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The Cold War
 Alexis de Tocqueville, 1835
‘There are now two great nations in the world, which, starting
from different points, seem to be advancing towards the
same goal: the Russians and the Anglo-Americans...Each
seems called by some secret design of Providence one day
to hold in its hands the destinies of half the world.’
 George Orwell, 1945
‘a peace that is no peace...unconquerable and in a permanent
state of cold war’
Phases of the Cold War
 1948-53
 1958-63
 1979-85
 These were punctured by periods of detente
 The Cold War was a twentieth century conflict
between the United States of America (US), the
Soviet Union (USSR) and their respective allies, over
political, economic and military issues, often
described as a struggle between capitalism and
communism. In Europe, this meant the US led West
and NATO on one side and Soviet led East and
the Warsaw Pact on the other. It lasted from 1945 to
the collapse of the USSR in 1991.
 The war was 'cold' because there was never a direct
military engagement between the two leaders, the US
and the USSR.
The Yalta and Potsdam
 When Nazi Germany was defeated in 1945 the
alliance of the Big Three was no longer
 Tensions quickly became apparent.
 By 1947 there was a deep rift between the East
and the West.
 Within four years divisions were so deep that it
seemed, in the short term, impossible to heal.
The Atlantic Charter
 Agreed in 1941 by
Britain and the USA.
 Statement of liberal
principles on which
post-war international
settlement would be
 It included economic
collaboration, general
security system and
national boundaries.
 The Soviet Union had little trouble supporting
these principles.
 Differences in the interpretation of some
principles became obvious when the leaders met
at the Yalta Conference in February 1945.
Yalta, February 1945
 The Big Three met at
Yalta in the Soviet
 Relationships
between the three
were still sound and
some significant
agreements were
These included:
 Agreement on the
establishment of the United
 The division of Germany, Berlin
and Austria into temporary
zones of occupation.
 The principle of free elections in
Eastern Europe.
 The Soviet Union also agreed to
join the war against Japan in
return for some islands in the
Far East.
 Over Poland. A new communist government had
been set up in Lublin, despite the fact that there
was a Polish government in exile in London. Stalin
agreed that it’s members could join the Lublin
 The West hoped free elections would reduce the
communist influence.
 The Soviet Union was able to keep parts of Poland.
 After Yalta relations deteriorated
 Roosevelt died in April 1945.
 Soviet actions after Yalta indicated
that Stalin did not keep his word.
 Truman, the new president, quickly
told Molotov (the Soviet foreign
minister) that agreements must be
Potsdam, July 1945
 By this time attitudes
between the wartime
allies had hardened.
 This conference
marked a change in
 Stalin now faced
Truman and
Churchill, later
replaced by Attlee.
 Truman and the British were annoyed with
Soviet actions in Eastern Europe.
 The USA and Britain agreed to move the
western frontier of Poland to the Oder-Western
Neisse line meaning 5 million Germans were
expelled from Poland and moved west to
 Throughout eastern Europe communists were
being placed in important government roles
The use of the atomic bomb
 Stalin was not informed of the decision to drop the
first atomic bomb on Hiroshima in Japan just four
days after the conference.
 This brought the war in the Far East to an end.
 A second bomb was dropped on Nagasaki three days
later and the Japanese soon surrendered.
 The atomic bomb shocked the world and
Truman realised the pressure that it could put
on the Soviet Union.
It was hoped that Stalin would take notice and
consider his actions more carefully.
Stalin was insulted that he had not been
informed and became more suspicious of the
Stalin encouraged the Soviet Union to develop
their own atomic bomb as soon as possible,
but felt certain it would not be used.
The threat of the USA using their atomic
bomb was to harden Stalin’s attitude without
softening his policies.