International History. Option W – 1919-63
Part 2 1945-1963 (Key Issues 7-9)
Key Issue 7- Why did the USA and the USSR become rivals in the period 1945-49
The breakup of the wartime alliances
- A. What united GB, USA and the Soviet Union between 1941-5
In 1941 Hitler launched an attack on Russia, this breached the terms of the Nazi-Soviet pact. The USA GB and Russia had disliked the Germans for a long time because of their political ideas but this united them together against the Germans.
- What disagreements were there between the USA and the Soviet Union during this period?
The USA and Soviet Union had many differences during this period despite being allies. The main differences between the two countries were their political ideas. The Soviet Union was communist and a one party state, whereas the USA was a democratic country. In America there were numerous parties, all of whom were allowed to be a part of national elections which decided who would take control of their country. They also had social, economic and cultural differences. In the Soviet Union all industry was owned by communists and living standards were poor. Whereas in the USA living standards were higher and industry was privately owned
3. What was agreed at the Yalta conference of February 1945?
The Yalta conference took place in February 1945, Stalin, Churchill and Roosevelt met and wanted to come to a decision on what should be done with the countries freed from German rule. They decided that these countries should hold free democratic elections. Germany would also be divided into zones and would have to pay 20 billion dollars in reparations. Also the UN would be set up in order to replace the League of Nations. Eastern Poland would be given to the Soviet Union and when the Germans were defeated the Russians were to attack Japan.
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Origins of the Cold war.
- Why did the position of the Red Army worry the USA at the end of the War worry the USA?
At the end of the War the soviets postion worried the USA. Many Eastern European countries had been liberated by the soviets. The Soviets had 6 million soldiers situated in the Eastern European countries. The USA was worried that the Soviets were try and eventually spread communism in to Western Europe. As much as this angered the Americans they couldn’t do anything about it without using military force which so soon after the end of the war was not an option.
- Where did the Allies meet for the last time? Who represented each country and what was the outcome of the meeting?
The final meeting of the allies was in the Soviet Union at Potsdam. Stalin was still the Soviet leader, however Roosevelt had died and now been replaced by Truman. Clemet Atlee had replaced Churchill as the British representative. There were also many disagreements at Potsdam
. There were open disagreements. Truman came away angry about the size of reparations and the fact that a communist government was being set up in Poland. Truman did not tell Stalin that he had the atomic bomb. A peace treaty could not be drawn up with Germany, nor was a frontier between Germany and Poland drawn up. Finally the promise of allowing elections in Eastern Europe was not followed up on.
- Explain in your own words what is meant by the term “Cold War”? What were the main causes of the Cold War in 1945 and who was most to blame for starting it Truman or Stalin?
The term “Cold War” refers to the time when there was massive tension between the two main superpowers, the USA and the Soviet Union. However no actual war took place between these 2 nations. There were numerous reasons for the beginning of the Cold War; the main underlying factors after World War 2 were ideological differences, Soviet expansion after the war, and American policies that aimed to stop Communism. However there was a more long term cause which rooted back to 1918. The west’s deep rooted hatred and fear of communism which swept into power in Russia in 1918.
Both the USA and the Soviet Union had separate ideologies at the end of the war, the expansion of the Soviet Union into Eastern Europe was seen as aggressive by the USA and the American economic aid to Europe was seen as expansion by the Soviet Union. I feel the Soviet Union was more to blame than the USA in starting the Cold War. The aggressive soviet expansion frightened the USA also the rigging of election in many European countries so that they could be influenced by Soviet rule was also aggressive. I feel that the economic aid of America was essential in the rebuild of Europe, whereas the Russian expansion was hardly necessary. If they wanted a successful buffer against Germany they could have formed alliances with eastern European countries against Germany, rather than forcibly taking them over.
The Iron Curtain and the Great Power conflict
3. A Explain the meaning of the term “Iron Curtain”. Who first used the term in 1946 and what was its purpose?
In 1946, in a speech at Fulton in the USA, Churchill declared that an Iron Curtain had come down across Europe, and that Soviet power was growing and had to be stopped. The Iron Curtain represents the metaphorical divide between the Capitalist controlled West and the Communist controlled East.
3. B how did the Soviet Union tighten its control of Eastern Europe after the War? Why did the USA take no positive action?
Twenty million Russians died during the Second World War, so Stalin said he wanted a buffer zone of friendly states around Russia to make sure that Russia could never be invaded again. In the countries that the Red Army liberated, communist-dominated governments took power. The Communists made sure that they controlled the army, set up a secret police force, and began to arrest their opponents. Non-Communists were gradually beaten, murdered, executed and terrified out of power. By 1949, all the governments of Eastern Europe, except Yugoslavia, Greece and Turkey were hard line Stalinist regimes.
The USA could do little about this as it would result in beginning another war directly after World War Two had ended, and nobody wanted that to happen.
- Containment: The Truman Doctrine and Marshall Aid
ai) The Truman doctrine was a policy in which president Truman began to follow in 1947. He sent money, equipment and advice to any country which was in his eyes threatened by a communist takeover. By now Truman had realised that Eastern Europe was communist, all he could do now was to try and stop it spreading further west, and it became known as containment
ii) Truman strongly believed that communism was only successful when people faced poverty, unemployment and hardship. Marshall, the US secretary of state was sent to Eastern Europe to assess the state of Europe and its economy. He found a ruined economy when he arrived. The Americans decided an injection of aid was needed. The US provided 16 European countries with 17 billion dollars over the next four years. This became known as the “Marshall Aid”. The money was used to build up industry and repair any damage.
iii) Cominform was the joining together of all communist states as part of the communist information bureau. Stalin wanted to co-ordinate all the activities of the communist parties across Europe in order to strengthen their power and influence. Stalin did this to strengthen communism, after the Truman Doctrine and Marshall Aid was set up as he saw it all as a plan for American world domination.