The 1950s


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  • By 1949, the Soviets had expanded their control to cover most of Eastern Europe, and it appeared that China would soon fall to the communists as well. "The fear-filled forties and fifties were a dark period when the spread of communism abroad increased anxieties and frustration at home," wrote Herb Block. In their zeal to stamp out all signs of subversion in the United States, professional and amateur anti-communists threatened to suppress American liberties as well.
  • In February 1950, Joseph McCarthy, a Republican Senator, claimed he had a list of 205 members of the Communist Party of the US, who worked for the State Department. He never had any evidence , but just waved his list for the cameras. Many members of Congress, influenced by his success, began to support his heavy-handed and abusive tactics for political purposes.
  • During the postwar anti-communist campaign hundreds of elementary and high school teachers were investigated and lost their jobs, sometimes as a result of being named by proliferating "anti-subversive" groups and individuals.
  • In 1954, Senator Joseph McCarthy went too far when he took on the United States Army, accusing it of promoting communists. The Senate held special hearings, known as the Army-McCarthy hearings, which were among the first to be televised nationally.
  • In the course of testimony McCarthy submitted evidence that was identified as fraudulent. As both public and politicians watched the bullying antics of the Senator, they became increasingly disenchanted.
  • Before the year was out McCarthy, whose charges had first hit the headlines in February 1950, was censured by his colleagues for "conduct unbecoming a senator."
  • 9,500 civil servants were dismissed and 15,000 resigned; 600 teachers lost their jobs and many fine actors and scriptwriters were unable to work again. Charlie Chaplin, the biggest Hollywood movie star of the pre-war years (and also a Communist) left America in disgust. The 1950 McCarran Internal Security Act forced organizations to give lists of members (they might be Communists) and the 1954 Communist Control Act banned the Communist Party altogether. All these were legacies of McCarthyism. The biggest effect though, was the anti- democratic atmosphere that McCarthyism created. Anyone who was liberal, a trade unionist, civil rights worker , showed sympathy for the poor, was automatically a ‘Commie’ .
  • A hydrogen bomb explosion …… beautiful, isn’t it?
  • … a lengthy and controversial espionage case. In 1950, the Federal Bureau of Investigation arrested Julius Rosenberg (1918–53), an electrical engineer who had worked (1940–45) for the U.S. army signal corps, and his wife Ethel (1916–53); they were indicted for conspiracy to transmit classified military information to the Soviet Union. In the trial that followed (Mar., 1951), the government charged that in 1944 and 1945 the Rosenbergs had persuaded Ethel's brother, David Greenglass—an employee at the Los Alamos atomic bomb project—to provide them and a third person, Harry Gold, with top-secret data on nuclear weapons. The chief evidence against the Rosenbergs came from Ethel’s brother Greenglass and his wife, Ruth.
  • Both Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were found guilty (1951) and received the death sentence; Morton Sobell, a codefendant, received a 30-year prison term, as did Harry Gold; and David Greenglass was later sentenced to 15 years imprisonment. Despite many court appeals and pleas for executive clemency, the Rosenbergs were executed on June 19, 1953. Julius was taken to the electric chair first and given one last chance to confess – if he did, he was assured that Ethel’s sentence would be commuted. He remained silent and was executed. Ethel was brought in – she was much smaller than her husband and the authorities failed to adjust the chair’s connections. The first jolt of electricity failed to kill her …. They would have to shock her two more times before she would be declared dead. They became the first U.S. civilians to suffer the death penalty in an espionage trial – Ethel was the first women executed in the electric chair. It would later be revealed that the testimony against Ethel was false. She was only guilty of being Julius Rosenberg’s wife.
  • From March 13 , 1954 to November 6 , 1991 KGB was the umbrella organization name for: the principal Soviet security agency ; the principal intelligence agency ; the principal secret police agency . Roughly, the KGB's operational domain encompassed functions and powers like those exercised by the United States ' Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) , the counterintelligence (internal security) division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) , the Federal Protective Service , and the Secret Service .
  • The 1954 Coup in Iran was the CIA's (Central Intelligence Agency) first successful overthrow of a foreign government. Great Britain initiated the plot in 1952 to guarantee access to Iranian oil and approached the US. The Truman administration rejected it, but President Eisenhower approved it shortly after taking office in 1953, because of fears about oil and Communism. CIA agents orchestrating the Iran coup worked directly with royalist Iranian military officers, handpicked the prime minister's replacement, sent a stream of envoys to bolster the shah's courage, directed a campaign of bombings by Iranians posing as members of the Communist Party, and planted articles and editorial cartoons in newspapers. The coup was a turning point in modern Iranian history and remains a persistent irritant in Tehran-Washington relations. It consolidated the power of the shah, who ruled with an iron hand for 26 more years in close contact with the United States.
  • In the 1950s, the Guatemalans dared to challenge an American business that controlled much of its economy. In 1954, the CIA helped overthrow the democratically elected government of Guatemalan President Jacobo Arbenz. Why? Because Arbenz incurred Washington's wrath with his Agrarian Reform Plan, which, among other things, confiscated lands owned by the U.S.-based United Fruit Company and redistributed it to peasants.
  • This map shows extent of the holdings of the United Fruit Company of Boston. Friends of the United Fruit Company in Washington -- including the Secretary of State John Foster Dulles and the CIA Director Allen Dulles -- began yelling for action, and in 1953 the CIA was directed to arrange for Arbenz's removal.
  • The agency began funding a small band of rebels based in neighboring Honduras, and on June 18, 1954, these forces attacked. At first they made little progress, but a CIA radio propaganda campaign exaggerated the size of the rebel force and contributed to the defection of Arbenz's officer corps. Arbenz fled into exile and a military junta took control of the Guatemalan government.
  • The success of this operation provided a boost to covert operations and became a blueprint for future coup attempts.
  • Throughout the 1930s and 40s, rural uprisings in French Indochina organized by Ho Chi Minh and the Communist Party became common occurrences. However, the British and the Nationalist Chinese sided with the French.
  • Vietnam was part of the French Empire known as French Indochina in South East Asia. After the Chinese withdrawal, Paris had agreed with Ho Chi Minh to recognize his Democratic Republic of Vietnam as a "freestate within the Indochinese Federation." But as soon as the French military was re-established in Hanoi, the apparent concession was forgotten
  • In December 1946, negotiations with Ho Chi Minh failed, and fighting broke out again between the French and Ho's Viet Minh. The first Indochina war had begun, and it would continue for another eight years.
  • In 1954, the French lost control of Vietnam in the famous battle of Dien Bien Phu.
  • The battle was joined in late 1953 when French forces, who had been rapidly losing ground to the popularly supported Viet Minh, occupied the town of Dien Bien Phu - a small mountain outpost on the Vietnamese border near Laos - in an attempt to cut the nationalist supply lines into Laos and to maintain a base for forays against enemy forces. Although the Vietnamese quickly cut all the roads into Dien Bien Phu, making it accessible only by air, the French were confident of their position. They were thus taken by surprise when the Viet Minh surrounded the base with 40,000 men and used heavy artillery to break the French lines. Despite heavy U.S. aid, the base was overrun on May 7, 1954.
  • On May,8 1954 the Viet Minh counted 11,721 prisoners, amongst whom were 4,436 wounded.  858 of the most seriously wounded were evacuated under the control of the Red Cross. Of the remaining 10,863 prisoners, including 3,578 wounded, the Viet Minh returned only 3,290 four months later.  The number of men who died in the camps, 7,573, represents a percentage on the order of 70%.
  • While the Viet Minh was fighting the French, Laos and Cambodia negotiated their independence. France was forced to negotiate the Geneva Agreement, which established the 17th parallel as the "cease-fire line" and made Ho Chi Minh the president of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam , with Hanoi as the capital in North Vietnam …… with the backing of Communist China and Russia.
  • After the ceasefire, Vietnam was divided into North and South Vietnam at the 17 th parallel. South Vietnam was controlled by the American-backed Catholic mandarin, President Ngo Dinh Diem in Saigon, though his office had no status under the Geneva Agreement.
  • At the same time, the first major refugee movement had began. Almost a million Catholic Vietnamese from North Vietnam, led by their priests and transported by the United States Navy moved to South Vietnam while more than 50,000 people from South Vietnam moved to the North.
  • --was a military organization of Central and Eastern European Communist states --intended to counter the perceived threat from the NATO alliance (which had been established in 1949 ).
  • At 4:15 a.m. on November 4, 1956, Soviet forces launched a major attack on Hungary aimed at crushing, once and for all, the spontaneous national uprising that had begun 12 days earlier.
  • At 5:20 a.m., Hungarian Prime Minister Imre Nagy announced the invasion to the nation in a grim, 35-second broadcast, declaring: "Our troops are fighting. The Government is in its place." However, within hours Nagy himself would seek asylum at the Yugoslav Embassy in Budapest while his former colleague and imminent replacement, János Kádár, who had been flown secretly from Moscow to the city of Szolnok, 60 miles southeast of the capital, prepared to take power with Moscow's backing.
  • On November 22, after receiving assurances of safe passage from Kádár and the Soviets, Nagy finally agreed to leave the Yugoslav Embassy. But he was immediately arrested by Soviet security officers and flown to a secret location in Romania.
  • By then, the fighting had mostly ended, the Hungarian resistance had essentially been destroyed, and Kádár was entering the next phase of his strategy to neutralize dissent for the long term. The defeat of the Hungarian revolution was one of the darkest moments of the Cold War.
  • The leader of Egypt – General Nasser was promoting Arab nationalism throughout the Middle East and had become an increasing source of irritation to the British and the French.
  • Great Britain decided to join with France and Israel in a military intervention to attempt to prevent General Nasser from nationalizing the Suez Canal in the autumn of 1956. Nasser was promoting Arab nationalism throughout the Middle East and had become an increasing source of irritation to the British and the French.
  • The Anglo-French assault upon Egypt, which began on 31 October 1956, provoked a furious response from the USA. President Eisenhower's condemnation of the attack triggered a sterling crisis which forced the government to withdraw from the venture. This angered the French, and further revealed Britain's growing dependence on the support of the US.
  • History changed on October 4, 1957, when the Soviet Union successfully launched Sputnik I. The world's first artificial satellite was about the size of a basketball, weighed only 183 pounds, and took about 98 minutes to orbit the Earth on its elliptical path. That launch ushered in new political, military, technological, and scientific developments. While the Sputnik launch was a single event, it marked the start of the space age and the U.S.-U.S.S.R space race.
  • The second Sputnik satellite was launched on Nov 3, 1957 and carried a dog, named Laika, into space. Laika died a few hours after launch from stress and overheating . Her true cause of death was not made public until decades after the flight, with officials stating that she was either euthanized by poisoned food or died when the oxygen ran out. Some former Soviet scientists have since expressed regret for allowing Laika to die. The last Sputnik installment was intended to be a space laboratory for study of Earth's magnetic field and radiation belt. After its launch on May 15, 1958, it remained in orbit for nearly two years.
  • Delivered 27 November 1958 By Nikita Khrushchev Demanded that all Allied military presence be removed from Berlin within 6 months The Western powers remained resolute in their military position and did not move in the following six months. Khrushchev's bluff had been called in his failure to act on his ultimatum following the six-month time period.
  • Sept 15, 1959 - Khrushchev arrived in U.S. for 13 days helicopter ride over D.C. escorted by Henry Cabot Lodge to New York tour of Can Can set in Hollywood (urban myth that he was not allowed to visit Disneyland) San Francisco, Roswell Garst farm in Iowa, steel mill in Pittsburgh Camp David meeting with Ike - bowling unknown in USSR "Spirit of Camp David" - Paris summit planned Ike agreed that Berlin situation was "abnormal" Ike approval polls up from 49% in '57 to 66% in '59
  • The 1950s

    1. 1. The 1950s
    2. 2. McCarthyism 1950
    3. 3. McCarthy’s Witch Hunt for Communism
    4. 5. "You read books, eh?"
    5. 7. "I have here in my hand . . ."
    6. 9. <ul><li>Many people lost their jobs and livelihoods. </li></ul><ul><li>Blacklists and the banning of the Communist Party in America. </li></ul><ul><li>Anti-democratic atmosphere. </li></ul>Effects of McCarthyism
    7. 10. Civil Defense! 1951 We Have To Be Prepared!
    8. 21. 1953 President Eisenhower Elected
    9. 22. The Rosenbergs 1953
    10. 23. Julius and Ethel Rosenberg
    11. 25. 1954 … things begin to get warmer…
    12. 26. Soviet Union sets up the KGB.
    13. 27. CIA Coup in Iran
    14. 28. CIA Coup in Guatemala
    15. 30. Gasoline depot bombed by  CIA rebel air force.
    16. 31. Guatemala now had a government installed by the CIA – a military dictatorship . . . But it wasn’t Communist!
    17. 32. First Indochina War
    18. 35. Dien Bien Phu April-May 1954
    19. 36. 7 May 1954 Dien Bien Phu
    20. 41. The United States refused to bail France out. “ We shall fight no land war in Asia.”
    21. 42. The Warsaw Pact 1955
    22. 44. The Hungarian Rebellion The First Domino November 14, 1956
    23. 46. János Kádár Communist leader 1956-1988
    24. 49. The Suez Crisis 1956
    25. 52. Sputnik 1957
    26. 55. The Berlin Ultimatum 1958
    27. 56. The Summit 1959