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The Cold War 1945-1991 Big Fact Checker
Below are questions you should know the answers to before the exam! Test yourself again
and again until you know the answer to each one by heart. Get someone at home to test
you regularly. When you are confident, practise some of the past paper questions you have
been given.
Key issue: Why did the USA and USSR become rivals in the years 1945–1949?
Ideological differences and their effects: p36-37 of revision guide
1. How had the USA and the USSR been united during WW2?
2. Why was their reason for co-operation now gone?
3. How are the President and Congress chosen in the USA?
4. What does it mean to have a capitalist economy, such as the USA?
5. What were the downsides of this?
6. What kind of freedoms did the Americans believe in?
7. What policy had the USA followed in the 1930s and 1940s?
8. How did this change after WW2?
9. Why did the USA feel it was justified in following this policy?
10. How did elections for the Supreme Soviet in the USSR happen?
11. In what ways was the economy controlled in the USSR?
12. In what ways were the people less free than in the USA?
13. Why did Stalin fear for the security of the USSR?
14. What did he now believe he needed to do to make the USSR secure?
Yalta and Potsdam Conferences: p38-39 of revision guide
1. What had become clear by early 1945?
2. Name the four main discussion points for the Allies at Yalta and Potsdam.
3. When was the Yalta conference held?
4. Who were the main Allied leaders?
5. What was decided about Germany?
6. What was decided about Germany’s capital, Berlin?
7. What was decided about eastern Europe?
8. How would the USSR help the USA in the war now and in return for what?
9. When was Potsdam held?
10. Who were the Allied leaders at Potsdam and why had this changed?
11. Why did this cause a problem?
12. On what two issues did the Allies agree on at Potsdam?
13. Why were there disagreements on both sides?
14. Explain how and why they disagreed over Stalin having a naval base in the
15. Explain how and why they disagreed over reparations (compensation money) from
16. Explain how and why they disagreed over Poland.
17. Explain what important changes had occurred between the Yalta and Potsdam
The atom bomb and its effects: p39 of revision guide
Why had US losses against Japan been so huge in WW2?
Why did the USA decide to use the atom bomb?
Give dates and details about the two bombings on Japan.
Why was Stalin furious with Truman at the start of the Potsdam Conference?
What did Stalin feel was the real reason the USA used the atom bomb?
How else did the atom bomb increase tensions?
The ‘Iron Curtain’ and eastern Europe: p40 of revision guide
How did Europe become divided after 1945?
What did the countries of eastern Europe become?
How did this situation come about at the end of the war i.e. what did the Red Army do?
How did the elections in 1945 break the promises made at Yalta?
What happened to communist opponents in eastern Europe and in which particular
6. By which year had all E European states become Communist?
7. What did Churchill call this?
8. What was the situation in Czechoslovakia in spring 1948?
9. How did the Communists ensure their control?
10. What was the end result?
The Truman Doctrine: p41 of revision guide
What policy did the USA commit itself to in 1947 and what did this policy mean?
What problems was Greece facing after WW2?
When and why did they ask Britain for help?
What did Truman supply and what was the outcome of this?
What had Stalin demanded from Turkey?
What aid did the USA send and what was the outcome of this?
Summarise in detail what the Truman Doctrine meant and what it involved.
The Marshall Plan: p41-2 of revision guide
Why did Truman want to make Europe prosperous again?
What were the two main aims of the Marshall Plan?
What was Stalin’s opinion of the Marshall Plan? See comment box.
How much money was spent on the plan and how did this help?
In which two ways did the Marshall Plan cause tension?
What was the difference between the Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan? See
‘exam tip’ box.
7. What was Cominform and when was it set up?
8. What was Stalin’s aim with Cominform?
9. How was Yugoslavia different?
10. What was Comecon and when was it set up?
The Berlin Blockade and Airlift: p42-43 of revision guide
1. What dilemma regarding Germany were the Allies faced with after WW2?
2. Explain what the viewpoints of the British, Americans, French and the USSR were and
explain some of the reasons behind these opinions.
3. What happened in 1948, creating West Germany?
4. What happened to the economies and living standards in East and West Germany as a
result: what were the differences between the two?
5. What was Stalin’s opinion about the Allied involvement in West Germany? What did the
Allies do in 1948 which further angered Stalin?
6. Describe Stalin’s blockade of West Berlin.
7. What choices did the USA face?
8. What decision did they reach?
9. Describe the airlift in detail.
10. When did the USSR lift the blockade?
11. Why was the event seen as a victory for the West?
12. How did this affect relations with the USSR?
13. What happened to the zones in Germany after this?
Key issue: How did the Cold War develop in the years 1949-60?
NATO: p44 of revision guide
What do the letters NATO stand for?
Who were the main members of NATO?
How did its members commit to helping one another?
Why did the defence of western Europe become more important after 1949?
Explain the three reasons for NATO’s importance.
The nuclear arms race: p44 of revision guide
1. Summarise the key dates in the nuclear arms race.
2. Explain how the ‘balance of power’ appeared to shift from the USA to the USSR.
The Korean War: p45-6 of revision guide
Why was the Korean War important?
How was Stalin involved in Asia and what was the USA’s viewpoint on this?
How did Korean been divided after WW2? Why did this create tension?
What happened in June 1950?
At what point did Truman ask the UN to help South Korea and why wasn’t the USSR
involved in this decision?
What success did UN troops have initially? Use maps to help you as well.
Why did China become worried?
Why did Truman sack General MacArthur?
What seemed to be the case by June 1951 and what was agreed in 1953?
10. What was the effect on US-Chinese relations as a result?
11. What was the domino theory and how did this shape US policy?
12. Why did the USA see the Korean War as their victory?
13. Why did some criticise the USA?
14. Summarise the US and USSR viewpoints on the causes and the effects of the Korean
‘The Thaw’: p46-47 of revision guide
What is meant by ‘the thaw’?
Who took over after Stalin died in 1953 and how did he seem different?
What was meant by ‘peaceful co-existence’?
Why were the West hopeful about Khrushchev?
Explain what happened regarding Austria in 1955.
The Warsaw Pact: p47 of revision guide
What was Khrushchev’s reaction to NATO?
What angered him in 1955?
What was the Warsaw Pact and why did Khrushchev set it up?
Summarise the importance of NATO and the Warsaw Pact. See ‘comment’ box.
Hungary, 1956: p.48-49 of revision guide
1. How are the events in Hungary summarised in the revision guide?
2. Describe the Communist rule of Rakosi in Hungary following WW2.
3. How did Hungarians begin to react to this?
4. How did protests worsen in 1956 and with what effect?
5. Who was Nagy and what did he call for?
6. Which of his demands alarmed Khrushchev the most and why?
7. Describe the Soviet response in detail.
8. Give figures for the numbers of deaths and refugees as a result.
9. What had this shown about the policy of peaceful co-existence?
10. What had been the reaction from the West?
11. What happened to Hungary afterwards?
12. What effect did this have on the rest of eastern Europe?
13. Complete the table in the revision guide, summarising the role of key individuals.
The space and arms races: p49 of revision guide
How are the arms race and the space race summarised in the revision guide?
How did the superpowers try to use the space race?
Describe the successes of the USSR in the late 1950s, with examples.
What did the USA achieve in 1969?
What was the importance of Sputnik I?
How did the USA retaliate?
What was the Polaris missile and why was it important?
Key issue: How close to war was the world in the 1960s?
The U2 Crisis: p50 of revision guide
What was the U2 Crisis and when did it happen?
What was unique about the U2 plane?
What did the US government initially say when the plane was shot down?
How did the USSR prove otherwise and what effect did it have on the US government?
What did Khrushchev now demand?
What did Eisenhower agree to and how did Khrushchev then react?
Why was Khrushchev’s reaction a worry for Cold War relations?
In what ways was the U2 Crisis damaging for Eisenhower?
What else did the incident show about conflict between the two superpowers?
Berlin Wall: p50 of revision guide
1. How is the Berlin Wall described in the revision guide?
2. Why had Berlin continued to be a source of conflict? Explain in detail, including living
standards and refugees.
3. When was the wall built? Describe the Wall and first and what happened at first.
4. What were the immediate effects of the Wall?
5. Why was it seen as a propaganda victory for the West?
6. Why, in actual fact, was the West powerless to react?
7. Describe Kennedy’s response to the Berlin Wall.
The nuclear deterrent: p52 of revision guide
1. Which event highlighted the possibility of nuclear conflict?
2. Why was the situation seemingly very dangerous by the end of the 1960s?
3. However, how did this situation make the world safer in some ways? Explain MAD and
how it worked.
The Cuban Missile Crisis: p52-53 of revision guide
How does the revision guide initially describe the Cuban Missile Crisis?
Where is Cuba and was did the US discover in October 1962, and how?
Describe rule in Cuba since 1958 and the USA’s reaction to this.
Why do you think Khrushchev was keen to gain influence in Cuba?
What was the Bay of Pigs incident? Describe in detail and explain how this was
damaging for President Kennedy.
6. Make a copy of key dates in the crisis, from 16th October- 28th October.
7. Explain thoroughly the effects of the crisis on East-West relations.
8. Who do you think gained more from the crisis: the USA, USSR or Cuba? Explain.
Czechoslovakia 1968: p54-55 of the revision guide
1. What was the USSR showing with events in Czechoslovakia in 1968?
2. Who was Dubcek and how did he reform the Communist system in Czechoslovakia?
3. What did his reforms become known as and what did they represent?
4. How did the USSR view his reforms?
5. Describe the Soviet response of August 1968; how was this similar to Hungary, 12 years
6. How was the response of the West similar?
7. What had the Soviet response shown about their attitude in eastern Europe? See
comment box.
8. What action did the new Communist leader in Czechoslovakia, Husak, make?
9. Brezhnev was the new leader of the USSR. What did the Brezhnev Doctrine state?
10. Why do you think this doctrine did nothing to improve relations between the USA and
the USSR?
Key issue: Why did Détente develop and collapse in the 1970s? See copied sheet
Describe what Détente was and key examples of agreements made in the 1970s.
Explain the USA’s reasons for wanting to see a relaxation in tensions.
What was Nixon’s ‘linkage’ theory?
Explain the USSR’s reasons for wanting to see a relaxation in tensions.
Explain how China influenced Détente and the actions of Brezhnev.
What had taken place with East and West Germany and how did this reassure the USSR?
What was agreed as part of SALT I in 1972?
Why was SALT I significant?
Describe the summit meetings between Nixon and Brezhnev and what the result of them
10. Describe the Helsinki Agreements of 1975 and the 3 declarations that were made.
Key issue: Why did Communism collapse in central and eastern Europe?
Soviet involvement in Afghanistan: p.56-57 of the revision guide.
1. What did the Soviets do in December 1979 and how did they try to justify it? Give 3-4
detailed explanations.
2. Why did the war go badly for the USSR?
3. How did it affect the Soviets in various ways and what decision did Gorbachev (leader of
USSR from 1985) eventually make?
4. How had the USA reacted to the invasion in the early 1980s? Give specific details.
Reagan and the renewal of the Cold War, p57of the revision guide
1. How is the period following the invasion of Afghanistan often described?
2. What was Reagan’s view of Détente and what policy did he follow instead? What did he
call the USSR?
3. What did he think was the key to winning the Cold War?
4. What was SDI/ Star Wars and how would this work?
5. Why was this a turning point in the arms race and why could the Soviets not compete?
Solidarity in Poland, p58 of the revision guide
1. What problems were Polish people facing in 1980?
Describe the start of the Solidarity movement.
What action did Solidarity take and what did many people fear would happen?
What was the initial response of the USSR and the Polish Communist leader?
What was the situation with the leadership of the USSR 1982-5?
What happened to Solidarity in the late 1980s and why do you think this was?
Describe briefly why Gorbachev is seen as such an important figure of the 1980s.
The effects of the Afghan war: p58 of the revision guide
1. Outline, in detail, the 4 ways in which the war worsened the economic and political
problems of the USSR.
Gorbachev and changing attitudes: p59 of the revision guide
What did Gorbachev begin to do as soon as he came to power in the USSR?
Why do you think he was so willing to negotiate with the USA?
Describe the meetings of 1985 and 1987 and the importance of the INF treaty.
What was START?
Describe perestroika.
Describe glasnost.
Why did some Communists criticise Gorbachev and why were their criticisms valid?
The end of Soviet control in eastern Europe: p59-60 of the revision guide
1. Describe the popularity of Gorbachev in the West.
2. Why did so many protest movements emerge in eastern Europe in the late 1980s?
3. Describe what happened in each of the following countries: Poland, East Germany,
Czechoslovakia, Romania, Bulgaria, and the Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.
4. Why was the fall of the Berlin so significant?
5. What happened on 9th November 1989?
6. Describe what happened next.
The collapse of the USSR: p60 of the revision guide
1. Why was Gorbachev seen as weak by many in the USSR? What did many people want to
see happen in the USSR?
2. What happened in February 1990?
3. What did the various republics of the USSR demand? These include places that are now
countries in their own right, such as Ukraine and Kazakhstan and are different to the
satellite states of eastern Europe previously referred to. Russia is also included in this list
of ex-republics of the USSR.
4. What was the role of Boris Yeltsin?
5. Why did Gorbachev resign?
6. What happened in Berlin and to Germany as a whole as a result?
7. What happened in Yugoslavia?
Explain how each of the following three factors led to the collapse of Communist
control: Reagan’s actions, role of Gorbachev and the effects of the Afghan war
What problems faced the USA and the UN following the end of the Cold War? See
copied sheet
1. What was the focus of US foreign policy in the 1990s?
2. What did the USA become?
3. What did they try to create in Europe?
4. Describe the USA’s approach to NATO and its membership.
5. Why was NATO seen as important?
6. Explain how NATO was used in the Balkans, in detail.
7. What was the aim of the UN?
8. Kuwait: What did Saddam Hussain do in August 1990, and why?
9. What was President Bush’s response and why?
10. What action did the UN take- 3 actions Aug 1990- Jan 1991.
11. Describe the coalition force led by the USA.
12. Describe Operation Desert Storm.
13. What was Operation Desert Sabar? Describe its successes by the end of Feb 1991.
14. Why did Bush order a ceasefire?
15. Explain why this was seen as a success for the UN- 3 reasons.
16. Describe the background history to Kosovo in the 1970s-80s.
17. What did Slobodan Milosevic declare he wanted to happen in Kosovo in 1989?
18. How did leaders in Kosovo react and what did Kosovo Albanians then do?
19. What happened in the summer of 1998?
20. What did the UN decide about the conflict in September 1998- 2 examples.
21. What happened as a result of Milosevic’s rejection of the UN resolution?
22. What was ethnic cleansing (see box also) and what effect did this have?
23. What finally happened in the summer of 1999?
24. In what ways was Kosovo a success for the UN? 3 examples.
25. In what way was it not considered a success?
26. Summarise how the USA changed its role in the world after the end of the Cold War.
27. Summarise the key features of UN involvement in Kuwait and Kosovo and explain the
extent to which each was a success for the UN.