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The Cold War: Part II. The Cold War Heats Up 1950-1970. Nikita Khrushchev takes over after Stalin’s death in 1953. attempts to separate Stalin’s “crimes” from true communism. Repression and Dissent Protests broke out in the communist bloc (countries seek elections)

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The Cold War: Part II

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The Cold War: Part II

The Cold War Heats Up


Nikita Khrushchev takes over after Stalin’s death in 1953.

attempts to separate Stalin’s “crimes” from true communism.

Repression and Dissent

Protests broke out in the communist bloc (countries seek elections)

Soviets send troops into Hungary and Poland

Eastern Europe remained under Soviet control.

Dwight Eisenhower takes over from Truman in 1953.

Democrats charged Republicans for “missile gap”

Eisenhower responded.

Increased defense spending

The Cold War in the 1950s

Soviet Union

United States


  • What was the Marshall Plan? How was this supposed to stop the spread of communism?

  • Explain the two alliances of the Cold War.

  • What were the US goals in the Cold War?

  • What were the Soviet Union's goals in the Cold War?

  • Why was the location of Berlin problematic for the democratic powers?

  • THINKER: Why did people support Joseph McCarthy if he didn't have any evidence or proof of communism in the government?

Senator Joe McCarthy (1908-1957)

The Second Red Scare was at its height during the 1950’s, but one man popularized anti-communist attitudes

Joseph McCarthy (Republican Senator from Wisconsin) made it his goal to get rid of all communists in American society & the gov.

On February 9, 1950, he gave a speech claiming to have a list of 205 Communists in the State Department.

No one in the press actually saw the names on the list.

Continued to repeat his groundless charges; changing the number from speech to speech

His efforts to get rid of the communist threat became known as McCarthyism.


McCarthyism’s Effects on America

  • Federal Loyalty Program (1947-1975):

    • required all members of the US government to take a “loyalty oath”

    • Supposed to prove they supported American democracy and capitalism

  • HUAC (House of Un-American Activities Committee)

    • Government agency created to investigate public employees, private citizens and organizations suspected of having ties to communism

    • Goal was to target the entertainment industry to show that communist propaganda was in films, TV shows, and books

  • Hollywood 10

    • Group of ten Hollywood actors, directors, and writers

    • Refused to cooperate with HUAC, and were found guilty of “contempt of Congress” and sentenced to prison

    • Once released, they were blacklisted, never to work in Hollywood again

The Hollywood Ten

  • Alvah Bessie- “Objective Burma”

  • Herbert Bibermen- “The Master Race”

  • Lester Cole- “Born Free”

  • Edward Dymtryk- “Crossfire”

  • Ring Lardner Jr- “M*A*S*H”

  • John Howard Lawson- “Blockade”

  • Albert Maltz- “Pride of the Marines”

  • Samuel Ornitz- cofounder of the screenwriters Guild

  • Adrain Scott- Oscar-nominated screenwriter and producer

  • Dalton Trumbo- “The Brave One”

Required pro-wrestlers to take a loyalty oath before stepping into the ring.

In Indiana, a group of anti-communists protested Robin Hood and forced librarians to pull the book from the shelves

Socialist message that the book’s hero had a right to rob from the rich and give to the poor

Baseball's Cincinnati Reds renamed themselves the "Redlegs."

Cincinnati Redlegs primary

logo in use from 1954-1959

McCarthyism’s Effect on America

McCarthy’s Downfall

In the spring of 1954, McCarthy claimed the US Army had hired a communist doctor.

Led to the infamous Army-McCarthy hearings

For the first time, a television broadcast allowed the public to see the Senator as a closed-minded bully on a witch hunt

In December 1954, the Senate voted to censor him for his conduct and to strip him of his privileges.

McCarthy died three years later from alcoholism.

The term "McCarthyism" lives on to describe anti-Communist fervor, reckless accusations, and guilt by association.

Movie poster for the 2005 film Good Night and Good Luck about the fall of Joseph McCarthy

Arthur Miller’s play The Crucible was on the surface about the Salem Witch Trials. It’s real target, though, was the hysterical persecution of innocent people during McCarthyism. (poster for 1996 film version)


After the U.S. dropped nuclear bombs on Japan, the world wanted their own nuclear bombs.

This started an arms race: competition between two or more countries for the best/most armed forces & weapons.

Each country competes to produce larger numbers of weapons, greater armies and military technologies.

UK, France, US, Soviet Union, and People’s Republic of China all produced nuclear weapons.

The Cold War Arms Race

American experts had believed that the Soviet Union would not have nuclear bombs until the mid 50s. However, the Soviet Union tested their first atomic bomb in 1949

Joe-One, the Soviets first nuclear bomb, was a copy of the American bomb, Fat Man. (weaker)

The whole world watched in shock at the Soviet Union’s new weapon.

Soviet Power

Both parties believed that more nukes = more power!

Soviet Union built more nuclear weapons with cheaper quality.

Americans built fewer nuclear weapons, but with better quality.

Soviet Program VS American Program

Both countries worked frantically to produce the first hydrogen bomb.

The US detonated the first H-Bomb in November 1952.

The Soviets exploded their H-Bomb in August 1955.

Hydrogen Bomb

  • Cold War tensions increased in the USSR when the US exploded its first hydrogen bomb in 1952. It was 1000 times more powerful than the Hiroshima atomic bomb.

Hydrogen Bomb Explosion1000 times more powerful than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima

Global Nuclear Confrontation

  • The Soviet army had command over 260 divisions of the armed forces.

  • The United States, in contrast, had reduced its forces by 1947 to a little more than a single division.

    • American military planners were forced to adopt a nuclear strategy in face of the overwhelmingly superiority of Soviet forces.

    • They would deter any Soviet attack by setting in place a devastating atomic counterattack.

  • For the next quarter century, the U.S. and the USSR would engage in a nuclear arms race that constantly increased the destructive capability of both sides.


  • Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles

  • The most important development in terms of nuclear delivery in the 1950s.

  • Missiles delivered bombs instead of bomber aircrafts.

  • Missiles could now reach areas thousands of miles away.

Strategic nuclear missiles, warheads and throw-weights of United States and USSR, 1964-1982

Arms Race Clips

  • (Duck & Cover)

  • First H-bomb test

  • Johnson’s Campaign Ad

  • Dr. Seuss’ Butter Battle Book


  • What led to the end of McCarthyism?

  • What was the difference between the Soviet and American nuclear programs?

  • Who was the first to explode the Hydrogen bomb?

  • What are ICBM’s?

  • THINKER: In your opinion, who won the arms race? Why?

The Cold War in the 1950s: Space Race

  • October 4, 1957 – USSR launched the first satellite, Sputnik, into orbit.

    • The Sputnik launch confirmed the Soviet Union’s superpower status.

  • Became first artificial satellite into geocentric orbit on October 4, 1957.

    • The race to control space had begun!

    • Khrushchev: “We will bury you!”

US Response: NASA

  • In 1958, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) was created.

Achievements in the Space Race

  • Soviet astronaut Yuri Gagarin became the first person to orbit the Earth in 1961

  • Later in 1961, Alan Sheppard, Jr. became the first American astronaut in space.

  • In 1962, John Glenn, Jr. became the first American astronaut to orbit the Earth.

  • The first woman to reach space was Soviet astronaut Valentina Tereshkova in 1963.

Yuri Gagarin

Alan Shepard

John Glenn

Valentina Tereshkova

New President attempts to win Space Race

  • In 1960, John F. Kennedy was elected President.

    • First Catholic president

    • Youngest president ever; at age 43

    • First televised presidential debate- 70 million viewers thought that Kennedy won. Radio listeners Nixon won

  • Increased government spending on defense, and math/science education

  • Created the Peace Corps

  • On May 25,1961, Kennedy gave a speech challenging America to land a man on the moon by the end of the decade.

Man On The Moon!!!

  • In 1969, U.S. astronauts Neil Armstrong, Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin and Michael Collins made it to the moon.

  • Armstrong was the first man to walk on the moon, followed by Buzz Aldrin.

U-2 Incident

  • On May 1, 1960 a U.S. spy plane piloted by CIA Agent Francis Gary Powers was flying over the USSR and was shot down.

  • Powers’ mission was to take aerial photos of two major missile test sites in the Soviet Union.

  • Powers was unable to activate plane's self-destruct mechanism before he parachuted to the ground, right into the hands of the KGB.

When US learned of Powers' disappearance over USSR, it issued a statement claiming that a "weather plane" crashed after its pilot had "difficulties with his equipment."

US officials did not realize:

Plane crashed intact

Soviets recovered its photography equipment

Captured Powers, whom they interrogated extensively for months before he made a

"voluntary confession" and public apology for his part in US espionage

The U-2 Incident



  • What is Sputnik? How did the US respond to this?

  • What were the space race achievements made by the US?

  • What were the space race achievements made by the USSR?

  • Who became the new US president in 1960? What was one of his first priorities?

  • THINKER: How did Americans benefit from Cuba?

Background under Eisenhower:

In the 1950’s, Americans owned 90% of Cuba’s mines, ranches, oil, and sugar.

Caused Cubans to be extremely poor and demand change!

In 1958, Fidel Castro led a revolt and overthrew the pro-American leader (Batista)

Once Fidel Castro became dictator, he seized property owned by foreign corporations, including U.S. businesses.

“A Revolution is a struggle between the future and past”

1960’s Foreign Policy – Cuba

Bay of Pigs Invasion

  • When JFK became President, he made a goal to solve the problem “of a communist satellite on our very doorstep.”

  • The U.S. refused to accept Castro as leader

  • Castro developed close ties with the Soviet Union. (SU offered economic aide)

  • Kennedy agreed to a CIA plan that involved training a group of Cubans to invade Cuba and overthrow Castro.

  • The CIA trained these Cubans in Guatemala

Kennedy addresses La Brigada (anti-Castro Cubans)

The Bay of Pigs invasion took place on April 17, 1961.

An airstrike failed to destroy Cuba’s air force and Cuban troops proved to be a strong match against the 1,500 U.S. invaders.

The invasion was a total disaster and eventually Kennedy accepted defeat.

Bay of Pigs

By 1962, the Soviet Union had missiles stationed in Cuba.

The U.S. had missiles stationed in Turkey.

This brought the world on the brink of nuclear war.

After 10 days of caution, President Kennedy and Khrushchev agree to remove their missiles.

Cuban Missile Crisis

At the end of the Kennedy Administration, both the US and the USSR admitted their vulnerability because of nuclear equality.

Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD): One country couldn’t attack the other because they would be attacked in return.

Whoever shoots first, dies second.

Mutual Assured Destruction

End of the Arms Race

  • Economic problems led to arms control agreements beginning in the 1970s. This period of time, known as détente.

  • Détente: Both countries reduced their nuclear spending and stockpiles.

  • Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT): limited the amount of nuclear weapons produced.

  • Limited Test Ban Treaty: banned nuclear testing above ground to prevent radiation poisoning

In the dark on August 13, 1961, a low, barbed-wire barrier rose between East and West Berlin. Within days, workers cemented concrete blocks into a low wall, dividing neighborhoods and families, workers and employers, the free from the repressed.

The USSR called the wall a barrier to Western imperialism, but it was meant to keep its people from going to the West where there were more rights and freedoms.

The West Germans called it Schandmaur, the "Wall of Shame."

Over the years, it was rebuilt three times. Each version of the wall was higher, stronger, repressive, and impenetrable. Towers and guards with machine guns and dogs stood watch.

No one was allowed to enter the zones. Anyone trying to escape was shot on sight.

Early 1960s view of east side of Berlin Wall with barbed wire at top.

A view from the French sector looking over the wall.

Berlin Wall


41 miles long (28 on border)

12 feet high

Fortified with guards and weapons

Included anti-vehicle trenches

Supposed to prevent East Berliners from fleeing into the West.

Over 5,000 escape attempts

Why would people want to leave East Berlin?

Berlin Wall

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