Many young historians ask themselves how did the Cold War start? I for one am wondering. But, I suppose the answer to that is quite simple, not straight foreword, but simple.
The steps leading up to the Cold War are not as quite as chronological as they were in WW2, when Hitler broke the Treaty Of Versailles, however, the pieces of the puzzle do fit together, and they do make a complete picture.
In 1943 and 1945 two conferences were held between President Roosevelt of USA, Prime Minister Churchill of Britain and Stalin of USSR, currently known as Russia.
The first conference was held at Teheran in Persia (1943), planning to defeat Germany. The second conference was held just after the defeat of Germany at Yalta in the Crimea (1945). There, the three leaders decided to split Germany four ways, with each bit being controlled by France, Russia, USA or Britain.
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Before the Potsdam conference in 1945 many changes took place. For one, Roosevelt died so his vice, Harry Truman replaced him. Also Churchill lost the election back home so Attlee was voted in as Prime Minister.
The Allies were growing more suspicious of each other. Stalin wanted complete control over Eastern Europe, therefore despising his approval of the free elections of Eastern Europe. Attlee and Truman suspected this. Furthermore, Stalin had the idea that because Attlee and Truman were new to the job, they would be weak leaders.
In August 1945 at the Potsdam conference, three main decisions were approved of; new boundaries of Poland was agreed; Berlin as well as Germany had been divided now; and finally Surviving Nazi Leaders were allowed to have legal trials at Nuremberg for war crimes.
Tension was starting to build up between the USA and the USSR. This was because Stalin was determined to force communism throughout Eastern European countries. This, and the fact that USA deliberately did not tell the USSR about the development and use of the atom bomb on Japan, made each of then suspicious of each other.
Now that Stalin wanted Communism throughout Eastern Europe, he used the theory, ‘Domino Theory’ (which stated that when communism took over one country, the neighbouring countries were next in line to be threatened. Without help from USA, the non-communist governments could topple over, one after the other, like a line of dominoes) to help him. USA was afraid that communism might spread of all over Europe. President Truman was determined to halt the increase of it. As a result of his determination ‘The Iron Curtain’ was put up to separate the communist side (East) from the Capitalist side (West).
Along side ‘The Iron Curtain’ in 1947 ‘Containment’ was the US policy of preventing further spread of communism. It involved creating a network of anti-communist allies and sending military and economic aid to the USA’s friends; the Truman Doctrine was created; this was a promise that the USA would help any country threatened by a communist take over. The Marshall plan was also set up; this promised American aid to European countries to help rebuild their damaged economies.
Even after these four measures of preventions had been set up, communism and capitalism still remained in conflict. This was one of the main causes of the Cold War.
In 1948 the western allies agreed to a single government in their zones of Berlin and a new currency to help economic recovery. However the Soviet Union disagreed and was opposed to these moves since Stalin wanted to keep Germany as weak as possible. As Germany was on the side of Eastern Europe, it was controlled by the USSR. This meant Stalin could give orders that all land communication between West Berlin and the outside world should be cut off. This was known as the Blockade.
Over the year, the only way for West Berlin to obtain supplies from the outside world was by air. By 1949 eight thousand tonnes of supplies were being flown into West Berlin every day. The Berlin Airlift was expensive and difficult but it worked. The people of West Berlin refused to communicate with the communist East Berlin and the Russians realised that, to interfere with the Airlift was likely to cause another war. Then finally in May 1949 Russia re-opened land links.
The Berlin airlift caused the division of Germany into two parts. The Soviet zone became the German Democratic Republic (DDR) and the Western zone formed the German Federal Republic (FDR).
As you can see so far, the main causes that triggered the Cold War were the iron curtain separating capitalism from communism and also the role of the Berlin airlift had caused disruptions.
The Cold War was completely based on forming alliances and making plans for the future of Europe. There was no fighting with arms only the threat. This must have been because both sides had atomic weapons and hydrogen bombs. This made them afraid to attack each other as they might wipe out the nations of the world.
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