1945 - 1991 History GCSE The Cold War A/A* Revision Notes
2 THE ROOTS OF THE COLD WAR Almost as soon as WW2 ended a bitter struggle developed between the USSR and USA. Historians have produced three conflicting explanations for the start of the Cold War: 1. The USSR was to blame. Stalin planned for a communist takeover of the world. The takeover of Eastern Europe was the first step towards world control. 2. The USA was to blame. Soviet actions were defensive. The USA wanted to control its area of influence but refused to allow the USSR to do the same. 3. Neither side was to blame. The Cold War was based on misunderstanding and forces beyond the control of both sides. THE LONG-TERM CAUSES OF THE COLD WAR The roots of the Cold War are to be found earlier in history – in 1917 when Soviet communism was born during the Russian Revolution. The USA and USSR were both rich and enormous countries – having great natural resources. But they were starkly separated by their different beliefs. AMERICAN CAPITALISM 1. People should be free to make as much money as they can. 2. Factories and other property should be owned by individuals and companies. 3. The government should interfere as little as possible in the lives of ordinary people. 4. At elections people should be allowed to choose anyone they want for the government. 5. The Press should be allowed to criticise the government. 6. The government should not interfere with religion. SOVIET COMMUNISM 1. Rich people are wicked and selfish. They should be forced to share their wealth. 2. Factories and other property should be owned by the state on behalf of all the people. 3. A communist government should get involved in every aspect of life. 4. At elections people should only be allowed to choose communists for government. 5. The Press should never criticise a communist government. 6. Religious belief is nonsense and should be wiped out by the government. Each side thought they were completely right. Tension and hostility increased during the civil war in Russia between the White Russians and Bolshevik revolutionaries (reds). In 1919 the USA, Britain and France invaded the Soviet Union in order to destroy communism by supporting the Whites. This failed, increasing tension between the countries.
3 THE COMMON ENEMY In 1941 hostility was suspended between the USA and the Soviet Union as they were linked by their common wish to destroy Hitler. But the end of the war proved a difficult situation. Nazi power over Europe had been destroyed but what should replace it? Shortly before his death, Hitler predicted the start of the cold war. ‘After the collapse of the German Reich, and until there is a rise in nationalism in Asia, African or Latin America, there will only be two powers in the world: The United States and Soviet Russia. Through the laws of history and geographical position these giants are destined to struggle with each other either through war, or through rivalry in economics and political idea.’ Hitler’s Political Testament, April 1945 1945: THE BREAKDOWN OF THE WARTIME ALLIANCE The Victory over Hitler created new worries for the winners. They had different views as to the future of Europe
- Fall '09
- Cold War