immediately following the war:
  • East Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, & Albania
  • U.S. and Great Britain questioned motives: empire-building or self-defense?

Truman Doctrine
  • Communism must be “contained” = containment policy
  • U.S. government gives Greece $400 million in aid to prevent communist takeover
  • Marshall Plan = U.S. govt. provided $17 billion in aid from 1948-1952 to 16 Western European countries to repair, rebuild and sustain after the war so that communism would not take root

  • Stalin denounces Marshall Plan as “U.S. Imperialism”
  • Cominform = est’d to coordinate activities of communist parties in Europe
  • Firm border forms between Western and Eastern Europe

The Berlin Blockade
Two Views of Germany
1. Soviet view: Weaken Germany permanently and require high war reparations
2. Allied view: A strong Germany would help the rest of Europe recover
  • Stalin feared a strong West Germany could threaten Soviet Union
  • Soviets closed access to Western part of Berlin to starve residents and seize control
  • Allies conducted Berlin Airlift for a year to keep West Berlin alive
1. Divided Germany: 3 Allied Zones (West Germany) and 1 Soviet Zone (East Germany)
2. NATO = North Atlantic Treaty Organization – a military defense alliance between Western European countries, U.S. and Canada

Nuclear Arms Race
  • August 6 and 9, 1945: U.S. drops atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki
  • August 1949: Soviets develop A-bomb
  • November 1952: U.S. develops H-bomb
  • July 1953: Soviets develop H-bomb
  • Containment vs. Spread of Communism in Asia and around the world

Why an arms race?

  • Cheaper cost
  • Lower taxes
  • Keep economy strong and U.S. safe simultaneously
  • “Massive Retaliation” Policy—Eisenhower’s nuclear deterrence strategy
  • 1955: “Bomber Gap” plane race begins
  • 1957: ICBM Race begins due to “missile gap”
  • 1963: USA has 550 ICMBs to Soviets’ 100
  • Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) = maintain same number of “nukes” for a “balance of terror” between both countries
  • Anti-Ballistic Missiles (ABM): intercept rockets
  • Multiple Independently Targeted Re-entry Vehicle (MIRV): rockets capable of hitting multiple targets
  • Nuclear Utilization Targeting Strategy (NUTS)

Anti-Nuclear Protests
  • Hiroshima aftermath
  • Nuclear testing
  • Bomb drills and bomb shelters
  • 1963 Test Ban Treaty

NOTE: These notes were compiled by Mr. Brightman! Thank you sir!

Excellent Student Produced Podcast: Road to the Cold War

Containment --> Collapse

And the wall came tumbling down...

Key Questions: How did containment work?

How successful was containment?
How did the Cold War end?

Treaties of the Cold War

  • Test Ban Treaty (1963)- United States, USSR and Great Britain agree to conduct underground explosion only (no atmospheric tests).
  • Outer Space Treaty (1967)- Over sixty signatories agreed no nuclear weapons should be sent into orbit or outer space.
  • Nonproliferation Treaty (1968)- Over ninety countries agreed not to spread the use of nuclear weapons by sharing weapon knowledge, technology, and/or equipment.
  • Seabed Treaty (1971)- Over forty nations agreed not to put nuclear weapons on the ocean floor outside a nation's twelve mile limit or severity.
  • Biological Warfare Treaty (1972)- Over thirty countries agreed to stop production and storage of these weapons and to start destroying them.
  • SALT I (Strategic Arms Limitation Talks) (1972)- United States and USSR agreed to freeze levels for specific types of nuclear weapons.
  • SALT II (1979)- United States and USSR reduced freeze levels further but got into disagreements over the inclusion of Cruise Missiles and Soviet Backfire Bombers. Though not ratified by the U.S. Congress, both sides have pretty much adhered to its provisions.
  • START (Strategic Arms Reduction Talks) (1985)- These talks began in Geneva, but "Star Wars" concept caused dissension.

The Korean War

  • Allies occupied Korea after WWII
  • Soviets occupied North of 38th Parallel; U.S. occupied South of 38th Parallel
  • Disputed elections of 1948
  • U.S.-backed Syngman Rhee becomes president but is contested by Soviet-backed Kim Il-Sung in the north
  • U.S. and Soviets leave Korea after elections
  • Chinese Communist party takes over China in 1949
  • Kim Il-Sung leads invasion of South Korea on June 25, 1950
  • U.S. pressures UN to send a UN Army to Korea to turn back the invasion
  • Incheon counterstrike leads to a two-year stalemate at 38th Parallel
  • Armistice signed at Panmunjeom in July 1953
  • Consequences: Four million killed; millions more refugees; divided country

The Cuban Missile Crisis

1959: Fidel Castro takes power in Cuba and establishes a communist government
1961: U.S. government helps Castro’s enemies stage a failed coup called the Bay of Pigs invasion
1962: Soviets establish nuclear missile sites in Cuba
  1. Create nuclear balance with U.S.
  2. U.S. had missiles based in Turkey close to Soviet border
  3. Cuba’s communist government was allied with the Soviet Union
  • U.S. Executive Committee on the National Security Council (ExComm) deems missiles a threat to U.S. security and considers three strong options:
  1. launch a nuclear attack on sites
  2. invade Cuba
  3. blockade seas around Cuba to prevent further Soviet missiles from arriving
  • Why did the U.S. react so strongly to a missile threat that was no more dangerous than existing threats?
  1. political reasons: Congressional elections in 1962
  2. American public felt missiles so close to the U.S. were unacceptable
  3. Monroe Doctrine
  4. Kennedy felt that not standing up to the Soviets would empower them more later

October 1962: Kennedy announces Cuban blockade until missiles are removed and stages largest force since WWII to invade Cuba
  • Krushchev issues ultimatum to Kennedy to withdraw missiles from Turkey and not invade Cuba in exchange for removing the missiles from Cuba
  • Kennedy publicly agrees to not invade Cuba in exchange for Soviet withdrawal of missiles; secretly he also agrees to remove missiles from Turkey
  • Closest the two sides ever came to war
  • Led to 1963 Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, but also heightened Soviet production of weapons

1970: Soviets = 1300 missiles; USA = 1054 missiles

The Vietnam War

  • 1945-1975: civil war in Vietnam between communists (Vietminh) and anti-communist forces
  • 1945-1954: French lost 75,000 soldiers and surrendered their former colony
  • 1954: Geneva Agreements separate communist North Vietnam and South Vietnam at 17th Parallel
  • Domino Theory: U.S. view that if one country in Asia or another developing region fell under communist control, other countries in the region would do the same
  • 1955: Ngo Dinh Diem becomes president of South Vietnam and U.S. pledges $3 billion in support over next four years despite his brutal rule
  • 1960: National Liberation Front (Vietcong), a guerilla opposition group supported by North Vietnam, starts a war opposing Diem’s rule and takes over 60% of south
  • 1961-3: U.S. raises number of military advisers from 900 to 11,000 to support Diem’s regime and increases military aid
  • 1963: U.S. stands by while a Vietnamese military coup assassinates Diem and South Vietnam falls into more and more political instability
  • 1964: North Vietnamese attack a U.S. ship in the Gulf of Tonkin leading to the Tonkin Resolution in U.S. Congress escalating U.S. fighting in the civil war
  • 1966: 380,000 U.S. troops are involved in Vietnam; Soviets and Chinese aid North Vietnam throughout the conflict.
  • Winning “hearts and minds” with a “search and destroy” mentality lost the war for the U.S. once American troops became seen as aggressors and occupiers
  • Anti-war protests and high casualty rates made war unpopular in U.S. and abroad
  • 1968: 500,000 U.S. soldiers stationed in Vietnam; January Tet Offensive surprise attack by Vietcong allows them to take several southern towns and cities and leads to terrible publicity in the U.S. despite the eventual U.S. battle victory
  • 1973: Vietnamization = U.S. and North Vietnam sign an agreement ending direct U.S. involvement in the war; U.S. transitions responsibility for fighting the war to South Vietnam
  • 1975: Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos all become communist-controlled countries

The Soviet Union’s Unwilling Satellites

Soviet model of controlling “satellites”
  1. install a “mini-Stalin” as Communist part leader backed by military
  2. run economy on the Soviet model with 5-year plans and collective farms
  3. use secret police to crush opposition
  4. Comecon: common market set up in 1949 to promote trade between communist countries
  5. Warsaw Pact: set up joint control of communist armies in 1955

  • Food shortages
  • Low consumer goods
  • Poor living standards
  • Oppression and persecution of opposition and religious groups
  • State-controlled media

Krushchev’s Thaw (1955)
  • Recognition of independent communist Yugoslavia
  • Withdrawal of Soviet troops from Austria
  • Denunciation of Stalinist policies and “destalinization” begins

Hungarian Revolution of 1956
  1. democratic rights protests
  2. called for sacking Stalinists
  3. withdrawal of Soviet forces
  • Krushchev installs leaders who actually call for reform and withdrawal from Warsaw Pact
  • Krushchev sends tanks and 60,000 troops to quell revolt (killing 3,000 and sending others into exile) and send a message to other satellites about the cost of dissent

The Berlin Wall
  • The West German Economic Miracle vs. East Germany losing 25% of its industrial output to the Soviet Union
  • 1948-1961: 3,000,000 East Germans escape to West Germany (over 15% of the pop.) mainly through West Berlin
  • Communists could not take the embarrassment of this situation any longer
  • August 12, 1961: 4,000 East Germans escaped to West Berlin—the most ever in one day
  • August 13, 1961: East Germans build the Berlin Wall claiming that the West was spying on East Germany through West Berlin; no one was ever caught trying to cross East only West
  • “Wall of Shame” imprisons East Germans for 28 years and symbolizes the Cold War

The Prague Spring, Czechoslovakia 1968
  • Czech economy goes into tailspin because of Soviet-style management and lack of trade with West
  • Hardliner Antonin Novotny becomes severely unpopular because of economy and unfair treatment of ethnic Slovaks vs. ethnic Czechs
  • Communist party replaces him with popular reformer Alexander Dubcek
  • Action Programme reforms threaten leaders from Soviet Union and other satellites
  • “Brezhnev Doctrine” enforced: any Warsaw Pact country sliding back toward capitalism will be prevented from doing so by other communist countries

Détente and Reescalation

Détente: relaxation of tensions between U.S. and U.S.S.R. from 1971-1979

  1. Soviets could not afford to continue costly arms race and sought trade with West
  2. U.S. wanted out of Vietnam and hoped for Soviet help to reign in Vietcong

  • 1972: SALT 1 Treaty limits number of ABMs and “freezes” number of nuclear bombers and ICBMs
  • 1974: Ban on testing small nuclear weapons
  • 1975: Joint space mission (Soyuz-Apollo) and Helsinki Accords promise neither side would actively seek changing borders in Europe
  • 1979: Soviets invade Afghanistan to prevent overthrow of communist government there; U.S. restricts trade, suspends SALT 2 Treaty and boycotts 1980 Olympics in Moscow

New Arms Race Begins and Increased Tension
  • 1981: neutron bombs developed that kill people but don’t damage buildings
  • 1983: Star Wars Strategic Defense Initiative announced by U.S.
  • 1984: U.S.S.R. boycotts 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles
  • 1985: Each country has 10,000 nuclear warheads each

Mikhail Gorbachev’s “New Thinking”

  • Seeks modernization of industry and more efficiency to improve economy
  • Needs to draw down arms race to afford reforms
  • Perestroika: “restructuring” Soviet society and economy
  • Glasnost: “openness” to making govt. and industry more efficient and less corrupt through freer press, privatizing factories, and free elections at local level
  • 1987: Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty = elimination of all medium-range missiles in Europe within 3 years; 3,000 Soviet warheads destroyed / 800 U.S. warheads destroyed

Collapse of Communist Europe

  • Started in Poland and also from within due to Gorbachev’s “New Thinking”
  • Less need to keep Eastern Europe under communist control

  • Solidarity labor union movement begins to undermine the government from 1980 to 1989
  • 1989: Food price spikes lead to unrest and free elections are called for leading to a sea of Solidarity party members elected to parliament

  • 1989: Political parties form and free elections held for first time
  • Barbed wire border dismantled between Hungary and Austria

East Germany
  • November 1989: Fall of the Berlin Wall and free travel for East Germans

  • End of 1989: Protest rallies lead to free elections

  • Communist totalitarian Ceaucescu assassinated fleeing the country after massive demonstrations against him.

Aftermath of Collapse

  • Soviet Union disintegrated into 15 separate nations
  • Economic problems = high inflation, high unemployment, and poorer quality of life
  • No history of democracy = tough political transitions and overall political instability
  • Old tensions rose to surface = Yugoslavia (Croatia, Bosnia, and Serbia civil wars)
  • Czechoslovakia → Czech Republic and Slovakia
  • West and East Germany = reunited October 1990
  • Nuclear weapons were spread out over former Soviet republics = more countries with nukes than ever before
  • 1991-2: START Strategic Arms Limitation Treaties signed with the goal of reducing nuclear warheads in each country to 3,000 each
  • Western economic recession led to no “peace dividend” due to lower arms spending

NOTE: Once again these notes were compiled by Mr. Brightman! Thank you again.