History GCSE Cold War

key events throughout the cold war

  • Created by: Louise
  • Created on: 25-05-11 12:16

Conflicting Ideologies

The two superpowers had very different ideologies


  • Democratic government, chosen in free elections
  • Capitalist country, privately owned business etc Individuals can make profits but can also go bankrupt
  • Believe in freedom of individual

1920-30 followed isolationism, but now prepared to help countries who wanted democracy but were faced with communism


  • Communist state
  • People could vote for the Supreme Soviet but only members of the communist party and the Supreme Soviet had no real power
  • Peoples lives were closely controlled
  • Rights of individuall less important than society as a whole
  • Planned economy, government controlled production
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Teheran Conference 1943

Big three-Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill


  • Soviet union could have a sphere of influence in Eastern Europe


  • Stalin wished to punish and severly weaken Germany with reparations
  • Churchill and Roosevelt wanted to rebuild Germany. They remembered the treaty of Versailles.
  • Nothing was decided about this.
  • Stalin also made big claims on Poland
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Yalta Conference, February 1945

Allied leadersknew they had won the war and got on well


  • Stalin would enter war on Japan when Germany was defeated
  • Germany would be split into 4 zones and Berlin into 4 sectors
  • Nazi party was banned and leaders tried as war criminals
  • Liberated countries would be able to hold free elections
  • Agreed to all join the UN to keep peace after the war
  • Eastern Europe would be seen as a Soviet Sphere of Influence


  • Stalin wanted to move the border of the USSR into Poland arguing Poland could move its border into Germany. Churchill did not approve but couldn't do anything as the Red Army was in both these countries. He agreed providing the USSR didn't interfere with Greece
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Potsdam Conference July/August 1945

Between Truman, Stalin and Attlee


  • Nazi Party to be banned and leaders tried as war criminals
  • Oder-neisse line wass to form the border between Poland and Germany


  • Over germany, Stalin wanted to cripple Germany to protect the USSR, Truman wanted it to recover. Stalin was suspicious over why they wanted to protect Germany
  • Over reparations. Stalin wanted huge compensation from Germany but Truman didn't want to repeat the mistakes of the first world war
  • Soviet policy in Eastern Europe. Stalin was setting up communist governments in Eastern countries despite saying he wouldn't.
  • Stalin wanted a Navel base in the Mediterranean but Truman and Attlee wouldn't let him as they saw no reason for him to needed a base there.
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Differences between Yalta and Potsdam

  • Different leaders, Truman did not trust Stalin and so found it difficult to work with him. Attlee was inexperienced in dealing with powerful men like Stalin
  • By Potsdam, Stalins army were in most of Eastern Europe and so nothing could be done by Truman to enforce free elections. Stalin insisted it was purely defensive
  • America had the atomic bomb which it dropped on Japan. Truman didn't tell Stalin about it and so he was angry and was convinced the USE had used the bomb as a warning to the USSR. Truman was convinced that the USA had the ultimate weapon and was even more determined to stand up to Stalin. The arms race had begun
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The Iron Curtain

Speech by Churchill in 1946, Foulton, Missouri

'From Stettin on the Baltic to Trieste on the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the Continent. Behind that line lie all the capitals of Central and Eastern Europe...and all are subject to a very high measure of control from moscow'

Churchill meant that there were now effectively two camps in the world, the democratic west and communist east. Stalin had cut off most contact with the west and had complete control of these countries.

Stalin saw Churchills speech as a declaration of war.

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The Novikov Telegram, 1946

Written by the Soviet ambassador Novikov

He Said:

  • The USA wanted to dominate the world and believed it had a right to lead it.
  • Since Roosevelts death the USA was not interested in co-operating with the USSR. Truman was very anti-communism and wanted to contain it.
  • The US people were being prepared for war and that the US had money to spend on war, which worried Stalin as the Soviet economy was weak after WW2 and faced with another war it was unlikely they would win.
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Long Telegram 1946

  • A Secret report sent by the US Official in Moscow, George Kennan

    He Said:

    • Stalin wanted to destroy capitalism as he feared the effects of capitalism and freedom on his people and he painted the west as evil and corrupt.
    • There would never be peace with Russia while it oppsed Capitalism and that the USSR was building up its military power and working on the atomic bomb
    • The USSR would try to extend its power and influence by encouraging communists in other countries to try to gain power. He recommended the USA try to contain the spread of Communism
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Greece 1947

  • When the Germans left Greece in 1944. There were 2 rival groups, the Monarchists and the Communists. The Communists wanted Greece to be a Soviet republic and the Monarchists wanted the King to return.
  • Churchill sent British troops to Greece in 1945 to supposedly restore order but they supported the Monarchists and returned the King to the throne.
  • In 1947, the Communists tried to take control of Greece by force and a cvil war developed. Britain couldn't afford another war and by February 1947 withdrew.
  • Truman stepped in and provided Greece with arms, supplies and money. The Communists were defeated.

This intervention by the Americans turned them away from Isolationism and made them take control of world politics

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Cominform 1947

  • Stands for Communist Information Bureau
  • Set up by Stalin in 1947 to co-ordinate the various Communist governments in eastern Europe
  • The office was originally in Yuogslavia but moved in 1948 as Yugoslavia was expelled by Stalin for not doing as it was told
  • Cominform ran meeting and sent out instructions to Communist governments about what the Soviet Union wanted them to do. Tightened Stalins control on his communist allies
  • Stalins response to the Truman Doctrine and Marshall Aid.
  • Encouraged minority communist parties in countries like France to try to turn more people to communism
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Truman Doctrine 1947

A Statement of intent made in March 1947 by President Truman.

  • It stated countries ahd a choice between a communist state and a democracy with capitalism. It clearly divied the world into two opposing camps.
  • The USA had the responsibility to fight for liberty wherever it was threatened. The USA was leaving Isolationism behind and helping countries in need.
  • Policy of containment. Truman accepted that Eastern Europe was now communist and he aimed to stop communism from spreading any further
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Marshall Aid

Truman believed that poverty and hardship provided a breeding ground for Communism so he wanted to make Europe prosperous again. It was also important for American business to have trading partners in the future but Europe's economies were still weak.

US Secretary of State George Marshall visited Europe and came up with a European recovery programe. This had two main aims:

  • to stop the spread of communism
  • to help the economies of Europe to recover

He recommended that $17bn was made availble but Congress initially refused. However in March 1947, Czechoslovakia became communist and a pro-American minister was pushed out a window. Congress accepted the Marshall plan immediately.

  • Only 16 European countries accepted it, all western European states
  • Stalin refused Marshall Aid for the USSR and banned eastern European countries from eaccepting it as he belived the USA was trying to buy allies and it would weaken his control in Eastern Europe
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Causes of the Berlin Blockade and Airlift

  • In January 1947, USA & GB form Bizonia
  • December 1947, London Conference to discuss future of Germany but USSR not invited
  • January 1948, Stalin stops western literature in East Berlin
  • April 1948, French zone added to for Trizonia
  • June 1948, New country of West Germany created
  • New currency introduced in West Germany to improve trade but causes chaos in the Russian zone

West Germany began to recover and prosper but in East Germany was poverty and hunger. Stalin saw the Allies deliberately building up West Berlin and when they introduced the new currency, this was the last straw.

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Events of the Berlin Blockade and Airlift

On the 24th of June 1948, Stalin cut off all road, rail and canal links between west Germany and West Berlin, hoping he could force the Allies out of the city. It seemed there was a real risk of war and the USA and Britain faced a choice:

  • They could withdraw- but would be humiliating and may encourage Stalin to invade West Germany and give greater power to the East
  • Open up land routes to Berlin-this would have led to war
  • Bring in supplies by air-risky as the planes may be shot down.

They decided to airlift in supplies and the air lift continued until 12th of May 1949. Over 200,000 flights were made into Berlin and brought in everything from food and clothing to oil and building supplies.

Atomic bombs were stationed in Britain as a warning to the USSR not to shoot down any planes.

It was a great success

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Results of the Berlin Blockade and Airlift

In May 1949 when it was clear the Blockade was not working, Stalin reopened communications.

This was a victory for the west but relations with the USSR were destroyed.

Germany would remain divided and West Berlin remained as a symbol of liberty and freedom behind the iron curtain.

The USA had a propaganda triumph and were made to seem stronger than the USSR

The zone controlled by the USA, France and Britain became the Federal Republic of German and th Soviet zone became the German Democratic republic

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NATO, 1949

North Atlantic Treaty Organisation

Military alliance containing most of the states of Western Europe as well as the USA and Canada. If one member was attacked, the other members would help to defend it. The USSR developed its own atomic bomb in 1949 and so NATO was evern more important to the defense of Western Europe, non of which had the atomic bomb yet.

The importance of NATO

  • The USA was now formally committed toe the defence of western Europe
  • Stalin did not see it as a defensive alliance but as a direct threat to the USSR
  • The USA was able to build air bases in western Europe where planes armed with nuclear weapons could be stationed.
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The Warsaw Pact, 1955

1955 West Germany joined NATO. The Soviet response was to set up the Warsaw Pact which was a communist version of NATO. This was because the Soviet had not forgotten the damage Germany caused in the second world war.

Created by Khrushchev

The USA responded by increasing he number of NATO troops in Germany

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Destalinisation, 1956

Khrushchev made an attack on Stalin at the Communist party International. He dredged up gory evidence of Stalins purges and denounced him as a wicked tyrant who was an enemy of the people and kept all the power to himself.

He began a programme of de-stalinisation:

  • He released more poilitical prisoners
  • He closed down cominform
  • He dismissed Stalins former Foreign Minister, Molotov
  • He agreed to remove Soviet troops from Austria

Although he seemed to be signalling that countries in Eastern Europe would be allowed greater freedom, this wasn't quite the case, as shown in Hungary in 1956

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Causes of the Hungarian Uprising

After the second world war, the Soviets set up a communist army in Hungary under leader Matyas Rakosi who closely followed Stalins rule. Hungarians hated Rakosi and his secret police (AVH).

  • Khrushchevs policy of de-stalinisation caused problems as people in Hungary believed they would be allowed more freedom
  • The Hungarians were patriotic, they hated Russian control especially:
  • The secret police (AVH)
  • Russian control of the economy which made Hungary poor
  • Russian control of what was taught in schools
  • Censorship and lack of freedom
  • Hungarians were religious but the Communist party banned religion and imprisoned Cardinal Mindzenty
  • Hungarians though the UN or the US president Eisenhower would help them

 On 23rd of October, student demostrations caused a statue of Stalin in the capiital to be pulled down.

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Events of the Hungarian uprising

  • Imre Nagy became prime minister at his request, Soviet troops were removed from Hungary.
  • Local councils replaced the Communist government
  • Soviet books and flags were burnt in the street and AVH were hung
  • Nagys government planned to hold free elections with more than one party, abolish the AVH and restore farmland to private ownership.
  • He then planned to leave the warsaw pact and become neutral in the cold war.

Khrushchev couldn't accept this as it would leave a gap in the iron curtain and the buffer zone would be broken. Soviet troops and 1,000 tanks moved into Hungary to crush the uprising

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Results of the Hungarian Uprising

  • Between 2,500 and 30,000 Hungarians, mostly civilians were killed along with 700 Soviet troops. Over 200,000 refugees fled to Austria
  • The uprising highlighted the limitations of Khrushcheves policy of peaceful co-existence.
  • There was no active support for the uprising in the West because the USA, Britain and France were preoccupied with the Suez Crisis.
  • A new pro-Sovet government was set up under Janos Kadar. He re-establised Communist control of Hungary but cautiously introduced some reforms. However he remained a member of the Warsaw Pact.
  • Other satellite states in eastern Europe did not dare to challenge the Soviet authority after the events in Hungary.
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Events leading up to the building of the Berlin Wa

May 1959, Geneva, US and USSR foriegn ministers. No agreement reached but opened way for a meeting between Khrushchev and Eisenhower

September 1959, Camp David, Eisenhower and Khrushchev, no agreement to solution of problems, decided to meet again. Khrushchev withdrew his 6 month ultimatum.

May 1960, Paris, Eisenhower and Khrushchev. Disaster, just before Gary Powers was shot down over the USSR in a spy plane. Khrushchev walked out when Eisenhower refused to apologise.

June 1961, Vienna, Kennedy and Khrushchev. Neither side was willing to back down over US presense in Berlin. Khrushchev thought Kennedy was weak and inexperienced and issued the 6 month Ultimatum again to remove troops. However Kennedy refused and began preparing America for war.

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U2 Crisis

May 1960

A U2 spy plane is fitted with a high quality camera and the best cloaking devices available at the time which allows it to fly above the sight of radars.

On May 1st 1960 a spy plane was shot down by a Soviet missile and the pilot, Gary Powers was taken for questioning and the plane was recovered by Soviet engineers.

The USA tried to cover it up but they didn't know Powers admitted to spying.

On May 7th 1960, Khrushchev announced he had the pilot and plane with pictures and asked for a full US apology but Eisenhower didn't give one.

This led to the breakdown of talks at the Paris Summit and the cold war getting colder as Khrushchev described the US as someone impossible to deal with.

Gary Powers was sentenced to 10 years in prison but was swapped after 1 year for a Soviet spy.

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Berlin Crisis, why was a wall built?

Berlin was a source of conflict between the Soviets and western Allies. Capitalist West Berlin, surrounded by the Communist state of East Germany, continued to be a problem for the USSR.

Between 1949 and 1961, 3 million East Germans had fled to the west via West Berlin from where they could travel to West Germany.

Why were there so many refugees?

  • East German government was unpopular
  • People in East had little freedom compared to the West.
  • Standard of living was much lower in East Germany than in the West
  • East Berliners could see consumer goods in shops in West Berlin and the greater wealth they enjoyed.
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Berlin Crisis, why was a wall built? (continued)

Why was this a disaster fo the USSR?

  • Disaster for Communism as the people who moved told the world what communism was really like and not what the leaders liked to show.
  • Highly skilled people were leaving Berlin and so there were less people to fill in the important jobs that the East Germans needed doing.
  • It undermined communism generally as people moved away for a better life under capitalism as he claimed the East had a better standard of living than it actually did.

Solving the refugee problem

  • Khrushchev offered the USA an ultimatum. He wanted the western troops out of West Berlin and for West Berlin to become communist. He saw this as the way to solve the problem of people leaving communism.
  • November 1958 Khrushchev declared that the whole of the city of Berlin officially belonged to the USSR
  • Eisenhower was unsure of what to do. He didn't want war but he didn't want to lose Berlin as this would be bad for American propaganda.
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The building of the wall

1961, Khrushchev and the East German leadership decided to act. Without warning on 13th of August 1961, the East Germans began to build a wall surrounding West Berlin.

  • To begin with, the structure was just a barbed wire fence but by the 17th of August it was replaced by a stone wall.
  • All movement between East and West Berlin stopped.

Impact of the Wall on Berliners

  • Families and friends were divided
  • People could not travel to their place of work.
  • Those in the East desperate to get to the West risked their lives trying to cross the wall
  • GDR soldiers had orders to shott escapees
  • Up to 200 died.
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The effects of the Berlin wall

  • The flow of refugees was reduced to a trickle
  • Western nations won a propaganda victory since it appeared Communist states needed to build a wall to prevent their citizens from leaving.
  • Tension grew:both sides started nuclear testing again.
  • The West became more anti-communist
  • The Wall became a symbol in the West of Communist tyranny.

The Western Nations had to be satisfied with a propaganda victory only as there was little western powers could do to prevent the wall being built.

27th October 1961

  • Tension between the two Superpowers mounted.
  • Soviet tanks pulled up to Checkpoint Charlie and refused to allow any more crossings to the east.
  • Throughtout the day US and USSR tanks faced each other.
  • After 18 hours they both gradually withdrew.
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Attitudes towards the Berlin wall

Attitude of the West

  • Kennedy said a wall is better than a war.
  • US portrayed the wall as a prison for the East Berliners
  • West Berlin remained a symbol of freedom for the people of East Berlin and the Eastern bloc.
  • Kennedy made a speech in Berlin declaring 'Ich bin ein Berliner' to show US support for West Berlin.

Attitude of the USSR

  • The wall stopped East Germans escaping to the west.
  • It prevented a war with USA and allowed Khrushchev to still appear strong.
  • Khrushchev told the East Berliners that the wall was there to protect the people from those who wanted to prevent the building of communism.
  • He claimed that the weat used West Berlin as a route in to East Berlin for spies (correct)
  • He said the west was undermining the east by recruiting spies, sabotage and provoking disturbances.
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Castro and Cuba

Cuba under Batista

  • American Ally 160km from Florida
  • huge Naval base in Cuba at Guantanamo.
  • America gave Cuba economic and military suppot.
  • Cuban leader Batista was corrupt, unpopular and a dictator. The US only supported him because he opposed communism.
  • He welcomed American business in Cuba and accepted bribes.

People became fed up with Batista and he was overthrown by Castro. uba became communist after it was taken over by Fidel Castro in 1958. He was popular in Cuba, partly because he gave land seized from wealthy Americans to the Cuban people.

US reponse to Castro: relations grew worse for two important reasons

  • There were thousands of Cuban exiles in the USA who demanded action against Castro.
  • Castro took over American owned businesses
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The Bay of Pigs

June 1960 Eisenhower authorised the CIA to try to overthrow Castro. They provided support and funds for Cuban exiles and investigated ways to disrupt the Cuban economy.

  • UScompanies refused to co-operate with any Cuban business allied with the USSR
  • American media broadcast relentless criticism of Castro
  • Castro assured Americans in Cuba that they were safe and let the USA keep their naval base.
  • Summer 1960 he allied CUba with the USSR. Khrushchev signed a trade agreement giving Cuba $100 million economic aid and also arms.
  • June 1961, USA broke off diplomatic relations with Cuba and Castro thought the USA wanted to invade. They didn't intend to invade but planes to overthrow Castro continued under Kennedy.
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The Bay of Pigs (continued)

Kennedy supplied arms, equipment and transport for 1400 anti-Castro exiles to invade Cuba and overthrow him. In April 1961 the exiles landed at the Bay of Pigs. However they were met by 20,000 Cuban troops armed with tanks and modern weapons. They were all captured or killed within days.

They had expected people in Cuba to support them but they got none.

This told the USSR and Castro that despite its opposition to Communism, the USA was unwilling to get directly involved. Khrushchev was scornful of Kennedy's pathetic attempt to get rid of the communists. This event strengthed Castros position in Cuba.

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Cuba: The October Crisis

  • May 1962-Soviet Union announced publicly it was supplying Cuba with arms.
  • By September, thousands of Soviet missiles etc were on Cuba.
  • The USA would tolerate conventional weapons but not nuclear weapons.
  • The USSR said they did not intend to put nuclear weapons on Cuba.
  • 14th of October an American spy plane flew over Cuba and saw nuclear missile sites being built by the USSR. They also reported Soviet ships were on their way to Cuba.

Kennedy was told on the 16th and formed a special team called Ex-Comm. They came up with 5 ways the US could respond:

  • Do Nothing
  • Surgical Air Attack
  • Invasions
  • Diplomatic Pressures
  • Blockade.
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The Thirteen Day Crisis

  • 16 - Kennedy was told Khrushchev was building missile sites on Cuba
  • 18-19 - Kennedy holds talks with Ex-Comm
  • 20 - Kennedy decides on a Naval Blockade of Cuba
  • 21 - Kennedy makes a broadcast to the American people warning them of the potential threat and what he intended to do.
  • 22 - Kennedy announces the Blockade and calls on Soviets to remove missiles.
  • 23 - Khrushchev sent a letter to Kennedy saying they are ignoring the Blockade and doesn't admit to the missiles presensce.
  • 24 - The Blockade began, as Soviet ships approach the Blockade zone they stop or turn around. Khrushchev says that in the event of a war the USSR would use nuclear weapons.
  • 25 - Kennedy wrote to Khrushchev asking him to withdraw missiles from Cuba, missile bases still being built on Cuba.
  • 26 - Kennedy recieves a letter from Khrushchev saying if the blockade was lifted they would remove the missiles.
  • 27 - Khrushchev sends another letter saying the USA has to remove missiles from Turkey. A U-2 plane is shot down over Cuba. The USA agreed to remove missiles from Turkey as long as it is kept secret
  • 28 - Khrushchev accpeted and missiles are removed.
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Effects of the CMC


  • Reduction in Khrushchevs authority even though he tried to show he was a responsible peacemaker. China broke its alliance with the USSR
  • Kennedy's popularity increased.
  • Cuba stayed communist but without nuclear weapons.
  • Led to the 'Hot line' in June 1963: red telephone link between the Whitehouse and the Kremlin.
  • Nuclear Test Ban Treaty: August 63, nuclear weapons could only be tested underground.
  • Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty 1968, promise not to supply other countries with nuclear technology.

Long Term

  • USSR continued with the arms race until it was equal with the US in 1965
  • Greater stability between the two countries lead to MAD, a reason to avoid war.
  • France left NATO, it didn't want to be drawn into a nuclear war.
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Czechoslovakia: the Prague Spring, 1968 Causes

  • The policy of detente encouraged the uprising. Romania had also broken free of Russian control and was improving relations with the west.
  • The Czechs hated Russian control
  • Russian control of the economy, with made Czechoslovakia poor and caused falling standards of living.
  • Censorship and lack of freedom.
  • Some Czechs thought the USA would help them.
  • Hatred of Novotny's hard-line regime
  • Desire fo greater freedom and democracy.
  • Popularity of Dubcek, replaced Novotny in 1967.
  • Activities of secret police.
  • Purge of popular leaders by Novotny.
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Czechoslovakia: the Prague Spring 1968, Events

  • During 1967, students and writers were complaining about the lack of freedom and poor performance of the Czech economy.
  • When Novotny asked Brezhnev for  help, Brezhnev did not support him.
  • Novotny fell from power and Alexander Dubcek took over.
  • In April 1968, Dubceks government announced an Action plan for what it called Socialism with a Human face. It removed state controls over industry and allowed freedom of speech.
  • For four months there was freedom in Czechoslovakia, until Dubcek announced he was going to allow another party to form.
  • Dubcek stressed that Czechoslovakia would stay in the Warsaw Pact but in August, Marshall Tito of Yugoslavia, a country not in the warsaw pact visited Prague.
  • At a meeting in Bratislava on 3 August 1968, Brezhnev read ou a letter from some Czechoslovakian Communists asking for  help
  • Jan palach burned himself to death in protest.
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Czechoslovakia: the Prague Spring 1968, Soviet Res

  • Brezhnev worried the reforms would spread to other Eastern Bloc countries
  • Czechoslovakia was important in the warsaw Pact as it was centrally placed
  • Brezhnev tried to slow down pace of change by arguing with Dubcek.
  • Warsaw Pact troops performed training exercises on the Czech border.
  • He thought abotu cutting off wheat supplies but thought they would turn to the USA
  • Dubcek agreed not to allow other political parties but insisted on keeping other reforms.
  • On the 20th og August, 400,000 Warsaw Pact troops entered Czechoslovakia, arrested leading reformers and seized key cities.
  • Dubcek told the people to offer only passive resistance so there were few deaths.
  • Dubcek was flown to Moscow where he talked with Brezhnev. He was forced to resign and was replaced by loyal Communist Husak.
  • Dubcek was not killed like Nagy in 56, he was always loyal to communism and friendly with Brezhnev. Instead he was gradually degraded and censored from everything.
  • The US did not interfere as it did not want Brezhnev to become involved in Vietnam.
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Brezhnev Doctrine, 1968

Created by Brezhnev as a result of the Prague Spring. He argued that a threat to one Communist country was a treat to them all (clearly echoed the Truman Doctrine and the American fear of the domino effect). He also said that force would be used whenever necessary to keep Soviet satellites firmly under Soviet influence.

The essentials of Communism were defined as:

  • One party system
  • Remain a member of the Warsaw Pact.
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The Arms Race

  • The USA led the arms race in 1945 with the dropping of the first atomic bomb with ended thr Second World War. The USSR developed their own bomb in 1949.
  • America took the lead again in 1952 with the first Hydrogen bomb which is 1000 time more powerful and by 1954 they had one small enough to be dropped from a bomber plane. By the end of 1954, the USSR caught up.
  • America kept ahead by developing U2 planes, the USSR developed the first ICBM meaning all places on Earth could be reached by nuclear missiles.
  • The USSR launched Sputnik in 1957 meaning they could launch rockets out of the atmosphere and guide them to their targets. The USA launched a satellite in 1958.
  • By 1961, the policy of MAD had emerged which helped maintain peace as both sides could destroy each other.
  • Led to even more deadly weapons being built as each side competed. Huge amounts of money were spent on the Arms race.
  • Kept peace in Europe. 3 million troops in East Germany which could have defeated West Germany but america placed nuclear missiles in Western Europe, preventing a Soviet invasion.
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Detente is the relaxing of tension or hostility between countries. Relations between the USSR and USA improved in the 1970s for several reasons but this was most evident at 3 key events.

1972 - SALT Treaty between Brezhnev and Nixon

  • Agreed there would be no further production of strategic ballistic missiles.
  • Agreed that submarines carrying nuclear weapons would only be introduced when existing stocks of intercontinental ballistic missiles became obselete.
  • This was significant as it was the first agreement between the Superpowers that successfully limited the number of nuclear weapons it held.

1975 - Apollo-Soyuz Space Mission

  • A joint space mission in which a US Apollo spacecraft and a Russian Soyuz spacecraft docked in space.
  • It ended the highly competitive space race of the 1960's.
  • Further thaw in relations as showed they could work and even live together
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Detente (continued)

1975 - The Helsinki Conference

  • Held at Helsinki in Finland, 35 countries including the USA and USSR attended.
  • The Western powers recognised the frontiers of eastern Europe and Soviet influence in that area.
  • West Germany officially recognised East Germany.
  • The Soviets agreed to buy American grain and export oil to the West.
  • The Societs agreed to allow greater freedom in the Soviet Union to western journalists and to allow some inspection of human rights.
  • All countries agreed to improve human rights throughout the world.
  • Both the USA and the USSR got what they wanted but in reality not all countries actually followed their promises.
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Collapse of Detente

Detente ended with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan on the 25th of December in 1979.

Reasons for invasion

  • They were concerned about the Muslim revolution in neighbouring Iran, which could have spread to Afghanistan and other Muslim areas inside the USSR.
  • The political situation in Afghanistan was very unstable at the end of the 1970s and the Soviets wanted to maintain their influence in the area.
  • Afghanistan was close to the Middle East oil reserves of the western powers and the ports of the Indian Ocean. The Soviets wanted to develop their interests in this area.
  • Though Amin was a communist, the USSR did not trust him. The Soviet secret police reported he was an American spy. He was also unpopular with a large number of Muslims and Brezhnev feared a Muslim takeover.
  • Babrak Karmal, an Afghani communist, argued that he had enough popular support to form a new government but needed Soviet help to defeat Amins military.
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The Kabul Revolution 1979

The Kabul revolution involved an overthrow of its government. The new government was determined  'to build Socialism in Afghanistan'. The new communist president, Mohammed Taraki, became an ally of the USSR. They began a modernisation programme including land reform and education of girls which met opposition from muslim leaders. A civil war broke out between the Communist government and Islamic fighter (Mujahidin). Afghan communists asked Moscow for help but Brezhnev was reluctant to get involved.

President Taraki was forced to accpet Hafizullah Amin as the prime minister. In October 1979, Amin supporters assassinated Taraki and Amin became president.

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Consequences of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan

Within weeks of the invasion, Soviet troops were being killed by Mujahidin rebels who used very effective guerrilla tactics. The USA secretly began to send very large shipments of money, arms and equipment to Pakistan and from there to the Mujahidin. The campaign became unwinnable and a severve drain on its finances.

Reagans policy on Afghanistan

The USA hoped to bleed the USSR white. The Soviets couldn't win in Afghanistan for the same reasons the USA could not win in Vietnam. Reagan was willing to give the mujahidin whatever money weapons they wanted. The USA spent $2bn on this war. Osama bin Laden was one of the men who went to fight with the Mujahidin.

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Consequences of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan

Most Afghans disliked the Soviet presense as Communism is anti-religion and so the Mujahidin was strong. The Soviets couldn't win and suffered tremendous losses and were keen to reach a peace deal. They offered to withdraw if the US stopped providing the Mujahidin with weapons but Reagan saw an opportunity to weaken the Soviets and refused.

The Soviet defeat

In 1986, there was less restriction on the media and the war was reported more accurately in the USSR. People began to demand withdrawal from Afghanistan. Early in 1987 Moscow pulled out its forces. Costs included:

  • 15,000 Soviet dead and 37,000 wounded
  • an estimated financial cost of $20bn to the USSR
  • over 1 million Afghans killed and around 5 million displaced.
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The Carter Doctrine and Olympic Boycotts

Following the Soviet invasion, Carter made a statement that became known as the Carter Doctrine. The doctrine said that:

  • The USSR must not gain access to the oil in the rich middle east countries.
  • They ended all diplomatic relations and formed an alliance with China and Isreal to support Afghan rebels, CIA provided weapons.
  • He imposed economic sanctions by stopping trade.

He also refused to sign SALT II which would have further limited the number of nuclear weapons.

He pulled the USA out of the 1980 Moscow Olympics and none of the US allies participated either. The USSR retaliated by boycotting the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles.

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Ronald Reagan and the Cold War

Within a few months of coming into office, he increased the USA's arms budget to 7% of the GDP. The US military was told to prepare to wage and win and nuclear war against the USSR though it seems that Reagan never actually intented for his to happen. They were only intent on crippling the USSR in a new arms race which they new the Soviet Union would not be able to keep pace with. In 1983, US cruise missiles were deployed in Europe. US wealth was used to support anti-Communist forces all over the world.

Evil Empire Speech, 1983

Reagan believed that any negotiation with the USSR was a sign of weakness and in a speech in 1983 he said that:

  • Communism was bad as it was anti-religious and it undermined the moral value of America (story of man and daughters)
  • We should pray for the people in the Communist parties and hope they find God. Also that the focus should be on the individual not the state.
  • He said the Soviet union was the modern evil and that the real crisis was not the bombs and weapons but the test of the US moral, will and faith.
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The Space Race

  • The USSR launched Sputnik in 1957. This worries the USA as they now have more advanced technology and the USSR could put nuclear weapons in space or use the satellites to guide missiles out of the Earths atmosphere. The USA launched its own satellite in January 1958.
  • The first man in space was Soviet Yuri Gagarin in 1961, again showing the USSR had more advanced technology. Kennedy promised to put a man on the moon by 1969.
  • The Outer space Treaty was signed by Brezhnev and Johnson in 1967 and was an agreement not to put nuclear weapons in space. This effectively ended the space race until 1983 when Reagan announced his Stategic Defense Initiative. However the USSR could not compete with SDI as the Soviet economy was too poor and it was lacking the computer technology necessary for SDI.
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SDI - Star Wars

This was announced after the new Soviet leader Andropov called for a non-aggression pact, that the Warsaw Pact and NATO don't attack each other. Reagan reacted by making even more hostile remarks about the USSR and leaders and then announced SDI.

This was a futuristic plan, never completed, to create a shield of lasers which would detect and destroy any coming missile while it was still in space. If the plan would, this would lead to the end of MAD as the USA would be able to attack the USSR without fear retaliation.

This made Reagans talk of rolling back Communism seem like a real threat. Soviet forces were put on special alert.

In 1983, a nuclear war seemed more likely than any time since the CMC.

Worsened the relationship between the Superpowers as it showed Reagan was unwilling to co-operate, increased tension as a nuclear war became more likely, and increased spending on both sides on nuclear and conventional weapons.

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Gorbachev's New Thinking

Became leader of the USSR in 1985 when the economy was stagnant as it was spending too much money of the arms race and the unwinnable war in Afghanistan. The USA was ahead in the arms race but also with the levels of their technology. There was also growing discontent in the satellite state, particlulary Poland.

The USSR had plenty of raw materials but shortages of food and other goods. Managers could not make decisions and workers saw no point in working hard. Life expectancy of the Soviets had fallen, mainly due to alcoholism.

He set out reforms through two changes:

  • Glasnost:  meaning openness, more freedom of speech
  • Perestroika: meaning re-structuring, particulary of the market and jobs.

Gorbachev could see the arms race was crippling the USSR and if he wanted changed it had to stop.

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Gorbachev and Reagan, the Four Summits

Geneva, November 1985: Did not start well as Reagan attacked the USSR's human rights record and gorbachev blamed the USSR for the arms race. They then went for a walk and chat and found they got on well and decided to meet again.

Reykjavik, October 1986: Gorbachev proposed they remove all nuclear weapons from Europe and cut ICBM's by half. Reagan agreed but refused to give up SDI.

Washington, December 1987: Gorbachev withdrew his condition that SDI must be included. The INF treaty was signed. All nuclear weapons in Europe were dismantled. Became known as START talks (strategic arms limitation talks)

Moscow, June 1988: Gorbachev pushed for joint troop reductions but Reagan put him off.

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INF Treaty, 1987

After several meeting Gorbachev and Reagan signed the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces treaty which removed all medium-range nuclear weapons from Europe. Gorbachev signed the treaty because:

  • he believed this wouldd increase his popularity in the West
  • the Soviet economy could not recover due to the amount being spent on nuclear weapons
  • reagan told Gorbachev he had no intention of invading the USSR.
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Why did the Soviet control fo Eastern Europe colla

Gorbachev was popular but his policies were not as successful. After two years of perestroika it was clear the economy would not recover as quickly as people wanted.

By 1989, Gorbachev didn't really know what to do. Gorbachevs reforms had released a longing for freedom across all of the communist world.

Eastern bloc leaders were confused, as Gorbachev's reforms were very similar to the ideas crushed in the Prague Spring of '68.

In March 1989, Gorbachev made it clear that they would no longer be propped up by the red army and that they would have to listen to their people. The following months saw the collapse of the Soviet Union.

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The Collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe

In 1989, Gorbachev was at t6he height of his international popularity. He met the new American president, George Bush and together announced the end of the Cold War. In 1990, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. In 1989, Soviet control of Eastern Europe was collapsing rapidly.

May 1989, Hungary: barbed wire fence between Hungary and non-Communist Austria was dismantled.

June 1989, Poland:  Free elections are held for the first time since WW2. Solidarity wins almost all seats and eastern Europe gets its first non-communist leader, President Lech Walesa.

Autumn 1989, East Germany: Thousands of East Germans were fleeing through Austria. Massive demostration took place in East German cities when Gorbachevs visited the country. He told the unpopular East German leader Erich Honeacker to allow reforms. He responded by telling his troops to fire on demonstrators but they refused and he was forced the resign. On 10th of November 1989, thousands of Easter Germans marched to the Berlin Wall and even the guards joined the demonstators in pulling it down

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The Collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe (conti

November 1989, Czechoslovakia: Huge demostrations in Prague, the police tried to stop the demonstations but Dubcek and the playwright Havel re-appeared and inspired the demonstrations to continue. The Czech government opened its borders to the West. The communist leader was replaced by Havel and free elections were held in 1990.

December 1989, Hungary: The communist government under Imre Pozsgay accepted the need for change and led reforms in Hungary. Other political parties were allowed and the communist party was renamed the Socialist party and allowed free elections in 1990.

December 1989, Romania: There was a short and bloody revolution in Romania. The hated communist dictator Ceausescu and his wife were executed and a new goverment were set up.

December 1989, Bulgaria: The communist leader resigned under incresing pressure and free elections were held in April 1990.

March 1990, The Baltic States:  Latvia , Lithuania and Estonia declared themselvs independent and held free elections.

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Fall of the Berlin Wall and Reunification of Germa

The fall of the Berlin Wall came to symbolise the end of the Cold War. On the 9th of November 1989, the East German government announced much greater freedom of travel for East German citizens, including crossing the border into West Germany. Thousands of East Berliners went to the checkpoints in the Berlin wall and the border guards let them pass. They soon dismantled the wall.

With the wall down, west German Chancellor Helmut Kohl proposed a reunification of Germany. Gorbachev was less enthusiastic as he expected a reunited Germany to be more friendly with the West than the East.

After many negotiations, Gobachev accepted the Germany reunification and even that the new Germany could be a NATO member.

On the 3rd of October 1990, Germany became a united country once again.

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The Collapse of the USSR

Early 1990, Gorbachev visited Lithuania, who demanded independence. He said no but in March they did it anyway. As soon as he returned to Moscow, he recieved a similar demand from Azerbaijan. He sent troops to Lithuania but the crisis worsened and sent troops to Azerbaijan.

Reformers in the USSR itself began demanding an end to the Communist Party. In May, the Russian republic elected Boris Yeltsin as its President, who made it clear he saw no future in the USSR. He encouraged the many republics to become independent.

In July, Ukraine declared its independence and other states followed.

In January 1991, troops in Lithuania fired on protesters.

In April, the Republic of Georgia declared its independence.

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The Collapse of the USSR (continued)

Gorbachev was struggling to hold the USSR together.

In August 1991, hard-line Communist party members and leading military officers attempted a coup to take over the USSR. They held Gorbachev prisoner in his holiday home in Crimea and sent tanks and troops on to the streets of Moscow.

The Russian President Yeltsin, emerged as the popular leader of the opposition and crowds strongly opposed the military coup. Faced by this resistance, they lost faith in themselves and the coup collapsed.

A few days later, Gorbachev returned to Moscow. In a televised speech on the 25th of December 1991, Gorbachev announced the end of the Soviet Union, Comecon and the Warsaw Pact.

The Cold War was over...

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these are amazing thank you soo much

Izzy Perrin


Lol, love you Louise, but believed is spelt "Believed" and you missed out comecon... and in one of your sections you wrote the hungarian upsirsing was in 1955 and it is 1956! But amazing as always!! ** :)



i did comecon and it deleted it and i couldn't be bothered to do it again lol x









Great! Thank you! :)



Thank you so much, you've saved me a pile of work :)



Thank you soooooo much for this! Great for revising :)

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