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THE BIG QUESTIONWho was to blame for the Cold War?
HEADLINE QUESTIONSWhy did the USA-USSR alliance begin to break down in 1945?How had the USSR gained control of Eastern Europe by 1948?How did the USA react to Soviet expansionism?Who was more to blame for the start of the Cold War, the USA or the USSR?

CONTENT THAT YOU NEED TO KNOWThe origins of the Cold War;The 1945 summit conferences including the parts played by Churchill, Roosevelt, Stalin and Truman;The breakdown of the USA-USSR alliance in 1945–6;Soviet expansion in Eastern Europe;the Iron Curtain;The Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan;The Berlin Blockade and its immediate consequences.
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At the start of this section you will be the following booklets to put into your Workbook. This includes all the lessons with sources and paragraph practice sections that you will need for your lessons. Bullet point notes on this period (as outlined below on this Wikipage), as well as planning and evaluation sheets for your practice essay that you will be doing to get you ready for your Controlled Assessment. If you decide to do the third homework on the computer and print off the pages then you can download it from the booklet below.



Britain declared war on Nazi Germany in September 1939 in response to their invasion of Poland. It could be argued that the Germans were trying to seek revenge for the unfavourable terms of the Treaty of Versailles which was unsuccessful in making the First World War the "war to end all wars".
However, the USA and the USSR remained neutral in the opening stages of the Second World War until Germany broke the Nazi-Soviet Pact by invading the Soviet Union. As a result the USSR was by default a new ally of Great Britain. The USA was then brought into the war when Japan (Germany's ally) attacked the American naval base at Pearl Harbor. This meant that again by default the USA was now allied with both the USSR and Great Britain, even though they had many differences, they had one thing in common - they were all enemies of the Nazis. These differences would be put aside until the war was over.




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Who was to blame for the Cold War?
Why did the USA-USSR alliance begin to breakdown in 1945?

Joseph Stalin
external image images?q=tbn:ANd9GcRlzW0lfm9QySNgvuIevsp1tZR3fofk0OVQVZg87NwXLclkjgJqJQStalin became the ruler of the Soviet Union in 1928. He was also very suspicious of Britain and the USA.
  • He remembered that they had intervened in the Russian Civil War in 1918-9 and he suspected that they had encouraged Hitler in the 1930s.
  • In 1938, at the time of the Munich Crisis, Stalin had offered to form an alliance with Britain and France, but they had not taken him up.
  • Since the 1920s Stalin's basic policy had been 'Socialism in One Country'. This meant building up the Soviet Union defences so that it was as strong as possible.
  • After the German invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941, Stalin believed that the West had hoped that Germany and the USSR would destroy each other.
  • He had urged Roosevelt and Churchill to invade France to take pressure off of the Soviet army, but they refused. The invasion, D Day, only took place in 1944.
  • In 1945, Stalin did not trust the West and was determined to build a buffer zone against further German attacks, particularly as Germany had invaded Russia twice during the twentieth century.
  • During the Second World War the Soviet people suffered terribly, 26,000,000 died altogether.
  • This made Stalin determined that this should never happen again. He wanted to ensure that there was a barrier in Eastern Europe to stop any possibility of another attack.
  • When the three leaders met at Yalta, Stalin's main aim was to ensure that the Soviet Union was safe from another attack by Germany. He wanted Germany to be as weak as possible.

Franklin D. Roosevelt

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  • By the time of Yalta, Roosevelt was a very sick man (he died on 12th April 1945) and he probably did not take a very tough line with Stalin.
  • He needed Soviet help in the war against Japan and wanted to persuade Stalin to declare war on Japan as soon as possible.
  • Roosevelt did not enquire too closely about Stalin’s intentions in Eastern Europe.
  • He persuaded Stain to issue the Yalta Declaration which promised free elections in the countries occupied by the Red Army.
  • He may have allowed Stalin to think that Eastern Europe was his sphere of influence and that he could therefore act as he liked.



Winston Churchill
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  • Churchill did not want Stalin to be allowed to take control of Eastern Europe.
  • He did not want to replace one dictator with another.
  • He had urged Roosevelt to order US forces to advance across Europe and occupy Berlin.
  • Roosevelt had refused because it would have cost too many casualties.
  • Churchill believed that more should be done to force Stalin to hold free elections and wanted Roosevelt to be tougher at Yalta.








Harry S. Truman
external image images?q=tbn:ANd9GcSjilCBOtyJ46WImXbwbZfcEVfwQ6xBhIPcxwQ_wFVOV_rZ2EdmTruman had served in the US army during the First World War and had seen the effects that warfare could have.

  • He visited Europe in 1945 in order to attend the Potsdam Conference and was horrified by what he saw.
  • He was also determined to 'get tough with the Russians' and force them to keep the promises that they had made at Yalta.
  • Truman convinced the US people that the USA could not afford to adopt an isolationist policy after the Second World War.
  • It was the duty of the USA, he stated repeatedly, to take a leading role in the United Nations and accept its responsibilities in a new world order.
  • Truman believed that a stand had to be made against the growing influence of the Soviet Union and was afraid that otherwise there would a repetition of the situation in the 1930s, when Hitler had been allowed to get away with a series of aggressive moves.
  • Truman believed that Germany must be allowed to recover from the effects of the war; this would help to prevent a recreation of the situation in the 1930s.
  • In 1947, Truman approved aid to Greece and then announced the Truman Doctrine. Months later his Secretary of State, George C Marshall announced the Marshall Plan.
  • In 1948 Truman approved the Berlin Airlift and the plans to set up NATO.

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The Yalta Conference
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  • In February 1945 Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin met at Yalta in the southern Soviet Union to plan the end of the Second World War.

What happened at Yalta?

  • They agreed to divide Germany into four zones; each one would be occupied by one of the four allies.
  • Stalin agreed to accept France as one of the powers. Berlin would also be divided into four sectors.
  • Poland would be given land in the west, which would be taken from Germany and would lose land to the USSR. Stalin agreed that some members of the Polish government in exile (the London Poles) would be allowed to join the Polish government that he had set up (the Lublin Poles).
  • The USSR would declare war on Japan three months after the end of the war with Germany.
  • Stalin promised to allow free elections in the countries of Eastern Europe which had been occupied by the Soviet army.

Why did the West not take a firmer line at Yalta?

  • Roosevelt believed that Stalin would keep his promises. He also believed that the Soviet army would be needed in the final attack on Japan, so he was prepared to leave the Soviet Union in control of Eastern Europe.
  • Churchill did not think that this was a good idea. By the time of the Potsdam conference in July, it was clear that Churchill had been right.
    • The new president, Harry Truman, who took over when Roosevelt died on 12 April, took a much tougher line with Stalin.


The Potsdam Conference

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  • The Potsdam conference was the last of the conferences between the leaders of the allies during the Second World War. It was held in Potsdam, outside Berlin, in July 1945, after the defeat of Germany.

  • It was whilst at Potsdam, that the first nuclear bomb test was successfully conducted in the United States that President Truman was informed. This changed the tables and he was now in chanrge of the proceedings. A bigger ethical question about Japan should now have been asked - could the bomb be used and justified - beyond this, Truman was the threaten Stalin with the bomb - could this be justified?











  • Germany was divided into four zones. Each zone would be occupied by one of the four Allies, Great Britain, France, the USA and the USSR.
  • Berlin was divided into four sectors.


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  • The Nazi Party would be dissolved. War criminals would be tried and punished.
  • There would be free elections in Germany, freedom of speech and a free press.
  • Germany would pay reparations for the damage caused by the war. Most of this would go to the USSR.
  • All the Allies agreed to take part in the United Nations.
The United Nations was established after the Second World War - a stronger organisation to replace the weak League of Nations. The big difference between the League and the UN was the membership of the USA and the USSR, neither of whom took part between the wars.
The United Nations was established after the Second World War - a stronger organisation to replace the weak League of Nations. The big difference between the League and the UN was the membership of the USA and the USSR, neither of whom took part between the wars.

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But there were also disagreements at Potsdam.

  • The new US president, Harry Truman tried to force the USSR to allow free elections in the countries of Eastern Europe which had been occupied after the end of the war.
  • Stalin was angry that the USA had not told him about the atomic bomb which he knew that the USA had developed

The first atomic bomb was tested by the USA in the Nevada desert on 16th July 1945, whilst the Potsdam Conference was underway. This gave Truman a confidence boost to be more pushy at Potsdam.
The first atomic bomb was tested by the USA in the Nevada desert on 16th July 1945, whilst the Potsdam Conference was underway. This gave Truman a confidence boost to be more pushy at Potsdam.


  • This was the beginning of the ‘Cold War’. In the next year Stalin set up the Iron Curtain.

The "Iron Curtain" as coined by Churchill reflecting the nations under Soviet control in Red, the Green nation of Yugolavia was also Communist but not under the control of the USSR.
The "Iron Curtain" as coined by Churchill reflecting the nations under Soviet control in Red, the Green nation of Yugolavia was also Communist but not under the control of the USSR.

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The Iron Curtain cartoon, illustrating the paranoia and fear that secrecy and suspicion between either side began to cause an increase in tension between the two superpowers.






















CLASS RESOURCES


















Things to include in your essay on the causes of the Cold War:
Prezi - What caused the Cold War?

VIDEOS ON THE ORIGINS OF THE COLD WAR
A summary of the Iron Curtain from the BBC series on the Cold War:






A summary of the Truman Doctrine and Marshall Aid from the BBC series on the Cold War:




A summary of the Berlin Blockade and Airlift from the BBC series on the Cold War: