What Happened at the End of World War II? Why did the Wartime Alliance Break Up?
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What was the Cold War? After the end of the World War II, the governments of the USA and USSR became increasingly suspicious of each other’s motives. The two sides armed themselves for war. But due to the fact that the two sides were developing nuclear weapons, the war never occurred. Instead there was a long period of hostility which continued until 1989. This became known as the Cold War. The USSR and USA became known as Superpowers . This was based on their geographical size, population, military might and the part they played in winning World War II. They were the most powerful countries in the world from the 1940s to the late 1980s, and possessed the technology to fight an atomic war. Why do you think the war was called the Cold War?
The Yalta conference The Yalta conference is often called the beginning of the Cold War. It was a meeting of the Big Three (Churchill, Stalin and Roosevelt) at the former palace of Tsar Nicholas II on the Crimean shore of the Black Sea. They met between 4 – 11 February 1945. Stalin’s army had reached the River Oder and were poised to attack Berlin. The Soviet army had been told to pause while the conference took place. Stalin had occupied Poland and had the largest army in Europe. Stalin was in a strong position, and apparently Roosevelt made four secret deals with him: <ul><li>$20 billion in reparations from Germany </li></ul><ul><li>Poland to the Curzon line </li></ul><ul><li>three seats in the United Nations </li></ul><ul><li>territory in the Far East including Outer Mongolia, South Sakhalin Island and the Kuriles. </li></ul>
<ul><li>Stalin accepted France as one of the four powers </li></ul><ul><li>Germany was to be divided into four zones, each occupied by one of the four allies (USA, USSR, Britain, France). Berlin was also to be divided into four sectors </li></ul><ul><li>Poland would get land from Germany, and would lose land to USSR in the east </li></ul><ul><li>the USSR would declare war on Japan three months after the end of the war with Germany </li></ul><ul><li>Stalin promised to allow free elections in the East European countries the Soviet army was occupying </li></ul><ul><li>Germany was to pay reparations of $20 million, half of which was to go to the USSR. </li></ul>Who seems to have done best at the conference? Key agreements at Yalta
Read the two sources below. Decide which one is written by an American, and which by a Briton. Suggest reasons for their differences. “ Churchill was anxious to limit Russian influence in Europe, but Roosevelt did not share his aim … Stalin obtained his aims over Poland. Her frontiers were to be the so-called Curzon line … on the east and the western Neisse on the west. Her government was to be … the Lublin Committee rather than … the exiled government in London.” A Ramm, 1992. “ Yalta was widely hailed as a giant step toward world peace – and assailed for the concessions the British and American leaders granted their Soviet partner … In return for Stalin’s pledge to join the war against Japan … the Soviet Union gained the Kurile Islands and parts of Manchuria … On European matters the Western chiefs were even more accommodating…” L Glennon, 1995.
Germany was divided Both France and Russia wanted to extract heavy reparations from their zones. Why do you think they felt this way? Why did Britain and the USA not feel the same?
Even Berlin was divided between the Allies Why do you think the Allies wanted to divide up the German capital? How would the Germans feel about this? As Berlin is deep within the Soviet zone, what problems can you think this may cause?
The problems of Yalta The USA and USSR interpreted the agreements differently: The USA saw the need for ‘democracy and free elections’ to mean that Eastern Europe would have freedom of speech, and proper elections. The Soviets’ idea of democracy was the Communist one, where the Communist party represented the people, and all worked for the good of the nation. Yalta raised false hopes in the USA. Stalin did not allow Western-style governments to be set up in Eastern Europe. Stalin kept the Lublin Committee in Poland, and forced the country into Communism. Had Roosevelt been naive, or was he simply trying to appease Stalin to keep him in the war? If so, should the USA really have been surprised at the outcome?
Germany’s surrender In May 1945, Germany surrendered. The war still continued in the Pacific, but the Allies had to build on the decisions made at Yalta. From July 17th to August 2nd, the allies held a conference in Potsdam, a port 25 km south of Berlin. Unlike the conferences in Teheran (1943) and Yalta (February 1945) this one had the potential to fail: The USA had a new president – Truman – who said to his mother: “ Wish I didn’t have to go but it can’t be stopped now”. His mind was firmly focused on the atomic trials; he wanted a swift end to the war in the Pacific. Churchill had the parliamentary elections to think about, and Attlee, his opponent, was by his side at Potsdam. Stalin was determined to get a large spoil from the war.
Potsdam “ Our common opinion was … that Truman had come with the aim of conceding as little as possible … He waited impatiently for the results of the [bomb] test and when he … got them … he obviously thought he would be able to take a tough line…” Andrei Gromyko Memories , 1989. Stalin said: “No doubt Washington and London are hoping we won’t be able to develop the bomb ourselves for some time … meanwhile, using America’s monopoly, they want to force us to accept their plans for Europe…” Andrei Gromyko Memories, 1989. What do these quotes suggest about how this conference differed from the previous one?
Agreements at Potsdam <ul><li>German reparations were agreed – each country was to take reparations from its own area of occupation. The USSR was also to receive some industrial equipment from the western zones – little of this was actually handed over. </li></ul><ul><li>The details of the German – Polish borders on the rivers Oder and Neisse were agreed, although the British and Americans were unhappy with it. </li></ul><ul><li>The German people were to be “re-educated” and Nazism stamped out, and war criminals tried and punished. </li></ul><ul><li>Austria was also to be divided into four zones, like Germany. Independence was regained in 1955. </li></ul><ul><li>The USSR wanted to help run the rich German industrial area of the Ruhr – the USA rejected this. </li></ul><ul><li>The USSR wanted a share in the occupation of Japan – the USA rejected this. </li></ul>
The effects of the war World War II cost the lives of 27 million Russians compared to 300,000 Americans. Much of the USSR’s industry had been destroyed. As soon as the war ended US supply ships on their way to the USSR were ordered to turn back, and the USA refused to provide loans to rebuild the Soviet economy, yet they helped their former enemy, Germany. The USSR also suffered some terrible harvests in 1946 and 1947, resulting in widespread famine. How does this information help explain why the Soviets began to develop an US foreign policy? Do you think they were justified in taking as much as they could from their sector of Germany? Explain.
The Russians had suffered terribly at the hands of Germany on two occasions in 40 years. They believed that the Western Allies were helping Germany rebuild, and would then threaten them again. Because of this, Stalin decided that to be truly safe, the USSR needed a ‘buffer zone’ of friendly, that is Communist, countries between them and Germany. From 1945, the USSR via the Secret Police and the Red Army, ensured that the countries of Eastern Europe became Communist. Why did the USSR want a buffer zone?
Where was the USSR’s buffer zone? Was it easy making these countries Communist? Explain .
Why did the Cold War occur? There were many reasons for the Cold War, and there are many different interpretations of the information. Use the bullet points below to create a paragraph explaining why you think the Cold War occurred. <ul><li>Stalin believed the West wanted to destroy Communism </li></ul><ul><li>the West believed Stalin was encouraging Communist revolutions in the West, and was determined to take over </li></ul><ul><li>Stalin believed Britain and the USA delayed opening a second front in World War II so that the Soviets would suffer greater casualties, and be left too weak to threaten the West after the war </li></ul><ul><li>the size of the USSR made it a rival to the USA </li></ul><ul><li>the USSR was Communist, the USA was Capitalist </li></ul><ul><li>the USA didn’t tell the USSR they’d developed an atomic bomb. </li></ul>
The Iron Curtain What do you think Churchill meant by an ‘Iron Curtain’? “ From Stettin, in the Baltic, to Trieste, in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the continent. Behind that line … all are subject to a high and increasing control from Moscow...” Winston Churchill, 1946. In December 1946, Britain and the USA agreed to unite their German zones for economic purposes. The Soviets were furious. Not only had they acted without agreement from the Soviets, but they also appeared to be rebuilding Germany, when Stalin wanted to keep it weak. To protect Eastern Europe from the influences of the West, Stalin erected a 1,600 km fence, which in places was protected by razor wire, dog runs and electric beams. This was known as the ‘Iron Curtain’ and became the most important symbol of the Cold War.
Europe divided Communist – The government owns everything. Everyone works for the good of the people, not just for themselves. The country is run by a dictator . Capitalist – People own their own businesses, there is free trade. The government is elected by the people of the country. Iron Curtain Yugoslavia – Communist, yet allied with the West, not Russia.
The domino theory The USA believed that Communism would spread from country to country like dominoes toppling over. The theory seemed to have been proven by events in Eastern Europe. The USA thought the way to fight this was with money.
Marshall Aid In June 1947, George Marshall, US Secretary of State, gave a speech outlining a way to keep Communism at bay and build up markets for US Exports. It became known as the ‘Marshall Plan’. It began because of a civil war in Greece, which it looked as if the Communists would win; and the ‘domino theory’ as one by one, Eastern European countries seemed to be coming under Soviet power.
$13 billion was provided by the US government for all European countries to rebuild. In Italy and France, Communist parties were growing in size, and the aim was to cut them down. During the plan’s four-year run, industrial production in Western Europe went up by 40%. Marshall Aid was available to all countries who had been affected by the war, but the Soviets would allow none of it to enter their satellite states. Why do you think Stalin would not accept Marshall Aid?
Who were the leaders? USA 1945 Harry Truman 1953 Dwight Eisenhower 1961 John F Kennedy 1963 Lyndon B Johnson 1969 Richard Nixon 1974 Gerald Ford 1977 Jimmy Carter 1981 Ronald Reagan 1989 George Bush 1993 Bill Clinton USSR 1924 Joseph Stalin 1953 Georgiy Malenkov 1953 Nikita Khrushchev 1964 Leonid Brezhnev 1982 Yuri Andropov 1984 Konstantin Chernenko 1985 Mikhail Gorbachev 1991 Boris Yeltsin Why has the USA had more leaders than the USSR?
Key events of the Cold War 1946 ‘Iron Curtain’ Speech 1946 1991 1968 1957 1979 1951 1962 1973 1984 1991 Break up of USSR 1989 Democracy in Eastern Europe 1983 Star Wars 1980 Moscow Olympics 1979 USSR invades Afghanistan 1973 USA withdraw from Vietnam 1972 SALT 1 1963 ‘Hotline’ set up 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis 1960 Paris Summit Conference 1955 Warsaw Pact 1949 Berlin Blockade 1949 NATO 1956 Khrushchev's ‘peaceful coexistence’ speech