GCSE History: Superpower Relations and the Cold War
Tehran ConferenceThe Tehran conference established that:
- Britain and the US would invade Nazi-occupied Europe.
- The Soviet Union would declare war on Japan once Germany was defeated.
- Poland's boarder would be moved westwards; it would gain prior German territory and lose land to Russia.
- The international body would be established to resolve issues between countries. This was the founding of the UN.
*DISCLAIMER*Content derived from:
Dowse, B. (2016). Revise Edexcel GCSE (1-9) History Superpower Relations And The Cold War, 1941 - 91 Revision Guide And Workbook. London: Pearson Educational Limited, pp. 1-30. All content used in line with fair useage and the Intellectual Offices' Exceptions to Copyright for Education and Teaching.
Bulgaria Becomes CommunistA communist government was elected, and all elected non-communists were executed.
Yalta ConferenceThe objectives of the conference were that:
- Germany, once defeated, would be reduced in size, divided and demilitarised.
- Germany would pay $23 billion in reparations to the allies.
- Europe would be rebuilt along the lines of the Atlantic Charter. Countries would have free elections.
- The United Nations would be founded.
- Once Germany was defeated, Russia would declare war on Japan.
- Poland would be in the 'Soviet sphere of influence' but be governed on a democratic basis.
Breakdown of the Grand AllianceWhen Roosevelt died, the Grand Alliance began to break down. Roosevelt's successor, Truman, was very distrustful of the Soviet Union and at the Potsdam conference, showed hostility towards Stalin. Britain, having ended the war on the winning side, was economically exhausted and could not afford to stand up to Stalin, and instead chose to ally with the US. Therefore, the cold war became increasingly about the relationship between America and Russia.
Potsdam ConferenceThe third conference outlined that:
- A Council of Foreign Ministers was set up to oversee the rebuilding of Europe.
- The Nazi Party was banned and war criminals were to be prosecuted.
- Germany was to be divided up into four zones of occupation governed by Britain, France, the Soviet Union and the USA.
- Berlin would also be divided up into four zones of occupation.
- The Soviet Union would receive 23% of the output from the other zones.
End of World War 2Germany is defeated by the allies.
The Long TelegramA secret report from US ambassador Kennan in Moscow to President Truman said:
- The Soviet Union saw capitalism as a threat to communism that had to be destroyed.
- The Soviet Union was building its military power.
- Peace between a communist Soviet Union and a capitalist USA was an impossibility.
Novikov's TelegramA report from Novikov, Soviet ambassador to the USA, told Stalin that:
- The USA wanted world domination and was building up its military strength.
- The Soviet Unions was the only country left after the war that could stand up to the USA.
- The USA was preparing its people for war with the Soviet Union.
Romania Becomes CommunistA communist-led coalition took power, however, by 1947 the communists had taken over and Romania became a one-party state.
Poland Becomes CommunistAt Yalta Stalin promised to set up a joint communist/non-communist government, only to then invite sixteen non-communist leaders to Moscow where they were arrested. Thus, the communists 'won' the 1947 elections.
Hungary Becomes CommunistThe communists lost the 1945 election but the communist leader Rakosi took control of the secret police, executed and imprisoned opposition and turned Hungary into a communist state.
Truman DoctrineTruman gave a speech to outline why the USA should get involved with Russia:
- Countries faced a choice between either capitalism or communism.
- Communism was bad because it meant that people could not be free.
- The USA must do everything to stop the spread of communism.
- The USA should offer economic and military aid to help free governments and stop communist takeovers.
The Marshall PlanThe Marshall Plan was an American initiative to aid Western Europe, stating that:
- $13 billion would be donated by the US to rebuild Europe.
- US to give countries a steak in the capitalist system as communism was for those who had nothing to lose.
- Countries must trade with the US to get money. 16 Western Europe countries took the money, including Britain, France & West Germany.
The Soviet Union criticised the Marshall Plan as an attack on them as it threatened communism in Eastern Europe.
CominformCominform stood for the Communist Information Bureau and was founded by Stalin with the objective to govern all communist parties in Europe. Cominform:
- Got rid of any opposition to the Soviet Union's rule in satellite states.
- Encouraged communist parties in Western countries to block Marshall Plan assistance.
Czechoslovakia Becomes CommunistEdward Benes set up coalition government, however, the communists retained control of the army, the radio and the secret police. In 1948, they seized control completely and turned the state into a communist one.
Eastern Germany and the Berlin BlockadeThe Soviet Union wanted Germany to be weak, communist and divided so that it could never attack Russia again. Therefore:
- The Soviet Union has 1.5 million troops in its zone, whereas there were few soldiers in Trizonia.
- Eastern Germany grew almost all the food eaten in the West.
- In June 1948, they closed all rail, road and canal routes through their zone to Berlin.
- The Soviet Union stopped all supplies entering Berlin to prove they could stop a divided Germany from working.
The Berlin AirliftIn response to the Soviet blockade, between 26/06/1948 - 30/09/1949, thousands of tonnes of supplies were flown daily to Berlin. The airlift made America look peaceful and generous, whereas the blockade made the Soviets look aggressive and threatening. The consequences were:
-September '49 Trizonia - West Germany - officially formed.
- October '49 East Germany officially formed as a Soviet State.
- April '49 NATO formed.
- May '55 Warsaw Pact formed to counter NATO.
East Germany Becomes CommunistThe original Soviet zone of occupation in Germany, it became a communist state in October 1949.
Arms Race1945 - US drops two atomic bombc on Japanese cities.
1949 - Soviet Union tests its first atomic bomb.
1952 - US develops H bomb.
1953 - Soviet Union develops H bomb. Although at first American military officials believed they could defeat the Soviet Union with nuclear weapons in the event of a war, as Russia developed their own weapons, this changed. It became clear that Mutually Assured Destruction would occur in the event of a war between the two sides.
ComeconComecon stood for the Council of Mutual Economic Assistance. Stalin established it as an alternative to the Marshall Plan. The countries included...
- Soviet Union
- East Germany
... and promised to:
- Build up trade links between Comecon countries.
- Prevent Comecon countries form signing up to the Marshall Plan.
The North Atlantic Treaty OrganisationNATO was a military alliance comprised of the US, Britain, Canada, Holland, Belgium, France, Denmark and Norway and West Germany. It was based on the principal of collective security; if one country was attacked other countries had to assist it. Therefore, it can be said that NATO was directed against a military attack from the Soviet Union on Western Europe, as these countries were not going to accept Soviet aggression.
NATO led the Soviets to develop the Warsaw pact.
Bizonia/Trizonia and Western GermanyThe US wanted a united, capitalist Germany so to achieve this:
- Britain and the USA merged their zones, which was then included in the Marshall Plan.
- France later joined to make Trizonia on 01/06/1948, creating the Federal Republic of Germany - West Germany - on 23/05/1949.
- As this political alliance had not been discussed with Stalin, the Soviets believed it was a violation of the agreements made at Potsdam. Stalin believed the USA was dividing the richer and poorer parts of Germany.
The Warsaw PactThe Warsaw Pact was a defensive treaty involving the Soviet Union, Poland, Hungary, East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Romania, Albania and Bulgaria.
The formation of the pact meant that there were two opposing alliances in Europe, seperated by the iron curtain, with both planning for military action against the other.
The Warsaw Pact gave the Soviet Union direct control over the armed forces of its satellite states, thus strengthening its grip on Eastern Europe.
Destalinisation in HungaryWhen Stalin died, Khrushchev took over as Soviet leader. In 1956, in his secret speech, Khrushchev hinted that Soviet control would relax.
In October 1956, poor harvests and bread shortages meant that Hungarians started demonstrating against communist control, with local statues of Stalin being pulled down.
In a last bid to regain some control, Khrushchev appointed a more liberal Prime Minister for Hungary - Imre Nagy - in the hope that the situation would calm down.
Nagy as Prime MinisterNagy wanted the following reforms for Hungary:
- Leave the Warsaw Pact and become a neutral country.
- Hold free elections leading to no more communist government.
- UN protection from the Soviet Union.
Soviet Invasion of HungaryKhrushchev dissaproved of Nagy's reforms and proposals. If Hungary left the Warsaw Pact, other countries would soon follow. Khrushchev also believed that Nagy's actions threatened communist rule as recently, many communists had been killed. Therefore, on 4th November 1956, Khrushchev sent 200,000 Soviet troops into Hungary to despose of Nagy and restore order.
International Reaction to the Hungarian Uprising
- The UN condemned Soviet actions. Some boycotted the 1956 Olympics in protest, but stronger actions did not happen.
- The USA supported Hungary's uprising with money, medical aid and words. The USA accepted 80,000 refugees from Hungary, but did not offer military aid.
- Satellite states saw that the USA would not defend them against the Soviet Union. Soviet control retightened across Eastern Europe.
Consequences of USSR Invasion of Hungary
- Over 5000 Hungarians were killed as a result of the invasion, including 1000 Soviet troops.
- Nagy and his government were desposed.
- Nagy was arrested, tried and executed. Khrushchev wanted to prevent rebellions in other communist countries, such as Poland, and hoped he could do so by making an example of Nagy.
- Janos Kadar was appointed. He introduced the 15 point plan, which aimed to re-establish communist rule in Hungary.
A Divided BerlinBetween 1949 and 1961, 2.7 million East Germans crossed from the East to the West in Berlin, giving the economy of the West a boost due to the influx of skilled workers. This also reflected badly on the soviets, as people clearly preferred the West.
Khrushchev's Berlin Ultimation
- Stated that all Berlin belonged to the East and that occupying troops must leave within six months.
- The Soviet union knew that if it tried to push the West out of Berlin by force, a war would start that it could not win, as the US had more nuclear weapons. So, a series of summit meetings took place between the leaders of the USA and the Soviet Union.
Summit Meeting - GenevaThe summit involed foreign representatives only. Whilst no solutions were agreed, a further meeting was arranged for Camp David in the USA.
Summit Meeting - Camp David USAInvoled Eisenhower and Khrushchev. Again, no soultions were agreed but a further meeting was arranged in Paris.
Summit Meeting - ParisInvoled Eisenhower and Khrushchev.
The meeting was a disaster. Khrushchev stormed out because the Soviet Union had shot down a US spy plane over Russia.
Summit Meeting - Vienna ConferenceInvoled Khrushchev and Kennedy.
Neither was willing to back down. Khrushchev saw kennedy's inexperiences as a weakness and reissued his ultimation for the USA to remove its troops from Berlin.
The Cuban Missile Crisis - The Bay of the PigsHaving failed to assasinate Castro, the CIA convinced Kennedy that an invasion of Cuba was necessary.
The CIA told Kennedy:
- The invasion would look like a Cuban revolt - they had trained Cuban exiles and disgused US planes as Cuban.
- Castro's control of Cuba was weak and that most Cubans hated him.
The result was that:
- The planes were exposed as US.
- Castro was prepared and sent 20,000 troops to meet the US' 1,400, whom surrendered.
- The people were not thankful for the attack.
Construction of the Berlin WallThe four summit mettings had failed to resolve the problem in Berlin, so Kennedy prepared the USA for a nuclear war. As Khrushchev could not risk a nucleaur war, he decided to construct a wall in order to prevent East Berliners traveling to the West. In future, anyone caught trying to escape the East would be shot. At first, the wall was a mere barbed wire fence, but it was soon reenforced with concrete slabs. Soviet tanks were also deployed to stop Western access to the East.
The Berlin Wall - US / Soviet RelationsAfter the wall was built:
- Western troops stayed in Berlin.
- The refugee problem was solved (Eastern Berliners couldn't flee to the West).
- The USSR stopped insisting on unifying Berlin under communism.
- The wall was a propaganda victory for the West as it showed how undesireable the East was. 200 people lost their lives trying to breach the wall.
- The West become a symbol of freedom.
- Khrushchev mistakingly saw the wall as Kennedy's weakness, encouraging him to deploy missiles in Cuba.
USSR Response to the Cuban Missile CrisisThe Soviet Union saw Cuba as the fix to a strategic problem - the USA had missiles stationed close to Russia (in the UK), so Russia needed to house missiles close to the US and Cuba was a prime location.
Cuban officials welcomed Soviet intervention, as it would protect them against further attacks from the US.
In september 1962, Soviet ships carried nuclear warheads and missiles to Cuba. Then in October, US spy planes photographed the Cuban missile site and exposed the secret to the US public.
Kennedy's Visit to East Berlin
- Kennedy famously declared "ich bin ein Berliner", I am a Berliner.
- Kennedy's speech was an expression of solidarity with the West Berliners. It also implied that NATO and the UN would defend West Berlin from communist attack.
- Kennedy's speech came after the Cuban Missile Crisis, showing that he was not 'soft on communism'.
Short-term Consequences of the Cuban Missile Crisis
- Communist Cuba survived as Kennedy vowed not to invade again.
- The Soviet union looked weak as the world did not know that the US had removed missiles from Turkey. This undermined Khrushchev and Brezhnev replaced him as Soviet leader in 1964.
- US 'doves' came out well, as their desire to avoid war resulted in the missiles being withdrawn.
Long-term Consequences of the Cuban Missile CrisisDetente was initiated by the USA:
- A Hotline agreement created a direct communication link between Washington & Moscow.
- Limited Test Ban Treaty, August 1963, meant all nuclear testing was banned, unless underground.
- In 1963 Kennedy gave a speech about working with the USSR on 'common interests'.
- The USSR caught up to the US in the Arms Race, thus Mutually Agreed Destruction was declared.
- The Outer Space Treaty was signed in 1967 & the Nucleur Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1968.
Czechoslovakia - Prague SpringDubcek believed in 'socialism with a face', a form of communism that was easier to live under.
His reforms included:
- Relaxation of censorship (freedom of speech).
- Permittance of other parties besides those that were communist.
- Power was given back to the Czechoslovakian parliamnet, reducing the control and influence of the Soviets and secret police in Czechoslovakia.
- Market socialism was introduced.
This period of freedom was dubbed the Prague Spring and was warmly welcomed.
Global Response to the Prague SpringReactions to the Prague Spring were varied.
- Older communists were horrified as they feared it would lead to the collapse of communism in Czechoslovakia.
- Brezhnev and Eastern Germany leader Honecker feared other satellite states would demand reforms.
- Brezhnev was faced with the dilema of taking military action against his friend, Dubcek, which would damage the Soviet's reputation. On the other hand, if he did nothing, expectations would rise and the Eastern bloc might collapse.
Soviet Response to the Prague SpringUSSR tanks invaded Czechoslovakia after Brezhnev failed to convince Dubcek to reverse the reforms. Dubcek was arrested and the country returned to strict Soviet rule under Husak, known as 'normalisation'.
The Brezhnev doctrine then stated that the USSR had the right to invade any Eastern bloc which threatened the saftey of the Eastern bloc as a whole. Western communist countries were horrified & declared independance from the Soviet Communist Party. Yugoslavia & Romania detached from the USSR.
International Reaction to Soviet control of CzechoslovakiaWest
- The US condemned the invasion & Brezhnev Doctrine but didn't offer military aid due to pre-exsiting involvment with the Vietnam War.
- Communist leaders in France & Italy began to cut ties with the Soviet Union. East
- Brezhnev Doctine limited reforms in other Eastern bloc countries & strengthened the USSR's control.
- Poland pursued policies that ignored public opinion, leading to protests.
- Yugoslavia & Romania signed alliance with communist China, dividing the communist world.
Consequences of SALT 1Salt 1 positives and negatives:
+ Slowed down the Arms Race by placing limits on the number of bombers, ICMBs and SLBMs each side could have.
+ Led to further negotiations that culminated in the SALT 2 treaty of 1979.
+ Ensured that neither side had a decisive advantage in strategic nuclear weapons.
- Did not cover intermediate nuclear weapons which both sides continued to deploy in Europe during the late 1970s.
SALT 1Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty
Superpowers agreed to limit the number of nuclear weapons they had.
- No further production of ballistic weapons.
- No increase in number of intercontinental ballistic weapons.
- No new nuclear missile launchers, but submarines with missile launchers could be used to replace existing missile launchers.
- The Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty limited both sides to two ABM deployment areas.
Helsinki AccordsThe Helsinki agreements were signed in Helsinki, Finland, where representatives from 35 countries agreed on:
- Security issues: no country to interfere with the internal affairs of another country.
- Respect human rights such as freedom of speech.
- Co-operation: the US agreed to buy oil from the Soviet Union & the Soviet Union agreed to buy wheat from the US.
- Borders: East and West Germany officially acknowledged.
Significance of HelsinkiImportance
- Helped the USA and Soviet Union to form a stable relationship.
- Represented the high point of detente.
- Coincided with more US-Soviet cooperation, such as space missions and trade agreements. Limitations
- USSR continued to enforce the Brezhnev Doctrine to Eastern bloc countries, treating opposition harshly. Scientist Sakharov was arrested, hospitalised and force-fed.
- USA continued to prioritise its interests in countries it could influence, such as Chile and El Salvador.
SALT 2Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (1979)
- Under negotiation since 1972.
- Signed in Vienna by Brezhnev and Carter.
- Based on the Vladivostok Accords (1974) - agreements between US and USSR governments.
- Each superpower limited to 2250 warheads.
- SALT 2 counted warheads whereas SALT 1 counted missiles and bombs.
- Imposed limits on new launch systems including multi-warhead missiles.
Soviet Invasion of AfghanistanBrezhnev wrongly thought that Carter wouldn't object to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan after its president, Taraki, was assasinated and replaced by Amin.
The Soviet Union reacted by sending in troops to kill Amin and appoint Karmal as the new communist leader, thus securing Russia's power over Afghanistan, a bordering country.
Troops then remained in Afghanistan to ensure Karmal's power, although Afghan rebels called the Mujahideen resisted these troops.
SALT 2 FaliureSALT 2 failed because:
- Some West German politicians believed the USA had been weakened by it, and was less likely to use nuclear weapons in the event of a Soviet attack on West Germany.
- Some US politicians thought the treaty made too many concessions to the Soviet Union.
- US-Soviet relations soured after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, meaning the US Senate never ratified the treaty, so it never became an official US policy. After the faliure of SALT 2, the Arms Race sped up again.
Consequences of the Afghanistan Invasion - Carter DoctrineCarter took the following actions:
- Threatened to use force if the Soviets attempted to take control of the Persian Gulf.
- US imposed economic sanctions whereby trade with the Soviet Union was banned. Furthermore, the Afghanistan invasion persuaded many Americans that the Soviets could not be trusted. This helped Reagan's election as he was an anti-communist with a hard-line attitude towards the Soviet Union.
Reagan Becomes President of the USA
Strategic Defence InitiativePresident Reagan lauched SDI, known as 'Star Wars', as a plan to have satellites, lasers and mirrors in space that could destroy Soviet intercontinental nuclear missiles before they reached the USA.
The Soviet Union opposed this and saw it as a betrayal of the Outer Space Treaty of 1967.
Second Cold War1979 - 1984 After the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan and American Presidential election of Reagan, an anti-communist, relations between the two superpowers deteriorated in what was dubbed the 'second cold war'. Reagan believed it was his 'mission from God' to win the Cold War.
Consequences of the Afghanistan Invasion - USSRSoviet troops remained in Afghanistan to keep Karmal in power, whom came under fire from the Mujahideen, leading to rising casulties on both sides. Thus, pressure was put on the Soviet Union to end the increasingly unpopular war. Meanwhile, the USA boycotted the 1980 Olympic games in Moscow and later, the USSR boycotted the 1984 Olympic games in Los Angeles. This brought an end to the sporting competition between the USA and Soviet Union that characterised detente.
Gorbachev Becomes Leader of the Soviet Union
Geneva MeetingGorbachev and Reagan met at the Geneva summit, where they got on well and agreed to more meetings. There were many significant changes in attitudes:
- Public opinion was against the Arms Race which Reagan had reinitiated.
- Gorbachev was popular.
- British Prime Minister Thatcher got on well with Gorbachev and wanted to 'do buisness'.
This lead to an easing of Cold War tensions. From this meeting, there were better US-Soviet relations as well as arms control, which lead to START 1 and INF.
ReykjavikReagan and Gorbachev said they would work to cut down the number of nuclear weapons they had.
Gorbachev wanted to end Reagan's Strategic Defence Initiative - a plan to have satellites in space to destroy nuclear missiles - but Reagan did not agree to this.
INF TreatyDiplomats continued the discussions from Reykjavik and came up with the INF Treaty, signed in Washington. INF stood for Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces - nuclear weapons with a 500 - 550km range. The treaty abolished these types of missiles, after it was applied to Europe, where most of these missiles were deployed.
Scrapping of the Brezhnev DoctrineGorbachev scrapped the Brezhnev Doctrine because:
- He believed openness would make all Eastern bloc countries better.
- Eastern bloc governments were planning only a little reform.
- Reform would end unrest in countries such as Poland, where the Catholic Church had challenged the government.
- The USSR needed to improve trade with the West, which would only happen if the USSR loosened their grip on the Eastern bloc countries.
- The USSR could no longer afford to sustain the Warsaw pact.
Breakup of the Eastern BlocGorbachev announced that Soviet troops would no longer be involved with foreign affairs.
This lead to many revolts, meaning that by 1990 all the old Eastern bloc countries now had non-communist governments.
Fall of the Berlin WallThe growth of communism in Hungary meant that Eastern Germans could travel through Czechoslovakia and Hungary to the West, and this was officially announced on November 9th 1989, leading East and West Germans to begin chipping at the wall.
The USSR then withdrew its troops from Germany, but the Western allies troops remained.
Germany become reunited, with Berlin as its capital in 1990.
Malta SummitAn end to the Cold War was declared.
Significance of the Fall of the Berlin Wall
- The Conventional Forces in Europe agreement, 1990, set limitations on non-nuclear forces deployed in Europe.
- Withdrawal of Soviet troops from Eastern Europe from 1990 onwards.
- End of the Warsaw Pact from July 1991.
- More Eastern European countries joined NATO, including Poland and Hungary.
- At the START meeting of 1991, both the USA and USSR agreed to reduce their nuclear warheads by 1/3, and to then reduce them further.
Gorbachev's ResignationGorbachev tried to save the Soviet Union by offering more freedoms to its republicans, but the constitution was rejected and full independance was demanded. As a result, Gorbachev announced the dissolution of the Soviet Union and his resignation.
The decline of communism meant that the Soviet Union had much less influence on other countries. Key reasons the SU lost the Cold War
- Properganda failed to sell communism
- Afghanistan war
- Failed economy
- Arms race
- Repression of Eastern bloc
Fall of the Soviet UnionThe Soviet Union became the Commonwealth of Independant States in January 1992 after many Soviet states seceded the Soviet Union and became independant states. These included:
The Cold War came to an end as there was no longer a conflict of ideologies between East and West.