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Beginnings of the Cold War IB questions and outlines
“An unnatural alliance that was bound to fall apart after the defeat of the common enemy.” To what
extent does this statement explain the origin of the Cold War?
The “unnatural alliance” between the US and Soviets was due to the need to fight a common enemy,
Nazi Germany, despite:
o Previous Enmity –
 Soviets didn’t participate in the Versailles Treaty
 U.S. support of Whites in Russian Civil War
 Diplomatic relations weren’t established until 1933
 Signing of the Nazi-Soviet Pact
o Divergent Views –
 U.S. wanted freedom
 Soviets wanted territory
o Ideologies –
 Capitalism/Democracy vs Communism/Dictatorship
The alliance did fall apart because:
o Opening of a 2nd front
o Sovietization of Europe
o Development of atomic bomb
o Division of Germany at Potsdam
o Marshall Plan
How and to what extent did the conferences at Yalta and Potsdam contribute to the origin of the Cold
Differing goals –
o Stalin – an increase in Soviet power and safeguards against future attacks
o US/Britain – world democracy
Division of Germany –
o Soviets want suppressed Germany for fear they would get attacked again; U.S, Britain, France
want rebuilt Germany for fear that they would be resentful and start a war again
o Reparations extracted by Soviets
o Berlin Blockade/Airlift
o Berlin Wall
Poland –
o Free elections promised, but never happened
o Eastern Europe goes under Iron Curtain
Division of Korea and Indochina –
o (Soviets occupied N; U.S. occupied S) – Korean War
o (China occupied N; Britain occupied S) – Vietnam War
Vagueness –
o The agreements made at both conferences were vague so that both sides could accept them
Leadership –
o FDR and Churchill, who had a cordial relationship with Stalin were not at Potsdam. Truman and
Atlee were at Potsdam and had harsher stances against Stalin, especially since the U.S. had
developed the atomic bomb
When did the Cold War really start?
Most likely answers:
o Opening of 2nd Front
o Potsdam Conference
o Sovietization of Eastern Europe
o Churchill’s Iron Curtain Speech
o Berlin Blockade/Airlift
Examine the part played by economic issues in the development of the Cold War.
Reparations – Start of Cold War somewhat caused by the reparations the USSR demanded from
Buffer Zone – The USSR was worried about another invasion and how it would affect their country
economically and socially, so they obtained the Eastern Bloc
Truman Doctrine and Marshall Plan – arose from the weak economic conditions of Europe after
WWII so that those countries wouldn’t fall to communism and would maintain trade with the U.S. The
Soviets viewed the Marshall Plan
Economic Difference in Berlin – The differing economic conditions in East and West Berlin led to the
Berlin Blockade. The Soviets didn’t want their people to see the West or else their might be a revolt
Berlin Blockade – The Berlin Blockade was also partly caused by a new currency for the western
zones, as the Soviets objected that it hadn’t been submitted to the Allied Control Council. The Blockade
was in retaliation
COMECON – COMECON was formed in response to the Marshall Plan and imposed trading
conditions (they could only trade with communist countries)
Cuba and the Rise of Castro – Poor economic conditions and U.S. economic domination in Cuba led
to the rise of Castro and the overthrow of the Batista regime
Embargo on Cuba – An embargo placed on Cuba continued to make that country resentful towards the
U.S. and partly led to the Cuban Missile Crisis
China and the Rise of Mao Zedong – Poor economic conditions and brutality of the Nationalists led to
the rise of the Communists in China
Uprisings in the Eastern Bloc – Economic problems in Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Poland led to
reforms or rebellion that were put down by the Soviets. This caused tension in the U.S. because we
didn’t like that the Soviets were putting down democratic reforms
Vietnam – We feared a lack of trade influence in SE Asia if South Vietnam fell to communism because
neighboring countries would fall as well
Arms and Space Race – Caused an increase in spending and strain on the economy in both the U.S. and
For what reasons, and with what results, was Germany a center of Cold War tension from 1945-1961?
Yalta and Potsdam – Divided up Germany into 4 zones of occupation, as well as Berlin. Berlin was
within the Soviet zone
Division of Germany – The Soviets wanted their zone to be suppressed so that they wouldn’t get
attacked again, while the Allies wanted their zones to have a high standard of living so that Germany
wouldn’t be resentful like they had been prior to WWII
Problem of reparations – The Soviets took heavy losses during the war and much of their factories and
landscape was devastated, thus devastating their economy. They took reparations from East Germany
and East Berlin because of it
Marshall Plan – Aided the war torn countries of Europe, including West Germany and West Berlin.
This caused a substantial difference in the standard of living. COMECON, a Soviet organization that set
trade conditions with the Eastern Bloc was created in response
Berlin Blockade and Airlift – For fear of not wanting East Berliners to see the better conditions in
West Berlin and have problems that result from it, the Soviets blockade West Berlin. The Soviets are
also upset at the adoption of a universal currency among the 3 Western zones and subsequent
combination of those three zones without the consent of the Soviets in the Allied Control Council
Recognition of East and West Germany – Both countries refused to recognize each other; Soviets
refused to recognize West Germany; Western nations refused to recognize East Germany
NATO and Warsaw Pact – The Soviet leadership was increasingly worried about the growing military
strength of West Germany which had joined NATO in 1955
1st Berlin Ultimatum – In 1958, Khrushchev demanded that the U.S., G.B., and France sign a formal
peace treaty recognizing East and West Germany, as well as Berlin becoming an international city.
Failure would result in a new blockade of West Berlin. The ultimatum was extended indefinitely
2nd Berlin Ultimatum – Khrushchev met with President Kennedy and tried to bully him by reissuing
the ultimatum. Kennedy refused to give way and got a $3.25 billion increase in defense spending
Berlin Wall – The rate of East German defections increased, so the East German police began building
a wall between East and West Berlin. It helped reduced the flow of defections and stabilized the East
German economy. The Wall remained a physical barrier and symbol of the Cold War until 1989