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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 Conferences 1945 Introduction When Nazi Germany was defeated in 1945 the alliance of the Big Three was no longer necessary. 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 based. 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 Union. Relationships between the three were still sound and some significant agreements were reached. These included: Agreement on the establishment of the United Nations. 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. Disagreements: 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 administration. The West hoped free elections would reduce the communist influence. The Soviet Union was able to keep parts of Poland. After Yalta relations deteriorated rapidly. 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 kept. Potsdam, July 1945 By this time attitudes between the wartime allies had hardened. This conference marked a change in relations. 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 Germany. 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 USA. 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.