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June 1919- Treaty of Versailles

1922- Treaty of Rapello

1931- Japanese Invasion of Manchuria

1933- Hitler withdraws from the League of Nations

1934- German non-aggression treaty with Poland

1934 Summer- Dolfuss putsch

1935- Stresa Front

1935- Hitler Re-occupies Rhineland

1935 October Abyssinia Crisis

1936- Spanish Civil War at its Peak

1936 October- Rome Berlin Axis

1938 February- Schuschnig meets Hitler

1938 March- Anschluss

1938 September- Nuremburg Party Rally

1938 September- Munich crisis

1939 March- Rest of Czechoslovakia invaded

1939- Molotov replaces Litvinov

1939 August 23rd- Nazi-Soviet Pact

1939 World War Two starts

1941 June- Attack on Russia

1941 December 7th- Pearl Harbour (‘Danny!!’, please don’t take my wings away!!)

1942 Autumn- German army stuck in Stalingrad

1942- Battle of El Alamen

1943 December- Meeting at Teheran

1944 June 6th- D-Day

1944 July- Warsaw Uprising

1944 August- Paris liberated

1944 September- Bridge too far offensive at Arnhem.

1944 October- Blue Pencil meeting

1944 December- Germany abandons Greece

1945 February- Yalta conference

1945 July- First successful detonation of an atomic weapon

1945 July- Potsdam conference

1945 August- End of WW1, Japan bombed

1946- Elections in Romania and Bulgaria- Communist dictorships set up

1946- Problems with economy, in Eastern Germany

1946 March- Iron Curtain speech

1947- New currency launched for Western Germany

1947 February- British pull out of Greece

1947 March- Truman Doctrine

1947- Marshall aid

1947- Poland goes Communist

1948- Czechoslovakia goes Communist

1948 May- Berlin Blockade begins

1948 Summer- Yugoslavia expelled from comintern

1949- First successful Soviet detonation

1949- Official separation of Korea

1949- NATO set up

1949 Summer- Berlin Blockade ends

1949- Germany is formally split

1950 June- N Korea invades the South

1950 August- US troops are holding out at Pusan

1950 August- Landing at Inchon

1950 Sept- Seoul retaken

1950 Oct- Chinese troops come across the river

1951 Spring- Stalemate develops

1952- First H-bomb

1952- Eisenhower become pres of the US

1953- First Soviet H-bomb

1953 Summer- Korean war ends

1953- Riots in Berlin

1953 Death of Stalin

1954- Geneva peace accords re Indo China

1955- Geneva summit

1955 May- Austrian state treaty

1955- Germany allowed to join NATO

1956 April- Cominform abadonned

1956 Feb- Khrushchev’s destalinisation speech

1956 October- Polish uprising

1956 Oct- Hungarian uprising

1957- Sputnik launched

1958- Mini Berlin crisis

1958 New Year’s Eve- Batista flees Cuba

1959 New Year’s Day- Tanks go into Havana

1960- US investments in Cuba nationalised, commie state set up

1961 spring- Bay of Pigs invasion

1961 Oct- Cuban missile crisis

1961- August Berlin Wall erected

1961- Gagarin makes first flight

1961- JFK comes to power

1961- Kennedy and Khrushchev meet for the first time

1964- Brezhnev comes to power

1968 Jan- Novotny voted out in Cz

1968 August- Russian tanks move into Cz

1969 Feb- Jan Palack burns himself to death in protest at the Soviet oppression

1980 August- Beginning of Solidarity movement

1981- Andropov becomes Russian premier

1985- Gorbachev becomes Russian leader

1988- Polish communist regime begins to split up

1989- Hungarian gov’t adopts peristroika

1989 Nov 9th- Berlin wall comes down

1991 Aug- attempted coup, Yeltsin comes to power



The Treaty of Versailles, finally singed In 1919 had dire implications for Germany and was also
seriously flawed. The main problems with it involved three main issues. Firstly, it was being
enforced by the League of Nations which was weak since the USA had not joined, secondly it
would be impossible to make Germany adhere to it, and they only would until they were strong
enough to be able to rise against it and finally the nationalities issue- problems are always
caused when world leaders get together and draw lines on the map. The implications for
Germany were also serious, it was forced to -
Reduce its army to 100,000 men without conscription, reduce the navy to 6 warships without
submarines, destroy all of its air force. Also had to return land to Belgium, France, Denmark
and Poland. the land given to Poland became known as the "Polish Corridor" and it separated
the main part of Germany from East Prussia and hand over all of its colonies.
Agree to pay Reparations to the Allies for all of the damage caused by the war; these came to
Put no soldiers or military equipment within 30 miles of the east bank of the Rhine.
Accept all of the blame for the war, the "War Guilt Clause" clause 231. See in the Germany
section for more on this.
The borders of countries in Western Europe are defined by geographical features, and hence
have remained unchanged for long periods of time. In Eastern Europe there are fewer natural
frontiers, and nations such as Czechoslovakia were created by drawing lines on a map which
roughly encompassed a single ethnic group. New countries were created after the war,
basically based on Wilson’s principle of self-determination. These included Czechoslovakia,
Yugoslavia and Poland (strictly speaking not new, it was re-created). The Baltic states,
Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia were given their independence, although Finland is the only
country that is able to hold onto it. It was difficult to create these nations since ethnic groups
were often dispersed between one another. This was the issue with Czechoslovakia- out of the
population of 14 million there were 3 million Sudeten Deutsch- German people being governed
by Czechs and Slovaks. Minority groups were a constant source of trouble, and Hitler was able
to use the self-determination argument in order to get these people back within Germany at
Munich. Basically, Eastern Europe was a very volatile place after World War One. The two
most powerful nations (Russia and Germany) have suffered due to war, and are also politically
volatile internally. The problems would come when these countries began to rearm once again
and regain some of their strength.

In 1935 Hitler basically ‘tore up’ the treaty of Versailles as Germany re-occupied the
Rhineland. But in this, as in several other future cases, the allies simply allowed him to do
this. The policy basically entailed trying to put off war for as long as possible, and if possible,
to prevent it from occurring altogether. Chamberlain is a big fan of it, and Churchill thinks that
it is crap- an attitude which for many years was very important, and then everyone saw that
he had been right all along. There were many reasons why it seemed to be the best policy.
The USSR was potentially more dangerous than Germany, and Britain saw Germany as
potentially a strong future ally. There was also the sense of the ‘lost generation’- people who
had died during WW1, and an overwhelming public feeling that war could not occur again. The
world was also only just lifting itself out of depression, meaning that millions of people were
unemployed in Britain and that the government was not in a strong enough position to begin
extensive re-armament. They needed more time, an economic recovery was necessary before
the army itself could be improved.


MEMORIES OF WW1:There was a serious reluctance among the British to go to war. 1million
men had been lost in the previous world conflict, and 1 in 10 men of fighting age in France had
died. People did not want war unless it was absolutely necessary, and it could not have been
justified during 1938, when Germany could not really be seen as aggressive. Public opinion
was a vitally important factor. The glorious image of a patriotic war had forever been dispelled
by battles such as Paschendaele, which exposed the harsh realities of global conflict.

DIFFICULT TO REARM: Coupled with this was the fact that Britain was hardly in a position to
commence rearming. High unemployment meant that government expenditure was high
although there was little money coming in. The government simply did not have the money
required to undertake such an ambitious program of re-armament. Public opinion shifted
slightly in favour of such a policy during 1935 and 1936, during which years there were two
crises both of which were quite close to home in Abyssinia and Spain.
WHO IS THE ENEMY? Germany, Italy and Japan were all potential enemies. The nightmare
scenario facing the war planners was that these three powers would all get together right from
the start. Britain and France knew that they would need the help of the US and the USSR to
win such a war.

RE-ARMAMENT TAKES TIME: They needed to build the factories in order to build new planes
(spitfires and hurricanes) since the old bi-planes were completely obsolete. At the time of the
Munich agreement, the RAF had 6 squadrons of around 12 planes. By 1939, this figure had
increased to 27. By 1940 and the battle of Britain they had 46. This aerial battle would not
have been won had it not been for this rapid construction of new aircraft.

This was the main period of German re-armament. Much of the research on aircraft and tanks
for Germany had been taking place in the USSR (as these were both revisionist countries).
The Treaty of Rapello of 1922 meant that both countries agreed to co-operate and to limit the
damage that had been caused by the Treaty. 1933-Hitler withdraws from the League of
Nations- this is a symbolic action as this is the organisation which is upholding the Treaty of
Versailles. In 1934 he signed a non-aggression treaty with Poland, taking them out of the
equation. The USSR joined the League of Nations- searching for some kind of collective
security, but basically wanting to be friends with anyone as the Nazi-Soviet pact of 1939

In these years, it became clear that Europe could be on the brink of conflict. There were
several aggressive acts by evil fascist people in these years: Firstly the Italian invasion of
Abyssinia in October of 1935, secondly the re-occupation of the Rhineland in March of 1936,
and finally the Spanish Civil War in July of 1936.


1920s- the balance of power in Europe is definitely with GB and France- hence Italy chose the
winning side.

In 1930s- Germany is getting much stronger, and Italy’s influence becomes more relevant-
they could go either way. Mussolini sees the opportunities when Hitler comes to power, but is
worried about the Anschluss as this would give Germany access to Northern Italy. In summer
1934, Austrian Nazis attempted to take power in the failed Dolfuss Putsch. Mussolini moved
his troops North- a clear indication that he was prepared to fight for Austrian independence, as
well as work with Britain and France. In 1935, it looks as though this might be about to
happen when in April these three countries met at Stresa. The three agreed to work together
to contain the threat that Hitler posed to Europe, and Italy thought that they had Britain on
board and so went ahead with the invasion of Abyssinia. Abyssinia is the only non-colonised
part of Africa, and Mussolini wanted it (the stoopid French had said, on the quiet at least, that
in theory this was ok). In October Italy invades big schtilee (troops, poison gas the usual shit,
they were pissed as they had been beaten in 1896) and this provokes outrage among the
people who think that it just ain’t right. Abyssinia appeals to the LoN stating that is the victim
of aggression, little knowing that the LofN is about as useful as a… yes well… Britain and
France both vote for economic sanctions against Italy, which makes Mussolini feel like he has
been stabbed in the back- hence he begins to turn more towards Germany. Whilst Britain and
France are busy arsing around in the LofN, Hitler occupies the Rhineland in a brave gamble
that pays off, greatly increasing his confidence. The Spanish civil war continues to join these
two countries together, and in October of 1936 they sign the Axis agreement, and the Stresa
pact is all but forgotten.


Japan had invaded Manchuria in 1931, and in 1937 began moving SE down the coast towards
the rest of Asia. This situation obviously placed Russia under threat, meaning that potentially
they had to deal with a conflict from both sides. They believed that the raw material wealth of
Siberia may lead to a Japanese attempted invasion. So Stalin kept some troops in Eastern
Russia. When he heard about Pearl Harbour, and realised that Japan would be tied up with the
US, and so he could afford to move these troops back to the Western front where they were
definitely needed.


Doesn’t do all that much in 1937. Is trying to strike a balance in terms on re-armament. On
the one had, he recognises the weakness of the British position, yet Germany also needed to
build more tanks and develop a heavy bomber. There are very few archives from this time, so
it is difficult to establish Hitler’s role in the war plans, but it could well be argued that he tried
to push the whole thing forward-seeing that the western leaders were weak and fearing his
own ill health. AJP Taylor reckoned that Hitler was an opportunist who did not plan things as
carefully as some people thought (look at Nazi-Soviet pact for example), he places more of
the blame on mistakes made by the allies.

34- Dolfuss affair as Austrian Nazis try to seize power. 36 Stresa front falls apart so Hitler no
longer has to deal with Italian opposition to his plans to bring Austria and Germany together.
Austria was now surrounded, and it looked like it was only a matter of time until Anschluss was
achieved, and Austria agreed to basically become a German satellite. In February 1938,
Schuschnig, the Austrian Chancellor, visited Hitler at his castle in Bavaria, and they agreed
that a referendum on the issue would be held. This was something Hitler could not afford to
lose, so he sent in troops to ‘oversee the referendum’ and ensure that it was carried out
‘fairly’. The Austrians, under this intimidation voted overwhelmingly in favour of Anschluss,
which was declared on the 13 of March 1938.


The Sudentenland in Eastern Czechoslovakia was predominantly inhabited by Germans
(around 3 million of them). This was a hilly region which also contained some Czech
fortifications, and given the fact that Anschluss had just been declared provided a vital barrier
between Czechoslovakia and Germany. The betrayal of Czechoslovakia by the Western powers
goes along way towards explaining the nature of the relationship between them and the USSR
after the war. In 1938, the Sudeten Germans had been making trouble, and claiming that
they were maltreated by the Czech leaders and compatriots (this was not the case, the
Germans living in this region had in fact got a very good deal. In September, during the
Nuremburg party rally, Hitler makes a speech in which he stated that German patience was
exhausted and that they had to take back the Sudetenland. At the same time, the British
were trying to encourage the Czechs to hand over the land, promising them future security if
they were to do this. ‘If they don’t, they won’t get any help’ argument is used. Crisis
culminated with three meetings in mid September, at Berchtesgaden, Godesburg and then
Munich. Hitler announces that if the powers don’t give in he will invade Czechoslovakia. The
day before the proposed invasion, Chamberlain goes back to Munich to try and solve the crisis.
The Czechs are not even present at the meeting in which Chamberlain signs away part of their
country. Czechoslovakia soon becomes a full-on German satellite, whilst Chamberlain believes
that he has secured ‘peace for our time’. Unlikely that Britain could reasonably have gone to
war over this. By the end of March 1939, and with the invasion of Bohemia and Moravia, it is
clear that the era of appeasement is dead, as Britain and France promise to go to war if Hitler
invades Poland.

Stalin did not want to alienate Britain and France and needed collective security (hence
attitudes in Spain). Between 33-39, and with Litvinov, the official Soviet policy was the
Popular Front. Munich convinced him that Britain and France would not be able to stop Hitler,
and made him suspect that for these two nations, the ideal situation would be a
Soviet/German war- erasing totalitarian regimes. He doesn’t trust them.


This period saw attempts by Britain and France to try and revive old Triple Entente style
relations. However, there are now vital ideological differences between the communist and
capitalist regimes. Britain didn’t really seem to be taking the negotiations very seriously. In
May, Litvinov was replaced by Molotov, a clear sign to the Germans that the USSR would
consider doing business with them. Publicly they are trying to improve relations with Britain
and France, and privately they are in Berlin. In August there is the Drax mission- he meets
with Voroshilov- who basically says that ‘we have shit loads of equipment’, and in suitably
unimpressed with the shite which the British have. Stalin realises that in order to secure
peace for as long as possible, he will have to sort something out with the Germans.

23rd August 1939. A non-aggression pact, privately Stalin takes back the Baltics, and Poland is
divided. Ribbentrop thought that faced with this, Britain and France would not intervene,
Stalin recognised that they would. His plan was to try and ensure a long drawn out war
between Britain and France and Germany. He got land, and a war in the West that he didn’t
have to get involved with, at least for some time. Germans, on the other hand, get a one-
front war, at least to begin with, giving them the chance to take France rapidly. Basically it is
crap for Britain and France.


Nuremburg Trials and early opinion concluded that the war was a deliberate bit of aggression
by the Nazis which had been planned well in advance. Taylor in the 60s thought it was more
of an opportunist thing, Nazis had broad objectives, but the course of events was determined
by allied mistakes. Hitler’s occupation of Prague was perhaps the main sign that he wanted
war, it wasn’t necessary as Czechoslovakia was basically already under German control at this
stage. He may have been trying to figure out how far he could push the allies. But it did
mean that he could no longer use the self-determination argument, which he could have
employed with reference to Danzig. But Britain did make mistakes, it is not surprising that
Hitler did not take the British promises to Poland very seriously as we had made no real
attempt to form an alliance with the USSR. Was appeasement crap? In my opinion yes, since
a deal with the USSR would have been far more beneficial.


Option a: Germany is to blame. This was the view held by everyone immediately after the
war. The key bit of evidence is Hitler’s invasion of Poland, as he could have just occupied the
corridor. Trevor-Roper believed that Hitler wanted a major war right from the start, as part of
some big anti-communist plan, the evidence for this lying in Hitler’s book ‘Mein Kampf’ and
from the Hossbach memorandum. This view would argue that appeasement did not cause the
war, but it made Hitler’s job a lot easier.

Option b: Appeasement is equally to blame, and Britain and France should have taken a
tougher line. Bullock writes that ‘success and the absence of resistence tempted Hitler to take
bigger risks’. The attack on Poland should hence be seen as a gamble which did not pay off,
as Hitler didn’t want a war but expected the allies to allow him to just take it.

Option c: AJP Taylor thinks that all Hitler wanted was a war with Poland, but that he was an
opportunist. His methods are more ruthless than previous German leaders and he took
advantage of the situation. Chamberlain miscalculated, and Hitler was lured into a war which
he as he didn’t expect the allies to retaliate when he invaded Poland.

Option d: The USSR is accused of making war more likely by signing the Nazi Soviet pact when
it could have allied itself with the west. But the west could have made more of an effort to ally
itself with the USSR too. But the treaty helped the war to be won for the allies, as it gave the
USSR the chance to prepare its army. The Soviet fighters bore the brunt of the war, and had
they entered it earlier perhaps it wouldn’t have been won.

Attack in the West began with Holland and Belgium, as the French and British moved up into
Belgium to meet them. German attack force was moving into S. Belgium, as had been shown
by photos from recon aeroplanes although high command had largely ignored this information,
believing it to be a diversion. Critically the Germans had to cross the Meuse and achieved this,
totally screwing over the British and French. The Panzer divisions then headed toward the
channel, forcing the British and French into a rapid retreat, and France was defeated very
quickly. People expected an invasion of Britain during the summer (operation sealion) but it
never came- the Germans never gained control of the air thanks to RAF superiority during the
Battle of Britain- difficult situation as the Germans now had bases in Northern France. Britain
began the bombing of Berlin, which then pissed off Hitler making him divert bombers from
bases to London and giving the RAF chance to re-organise their bases. By the end of
September it was clear that an invasion was not imminent, although the RAF was seriously
In June 1941 the attack on Russia comes (Operation Barbarosa), and it almost succeeds. He
started it too late however, and the advancing German forces got bogged down on the
outskirts of Leningrad and Moscow by Autumn. On December 7th 1941, Pearl Harbour had the
shit bombed out of it- Britain now has two vastly powerful allies. There are two very separate
theatres. Important Battle also to keep the sea lanes open.

Autumn 1942 is the turning point of the war as Germany gets stuck in Stalingrad. 250,000
men of the German 6th army are surrounded in Stalingrad by February of 1943,very few of
them came back. In 1942 at the Battle of El Alamen during October Britain wins the conflict in
North Africa. 1943 a critical year. Stalin pushed for an early French invasion to open up a
second front in the war, whilst the US and GB are keen to hold back as they were aware that
any invasion had to be successful. Russians believe that the Western allies were trying to
weaken the USSR, Churchill’s motivation was more that he didn’t want another Somme-style
bloodbath. Even with all of the planning things did not exactly go swimmingly (Omaha beach
for example). In December 1943, there was the meeting at Teheran. Br+US informs USSR
about plans for a D-Day the following summer- US was still not completely committed to

June 6th- D-Day, works pretty well as the allies get on shore with the help of US airborne etc.
In August, Paris is liberated, during September the allies win back much of Belgium- there is a
speedy advance. By Autumn things are slowing down again- there is the need to get more
supplies through. The British lines of Communication are lengthening, whilst those of the
Germans are shortening as they are in retreat. September and the bridge too far offensive- in

The Warsaw uprising occurs in July ’44 when Soviet forces are within 20-30 miles of Warsaw.
The Polish resistance was divided up into two main groups: the Home Army and The
Communist Polish resistance. The Home Army takes its orders from London and is pro-West
and anti-Russian (not much keener on Russia than on Germany since the Katyn Wood
massacre). The Communist Polish resistance basically is controlled by the USSR. In July 1944
the Home Army rises up against the Germans, expecting the Russians to help, but they don’t,
claiming to have problems with supplying equipment- they wanted this group to be defeated
since they are so anti-Russian. The Home Army are very heroic, but they get slaughtered in
Warsaw- it is a complete bloodbath, as British planes attempted to help in August, most of the
equipment ended up going to the Germans.
Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin attend. At this stage the war is basically over-this meeting is
all about figuring out how to draw lines on the map of Europe, sorting out Germany and
planning what kind of political structures will be permitted throughout Europe. The West is
however anxious not to repeat the mistakes made at Versailles. For example, Poland is moved
West- Russia gains some land on the East side, and Germany loses some on the West side
(new line is called the Oder-Neisse line)


Stalin desires control over states of Eastern Europe for his own protection, or is it imperialism?
(in my opinion no, btw). Not surprisingly, Russia does not want to get invaded again, they
haven’t had much luck recently, and many men died at Stalingrad, and during the 3 year siege
of Leningrad. In October 1944, Stalin and Churchill had the Blue Pencil meeting- talked about
Balkan issues. Greece and Yugoslavia in particular since they had won their own
independence, thanks to Communist guerrillas (ELAS in Greece). Greece now in civil war
(remember that cos its important later). Churchill wants Greece to be a Western Sphere of
influence, and to that end is willing to sacrifice Romania and Bulgaria- people’s views are not
really taken into account at all. In December of 1944, Germany abandoned Greece- had it
been left to its own devices this country may have turned communist and the British army
move in to sort it all out, fighting the Communist side and triggering a civil war which lasts
until 1949. Most of the Balkans given to USSR, but Greece remains a western foothold.


Divide it up into four spheres of influence. Russia gets the Eastern bit, Britain gets the North,
US the South and France the crappy bits that no-one else wanted. A single currency is
introduced throughout Germany. Berlin also to be divided into sectors- USSR, Br and FR and
US- basically East West. West Germany linked to Berlin by railway and autobahn.


Fundamental differences in ideology (when it was convenient- look at the US support for
Tito…) US capitalist liberal democracy (good one) but still supports some outright
dictatorships. There is also inevitable rivalry between big-ass countries like the US and the
USSR- all about military and economic capabilities. The US has enormous breasts, including
oil, coal, agriculture workforce etc etc (if you missed that that then WAKE UP- we’re talking
about resources here). Same deal with the USSR, although they are obviously far behind in
terms of the exploitation of these assets.


The main issue was that of Soviet expansion into Eastern Europe. At the blue pencil meeting,
Churchill had recognised that Stalin wanted control over much of the region although he was
not happy with the nature of the states which Stalin set up. In 1946, elections were held in
Romania and Bulgaria, although the results of these were totally fixed. The Communists
gained a majority and rapidly took over- Red Army was running the countries. Poland raised
more sensitive issues for people. After all, we had gone to war over them, and so to betray
them now seemed a bit cheeky. Stalin was desperate to set up a Communist government in
Poland, and the fixed elections of 1947 gave another resounding Communist victory. Hungary
fell in the same year. Czechoslovakia fell in 1948- this was particularly important because
prior to the war, it had been a democracy- it was a very shocking case for the West. However,
it is hardly surprising that the USSR was more popular in Czechoslovakia since they had been
betrayed by the West at Munich.


Einstein had warned FDR that such a weapon could be built, and that there was a risk that the
Germans could develop it first. FDR (Roosevelt btw) set up a very secret project, which
employed leading scientists from all over the world, including Germans and Italians. They
were led by Robert Oppenheimer, who was very intelligent. The project was based at Los
Alamos on a mesa in Northern New Mexico- the town was completely cut off, and to this day
the national research lab of the US is still based there. In July 1945, the US carried out its
first successful detonation at the Trinity Site in the New Mexico desert- Truman tells Stalin of
its success at Potsdam. In August, two bombs are dropped on Japan- ending the war. The
first successful Soviet detonation took place in 1949, wiping out the American advantage. The
speed with which the USSR closed the gap surprised the US, and was partly down to the part
played by brave spies. First Hydrogen bomb detonated by US in 1952- based on fusion not
fission, USSR gets one in 1953- anti-Communist paranoia with people like McCarthy was rife in
the USA. Rosenburg case- people suspected of spying were executed (it wasn’t even Texas)-
this highlights the degree of paranoia in the country.


Berlin an important symbol. At first country viewed as one- with a single currency. Originally
there were no plans for a permanent separation. But the Russians showed had taken lots of
stuff from their half- meaning that economically it was in a very bad shape, in late 1946 there
in inflation again. In 1947, the allies, who had been pumping resources into their bit decide
that they will have to launch a new currency for the Western section (Allied Control
Commission). The USSR denounces these reforms, but it is the beginning of the separation.
In May 1948 the Berlin Blockade starts. Stalin tries to drive the West out of Berlin by shutting
off road and rail links. The airlift went on for about a year- saving Berlin but at enormous
cost- everything was taken by plane, not just food, and the planes were landing about once
every minute even in very risky conditions. In Summer 1949, Stalin re-opens the frontiers-
psychological importance of working together with the German people for the West. In 1949,
the country is formally split. West, with capital of Bonn becomes BRD (Federal Republic of
Germany). The new East German state, the DDR (German Democratic Republic) is a
communist state. Reflection of cold war tensions, and also helps to heighten them.

1946- March, Churchill makes his iron curtain speech at Fulton in Missouri. In February 1947
the British informed the US that they would no longer be able to continue their role in Greece
and Turkey. Britain is in a shit state, for the first time, even bread has been rationed. Truman
takes the US into the conflict with the Truman Doctrine in 1947- this is the beginning of US
imperialism, and lays the way for Marshall Aid (That was in fact the point of the Doctrine).
In these countries, Communist governments came to power when communist armies liberated
their own country, not thanks to the Red Army. Therefore, they did not have the same loyalty
to Stalin. Tito completely refused to accept the dominance of Moscow. In Summer of 1948,
Yugoslavia was expelled from the Comintern by Stalin- Tito was able to break free because he
had a large army. The US fund his regime because it was anti-Russian (but communist, so
Truman was clearly talking out of his ass with the doctrine) This was a terrible humiliation for
Stalin, and prompted a series of purges across Europe.


Czechoslovakia- unlike others a country with a history of democracy which had never been
ruled by the USSR. Their betrayal by the West at Munich shows why they were more
welcoming to the Red Army troops after the war. Between 45 and 48 they had a coalition
government which included communist elements. In the genuinely free elections of 1946, they
received 38% of the vote- a very large proportion. It is quite an industrial country, meaning
that there is a large working class which supported the communists. In 1947, the US becomes
very worried about the impoverished state of Europe, and is worried that it may lead to
problems with its own economy. Beginning of Marshall aid which resulted in an economic
recovery in Western Europe by the 1950s. It was offered to the Czech people also, but Stalin
ordered them not to accept- with a further election due in 1948, the CCP was worried that it
would lose support over this unpopular decision- this leads to the Communist takeover in
February of 1948. The CCP force a political crisis, destroying the coalition as the other
members storm out. Benes, (old giffer) doesn’t call an election, so the Communists hold onto
power. Gottwald (leader of the Communists) had warned him that the issue could lead to a
civil war, so Benes told him to take control of the country. A very repressive Communist
regime is hence set up.

Nato was set up in 1949. Organisation including nations such as the UK, Belgium, Norway, US
etc etc- it’s a collective security thing- an attack on one equals an attack on all- has a very
integrated command structure and is basically anti-USSR. In 1955, Germany is allowed to join
NATO and to begin to re-arm- its becoming a prosperous and important country, although the
Russians and the French are NOT happy about the rearming. Russians set up the Warsaw pact
in response to this- the rearming argument was also used by the Russians.


West Berlin was a prosperous and open place, which meant that it was a problem for the
USSR. It was seen as a island of freedom and prosperity. USSR and East Germans want to
get rid of it. In 1955, a treaty between the USSR and the DDR granted East Germany the right
to conduct its foreign affairs as it saw fit. At the same time, Khrushchev wrote to the USA that
the USSR would continue to have control of rights of movement between West Berlin and West
Germany, which would mean that the West would not have to deal with East Germany. The
note meant that if the USA refused to recognise the DDR, the USSR would no longer control
rights of movement, forcing the USA to have direct relations with the DDR. This would
obviously render the Western policy of refusing to view the DDR as a sovereign power
impractical. By 1958 however, the Western stance on Eastern Germany had not changed, and
in response Khrushchev delivered an ultimatum in which he claimed that West Berlin had
become ‘a springboard for espionage and anti-Soviet acts’ and demanded that if the West did
not act positively to alleviate the problem within 6 months, the USSR would grant the DDR full
sovereign status, which would effectively give it the right to claim all of the land in its capital,
Berlin. Although Khrushchev had not stated this directly, he was demanding that the West
recognise the DDR or lose access to the city. For the West, the second option was simply not
a possibility, as Berlin was such an important symbol of hope, though they were equally
unkeen to yield to Soviet demands. The final result was that the US reasserted the absolute
right of free access to Berlin for the Western powers. Khrushchev, faced with the prospect of
World War Three, backed down at a summit in 1959 signalling the end of this period of
heightened tension.

Berlin continued to be an issue and a problem, particularly for Khrushchev. Whilst West
Berlin was a flourishing, open city, the Eastern side was drab, communist, and inferior. This,
coupled with the proximity of the two sides, and the relative ease with which the border could
be crossed, meant that between 1949 and 1957 more than two million refugees had fled
across to West Berlin in search of employment or to escape the Soviet regime. When
Khrushchev met Kennedy in June 1961 and repeated the warning that the Western powers
must be prepared to leave Berlin within six months, the number of defectees increased to
almost 1000 a day, many of whom were young, skilled intelligent workers, which had an effect
on the economy of the city as well as being a cause of embarrassment for Khrushchev. In
August 1961, a wall was erected to prevent people from fleeing from East to West, which in
some ways was a success for Khrushchev, as it stopped the loss of essential manpower. On
the other hand, it did not please the Western powers, and meant that for the next 28 years
Berlin remained a source of tension between the US and USSR.


BERLIN 1953 Serious rioting occurs among the workers of East Berlin. Living standards
are low and conditions are shit. A riot is put down by Soviet tanks.

FEBRUARY 1956 DESTALINISATION At the 20th party congress Khrushchev whos

position in power is now virtually assured denounces Stalin. The speech was supposed to be
kept secret, but wasn’t. Khrushchev was basically stating that Stalin had committed crimes,
and that some of those who had been purged should be rehabilitated. This pissed off the
Stalinist Chinese and also meant that many Eastern European people were given false hopes
about the immediate future of the communist regimes in their countries

POLAND OCTOBER 1956: Mass demonstrations in support of Gomulka occur. Gomulka

has always stood up for Polish interests against Stalin, but was never executed. Also in Poland
the power of the church was never broken, and this can be associated with Polish nationalism.
The Russians could either allow him to become leader, or use force to suppress him. In the
end, he is allowed to become leader, and this set off a similar kind of thing in Hungary

HUNGARY OCTOBER 1956: On 20th october there was a demonstration in support of

Imre Nagy, a long time communist who was popular among the Hungarian people. On this
day there was a riot at the radio station, but instead of crushing the riot many soldiers and
policemen joined the protesters, who now wanted freedom as well as Nagy. Khrushchev was
faced with a difficult decision, as sending in tanks would damage relations with the West,
whilst if he did nothing he would be seen as weak. In the end, under the advice of Mao and
Zhou Enlai he sends in tanks on Sunday November the 4th, denying the Hungarians their
demands to leave the Warsaw pact and hold free elections. 1 week of street fighting follows,
in which the Russians regain control of Budapest. Thousands are killed and Nagy is executed.
Hungary appealed for help from the West, who do absolutely bugger all, despite encouraging
the Hungarians on Radio Free Europe. Mass resignations from other communist parties
followed, as there was serious disillutionment.


It came as a complete surprise at the time. In January 1968, Novotny, leader of the Czech
communist party is voted out by the politburo, and Dubcek is voted in, launching a program of
reforms. By February many political prisoners had been released and censorship had been
completely abolished. There were even elements of genuine democracy within the party.
Policy of ‘Socialism with a Human Face’. Other Eastern leaders started to get worried, but
Dubcek, after seeing what had happened in Hungary made it clear that he didn’t want to break
from the Warsaw pact.

July meeting at Cherna, in which Brezhnev tells Dubcek that he will not tolerate it. At an
August meeting in Bratislava there seems to be some chance of a deal. Then on 21st of August
1968 the Russian tanks moved in, and there was little resistance, as it would have been futile.

In 1969 the USSR started arresting people again and regained comlpete control. In February
Jan Palack burnt himself in public in protest, 1 million people attended his funeral, and then
repression returns. Anyone who was at one stage associated with Dubcek is basically screwed
for life, and lost their education and their careers. Confirms that Brezhnev is a good candidate
for dickhead of the decade.



BACKGROUND: Up to 45 Korea had been occupied by the Japanese (since 1910). After the
end of the war, the N was occupied by Soviet troops, whilst the S was occupied by US troops.
The idea was that they would withdraw eventually with an election, and leave a unified and
fluffy Korea behind. What with the cold war in Europe, Korea got slightly forgotton about, but
in 1949 the split between the North and South was more formalised. The S became the
republic of Korea, whilst the North became the People’s Democratic Republic of Korea. At the
same time, the US occupying forces were withdrawn and pulled back to bases in Japan, they
thought that they could cover S Korea from there. Didn’t notice a steady build-up of troops in
the North.

OUTBREAK OF THE WAR: June, when N Korean forces invaded the S, seeking to overrun it as
rapidly as possible, before the US could really respond. Leader of the N was called Kim Il
Sung, a bit of a local Stalin.

THE UN: The S appealed to the UN, and there was some discussion about whether or not
troops should go in. The USSR could have supported global communism and vetoed this, but
their delegation was not present as they were protesting at the UN’s failure to recognise the
real China. This was either a cunning move by Stalin to draw the US into an unwinnable war,
forcing it to retreat out of East Asia, or possibly a slightly stupid move. Stalin was also trying
to convince the Chinese to join in, but did he really know that they would? So the US, under
the blue flag of the UN, goes into Korea

MILITARY HISTORY OF KOREA: Invasion starts as the N Korean forces push S. They reach
Pusan, a deep water harbour, and put in under seige, although the US troops are holding out
in August. Then MacArthur develops a cunning plan, and does a mini D-day amphibian landing
at Inchon, just to the North of the 38th parallel. By late September, it looks good, Seoul has
been retaken, and the situation reversed, the South is liberated, and the war looks won.
Perhaps that should have been the end of it. But the US decide to push North to get rid of the
communist influence throughout the whole country. The Chinese are waiting though. In late
October 1000s of Chinese troops come across the river, they are flexible and fast moving, and
push the US troops back.

By Christmas, they are back at the 38th parallel. And by spring 1951 there is a stalemate at
the 38th parallel, with the war basically being between China and the US, meaning that it
becomes much more politically sensitive. There are Soviet Migs in the skies, challengin US air
superiority, but the US fighters are not allowed to persue them over Chinese soil, since the
result of this would be more serious diplomatic consequences.

MACARTHUR THE TWAT: Wanted the war to be extended to fight big, bad China, and was even
talking about using nuclear weapons. He was sacked in 1951, and this decision was quite
unpopular, since the people liked MacArthur, but this brave move did establish Truman as the
man in charge of all US forces.

THE STALEMATE: Whilst the fighting continues, there are some attempts to negotiate a truce,
but certain issues stop major agreements from being reached. For example, the Chinese and
N. Korean troops wanted all POWs to be returned, but some of them didn’t want to, and the
US delegation thought that they should be given the choice. Eisenhower was elected president
in 1952, promising to end the war, and sorted it out. With the threat of a nuclear conflict, the
war ended in summer 1953. It was a very pointless war.

CONSEQUENCES OF KOREA: 45-50 the US had been interventionist, they were committed to a
global role, and as such had a big, bad army. They now have a global focus, with bases all
around the world, giving the Russians a sense of being surrounded.

THE THAW 53-62

The main reason for this relaxation was the death of Stalin in 1953, which heralded an era of
improved relations and increasing communication between East and West. Stalin and his
successor Khrushchev had vastly different views on both foreign policy and domestic affairs,
although until Beria’s arrest in June 1953 a Stalinist line was followed in both. Between 1953
and 1956, power was shared by three men, Malenkov, Bulganin and Khrushchev, all of whom
wished to improve relations with the USA. By 1955, both Bulganin and Malenkov were in a far
less strong position than Khrushchev, who emergence as supreme leader was finally completed
in February 1957, although it was all but assured at the time of the Twentieth Party congress
in February 1956. Khrushchev believed that peaceful co-existence with the west was both
possible and necessary, and acknowledged that in a full-scale nuclear war there could be no
winners. At the twentieth party congress he denounced Stalin and began the process of
rehabilitation of those who had been sent to labour camps during the purges. Although
Khrushchev’s speech to congress on this subject had been intended to be kept secret, news of
it had spread throughout Europe and to the US by the end of the month.

The West viewed this denouncement of the purges and rehabilitation of the victims of
Stalin and Beria as indicative of Khrushchev’s desire to distance himself from Stalinist policy
and to adopt a more moderate line on both domestic and foreign issues. This was indeed the
case, as Khrushchev did not believe, as Stalin had, that violent conflict with the West and its
forces of capitalism would be both inevitable and necessary. Khrushchev wrote of Stalin’s
foreign policy that ‘He overemphasised the importance of military might, and put too much
faith in our armed forces’. Khrushchev, in contrast stated that the feeling among the Soviet
leadership after Stalin’s death was that ‘after such a bloody war we and the West could come
to terms and agree among ourselves on rational principles of peaceful co-existence’ .The
people of Eastern Europe hoped and truly believed that Khrushchev words were the first stage
in a relaxation of the communist regime, and that the era of extreme repression would soon be
drawing to a close. Hence, the direct result of Khrushchev’s speech was that relations with the
US and the West were eased. On the other hand, it also led to the events in Poland and
Hungary in October 1956, both of which resulted in heightened tension between East and

However, the death of Stalin and ensuing rise to power of Khrushchev was the
fundamental factor in the development of a partial thaw of Cold War tensions. For
Khrushchev, it was no longer a viable option to threaten the US with force, since the
destructive capabilities of the hydrogen bomb rendered it basically unusable. In addition to
this, the USSR appeared to be enjoying a period of economic and military strength. Heavy
industrial production was massive, and the USSR was the world leader in new technology, as
was displayed by the deployment of Sputnik in 1957 and the first human flight in space, by
Yuri Gagarin in 1961. Although these facts mask the true nature of the Soviet economy, which
was extremely unbalanced and ultimately very vulnerable, as consumer industries were totally
neglected, Khrushchev believed that these successes demonstrated that planned economies
were fundamentally better than those of capitalist countries, and that as a result the USSR did
not need to use force in order for Communism to spread throughout the world. Meanwhile, the
Western powers were becoming increasingly conscious of apparent Soviet successes,
particularly in terms of their technological advances and military strength. Kennedy was
particularly aware that under Khrushchev communism appeared to be delivering, and was
anxious that the missile gap which had opened up as a result of American complacence should
be closed as rapidly as possible. Khrushchev did not want conflict with the West, nor view it as
necessary whilst the US feared conflict with the apparently superior strength of the USSR, and
as a result of this relations were better between 1953 and 1962. The other side of this is that
the Soviet Union became more confident, and it was this confidence which could be said to
have caused the Cuban Missile crisis, which almost sparked a full-scale nuclear conflict
between the two countries.

During the period 1953 to 1962 there were several other indications that something of
a thaw was occurring. The first of these was the conclusion of the war in Indo-China with the
Geneva peace accords of 1954 and relative success of the summit in the summer of 1955, also
held in Geneva. The Soviet delegation at the summit was headed by Bulganin, although
Molotov and Khrushchev also attended. Khrushchev himself claimed that the Soviet aim at
Geneva was to ‘sign a peace treaty that would recognise the existence of two German states
and would guarantee that each state would be allowed to develop as its own people saw fit’,
whilst he also thought that the goal of the Western powers would be ‘the reunification of
Germany’ and the ‘liquidation of Socialism in the German Democratic Republic’. Although
these perceived aims were obviously not compatible, the very fact that the Soviet leadership
was meeting with Eisenhower and other Western leaders signalled a sharp reversal of Stalinist
foreign policy, and it is important not to underestimate the value of communication, even if
little is actually agreed. The conference also did much to boost Soviet conference, as
Khrushchev considered Eisenhower a ‘mediocre military leader and a weak president’ and
recognised that there was ‘something soft about his character’. Khrushchev summed up the
conversations with the US delegation as ‘generally constructive and useful for both parties,
although neither side changed its position’, and stated that ‘We returned to Moscow knowing
that we hadn’t achieved any concrete results, but were encouraged, realising now that our
enemies probably feared us as much as we feared them’. It was this mutual fear and
development of some form of mutual respect which meant that relations between Khrushchev
and Eisenhower were never very strained.

The Austrian state treaty of May 1955 was a more significant agreement and an
indication of increased co-operation between East and West. As with Germany, Austria had
been divided up into four zones following World War Two, but had been allowed her own
government and was viewed as a liberated state as a opposed to a defeated enemy. Problems
developed as the Russians seemed to be trying to drain the Soviet sector of resources whilst
the three Western powers were trying to rebuild their zones of occupation. However, the
Austrian state treaty of May 1955 meant that Austria did not become a divided nation. It is
likely that the Russians chose to co-operate with the West as they feared that a strong
Western Austria would merge with West Germany to create a strong an economically powerful
state. The state treaty resulted in the withdrawal of all Soviet troops and independence for
Austria which was granted its 1937 frontiers. The USSR was also satisfied, as union with
Germany was once again forbidden, and the Austrians pledged to remain neutral in any
conflicts between East and West. This meant that they could not join with NATO, nor be
included in the Warsaw Pact which was set up shortly afterwards.

In addition to this, there were other signs that a relaxation of the Cold War was
occuring. In 1955, the Russians agreed to give up all of their military bases in Finland and
Cominform was abandoned in April 1956. There were also shifts in American foreign policy.
Eisenhower replaced Truman in 1952, and for his eight-year term the US returned to a state
which was similar to its isolation under Roosevelt. During Truman’s presidency, fear of
Communism had been the most important factor in determining foreign policy, and this had a
knock-on effect on domestic policy. Following Stalin’s death and Eisenhower’s election,
American priorities changed slightly, as the USSR no longer appeared to be expanding further
and as the nations of Western Europe gradually gained in strength and economic


Brezhnev is in power from 64 to 81, and the USSR appears to be very strong and powerful.
This exterior hid the true nature of the economy, and today the GNP of Russia is less than that
of Belgium.

All Soviet investment and money was pumped into the military, meaning that the economy
was extremely distorted, with a guns before butter kind of attitude. Although they can build
big guns and send men into space, they are still far behind in computing, and completely
missed the PC revolution, limiting the flow of information.

Living standards were very low. There were many jobs, and healthcare and education was
provided for all, but nobody really has it good. The 1973 Yom Kippur wars meant that arab
states blocked oil transfers, OPEC was set up to supply oil and push up prices, and this
resulted in the USSR having more income. This meant that reforms were delayed, stagnation
and corruption grew, it was basically growth without development.

Then Andropov, head of the KGB comes in. Launches a massive purge on corruption and is
highly professional. In Poland and Hungary, governments try to buy popular support by
improving living standards, borrowing heavily from the West and resulting in huge debts by
the 80s. Once again, reform is delayed.

SOLIDARITY: In Gdansk in August 1980 strikes start out of the blue, workers are
discontent with pay, and demand the right to set up free trade unions, this movement grew
into Solidarity. Strikes soon spread to transport service and to the mines, and everyone came
out in support of a general strike, demanding free trade unions. The Polish communist
government was forced to make concessions, and free trade unions were set up. By 1981,
Solidarity was increasingly becoming an alternate, legitimate form of government, led by Lech
Walenska, who had a big moustache. Russia grew increasingly worried, and by August forces
are beginning to mass on the border, threatening an invasion. In december, the polish army
intervenes, takes over the country declaring Marshall law, and Jarvelski becomes the new
militaristic leader. Bad, but at least he kept the Russians out.
ECONOMIC INBALANCE- Due to the cold war, the USSR had huge military costs and many
troops deployed in Europe who were basically occupying.

MASSIVE CORRUPTION- In every aspect of Soviet life.

OVER CENTRALISED COMMAND- Planned economy, not affected by world slump, but not part
of capitalist world. By 60s it was becoming top heavy, and bad decisions were being taken.
Market forces were never fully taken into account.

CONTROL OF THE EMPIRE- It was after all pretty large, and problems emerged in Poland,
Hungary, Poland again, Berlin and Prague. Also ‘Russia’s Vietnam’ in Afghanistan in Christmas

FAILURE TO REFORM- Russia became a Gerantocracy, high oil prices meant that much needed
reform could be delayed for some time.

POLISH POPE- A figure around which opposition could focus, particularly in Poland. There were
long term pressures building up in the system.

POSITION AS LEADERS OF WORLD COMMUNISM- Best example, Cuba; whom they supported
at enormous cost.

Becomes leader in 1985, in his early 50s. He basically failed, but had the right sort of idea.
He realised that reform was needed in order for the USSR to survive and had two dual aims:
‘Peristroika’- reconstruction and reform and ‘Glasnost’- openness. Basically it meant a
democratisation of the Soviet empire. People wanted more, and it soon stopped being
communism. Impossible to combine communism and freedom and 68 in Cz showed, people
will just want more freedoms.

In August 1991 there is an attempted coup, and a group of hardliners attempt to oust
Gorbachev, it fails because the people, led by Yeltsin, come out onto the street and literally
block the tanks. The putsch was also very badly planned. Gorbachev’s tragedy was that he
went too far for the hardliners, but not far enough for the people. A country is always
turbulent when it is reforming though. August 1991 brings the end of the USSR as Yeltsin
comes to power and the USSR breaks up.


POLAND By 1988 the economy is in a really bad state, and too much has been borrowed. Had
to get the country back on its feet, and the government realised that it would have to start
talking to Solidarity to do this. Once this started, they began to lose absolute power.

HUNGARY In 1989, the government adopted Peristroika. Nagy’s body was exhumed and given
a national hero’s burial. Soviet foreign minister makes it clear that the USSR will not intervene
this time. Both of these countries are really loosening up by the summer of 1989.

In Cz, E Germany and Romania, the old guard is really trying to hold on.
In September 1989 the symbolic ‘iron curtain’ came down, as barbed wire was removed along
the border between Austria and Hungaria. 1000s of cars queued up as people tried to cross.
People went through and didn’t come back. Inevitably, once people start to find exits, the
whole thing begins to fall apart.

E GERMANY- In October in Leipzig there is a massive peaceful demonstration. On November

9th, the German authorities unexpectedly gave way, and opened up the wall.

Came to power in 1961, talking of the missile gap. He believes that the US is behind the
USSR, primarily as a result of the strong image portrayed by the USSR with achievements
such as Gagarin’s flight in space in 1961.

Kennedy himself was part of a dodgy family, which had risen to prominence and wealth
bootlegging in the 20s. They were a respectable, rich, Boston Irish Catholic family. He was
also young, and won the election narrowly, with Illinois being the crucial state. His opponent
was Nixon, and there was some hint of the result being a little dodgy, particularly since the
vote in Chicago was very important, and there could well have been an element of corruption

In the 40s and 50s had been ruled by Batista, a total dictator, who had the tentative backing
of the US government. Havana was basically an American playground, run by the Mafia. The
rest of Cuba was run by American companies, including the sugar and tobacco plantations. By
the late 50s, however, the Batista regime is becoming ever more harsh and corrupt, and
increasingly something of an embarrassment for the Americans. A guerrilla movement starts
up in the 50s, led by Castro and Guevara, but at this time it is not seen as Communist. The
US give them tentative support, viewing them as freedom fighters. New Year’s Eve 1958,
Batista flees to Spain, New Years day 59 tanks go into Havana and take over.

59-60 Former US businesses are nationalised, land is given to the peasants and Russia moves
in as the Daddy following US trade embargos. By 1960 it is basically a communist state which
has severed all links with the US.

Spring 1961, the Bay of Pigs invasion occurs. Many Cubans leave Cuba and go to the US.
These are then trained up by the CIA and sent in to overthrow Castro. It ends up a complete
fiasco and a total failure, but JFK does not distance himself from the events.

In July 1961 there is a meeting in VIENNA between JFK and Khrushchev. Kh misjudges JFK,
thinks he’s crap, and totally underestimates him. The US was in fact ahead in the arms race,
as the USSR only had 5 or 6 high tech, long range missiles capable of reaching US soil.


In October 1962, pictures were taken by a U2 spy plane over Cuba which illustrated that
missiles sites were being set up in Cuba. EXCOM was set up, and top advisors met in secret.
JFK viewed it as a political challenge to the US, as the USSR was saying that if you want them
in Turkey, then we want them on Cuba. JFK didn’t want the US to be percieved as weak, but
knew that Khrushchev must be allowed to withdraw claiming a victory.
EXCOM was faced with three main alternatives:

i. Full scale invasion

ii. Bombing

iii. Blockade

In the end they went for option iii., and US navy ships were positioned around the island,
ready to stop the advancing Soviet convoy. This avoided immediate violent confrontation, but
did not solve the problem of the missiles which were already there. Once the ships arrived at
the blockade, and thankfully stopped, messages were exchanged between the two sides.

KENNEDY’S HANDLING: Pretty sweet. Communication with Moscow was very good and open,
with messages being clearly exchanged. There could be no ambiguity, and good crisis
management was essential. The compromise on Turkey allowed Khrushchev to not be
embarrassed, and hence diffused some tension. He also kept the military under tight control,
they did exactly as they were told and did not do anything without the presidents


BEFORE 1917: Even under Peter the Great Russia wanted to be part of the West but was
always something of an outsider. The Crimean War was also indicative of their attempts to
gain influence and access to the West. But West pleasing reform was never an easy option for
them, since no Tsar ever wanted to compromise his position as absolute autocrat. In 1914
they enter the war, embracing Western values, yet they are an uncomfortable ally, and would
not have gained mediterranean access following the conflict, which was what they wanted.

1917: Leave the war with Brest Litovsk in 1918, a near disaster for the West, although
fortunately the US come in and fill the void. They never really wanted World revolution, but
this didn’t stop the West thinking that they did (stopped believing it after the failed Spartakist

THE 30S: Stalin had inherent fear of the West, and thought that the USSR would need a strong
economy in order to resist US imperialism. It also seemed that the US was prepared to
tolerate rightist regime. So he responded by signing the Nazi-Soviet pact in August 1939.
Ideology is forgotton for a while.

THE WAR: Stalin gets the distinct impression that the West would like to see Stalin destroyed
by Hitler. The wartime alliance is a marriage of convenience between the US and GB. But
throughout the war the USSR bares the brunt of the fighting, with 20-25 million casualties,
compared to only 340,000 british.

TEHRAN: Stalin wants assurances in the conference in November 1943 that all of the powers
would be in this to the end, and that Russia would not be left on the outside with few gains.
He wants a second front to open up, and believes that the delay could be part of some grand
plan to undermine Soviet strength. In June 1944 a second front is finally opened up.

YALTA FEB 1945 –no negotiated settlement

-allies agree to have no separate peace

-there will be a successor to the LofN

-Armies of occupation, GB argue for FR

-Berlin to be partitioned

-4 powers council for admin of Germany

POTSDAM JULY 1945 –FDR dies, replaced by HST

-Atlee replaces Churchill

-Stalin still there and occupying E/C Europe

-US has the bomb

-Respect for Stalin amongst soldiers

US POLICY SHIFT- Truman does not go for isolationism. There is an underlying economic
reason for this, which is that involvement in war boosts manufacturing industry, whilst good
trade with the West via Marshall aid keeps big business happy. Anti-communist rhetoric also
satisfies the republicans, and means that the general public get behind the campaign.

US THE GLOBAL THREAT- 45-49 US is the only country with the bomb, Stalin fears for future
invasion and hence seeks to widen his borders via the sphere of influence in Eastern Europe.
The Berlin Blockade played right into Truman’s hands, as it exposed the USSR as evil.

As you can see, ideology doesn’t really fit into this picture much.


Key dates: US atom bomb ’45

-USSR ‘49

-US H Bomb ’52

-USSR ’53

-Sputnik ’57

ICBMs gave a new intensification of the arms race. The US thought that the USSR had more,
which they didn’t, as the US had important bases in Turkey, Italy etc. The concept of
deterrance was the underlying philosophy, with the MAD (mutally assured destruction)
mentality. It was based on the assumption that no-one would attack, considering the
consequences. There was no defence against a nuclear strike, so it was a risky game. Until
the 80s there was nothing that could be done, except to hope that you would have time to
shoot back before you got vaporised. But if retaliation remained possible, the possibility of a
first strike was far decreased. So early warning systems were very important, and decisions
had to be made very quickly. The hotline after Cuba meant that it was possible to have more
of an idea of what the enemy was doing (unless it was engaged…)

The early 60s saw the introduction of sub-based missiles, like Polaris, in a way this meant that
the situation was safer, as if the prospect of immediate retaliation was always there, the first
strike was less likely to come. Satellites also become important, lengthening the period of
People were also worried about the ‘tripwire’ theory- ie that little things could trigger a nuclear
war that could wipe out humanity due to a staged pattern of escalation.

In the 70s, there was more thought about defence systems, and the construction of missiles
that could knock out other missiles. At SALT 1, missile defence work stopped, and there was
some stability in the arms race.

In 1983 Reagan announced Star Wars, which was based on LASERS in orbit, but the
technology was not up to it.