Cold War & the Soviet Union

By cowen_z
  • Truman Doctrine

    President Truman asked Congress to support democratic nations after Great Britain announced that they would stop giving aid. This was mainly intended to help Greece and Turkey who were struggling after WWII from being taken over by the Soviet Union. The United States would provide military, political, and economic support to prevent these countries from becoming communist.
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    Marshall Plan

    An economic aid program for Europe following the devastation of WWII. The U.S. gave a total of more than $13 billion to help rebuild Europe and prevent the Soviet Union from imposing communism on even more countries. This is the beginning of the U.S. policy of containment.
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    Berlin Blockade & Airlift

    The Soviet Union enforced a blockade on Berlin in response to the Allies attempting to integrate them with the Soviets. The U.S. then led a massive airlift for almost an entire year to airdrop food and supplies to the inhabitants of Berlin. This was a major defeat for the Soviets and showed that the Western powers could beat them.
  • Creation of NATO

    NATO was a collective defense agreement between countries of the North Atlantic. They considered an attack against one, an attack against all. It provided economic and militery support as well as mutual security for all members.
  • Soviet Union Atomic Bomb

    The USSR detonated it's first atomic bomb. This came after the U.S. but was still frightening because they had caught up. The test led to a massive build up of nuclear arms and into a period of "mutual assured destruction."
  • Josef Stalin

    Stalin wanted spheres of influence in which to spread communism. He ruled oppressively and was responsible for millions of deaths of his own people. Also, he enacted a five year plan to rebuild the economy.
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    Nikita Khrushchev

    Denounced Stalin's actions and crimes. He began "de-stalinization" of enacting reforms to move away from Stalin's policies. He sought "peaceful coexistence" with Western countries to focus on the USSR instead of the tensions of the Cold War.
  • KGB Created

    The main security and intelligence agency for the Soviet Union. They monitored U.S. and Soviet communications. Most agents were spies and were responsible for being able to perform multiple different tasks.
  • Warsaw Pact Created

    A mutual defense treaty between the communist countries in response to the creation of NATO. It was created to provide a buffer zone between the Soviet Union and the Western countries. All members would be involved in invasions or attacks.
  • Geneva Summitt

    Talks intended to bring peace between the Soviets and Allied powers. They focused on global security and did not want to end up in another World War. Attempted to alleviate the tensions caused by the Cold War.
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    De-stalinization

    Nikita Khrushchev denounced Josef Stalin's actions and crimes, saying reforms were needed. Industrial and military resources were shifted to consumer goods. Also, other communist countries were allowed to have different forms of communism as long as the Soviets remained in control.
  • Hungarian Revolution

    A revolt started by students against the Soviet-controlled government. The Soviets intervened but the government was eventually overthrown. The failure to defend the country led to the collapse of the Soviet Union later in the Cold War.
  • Sputnik

    Sputnik was a Soviet satellite and the first one ever to be launched from Earth. Americans were afraid that the Soviet Union had surpassed them in technology. This officially began the "space race" resulting in the U.S. putting a man on the moon.
  • U-2 Spy Plane Incident

    An American spy plane was shot down over the Soviet Union. The U.S. reported that it was a weather balloon, but they did not know that the Soviet Union had recovered the pilot and were holding him in the USSR. An upcoming meeting between the U.S. and USSR was cancelled and the tensions between the two countries increased.
  • Bay of Pigs Invasion

    Failed invasion of Cuba by the U.S. Led to embarrasment for Americans and demonstrated the weakness of the U.S. The USSR offered support to Cuba and led directly into the Cuban Missile Crisis.
  • Building of the Berlin Wall

    In an attempt to suppress movement to and from West Berlin, the Soviets constructed a concrete wall around West Berlin. Guard towers were built and guards were ordered to shoot anyone who attempted to cross the wall. However, there were checkpoints that allowed certain people to pass between the two sections.
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    Cuban Missile Crisis

    The U.S. recognized Soviet missiles being placed in Cuba. This led to the fear of "mutually assured destruction" where one wrong move would destroy the entire world. The crisis ended with a U.S. blockade of Cuba and negotiations to remove the missiles from Cuba while the U.S. removes missiles from Turkey.
  • Nuclear Test Ban Treaty

    Agreement to prevent nuclear weapons testing except for underground. This was an attempt to slow the arms race between the U.S. and USSR and also reduce the nuclear fallout in the atmosphere. As a result, this signaled a decrese in tensions and an upcoming period of peace.
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    Leonid Brezhnev

    Leader of the Communist Party in the USSR. He announced that the Soviets could intervene in any socialist country whenever they wanted. He led a policy of "re-stalinization" to bring back Stalin's ideas and lead an oppressive rule.
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    Prague Spring

    Led by Alexander Dubcek wanting to lessen the influence of communism and make a more democratic state. Many reforms were made and freedoms were increased. The invasion by the Soviet Union ended this time period and forced a return to communism.
  • Invasion of Czechoslovakia

    Soviet attempt to halt the Prague Spring of Czechoslovakia. They took over Prague and overthrew the leaders. Communism was imposed with no resistance from other countries.
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    Ostpolitik

    A West German policy of peace with East Germany and other Soviet Bloc countries. Began by leader Willy Brandt who officially recognized their losses after WWII.Tensions were greatly reduced between the East and West Germans.
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    Détente

    A period of peace and negotiations between the U.S. and USSR. Began with Nixon's visit to the USSR to begin SALT I and ended with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. This led the U.S. to refuse to ratify SALT II.
  • SALT I

    Negotiations between the U.S. and USSR about limiting the amount of nuclear weapons for each country. Following the Cuban Missile Crisis, both countries feared the destruction that could happen without limitations. The countries also agreed to stop making nuclear ballistic missiles.
  • Helsinki Conference

    Officially ended WWII with the recognization of Soviet borders on Poland and other Eastern bloc countries. This led to a reduction in tensions in the Cold War. It provided security for many smaller countries.
  • Pope John Paul II

    Began the "solidarity" movement of Polish workers. It was led by Lech Walesa and demanded better treatment of workers. Communism took over but the movement still remained active.
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    Margaret Thatcher

    First woman Prime Minister of Great Britain. She agreed with many of Reagan's ideas on the Cold War. She sought strong military action on multiple issues.
  • SALT II

    A continuation of the SALT I negotiations but sought to further limit nuclear weapons. After the invasion of Afghanistan, the U.S. withdrew from the talks and never officially ratified it. The talk led to the START agreements which put specific number caps on nuclear weapons.
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    Ronald Reagan

    40th president of the U.S. played a major role in ending the Cold War. He referred to the Soviet Union as the "evil empire" and built up the military in response to the Soviets arms race. He later signed the INF Treaty with the USSR to reduce the nuclear arsenals.
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    Helmut Kohl

    Chancellor of Germany who was pro-American. He assisted the U.S. in bringing about the fall of the USSR. He played a vital role in the reunification of German following the Cold War.
  • SDI

    Proposed by the U.S. to use space-based missiles to protect against aerial attacks from the Soviet Union. It was a very bold initiative but scared the Soviets. This eventually led to them giving in to more demands, loosened the tensions, and led to the eventual downfall of the USSR.
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    Mikhail Gorbachev

    Leader of the Communist Party in the Soviet Union. He began reforms of Glasnost and Perestroika. His policies led to the fall of the USSR.
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    Perestroika

    Attempt to revive the Soviet economy. The Soviets adopted many capitalist policies of the western countries. This was much less successful than the Glasnost reform.
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    Glasnost

    A part of Gorbachev's reforms to revive Soviet society. It gave free speech to Soviets and ended censorship. This was much more successful than the Perestroika reform.
  • INF Treaty

    This agreement between the U.S. and USSR eliminated intermediate-range nuclear missiles. It was another step towards limiting arms. It loosened the tensions between the two powers.
  • Collapse of the Berlin Wall

    After more and more East Germans were passing across the wall, it was eventually demolished over a few weeks. President Reagan challenged Gorbachev to "tear down this wall." After it's fall, the East German government collapsed and Germany was reunified.
  • Velvet Revolution

    A non-violent revolution against the communist party of Czechoslovakia. Due to the failure of other Soviet-influenced countries, the communist party gave up power. New officials were elected in democratic elections.
  • Boris Yeltsin

    Elected president of the Russian Federation after the fall of the Soviet Union. He transitioned the economy from communist to capitalist. Regarded as a national hero for his stand against the coup in Moscow.
  • Fall of the USSR

    Tha failures of many Soviet-influenced countries led to the fall of the USSR. Also, the Soviet Union itself was weakening with increasing capitalist reforms. This officially ended the Cold War.