Unformatted text preview: Timeline of the Early Cold War
1945: February 4-11 - Yalta Conference
1945: August 6 - United States first used atomic bomb in war
1945: August 8 - Russia enters war against Japan
1945: August 14 - Japanese surrenders, ending World War II
1946: March - Winston Churchill delivers "Iron Curtain" speech
1947: March - Truman announces Truman Doctrine
1947: June - Marshall Plan is announced
1948: February - Communist takeover in Czechoslovakia
1948: June 24 - Berlin blockade begins
1949: July - NATO treaty ratified
1949: May 12 - Berlin Blockade ends
1949: September - Mao Zedong, a communist, takes control of
1949: September - Soviets explode first atomic bomb
1955: May – Warsaw Pact STANFORD HISTORY EDUCATION GROUP
sheg.stanford.edu Document A: The Iron Curtain Speech (Modified)
It is my duty, however, to place before you certain facts about the present
position in Europe.
From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic an iron curtain has
descended across the Continent. Behind that line lie all the capitals of the
ancient states of Central and Eastern Europe. Warsaw, Berlin, Prague,
Vienna, Budapest, Belgrade, Bucharest and Sofia; all these famous cities
and the populations around them lie in what I must call the Soviet sphere,
and all are subject, in one form or another, not only to Soviet influence but
to a very high and in some cases increasing measure of control from
In a great number of countries, far from the Russian frontiers and
throughout the world, Communist fifth columns are established and work in
complete unity and absolute obedience to the directions they receive from
the Communist center.
I do not believe that Soviet Russia desires war. What they desire is the
fruits of war and the indefinite expansion of their power and doctrines.
But what we have to consider here today while time remains, is the
permanent prevention of war and the establishment of conditions of
freedom and democracy as rapidly as possible in all countries.
Source: Excerpt from the “Iron Curtain Speech” delivered by Winston
Churchill, March 1946 in Fulton, Missouri. STANFORD HISTORY EDUCATION GROUP
sheg.stanford.edu Document B: The Truman Doctrine (Modified)
The United States has received from the Greek Government an urgent
appeal for financial and economic assistance…Greece is in desperate
need of financial and economic assistance to enable it to resume
purchases of food, clothing, fuel, and seeds.
The very existence of the Greek state is today threatened by the terrorist
activities of several thousand armed men, led by Communists, who defy
the government's authority. . . . Greece must have assistance if it is to
become a self-supporting and self-respecting democracy. The United
States must supply this assistance. . . . No other nation is willing and able
to provide the necessary support for a democratic Greek government.
One of the primary objectives of the foreign policy of the United States is
the creation of conditions in which we and other nations will be able to work
out a way of life free from coercion.
It is necessary only to glance at a map to realize that the survival and
integrity of the Greek nation are of grave importance in a much wider
situation. If Greece should fall under the control of an armed minority, the
effect upon its neighbor, Turkey, would be immediate and serious.
Confusion and disorder might well spread throughout the entire Middle
East. . . . Should we fail to aid Greece and Turkey in this fateful hour, the
effect will be far reaching to the West as well as to the East.
The free peoples of the world look to us for support in maintaining their
freedoms. If we falter in our leadership, we may endanger the peace of the
world. And we shall surely endanger the welfare of this nation.
Great responsibilities have been placed upon us by the swift movement of
Source: Excerpt from the “Truman Doctrine Speech,” delivered by
President Truman to Congress on March 12, 1947. STANFORD HISTORY EDUCATION GROUP
sheg.stanford.edu Document C: Soviet Ambassador Telegram (Modified)
The foreign policy of the United States, which reflects the imperialist
tendencies of American monopolistic capital, is characterized in the
postwar period by a striving for world supremacy. This is the real meaning
of the many statements by President Truman and other representatives of
American ruling circles; that the United States has the right to lead the
world. All the forces of American diplomacy -- the army, the air force, the
navy, industry, and science -- are enlisted in the service of this foreign
policy. For this purpose broad plans for expansion have been developed
and are being implemented through diplomacy and the establishment of a
system of naval and air bases stretching far beyond the boundaries of the
United States, through the arms race, and through the creation of ever
newer types of weapons. . . .
During the Second World War . . . [American leaders] calculated that the
United States of America, if it could avoid direct participation in the war,
would enter it only at the last minute, when it could easily affect the
outcome of the war, completely ensuring its interests.
In this regard, it was thought that the main competitors of the United States
would be crushed or greatly weakened in the war, and the United States by
virtue of this circumstance would assume the role of the most powerful
factor in resolving the fundamental questions of the postwar world.
Source: Excerpt from a telegram sent by Soviet Ambassador Nikolai
Novikov to Soviet Leadership in September 1946. STANFORD HISTORY EDUCATION GROUP
sheg.stanford.edu Document D: Henry Wallace (Modified)
I have been increasingly disturbed about the trend of international affairs
since the end of the war.
How do American actions appear to other nations? I mean actions [like] the
Bikini tests of the atomic bomb and continued production of bombs, the
plan to arm Latin America with our weapons, and the effort to secure air
bases spread over half the globe from which the other half of the globe can
be bombed. I cannot but feel that these actions must make it look to the
rest of the world as if we were only paying lip service to peace at the
These facts rather make it appear either (1) that we are preparing
ourselves to win the war which we regard as inevitable or (2) that we are
trying to build up a predominance [largest amount] of force to intimidate the
rest of mankind.
Our interest in establishing democracy in Eastern Europe, where
democracy by and large has never existed, seems to [the Soviets] an
attempt to reestablish the encirclement of unfriendly neighbors which might
serve as a springboard of still another effort to destroy [them].
Source: Secretary of Commerce and former Vice President Henry A.
Wallace letter to President Harry S. Truman, July 23, 1946. Truman asked
Wallace to resign shortly after this letter. STANFORD HISTORY EDUCATION GROUP
sheg.stanford.edu Guiding Questions
Iron Curtain Speech
1. Sourcing: Who was Winston Churchill? Why would Americans trust what he has to say about
the Soviet Union?
Winston Churchill was the Prime Minister of Great Britain.
American trust what he says because Great Britain has been
our strongest Allie. 2. Close reading: What does Churchill claim that the Soviet Union wanted?
Churchill claims that the Soviet Union wanted the fruits of war
and the indefinite expansion of their power and doctrines; so
that communism can spread. Truman Doctrine
1. Close reading: Why did Truman believe Greece needed American aid in 1947?
Truman believed that Greece needed American aid because he was afraid that Greece
would have totalitarian regimes forced upon it against their will; considering that it has
already happened in other countries near it. 2. Context: What does Truman mean when he claims, “Should we fail to aid Greece and Turkey
in this fateful hour, the effect will be far reaching to the West as well as to the East”?
Insert text here 3. Close reading: Does Truman present American policy as offensive or defensive? What
words or phrases does Truman use to present policy this way?
Truman is presenting the American policy as defensive. "Great
responsibilities have been placed upon us by the swift movement of
events," said President Truman to Congress on March 12, 1947. Record your first hypothesis: Who was primarily responsible for the Cold War - the
United States or the Soviet Union?
Solveit Union STANFORD HISTORY EDUCATION GROUP
sheg.stanford.edu Soviet Ambassador Telegram
1. Sourcing: Who was Nicholas Novikov? When did he write this telegram?
Nicholas was a Soviet Ambassador. He wrote this
telegram in September 1946 2. Close reading: How does Novikov describe the United States? What evidence does he use to
support his description?
Novikov describes the U.S. as monopolistic. He uses the
evidence of all the forces of American diplomacy being
enlisted in the service of the foreign policy. 3. Context: What does Novikov claim the United States planned during the Second World War?
Novikov claims that they planned to enter at the last
minute so they could easily affect the outcome of the war. Henry Wallace Letter
1. Sourcing: Who was Henry Wallace? When did he write this letter?
Henry was the Secretary of Commerce and former Vice President. He
wrote this letter in July 23, 1946. 2. Close Reading: What is Wallace’s main argument?
Wallace's main argument is that he cannot but feel that these actions
(bomb-testing) must make it look to the rest of the world as if the U.S.
was only paying lip service to peace at the conference table. 3. Corroboration: How does Wallace’s description of American foreign policy compare to
Truman’s and Novikov’s?
Wallace's description of American foreign policy makes it look like the United States was
trying to build up a predominance of force to intimidate the rest of mankind; so he compares
to what Novikov said about the U.S. doing things for it's own interests. But, what Wallace said
does compare to what Truman said, too. Wallace feels like the Soviets are feeling threatened. Record your second hypothesis: Who was primarily responsible for the Cold War - the United
States or the Soviet Union?
United State STANFORD HISTORY EDUCATION GROUP
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