A Cold War; 1945-1963

Understands conditions, actions, and motivation that contribute to conflict and cooperation within and among nations.

Essential Question:
How did postwar events, both inside & outside U.S. boarders, lead to the development, escalation, and continuation of the Cold War?

By the spring of 1945 the war time alliance of the Soviet Union and the Western Allies had already begun to fall apart. As students of history, we can look at any number of reasons as to why this was happening.

Let us first look back to the prewar years as Hitler maneuvered Germany into position for European dominance. He became Chancellor of Germany in 1933, and by 1935 was openly defiant to the Treaty of Versailles. France and Britain both sat back in hopes of appeasement. There are four distinct reasons for this action by the nations at this time. The first being, quiet obviously, the memory of the Great War. Neither nation wanted to revisit the horrors of destruction, which that war had brought down upon humanity. Next, both nations had finally come to understand the harshness of the Treaty of Versailles. When Hitler claimed he was only ignoring the treaty and rebuilding his military to bring his country out of a world wide economic crisis. The two nations looked to their own economic situation and could not blame him for doing whatever it took to end the Great Depression in Germany. The third factor in this equation is appeasement itself. Both Britain and France hoped that Hitler would hold true to his word and stop where he had promised he would. The reluctance of both nations to act against Germany was perceived by Hitler, not as caution but as weakness. (Hitler took the following steps towards war: the denouncement of the treaty, rebuilding his military, the march into the Rhineland, the annexation of Austria, the Sudetenland, and ultimately Czechoslovakia. His confidence grew, with the inaction of France and Britain, into contempt.) The final factor increased Stalin’s suspicion of the Western Allies. In Hitler’s rise to power, his sworn enemy was the Communism. Churchill hoped, more than anyone, with the eruption of war, the Fascists and the Communists would consume each other. Which in turn would prevent a war between Germany and Britain. Churchill had made it public that he did not care for communism. By the summer of 1939, Stalin made a move which shocked Churchill and the rest of the world by signing the Non-Aggression Pact with Germany. This opened the way for Germany to invade Poland without fear of retaliation from Russia. Churchill knew exactly what this meant and steeled himself for the coming war.

In the summer of 1941, Germany turned on Russia and launched Operation Barbarossa with the intent of taking Moscow and defeating Russia. This action pushed Russia into the open arms of the Allies, but Russia never felt that their Western Allies were fully concerned with their survival, and were already suspicious of the West. As early as 1942, Stalin was calling for a second front to be established, somewhere in France, by Britain, the U.S., and the rest of the Allies. When this did not happen he became even more suspicious of the intentions of the Allies. At Casablanca, Churchill was able to convince FDR that the Allies were not strong enough to commit to a second front in France in 1942, or 1943 (history does support Churchill on this point). Churchill’s plan was to fight a war of attrition against Germany by engaging in small scale attacks around Fortress Europe in an attempt to wear Germany down. He advocated, and was able to get FDR’s support, for an invasion into what Churchill called the “Soft Underbelly of Europe”. This was, of course, the invasion Sicily, and ultimately Italy. This action did not have the desired effect that Stalin had hoped for. The natural terrain of Italy made it very difficult for the Allies in Italy. Germany did not need to pull men off the Eastern Front to combat the landings in Sicily and Italy.

At the Tehran Conference, in 1943, the Big Three finally agreed that the second front would be established in Europe in the following year. With the invasion of Normandy, Stalin finally had the relief he had been looking for, but it came at a very high cost. In the three years since the start of Operation Barbarossa, Russia had lost millions of her people to the German Juggernaut. The Soviets did not see the reluctance of the Allies to establish the second front as a necessity of war, but as a calculated maneuver to allow Germany to bleed Russia dry. Once again, this did nothing but increase the Soviets suspicion of the West.

In February of 1945, the Big Three got together at the Yalta Conference. By the time of this conference, the Allies knew the war was won. They were just waiting for Germany to come to the same understanding. The decisions made at Yalta had nothing to do with the strategy of the war, but how the world would be divided and administered after the it was over. It was agreed, or so the West thought, the governments of Eastern Europe would be established through free elections. The West also felt that they had secured the freedom of choice for the peoples of Eastern Europe. Germany was divided into four sectors with the western sectors going to France, Britain, and the United States, while East Germany would be controlled by the Soviet Union. Berlin was divided in the same fashion. Eastern Europe would also be administered by, and under the control of, the Soviet Union. Once the war was over the Soviet Union moved very quickly to consolidate power within the Eastern European nations as well as East Germany. The Western democracies cried foul, but there was nothing they could do.

During the war, the Soviet Union and the United States had both jointly occupied the Middle Eastern nation of Iran. Both sides came to an agreement to withdraw from Iran once Germany had surrendered. When this occurred in May of 1945, the United States withdrew from Iran, but the Soviet Union remained. Working behind the scenes, the United States was able to convince the Iranians to pressure the Soviets into leaving. Due to all of these events, cracks had appeared in the coalition of the Soviets and Western Allies, and were now beginning to widen.

The linked pages to this document have been established by my Modern U.S. History class, which is made up of Juniors. Their research of the origins and expansion of the Cold War is the culmination of this project. What they have used to guide their research is the above standard, essential question, and their own guiding questions. It is our desire that once you have read through these linked pages, you will have a better understanding of how these events gave birth to, and cultivated the Cold War.

Guiding Questions Cold War Conflicts:

Origins Truman’s Foreign Policy Truman Doctrine Marshall Plan Great Britain , Greece, & Turkey,
1. How did the US respond to fears of Soviet expansion?
2. What were the goals of the Marshall Plan?
3. How did the Truman Doctrine come about and how does it dictate foreign policy for the United States?

Iran - Soviet & US Agreements (oil) Eastern Europe & the Iron Curtain Berlin Air Lift
1. What events soured relations between the superpowers?
2. What agreement did the Soviets & the US have concerning Iran at the end of WW II, and did their
involvement in this country begin to cause friction between the two superpowers?
3. Why did the USSR want to control West Berlin,

Revolution in China: Chiang Kai-shek vs Mao
1. How did these two factions work together during WW II?
2. How did foreign nations show their support to one or another of the factions in China?
3. What was the platform of the Nationalist under Chiang and the Communist under Mao?
4. How did the Communist come to power and what was the reaction of the United States?
5. How did events in China heighten American fears?

Korean War Dean Acheson’s speech Jan 12, 1950 N. Korea invades S. Korea
US Response - UN & NATO MacArthur’s Counterattack
Pusan Inchon
1. How can Acheson’s speech be given credit as giving the North Koreans the green light to attack South Korea?
2. How did the Korean War turn into a Cold War conflict?
3. How did Truman and MacArthur differ over strategy in the Korean War?
4. What are the advantages and disadvantages of fighting a limited war rather then a total war?
5. What policy had pledged the US to aid free people in resisting outside pressures?

Cold War at Home: Loyalty Review Board, HUAC, Spy Trials, McCarthy’s Witch Hunt
1. How can we see the Loyalty Review Board as touching off the 2nd Red Scare?
2. Why would Truman create the Loyalty Review Board?
3. What were the goals of HUAC, and how did they fuel the 2nd Red Scare?
a. What might have happened to people named by witnesses before HUAC?
b. What questions might you have answered if you had to testify?
4. What role did the spy trials play in the 2nd Red Scare?
5. As McCarthy conducted his Anti-Communist investigations, what were his intentions, and what evidence did he
have to support his charges?
6. How was McCarthy stopped?
a. Why did the Senate fail to censure McCarthy before 1954?

Foreign Policy President Eisenhower & President Kennedy
1. What was the foreign policy of Eisenhower/Kennedy?
2. Was Eisenhower’s/Kennedy’s foreign policy more or less successful then Truman’s foreign policy?
a. How did their foreign policy differ from Truman’s Containment
3. Why would some people criticize Eisenhower & Dulles for their foreign policy
4. What role did economics play in the foreign policy of Eisenhower/Kennedy?
5. What events threatened the administration of Eisenhower/Kennedy in terms of foreign relations?