The Cold War begins: 1945 -1948 Key issues: Why did the wartime alliance fall apart? What were the major differences between the superpowers? The importance of Yalta and Potsdam conferences. The roles of Stalin and Truman.
Events from the war. Major point: The USSR lost around 20 million people in WW2. By contrast GB lost around 370,000 and the USA lost 297,000 people. Stalin was determined to make the USSR secure in the future.
The rise of the superpowers Before WW2 there were a number of countries which could have claimed to be superpowers – USA, USSR,GB, France, Japan, Germany. The damage caused by the war to these countries left only two countries with the military strength, size and resources to be called superpowers….USA and USSR.
What they believed in: Don‟t forget USA was capitalist and USSR was communist. They had allied against Fascism ….. Now the common enemy had been defeated the reason for co-operation was gone. Differences were bound to emerge.
The Past. The Soviet Union could not forget that in 1917 Britain and the USA had tried to destroy the Russian Revolution. The memory of the Red Scare in the 1920s was not gone either. Stalin also thought that they had not given him enough help in the Second World War. Britain and the USA could not forget that Stalin had signed the Nazi-Soviet Pact with Germany in 1939.
Aims. Stalin wanted huge reparations from Germany, and a „buffer‟ of friendly states to protect the USSR from being invaded again. He was “suspicious”, think about the causes of Appeasement! Britain and the USA wanted to protect democracy, and help Germany to recover. They were worried that large areas of eastern Europe could fall under Soviet control.
TASK Two conferences were held in 1945 at Yalta and Potsdam The aim was to discuss the future. What to do with Germany‟s leaders after the war. What would happen to the occupied countries after liberation, especially those of Eastern Europe. How to end the war with Japan How to build a lasting peace.
So, who was to blame? Russian historians blamed Churchill (the British Prime Minister) and Truman (the American president, 1945–1953). They said Truman and Churchill wanted to destroy the USSR, which was just defending itself. At first, western writers blamed the Soviet Union. They said Stalin was trying to build up a Soviet empire. Later, however, some western historians blamed the USA. They said Truman had not understood how much Russia had suffered in the Second World War. Nowadays, historians think BOTH sides were to blame – that there were hatreds on both sides and probably an inevitable conflict once again.