In what ways did developments in Germany affect the Cold War between 1945?

Authors Avatar

Magdalena Kupfersberger

History SL – L6

In what ways did developments in Germany affect the Cold War between 1945 – 1961?

On May 8, 1945, the unconditional surrender of the German armed forces, the “Wehrmacht”, was signed by Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel in Berlin, ending World War II for Germany. Due to administrative purposes the Allied powers divided the country into four occupational zones. While located wholly within the Soviet zone, because of its symbolic importance as the nation’s capital and seat of the former Nazi government, the city of Berlin was not considered to be part of the Soviet zone. Within this context, the developments taking place in Germany happened to have a vast impact on the tension build-up of the Cold War. To answer the question, not only diplomatic elements but also economic elements and elements of European Integration have to be taken in consideration. But in August 1961 when the conflict faced its climax because Khrushchev unexpectedly closed the borders and only two choices were left for Kennedy; to either surrender or use force against Russia’s threat, the situation found its turning point.

After the Third Reich was effectively abolished in the spring of 1945, the country was placed under military rule and divided into geographical zones reflecting the actual positions of the occupying armies. While the Western Allies France, Britain and the United States established themselves in the West of Germany, the Russians were positioned in the east. Berlin, which is geographically situated in East Germany, the city was similarly divided into four occupational sectors, as the Western Allies tried to avert to leave the capital completely to the Russians. Consequently, Berlin became the headquarters of the Four-power Allied Control Council which was formally established to rule Germany. Since Germany’s future was a problematic issue, the imposition of separate zones of occupation was both practical and administratively sensible, but it was only regarded as temporary arrangement until Germany’s future political situation would be settled and the country would be reunified as a single nation state. Finally, in 1945 at the Potsdam Conference, the nation’s future was established, but the occupational zones still remained.                         America’s and Russia’s influence on their zones with their ideological differences caused the gradual separation of Germany. Furthermore, both countries showed big commitment towards Germany’s political situation from the beginning and therefore revealed the other that they were clearly interested in the outcome. Since not only America, but also Russia was closely tied to their occupational zones a conflict due to ideological reasons between capitalism and communism became evident very early.

Join now!

Due to America’s growing influence in Western Berlin, the conflict between the superpowers intensified. In 1948, the Soviets accused the United Stated not only of selfishly seeking to monopolize the economic resources but also of preparing for the creation of a separate West German political state.  Therefore, the Soviet authorities instituted a formal blockade by closing all road, rail and water routes to and from the city. Shortly afterward, the inhabitants of the Western sectors were cut off from all external supplies of fuel, power and food. The Berlin Airlift was America’s reply to the Berlin Blockade, which caused a ...

This is a preview of the whole essay