Cold War Revision Notes

Cold War
Revision Notes
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The Cold War
Section 1.Why the Cold War began.
 The end of the Grand Alliance – the breakdown in trust between USSR and
 The development of the Cold War- dividing Germany and Europe, 1947-49.
 Soviet rule of Hungary, 1949-56.
The End of the grand Alliance - USSR and USA became enemies.
During the Second World War, USA (capitalist) and USSR (communist) worked together as
members of the Grand Alliance which was formed in 1941 to defeat the Nazis and fascism.
When Hitler waas defeated (1945) the relationship between the USSR and USA became
Between 1943 and 1945 the leaders of the Grand Alliance Roosevelt(USA), Churchill(UK)
and Stalin(USSR) met three times at Tehran, Yalta and Potsdam.
1.The Tehran Conference (1943)
 They aimed to make plans for reconstruction of Europe after the defeat of Germany.
 The leaders wanted to sort out a number of political problems which would arise
after Germany’s defeat.
What they agreed:
The USSR should have a ‘sphere of influence’ (an area where communism was
respected) in Eastern Europe. So she USSR would not be threatened by neighbouring
USA and UK would have a ‘sphere of influence’ (an area where capitalism was
respected) in Western Europe.
What they did not agree on:
German’s future;
 USSR Germany should be punished for causing the send world war. Germany should
be forced to give up territory and pay reparations. This would stop Germany from
causing another war.
 USA and UK thought Germany should be rebuilt because they thought the Second
World War had been caused by Germany’s economic problems.
2.The Yalta Conference - February 1945 was the high the point of Allied unity.
What they agreed:
USSR to help USA defeat Japan after Hitler was defeated.
USA and UK agreed to allow a communist government in Poland.
They all agreed they would work for democracy in Europe after the war had ended.
Agreed to setting up the United Nations – this was to help keep peace in the future.
The USSR should have a ‘sphere of influence’ (an area where communism was
respected) in Eastern Europe.
USA and UK would have a ‘sphere of influence’ (an area where capitalism was
respected) in Western Europe.
The signs of tension between the Grand Alliance at Yalta;
They had different ideas about democracy. For Stalin this was communism as this
represented the working people. Roosevelt saw democracy as allowing different
political parties and elections.
3. The Potsdam Conference(1945) agreed ;
 To destroy Germany militarism so that German would never again be able to cause
another war.
 To destroy Nazism by banning the Nazi party and prosecuting Nazis as war criminals.
 To reduce the size of Germany by approximately one quarter
 To divide Germany into four zones. USA, UK, France and the USSR would each zone.
Disagreement at Potsdam
USSR wanted Germany to pay big reparations. The USA wanted to rebuild Germany.
The compromised by each taking reparations from the German zone they controlled.
Because USSR controlled the poorest part of Germany the Allies agreed that the
USSR could have a quarter of industrial equipment from the Western zones. The
Allies however said this had to be paid for with eastern German coal.
Strained Relationships between the Grand Alliance
 Truman and Stalin did not get on together
 The USA had the tested the atomic bomb by July 1945.
 Stalin felt he needed a ‘buffer zone’ to protect East Europe from the West.
 Stalin broke his word over the government of Poland – it would now be communist.
The Breakdown of Trust by 1946 between Capitalism and Communism.
 The ‘war of words’ was part of the Cold War.
 Roosevelt had died and Truman did not get on with the Stalin.
 Fear of war led to secret reports to find out how each side was thinking;
The Long Telegram (1946)
Truman received news from the American ambassador in Moscow that Stalin wanted to
destroy capitalism and was building up its’ military power.
Novikov’s Telegram(1946)
Novikov, the Soviet ambassador in America told Stalin America wanted to dominate the
world; that the America people were being prepared for war.
The Truman Doctrine 1947 and Marshall Aid Plan.
Since 1944, there had been a civil war in Greece. Britain helped the Greek government to
fight left wing e.g. the Greek Communist Party. In 1947 Britain said it could no longer
afford to help. America then offered to help because it was afraid that Greece along with
its’ neighbour Turkey would come under Soviet control.
In fact the Greek Communist did not receive any help from Stalin who was anxious to avoid
further problems with the USA.
The Truman Doctrine:
Truman announced the aid to Greece in and Turkey in March 1947.
It was the first public announcement of the policy of containment (to stop communism
This marked the unofficial end to co-operation between the grand alliance members.
America had previously stayed out of international affairs. It divided the world into
capitalist and communism
Why a policy of containment?
Truman believed that when people are faced with poverty and hardship, they tend would
turn to Communism as the solution to their problems. After the Second World War, {19391945} Europe was in ruin, e.g. shortages of food, coal and other essential goods. This was
made worse by the fact that at this time European countries owed the USA $11.5 billion.
The Marshall Plan (Marshall Aid )
 13 billion dollars worth of food, vehicles and fuel was given to Western European
 This was to prevent European countries adopting Communism as a solution to the
economic and social problems caused by the Second World War.
 It was also opening up new markets for American goods. This would prevent the
reoccurrence of the 1930s depression and stop another worldwide economic slump.
Reaction from Stalin.
Stalin was very suspicious of the Marshall Aid and forbade any of the East European
countries from accepting it.
He believed the USA was trying to dominate all the European countries by making them
financially dependent on the US dollar.
He believed the USA was trying to weaken his control of Eastern Europe. So he extended
his control over Eastern Europe by creating satellite states which accepted as a buffer
zone protecting the USSR from countries in the western part of Europe and through
setting up the comiform and comecon – both were reactions to Marshall Aid.
In 1947, COMINFORM was formed;
 It was alliance of the communist countries.
 It was set up to strengthen ties between the communist countries.
 It aimed to tighten Stalin’s control of the East European countries and to restrict
their contact with the West.
 It rejected the Marshall Plan. Communist parties in Eastern Europe organised strikes
against the plan. It was also used to ensure loyalty to the USSR. It did this to
consolidate its power in the East of Europe. It did this by having any government
ministers or workers in these countries ‘removed’ if they were disloyal.
The development of the Cold War- dividing Germany and Europe, 1947-49.
What should happen to Germany? The causes of the Berlin Blockade.
The Soviets and Americans could still not agree what should happen with Germany.
The Yalta and Potsdam conferences in 1945- divided Germany and its capital.
Berlin into four zones to be administered by the war time allies, Britain, the USA, the
USSR and France. The western zone run by Britain, France and the USA benefited from
the Marshall Aid programme. The eastern zone, run by the USSR was denied access to the
Marshall Aid funds by Stalin.
In addition, the eastern zone of Germany run by the USSR was plundered for resources,
taken reparation for war damages caused during the Second War. As a result, living
conditions in East Germany was relatively low and slow to recover from the ravages of the
2nd World War.
By 1948, the differences in living standards between West and East Germany had become
embarrassingly obvious. It was in Berlin that this difference was most visible. West Berlin
controlled by Britain, France and the USA had become prosperous [rich] in the midst of
Communist controlled East Germany.
The Western Allies believed that the Soviet Union was aiming to set up a central German
government which would be communist controlled. The Soviet Union on the other hand,
believed that the Western Allies were planning to set up a separate capitalist state in West
Germany. The Soviet Union also believed that an economically rejuvenated Germany would
be a military threat to its security.
The American government believed that the economic recovery of Germany after the
Second World War was essential to the recovery of the non-Communist countries in Europe.
Therefore in order to achieve the economic rejuvenation of Germany, in December 1946,
the British and American governments agreed to merge their zones and make it a single
economic unit {known as Bizonia}. In 1948, the French agreed to join and Trizonia was
Once the Western zones had joined together, The Marshal Aid was used to stimulate the
economic recovery of Western Germany.
Then in June 1948, a plan was put forward by the Americans to make the Germany currency
stronger. The Deutschmark was the new currency adopted to replace the weak and
worthless Reichsmark.
For the Soviet Union this was the last straw, Trizonia was bigger than the Soviet Union and
had more industries in it. Worried that the Western Allies were planning to set up a new
separate West German state.
The Berlin Blockade was Stalin’s reaction to the Western Allies dealings with
Berlin was in the Soviet zone of Germany.
June 1948, Stalin ordered the blockade of all land, canal and rail links from the Western
{USA, Britain and France} zones into Berlin. This cut off the two million people living in
Zones belonging Britain, France and the USA.
Stalin believed this would force the Allies out of Berlin and enable him to take complete
control of Berlin.
The Western Allies Reaction:
They had three choices: pull out of Berlin, use force to open up the land routes, which
might result in a full scale war, or bring supplies into their zones {West Berlin} by air.
Berlin Airlift.
Truman decided to airlift supplies into the affected areas.
June 1948 and May 1949, Britain and American aircrafts made 195,530 flights to Berlin.
They kept Berlin supplied with up to 12,000 tons of food and fuel per day.
There were enormous shortages and many Berliners decided to leave the city altogether.
As a warning to the Soviet Union, Truman ordered B-29 bombers, capable of carrying atom
bombs to be sent to Britain.
Stalin called off the Blockade. By May 1949 all land routes to Berlin were re-opened.
What were the effects of the Berlin Blockade?
 The Berlin Blockade worsened the relationship between the Soviet Union and the
West, that is the USA, Britain and France.
 Germany was divided into two countries. In May 1949, the British, American and
French zones were formally united and named the German Federal Republic {West
Germany}. In October 1949, the Soviet zone became the German Democratic
Republic {East Germany}
In 1949, NATO was formed. It was a military alliance of the European powers plus Canada
and the USA. It as a defensive alliance in which the members agreed to help if any of them
was attacked.
In 1949, COMECON was formed – a rival to the Marshall Plan;
To help the economic development of Eastern Europe
To prevent trade with Western Europe and the USA.
This was reduce the influence of capitalism and to ensure any recovery was kept
within the Soviet ‘sphere of influence’.
In 1955, West Germany was admitted into NATO. This made the Soviet Union very
uncomfortable, therefore in that same year, the Warsaw Pact was set up. It was a military
alliance between the Communist countries in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. It
members were made up of the Soviet Union, Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, East
Germany, Hungary, Poland and Romania. All the members of the Warsaw Pact, agreed to
help each other if any of them was attacked by the West.
The Arms Race
The arms race that developed was both the result and a cause of tension between the two
 By the end of 1955, both the USA and the Soviet Union possessed the Hydrogen
bomb. In 1952, the USA tested its first Hydrogen bomb, the H-Bomb which was
capable to destroying Moscow. .
 The following year, 1953 the Soviet Union also tested its own H-Bomb.
 In 1957 the Soviet Union tested an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile {ICBM}
capable of carrying an H-Bomb from the Soviet Union to the USA.
 In1958, the USA placed Intermediate Range Ballistic Missiles {IRBMS} targeted on
the Soviet Union in NATO countries.
 Soon both sides were capable of launching direct attacks on each other’s cities. By
1960, these missiles could be fired from nuclear submarines under the sea.
 By the 1960s the USA had 560 strategic bombers to the Soviet Union’s 60. The race
by the Soviet Union to catch up and overtake the USA raised fears in the USA that
they would fall behind unless they continued to increase their arms.
Mutual Assured Destruction, {MAD}
When the Soviet Union caught up with the USA both sides knew that they could destroy all
the other side’s nuclear weapons. As a result neither side could afford to attack first. This
resulted in the Mutual Assured Destruction, {MAD} 1962-67.
 The stockpile of nuclear weapons by both superpowers meant they were careful not
to have a direct confrontation with each other.
 It prevented a Third World War.
Soviet rule of Hungary, 1949-56.
Khrushchev and the Great Thaw
After the death of Stalin, Khrushchev became the Soviet USSR. He was responsible for
changes to Soviet foreign policy especially with regards to relations with the West.
Stalin’s approach to relations with the West had been hard line confrontational. Stalin
consistently had the belief that the West was out to destroy Communism. He also believed
that Capitalism will eventually collapse due to its weaknesses.
Khrushchev on the other hand, had a more relaxed and practical approach in his relations
with the West. The policy put forward by Khrushchev in the late 1950s was that Capitalism
and Communism should accept the existence of the other, rather than use force to destroy
each other. This was the policy was called Peaceful Coexistence. The idea of peaceful
coexistence came from Khrushchev’s view that nuclear weapons made war between the two
superpowers unthinkable. This led to an easing Cold War tension. Khrushchev believed that
with time, the superior Communist system will triumph over the Capitalist system.
Why was there opposition to Soviet control in Hungary in 1956?
When Stalin was leader of the Soviet Union, Rakosi was president of Hungary. He was a
hard-line Communist who took all his instructions from the USSR. Rakosi’s policies caused
great resentment in Hungary.
1. Soviet troops {The Red Army} were still stationed in Hungary to ensure loyalty.
Hungarians objected to their continued presence and it was a reminder of Soviet
control over them.
2. The secret Police: the State Protection Group {AVO} carried out a terror campaign
against anyone opposing government policy. Torture was used to suppress criticism of
the Government, Communism or the Soviet Union.
3. Censorship – There was no freedom of expression. The Communist control extended
to radio, newspapers, television programmes, theatre, art and music. This meant many
Hungarians had no freedom of speech.
4. Education. The Soviet Union controlled education in Hungary, which meant that in
schools a Communist version of history was taught to students. Hungary’s historical
ties with the west were played down and its relations with the east emphasised.
5. Religion, many Hungarians were strong Catholics, however, the Communists in charge
discouraged religious belief and penalised {punished} those that still practised their
6. Standard of living. The standing of living was low, e.g. food shortages which many
Hungarians blamed on the new collective farming method. In addition, people that
worked in industries were poorly paid. Hungarians saw most of the consumer goods
made in Hungary being shipped off to the Soviet Union.
7. Patriotism. Hungarians were very proud of their country and were fully aware of
their history and traditions. This made them very resentful of the control the Soviet
Union had over them.
8. Khrushchev’s ‘secret speech’ was a bitter attack on Stalin’s style of leadership and
his harsh treatment and tight control of the East European countries. This criticism
of Stalin’s hard-line approach encouraged some countries in Eastern Europe to push
for more freedom in running their own countries. This put a lot of the leaders in
Eastern Europe who had adopted Stalin’s method of control under a lot of opposition.
9. The Hungarian people had also heard of the improvements in Poland, another East
European country under Soviet control. Khrushchev had allowed some reforms that
gave the Poles more freedom in the running of their country after a series of
demonstrations against high prices. The news gave them hope that the same thing
was possible in Hungary.
On 20th October 1956, thousand of Hungarians began demonstrations in Budapest
{capital of Hungary}, there was rioting on the streets.
Hungarian freedom fighters and army fought with the hated secret police.
The demonstrators wanted Nagy to be their Prime Minister.
Khrushchev allowed Nagy was named as the new Prime Minister for Hungary on
24th October 1956. However, Soviet troops and tanks were sent the capital.
Initially, Nagy’s reforms included the following; the inclusion of not communist
members in his cabinet.
These reforms were approved by the Soviet government and after one week,
Soviet troops and tanks were withdrawn from Budapest.
On 29th October 1956, Nagy announced the end of one –party rule in Hungary,
Soviet troops to be withdrawn and the withdrawal of Hungary from the Warsaw
Why did Khrushchev react harshly against Hungary?
Although Nagy intended to keep Hungary as a Communist country and still friendly with
the Soviet Union, Khrushchev did not like his reforms.
The Soviet Union was determined that none of it’s ‘satellite states’ would leave the
Warsaw Pact. Allowing Hungary to withdraw from the Warsaw Pact would endanger the
USSR’s security. It would also encourage the other European countries to break free of
Soviet control.
As a result, on 4 November 1956 Khrushchev sent 200,000 Soviet troops and 2,500
military tanks into Budapest. The Hungarians fought the Soviet troops without any
military weapons or support from the west. After two weeks of fierce street fighting,
over 27,000 Hungarians were killed. Soviet control was restored and Nagy was sacked.
Nagy went into hiding at the Yugoslavian embassy in Budapest, but he was tricked into
leaving and in 1958 he was executed.
Nagy had appealed to the United Nations for help, but there had been no response. This
was because, at the time the Western Powers {Britain and France} were embroiled
{involved} in the Suez Canal Crisis in Egypt and not in a position to oppose the Soviet
Union. In addition, the United States did not send any assistance because Hungary was
already a Communist country.
Impact on Superpower relations
The Hungarian crisis worsened the relationship between the West and East, t increasing
Cold War tension.
 The USSR accused the Western countries of encouraging Nagy to break free of
Soviet control.
 The failure of the West to send military aid to help the Hungarians against the
Red Army showed the unspoken agreement between that Eastern Europe was still
within the Soviet Union’s sphere of influence, {remember what has been agreed at
the Yalta Conference}
 The Western powers realised that Soviet leaders were determined to keep tight
reign on the satellite states in Eastern Europe and were prepared to be brutal in
the process. Anti-communist attitudes grew in the West.
 The harsh response of Khrushchev made the west determined to prevent further
Soviet expansion into Europe.
The Three Cold War Crises: Berlin;Cuba;Czechoslavia 1957-69
The U2 Incident
In 1960, without permission from the Soviet authorities, the US Strategic Air
Command sent spy planes called U2 over the USSR, thereby violating the Soviet air
In May, 1960 the Soviet shot down a U2 pilot, Gary Powers. Although the pilot
parachuted to safety, he was arrested by Soviet soldiers. Powers was put on display
along with the remains of his plane on Soviet television. The Soviet government
demanded a public apology from President Eisenhower, but he refused to apologise.
The Paris Summit was to be held in May 1960 between the USSR, the USA, France and
Britain. The summit was meant to improve relations between the East and the West.
However, because the US president refused to apologise, the Paris Summit had to be
abandoned when the Soviet delegates walked out. Gary Powers was eventually released
from a Soviet prison in 1962 in exchange for a captured Soviet spy.
The U2 incident caused a worsening in East-West relations. In addition, the U2 crisis
showed the other Communist countries around the world, especially China, that that
Soviet Union could be tough with the West.
The building of the Berlin Wall, 1961
Why was the Berlin Wall built?
 Berlin was divided into four zones after the Second World War. Britain, France
and the USA still controlled their zones now called West Berlin which was inside
Eastern Germany.
 West Berlin had become a wealthy city with US aid. West Berlin had cinemas,
shops filled with consumer goods.
 East Berlin was not as prosperous and under strict Communist rule.
 About a quarter of a million {250,000} East Germans especially professionals and
crafts people crossed over into West Germany through West Berlin.
 The USSR had to find a way of stopping this, as East Germany was being deprived
of well trained professionals needed to keep the economy running.
 Also, the Soviet Union wanted to have control of Eastern Germany including both
East and West Berlin.
 The Soviet Union also wanted the Western Powers to recognise East Germany as
an independent state.
The Western Powers on the other hand, wanted to prevent the Soviet Union from
gaining permanent control of Eastern Germany.
In June 1961, the Soviet leader, Khrushchev put pressure on the new American
president by demanding the withdrawal of western powers occupying troops from West
Berlin within six months. The Western powers rejected Khrushchev’s demands. Kennedy
insisted that the West will not abandon West Berlin. As a result, both sides increased
their spending on weapons and there seemed to be a threat of war over Berlin.
Between 13 to 22 August 1961, Khrushchev ordered the East German government to put
up barbed wire barriers around West Berlin; this was followed by concrete walls.
As a result, West Berlin was cut off from East Berlin, anyone seen trying to escape to
West Berlin was shot dead on sight. By 1989 86 people are known to have been killed
trying to cross the Berlin Wall.
Consequences of the building of the Berlin Wall
 Berlin was physically divided into two
 Free access from East to West of the city ended.
 Many families were split
 The flow of refugees ceased.
 Kennedy refused calls from other Western Powers to break down the wall, as this
might have led to armed conflict between the two superpowers.
 Khrushchev believed that Kennedy was weak because he dismantled the Wall from
Western Berlin.
 The tension between the two superpowers and both began spending huge amounts
of money on developing and testing more powerful nuclear weapons.
What were the causes of the Cuban Missile Crisis?
Batista’s government was corrupt, brutal and inefficient with most Cubans living in
In 1959 Batista was overthrown by Castro.
Castro proposed new reforms to improve the economy of Cuba, end the corruption in
government and improve the living conditions of Cuban workers.
To achieve this Castro began appointing Communists to his government. He also
signed a trade agreement with the Soviet Union whereby Cuban sugar would be
exchanged for machinery, petroleum, economic and military aid.
The USA was concerned about these developments.
 Cuba was just 150 kilometres away from its southern coast.
 In 1960, the USA decided to bring Castro into line. The USA stopped buying Cuban
sugar and then banned all trade with her. The US government had hoped that this
will make Castro submit to US control.
 However, this made Fidel Castro move closer to the Soviet Union.
The Bay of Pigs, 1961
 Kennedy decided to help Cuban exiles in the USA overthrow Castro. These were
Cubans who had left Cuba when Castro overthrew Batista.
 The American CIA provided military training, weapons and transport to the Cuban
exiles. The exiles landed in Cuba but found themselves surrounded by over 20,000
Cuban soldiers. The operation was a failure and the USA denied involvement in the
venture. It was a humiliation for Kennedy.
The result of the ‘Bay of Pigs’ fiasco;
 Castro started moving closer to the Soviet Union for protection from the USA.
E.g.he asked for arms to protect Cuba from possible future attacks from the USA.
 Khrushchev announced publicly that the Soviet Union would supply arms to Cuba.
Khrushchev also secretly decided to turn Cuba into a Soviet nuclear missile base.
What were the key features of the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962?
 Cuba allowed the Soviet Union to station nuclear weapons in Cuba. From September
1962 Khrushchev secretly began sending nuclear missiles to Cuba.
 On 14 October 1962 an American U2 spy plane photographed nuclear missile launch
sites in Cuba. On 16 October 1062 President Kennedy set up a special committee to
decide what to do. Kennedy wanted to remove all the missiles from Cuba. However, he
realises that doing that could lead to dire consequences such as the Soviet Union
taking over West Berlin or the start a war.
 On October 22, Kennedy announced a 500 mile naval blockade around Cuba. It was
hoped that this would stop the Soviet Union from transporting more missiles into
Cuba and force the Soviets into removing those already there. The option carried the
least risk of war.
 The naval blockade did not allow any Soviet Union ships carrying weapons to Cuba and
had to turn back. In addition, the US armed forces were all on alert.
 Finally, the Soviet Union was informed that the USA would retaliate if missiles were
launched from Cuba against any Western nation.
On 22 October President Kennedy announced the naval blockade on American television and
called the Soviet action ’provocative’ {confrontational}. He also threatened to invade Cuba
and remove the missiles by force of arms.
On October 23, the Soviet Union said she was simply helping Cuba defend itself and that
the USA was interfering with Cuba’s internal affairs. On 24 October, Soviet ships were
stopped from reaching Cuba by the American naval blockade.
On 26 October Khrushchev sent a letter to Kennedy stating that the Soviet Union might
remove the missiles from Cuba if the USA lifted the naval blockade and promised not to
invade Cuba.
On 27 October 1962, Khrushchev sent another letter with a third condition, that the USA
should remove US missiles aimed directly at the USSR from Turkey. An American U2 plane
was shot down over Cuban airspace. Kennedy refused to take military action. Kennedy
publicly agreed to Khrushchev’s first two conditions for removing the missiles from Cuba.
However Kennedy secretly sent a message to Moscow that US missiles would be removed
from Turkey.
On 28 October, Khrushchev agreed to remove all the missiles from Cuba.
In November 1962 the USA called off the blockade of Cuba.
Consequences of the Cuban Missile Crisis
 The crisis made both superpowers realise that a nuclear war could have resulted and
that such a crises should not happen again.
 Both Kennedy and Khrushchev agreed to set up a direct hotline phone link between
the White House and Kremlin to reduce the threat of nuclear war.
 The Cuban Crisis was responsible for the start of détente between both
 A Nuclear Test Ban Treaty was signed in 1963 whereby they agreed not to carry out
further nuclear tests in the atmosphere, underwater in space.
 President Kennedy emerged from the crisis as the victor. He had removed the threat
of nuclear attack from the USA’s ‘back yard’. All this had been achieved without war.
 Khrushchev claimed the crisis guaranteed Cuban independence and that the crisis
was a victory for the Soviet Union. Cuba was still under the influence of the Soviet
Union, so the potential threat to the USA still remained. Secondly, the US missiles in
Turkey were eventually removed.
 In reality, Khrushchev was blamed for humiliating the Soviet Union by backing down.
The crisis was contributed to Khrushchev’s dismissal some years later.
What contributed to Détente? (relaxation.)
Describes periods of easing of tension between the Soviet Union and the United States
from 1964 to the mid 1970s. Détente was achieved through summit meetings between the
leaders of the USA and the USSR, thereby attempting to limit the growth of nuclear
There were many factors that contributed to the thaw in relations between the two
1) The Cuban Missile Crisis {1962} demonstrated to both superpowers, the danger of
military confrontation. President Kennedy’s threat to use nuclear missiles if Soviet
missile bases in Cuba were not removed had caused anxiety across the world.
2) There were fears that there might be a proliferation of nuclear weapons developed by
smaller countries.
3) The failure to secure military victory in North Vietnam damaged the confidence of the
USA and led her to re-evaluate her power in the world. The failure also affected the
USA’s policy towards Communist states. The Vietnam War had also caused inflation in
the US economy. The American government realised that Détente was better than
military intervention.
4) The cost of developing nuclear weapons was expensive.
5) Both superpowers had economic difficulties during the 1970s. In the USA, plans for
social reform that would improve the lives of the American people could be undertaken
instead of spending so much money on arms. The living standard of Soviet citizens
failed to improve as a result of the huge spending on arms. Détente would reduce
spending on arms and make possible the production of consumer goods {e.g. clothes,
shoes, etc.} for Soviet citizens.
Both superpowers had stockpiles of nuclear weapons that had the capacity to destroy
the world many times over.
Détente was a way for China to improve relations with the USA
The USA hoped that Détente would widen the gulf between the two big Communist
countries in the world, China and the Soviet Union, thereby reducing the power and
influence of the Soviet Union.
China wanted to increase trade with the West.
Czechoslovakia 1960’s
Similar situation to Hungary;
 a Soviet satellite state
 poor living conditions
 economy struggling
 use of secret police to crush opposition.
Dubcek leader of Czechoslovakia;
 Supported communism
 Friend of Brezhnev
 Wanted to make communism popular by reforming the econmy e.g. improve the
economy, politics and social aspects of life so it was less harsh.
Results of Dubcek’s reforms – ‘Prague Spring’
A period of liberal change happened
Relaxed censorship of the press
Allowed political criticism
Gave more power to the Czech parliament
Allowed businesses to keep some of their profits
Reaction to the reforms.
 Well received by many e.g younger people, artists, workers and intellectuals
 Older communists did not like the reforms
 Brezhnev’s reaction;
 concern the reform would weaken soviet control
 tried to get Dubcek to admit the reforms had gone to far as this failed he
ordered invasion – the Brezhnev’s Doctrine
Brezhnev’s Doctrine
This stated the USSR had the right to invade any country in Eastern Europe whose actions
threatened the security of the Eastern Boc – the Warsaw pact and Soviet control.
Response to the Soviet Invasion August 1968
Dubcek told the people not to react. Despite this some did react e.g. non-violent
protests. Dubcek was arrested and forced to sign the Moscow Protocol which
removed all his reforms.
America did not intervene. She had an ‘unspoken deal’ with the USSR. Although she
did not agree with the invasion in Czechoslovakia as long as the USSR did not
intervene in the UAS war with Vietnam she would not intervene in Czechoslovakia.
Although they did not agree with the invasion they offered no help. Some communist
parties in Italy and France detached themselves from Soviet communism
Eastern European did not intervene. Did not agree with invasion. Yugoslavia and
Romanian communists joined up with China.
The search for peace – detente
Key Features of the period of Détente
There were a series of evens that improved relations between the West and East.
 Hotline: White House – Kremlin Hotline set up in 1963
East Germany and West Germany: During the 1960s’, the Chancellor of West
Germany, and the leader of East Germany, worked hard to form closer ties with each
other. The policy was called OSTPOLITIK. In 1972, both countries agreed to
recognise each others borders and develop trade links.
In 1963, the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty banned the testing of nuclear weapons in
the atmosphere and under water.
In 1968, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty banned the spread of nuclear
weapons to other countries.
Strategic Talks Limitation Talks {SALT}: In 1969 the USA and the USSR began
talk on ways of reducing the number of mid-range nuclear weapons. The talks lasted
for three years and in 1972 SALT 1 was signed. Both sides agreed to keep the
number of nuclear weapons and warheads within strict limits. They also agreed to
begin new talks to further discuss weapons systems not included in SALT 1.
Cooperation in Space:
1967 Outer Space Treaty stopped the arms race spreading to outer space. No
nuclear weapons to be placed in space.
In 1975 American and Soviet astronauts worked together in orbit around the earth.
This was one of the most visible signs of détente in action and encouraged the
superpowers to cooperate.
Richard Nixon, USA president, visited Moscow
1973 - Leonid Brezhnev, USSR leader, visited Washington
1974 - Nixon visited Moscow
Summit Conferences 1972 and 1979.
The first three between Nixon and Brezhnev [1972-74].
These led to
• Agreements about procedures to reduce the risk of confrontation and nuclear war.
• A joint space mission [1975]
• Increased trade links
• Cultural exchange
The European Security Conference, 1973-75
Delegates from Canada, the USA and 33 European countries met in Helsinki.
In 1975 they signed the Helsinki Accords.
The recognised
The frontiers of Eastern Europe
Soviet control over the region.
West Germany recognised East Germany.
2. Co-operation
They agreed to co-operate through:
• A trade link.
• Cultural exchanges
• Exchange of technological information.
3. Human Rights
They agreed
• to Respect human rights
To allow people to travel freely across Europe.
In SALT 2 [1979],
The two superpowers agreed further limits on missiles in talks but were less successful
than hoped. In 1980 US President Carter refused to ratify the treaty because of Soviet
aggression in Afghanistan.
A ‘Second Cold War’ 1979-85
December 1979 Soviet troops invaded Afghanistan in order to keep a pro-Soviet
government in power.
The invasion was condemned by a large majority in the United Nations. Despite this the
Soviet Union continued with the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan.
Why did the USA invade Afghanistan?
The Soviet Union wanted to keep control of Afghanistan because;
 They had rights to gas fields there. In addition, Afghanistan was close to the oil
reserves in the Middle East and wanted to develop their own interest in this region.
 US influence was growing in neighbouring Pakistan.
 The Soviets were worried about the Iranian revolution and wanted to ensure that
Afghanistan did not become a fundamentalist Islamic country like Iran
 To prevent Islamic minorities within the Soviet Union from being tempted to break
away too.
Consequences of the invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union
 It effectively put an end to Superpower ‘détente’ and relations worsened.
 Carter, the US president at this time suspended the ratification {signing} of a new
agreement limiting nuclear missiles, SALT 2 by the US Senate
 The USA stopped the exportation of grain to the Soviet Union.
 The USA began to give both military and economic aid to the Afghan rebels fighting
against the Soviet troops.
 He also ordered US athletes to boycott the 1980 Olympic Games due to be held in
 The USA began to rearm.
Superpower relations between 1979 and 1984
In 1981 Reagan replaced Carter as President of the USA. He was strongly opposed to
Communism and the Soviet Union and believed that détente had caused the USA to lose
ground with the Soviet Union. He was not afraid of standing up to the Soviet Union and
called it the ‘The Evil Empire’.
 Reagan adopted an aggressive anti-Soviet policy which included e.g. the building
of the US Armed Forces and spending more money on arms.
 Basing new modern missiles in those European countries that wished to accept
 Reagan also announced plans for the Strategic Defence Initiative {SDI} or Star
Wars. SDI was a plan to use lasers to destroy missiles from space. If successful
it would mean the USA would not be the victim of a ‘first strike’. The Soviet
Union was against this plan.
Two incidents strained relations during this period;
a) The imposition of martial law in Poland to stop the activities of the trade
union, Solidarity who had been protesting against the rising cost of food. Lech
Walesa, the leader of Solidarity was arrested in December 1981. The US
government responded to events in Poland by stopping high technology to the
Soviet Union. This affected the Soviet Union adversely, because they had
been depending on the importation of technology to develop their industry.
b) In 1983, The United States invaded Grenada in order to prevent a communist
government from taking control. The Soviet Union condemned the US’s action
and retaliated by boycotting the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics in the USA.
The End of the Cold War
The Role of Gorbachev
In 1985, Gorbachev became leader of the Soviet Union. He inherited a poor economy. He
wanted to change Soviet foreign policy. His foreign policy aimed at; reducing defence
spending, to avoiding the danger of nuclear war and not interfering in the running of other
countries outside the Soviet Union.
Gorbachev knew that the Soviet Union was bankrupt and its survival depended on the West.
He realised that the Soviet Union could not afford an arms race with the USA so he began
to do the following:
 Withdrew Soviet troops from Afghanistan
 Reduced Soviet aid worldwide
 Made moves to improve relations with China.
 Sought détente with the USA as a way of reducing spending on defence, and in order
to be able to borrow money from Western banks to pay for food, raw materials and
 Persuaded Western firms to invest in the USSR building their factories there.
In 1985, Gorbachev accepted Reagan’s invitation to meet with him in Geneva.
In 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces {INF} treaty, which removed all
medium range nuclear weapons within three years from Europe.
Talks were made on the reduction of NATO and WARSAW Pact conventional
Talks on long range missile {formerly SALT} were renamed Strategic Arms
Reduction Talks {START}.
This led to the 1991 START treaty which agreed significant reduction in weapons.
In December 1990, Gorbachev and President Bush announced that the ‘Cold War’ was
The end of Communism, 1989-1991
By 1980 the East European countries under Soviet control were discontented. They wanted
elections; freedom of speech; the end of the secret police and improved living standards.
Within the Soviet Union, the economy was in ruins for the following reasons:
 The Soviet Union had supported Communist countries around the word, through
Military spending prevented increased spending on consumer goods, such as shoes,
clothes, etc.
The USSR’s involvement in space programmes had been very expensive
Within the Soviet Union, the industries were not managed efficiently and that meant
the government had to rely on foreign imports of food and technology from the
Soviet workers were not motivated to raise their standard of work because housing,
public services and consumer goods were of poor quality.
October 1985, Gorbachev launched two new programmes of reform: Perestroika
{economic restructuring} and Glasnost {openness and free speech}.
 Perestroika: He believed that the way the Soviet Union could solve its economic
problems was by rebuilding the economy from scratch. Gorbachev argued that it was
necessary for the government to be more flexible and allow some private ownership
of property and business.
 Glasnost: Gorbachev also wanted more openness by the government to halt the
constant falsification of government figures. In addition, the powers of the KGB
{Soviet secret police} were limited and criticism of the government was permitted.
As a result of Glasnost, newspapers and television programmes changed, they began
to openly criticise the government.
As relations between the USA and the USSR entered a new phase of détente.
 Soviet control in Eastern Europe also declined.
 In 1989, Gorbachev refused to support hard line unpopular Communist leaders in
Eastern Europe as they faced mounting opposition to their rule.
 In East Germany, protesters began taking down the Berlin Wall that divided the city
one by one.
 Communist governments throughout Eastern Europe fell from power and the Warsaw
Pact collapsed
 In 1991 the Soviet Union dissolved and was replaced by a ‘Commonwealth of
Independent States {CIS} with the Russian Republic as the dominant member.