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Cold War Timeline

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    Joseph Stalin

    was the dictator of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) from 1929 to 1953. Under Stalin, the Soviet Union was transformed from a peasant society into an industrial and military superpower. However, he ruled by terror, and millions of his own citizens died during his brutal reign; Stalin aligned with the United States and Britain in World War II but afterward engaged in an increasingly tense relationship with the West (known as the Cold War).
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    Douglas McArthur

    was an American five-star general and field marshal of the Philippine Army; was Chief of Staff of the United States Army during the 1930s and played a prominent role in the Pacific theater during World War II. He received the Medal of Honor for his service in the Philippines Campaign; he was one of only five men ever to rise to the rank of General of the Army in the US Army, and the only man ever to become a field marshal in the Philippine Army.
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    Mao Zedong

    led communist forces in China through a long revolution beginning in 1927 and ruled the nation’s communist government from its establishment in 1949. Along with Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin, Mao is considered one of the most significant communist figures of the Cold War.
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    John F. Kennedy

    commonly referred to by his initials JFK, was an American politician who served as the 35th President of the United States from January 1961 until his assassination in November 1963. The Cuban Missile Crisis, the Bay of Pigs Invasion, the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, the establishment of the Peace Corps, developments in the Space Race, and the building of the Berlin Wall all took place during his presidency.
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    Gary Powers

    Francis Gary Powers – often referred to as simply Gary Powers – was an American pilot whose Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) U-2 spy plane was shot down while flying a reconnaissance mission in Soviet Union airspace, causing the 1960 U-2 incident.
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    Potsdam Conference

    The Potsdam Conference was the last of the World War II meetings held by the “Big Three” heads of state (President Harry S. Truman, Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin); talks established a Council of Foreign Ministers and a central Allied Control Council for administration of Germany. They reached various agreements on the German economy, punishment for war criminals, land boundaries and reparations, as well as demanding the "unconditional surrender" of Japan.
  • United Nations

    On this day in 1945, the United Nations Charter, which was adopted and signed on June 26, 1945, is now effective and ready to be enforced.The United Nations was born of perceived necessity, as a means of better arbitrating international conflict and negotiating peace than was provided for by the old League of Nations.
  • The Marshall Plan

    The Marshall Plan, also known as the European Recovery Program, channeled over $13 billion to finance the economic recovery of Europe between 1948 and 1951. The Marshall Plan successfully sparked economic recovery, meeting its objective of ‘restoring the confidence of the European people in the economic future of their own countries and of Europe as a whole.
  • Rio Treaty

    The Rio Treaty was an agreement binding the republics of the Western Hemisphere together in a mutual defense system. Also called the Rio Pact or the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance, the treaty became effective on December 3, 1948 (though initially created in 1947) when two-thirds of the member states had ratified it.
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    Berlin Airlift

    After World War II, the Allies split Germany into their own individual zones. The Russians–who wanted Berlin all for themselves–closed off all access into Berlin so it'd be impossible for the people who lived there to get food or supplies, eventually, driving the others out for good; instead of retreating, however, the U.S. and its allies decided to supply their sectors of the city from the air which lasted for more than a year and carried more than 2.3 million tons of cargo into West Berlin.
  • NATO

    also called the North Atlantic Alliance, is an intergovernmental military alliance based on the North Atlantic Treaty which was signed on 4 April 1949. The organization constitutes a system of collective defence whereby its member states agree to mutual defence in response to an attack by any external party. Three NATO members (the United States, France and the United Kingdom) are permanent members of the United Nations Security Council with the power to veto (officially nuclear-weapon states.)
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    Korean War

    The Korean War was the first “hot” war of the Cold War. Over 55,000 American troops were killed in the conflict. Korea was the first “limited war,” one in which the U.S. aim was not the complete and total defeat of the enemy, but rather the “limited” goal of protecting South Korea.
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    The Space Race

    Beginning in the late 1950s, space would become another dramatic arena during the Cold War where each side sought out to prove their superiority in technology, military firepower, and-by extension-its political-economic system. The Space Race was between the Soviet Union & the United States for supremacy in spaceflight capability; spawning pioneering efforts for satellite and probe launches, and human spaceflight in low Earth orbit and the Moon.
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    The Vietnam War

    The Vietnam War was a long, costly armed conflict that pitted the communist regime of North Vietnam and its southern allies, known as the Viet Cong, against South Vietnam and its principal ally, the United States.
  • Launch of Sputnik

    The Soviet Union inaugurates the “Space Age” with its launch of Sputnik, the world’s first artificial satellite. The spacecraft, named Sputnik after the Russian word for “satellite,” was launched at 10:29 p.m.
  • "Kitchen Debates"

    was a series of impromptu exchanges (through interpreters) between then U.S. Vice President Richard Nixon and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev at the opening of the American National Exhibition at Sokolniki Park in Moscow on July 24, 1959. For the exhibition, an entire house was built that the American exhibitors claimed anyone in America could afford. The debate was recorded on color videotape and Nixon made reference to this fact; it was subsequently rebroadcast in both countries.
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    Berlin Wall

    The government of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) began to build a barbed wire and concrete wall between East and West Berlin w/ the purpose of dividing communist East Germany from democratic West Germany and to keep East Germans from escaping to West Germany; on Nov. 9th, the head of the Communist Party announced that citizens of the GDR could cross the border whenever they pleased. Ecstatically, citizens climbed over the wall, while some brought tools and began to tear down the wall.
  • Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty

    Representatives of the United States, Soviet Union and Great Britain signed the Limited Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, which prohibited the testing of nuclear weapons in outer space, underwater or in the atmosphere; the treaty was hailed as an important first step toward the control of nuclear weapons.
  • Moon Landing

    On July 20, 1969, American astronauts Neil Armstrong (1930-2012) and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin (1930-) became the first humans ever to land on the moon. About six-and-a-half hours later, Armstrong became the first person to walk on the moon. As he set took his first step, Armstrong famously said, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."
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    Cuban Missile Crisis

    was a 13-day confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union concerning American ballistic missile deployment in Italy and Turkey with consequent Soviet ballistic missile deployment in Cuba.