There is also a belief that the division of Europe was exacerbated due to misunderstanding between Stalin and Truman. There seems to be confusion of misinterpretation on the part of the USSR at the Yalta conference where they believed that the conference gave them free hand in parts of Eastern Europe, which they had saved from the Germans. The agreement to hold free elections in Eastern European countries was thought by Stalin a façade, which was there to help the American president, Roosevelt, face critics regarding co operation with a communist country. Harry Truman who succeeded Roosevelt was less accommodating towards the soviets. He was inexperienced of foreign matters and already suspicious of the USSR. He felt that the Soviet Union plans for expansion was a threat towards the west. He feared Russian expansionism because of the fear of communism spreading; in 1945 there was strong support for communist parties in France, Italy and many other European countries. The spread of communism would have threatened USA foreign markets and so their world positions. Also the USA feared the expansion of the USSR, as it would have created a Europe dominated by the USSR in the wake of world war two. Consequently Truman’ atterdude towards the soviet union was much more abrasive and less accomadating towards soviets fear s. Tremens policies of containment alienated the soviets further producing reactionary policies towards the west which produced a spiral of conflict. If Roosevelt had been alive, there may have been a different attitude towards the USSR. Roosevelt’s policies may have been much more accommodating towards Russia. Consequently Russia may have been less hostile towards American foreign policy.
The division of Europe was further developed by the co-operation between the USSR and the USA. This was due to the tension between the America and the Soviet Union, which had increased during 1945 and was determined by Stalin trying to force communism onto Poland and other Eastern European countries. As a result the USA felt that the Russians had broken the Yalta agreement. The USSR on the other hand felt suspicious of America as the USA didn’t tell the Soviet Union about the development and use of the atomic bomb on Japan. Both sides didn’t trust one another and their policies reflected these feelings, The USA formed policies which tried to limit the influence of USSR’s illustrated by the Truman doctrine and Marshall plan. While the soviets formed policies, which created a buffer zone, thus reinforcing the division in Europe. As illustrated by the fact that non-communist officials in government were forced out of government, while governments hostile toward the soviets in Poland were not allowed to form.
The development of the atomic bomb produced a different meeting between the Soviets and Russians in Potsman , then that to the meeting, which took place in Yalta. The USA less willing to compromise on the issues of eastern democracy and question of German rehabilitation. American policy had shifted from an initial desire to reduce German any political and economical power, to rehabilitate Germany into Europe. Consequently some historian argue that the Americans had hoped that that the demonstration of the atomic would lead the soviet union to be more compliant in negotiation over political and territorial issues. The problem was that the threat of the atomic bomb was only affective if it was used. Many argue that the atomic bomb failed to cower the soviets into submission and instead lead led to hardening of the temporary zones of occupation into rigid boundaries. The chief affect of the atomic bomb was to start an arms race, which later produced further intence rivarly between the countries and helped maintain the division of europe into east and west.
The failure of the marshall economic plan helped to further develop the division of europe into east and west . The west was given a lot of money to help rebuild western europe, russia was given the same opportunity. However the main aim of the marshall plan seems to be a west was strong and did not leave russia in such a dominant position in europe. The outline of the settlement was something to which stalin would never have agreed to, to open soviet economy and their books to western penertration was a option which stalin would never have agreed to. The Marshall plan seems to be introduced to maintain the USA superpower status as well as limiting Russia power. Through the USA had emerged as the strongest economy after the war, it needed to maintain this position, and could only do so if foreign markets opened up. An expanding Russia into Europe threatened this process. To combat America Marshall plan, the Soviet Union established the communist information bureau, which was designed to strengthen soviet control in Eastern Europe. This further separated east and west Europe as different economic blocks were built which divided Europe between eastern communist countries and western capitalist countries.
By 1947 the British and American zones in Berlin had been merged, American policy was now aimed at completely rebuilding West Germany and creating and independent Germany from the Soviets. The decision to introduce a new currency into west Germany and the tentative move towards west German statehood completely broke down the war time alliance. The Russians felt that Europe was trying to encircle her, the so further tightened her control in Eastern Europe, creating an iron curtain divide. As a result some historians argue that the division of Europe was caused by American belligerence towards Russia, Eastern Europe was divided from the west, as a defensive mechanism from a hostile west.
In conclusion some may argue that the post war settlement led to the division of Europe to a certain extent. At Yalta the west accepted that parts of east Europe would fall under Soviet Union control, due to the loss that Russia suffered during war, and so created an Eastern Europe which fell under Russian control. However the post war settlement did not create the division of Europe on its own. The division of Europe developed because the west and the Soviet Union were unable to a common understanding and so this was expressed in the psychical divide between east and west Europe. The differences between Russia and the west pre-existed the post war settlement; it developed in the Bolshevik revolution, where foreign armies were sent by the west to kill of bolshevism in its birth. After world war two there was a new feeling of optimism, between the soviets and the west. However the problem was that they were unable to sort their differences out through the post war settlement, the conferences of Yalta and mistrust and suspicion marred Potsman. The failing of the post war settlement to satisfactorily address everyone’s problems led to division between the west and Russia, which reinforced itself in the psychical divide of Europe. A strong and expanding Russia filled the west with fear, particularly Britain and America. The French and British after the war were too weak to dominate Europe. The only strong European power left to fill the power vacuum was the USSR. America fear that Russia would encroach on her economic interest, in the sense of the spread of communism and foreign markets being under threat from Russian dominance created policies which tried to limit Russia’s power. In response some historians argue that Russian foreign policies were created to protect her from the hostile west. As a result the eastern block was created to be a buffer zone that protected her from the west. The East European countries served to provide Russia with the raw resources that she needed to continue industrialising the soviet state and also to sustain her self economically, also they acted as psychical barriers to stop western penetration.
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