Cold War (1945-1991)
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Cold War (1945-1991) We will be exploring the Cold War (1945-1991) from an international socio-economic and military perspective. In a few weeks, we will learn about the same time period from a domestic perspective, including Civil Rights, Camelot & Watergate. Cold War Overview

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Cold War (1945-1991)

We will be exploring the Cold War (1945-1991) from an international socio-economic and military perspective. In a few weeks, we will learn about the same time period from a domestic perspective, including Civil Rights, Camelot & Watergate.


Cold War Overview

Former allies clash:

  • US: Capitalist

  • Private economy

  • Competition

  • Leaders elected by the people

  • USSR: Communist

  • State controlled economy

  • No competition

  • Totalitarian government (no elections)


  • Cold War Overview

  • Potsdam Conference: US, USSR & UK met in 1945 to settle post-WWII challenges.

    • US wanted free elections in Poland, USSR refused

    • USSR wanted reparations from Germany, US refused

    • Agreed to Yalta Conference plan to separate Germany into 4 zones

  • USSR Goals:

    • USSR lost 20 million people during WWII, needed PEOPLE

    • Created “satellite” communist nations – Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, Poland

  • US Goals:

    • “Containment” proposed by George F Kennan

    • Prevent extension of communism to other countries


  • Iron Curtain

  • Europe was divided – Communism to the East, Capitalism to the West

    • Iron Curtain introduced by Winston Churchill in a speech in Missouri: “…from the Baltic to the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the continent.”

    • Iron Curtain: The metaphor for the physical and political differences between the east and the west in the years following WWII.

  • Homework: determine the Cold War boundaries on a the map (library)


The Cold War was a series of conflicts between the USSR and USA, but no shots were fired directly at each other on our own soil.


  • Cold War Geography USA, but no shots were fired directly at each other on our own soil.

  • North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO, 1949): world alliance set up to help keep the peace achieved by WWII

  • Warsaw Pact (1955): mutual defense treaty between communist states of Eastern

Europe established by the Soviet Union


Cold War Geography USA, but no shots were fired directly at each other on our own soil.


  • US Containment Strategy: Truman Doctrine USA, but no shots were fired directly at each other on our own soil.

  • Truman Doctrine:

    • President Truman’s policy (1947): “It must be the policy of the US to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or outside pressures.”

    • US wanted to contain Soviet influence in Greece & Turkey (b/c of proximity to US interests in the Middle East)

    • US sent $400 million in aid to help keep Greece & Turkey from turning to the USSR for help


  • US Containment Strategy: Marshall Plan USA, but no shots were fired directly at each other on our own soil.

  • Marshall Plan

    • Western Europe was struggling to recover after the war (economic depression, rebuilding, unseasonably cold winters)

    • Secretary of State George Marshall (1947) proposed helping all European nations needing aid

    • US spent $13 billion in 4 years

    • Communism was not appealing to European voters when their economies recovered


What to do about Germany? USA, but no shots were fired directly at each other on our own soil.

Should Germany remain 4 zones? Be reunified? And what about Berlin?

  • Berlin Airlift


  • A Red Scare: USA, but no shots were fired directly at each other on our own soil. An era of communist fears

  • Federal Employee Loyalty Program (1947)

    • Investigated potential federal employee communist activities

    • 3.2 million “communist activities” investigated

    • Individuals accused were NEVER shown the evidence against them

  • House of Un-American Activities Committee (1947)

    • Investigated Hollywood films for sneaking communist propaganda and created a “blacklist” of actors, producers and writers


  • A Red Scare: USA, but no shots were fired directly at each other on our own soil. An era of communist fears

  • Spies

    • Agler Hiss supposedly gave US government documents to the USSR (prosecuted by Richard Nixon); files sealed until 2026

    • Julius & Ethel Rosenberg accused of giving A-Bomb secrets to the USSR; only 2 American civilians to be executed for espionage activity during the Cold War (1953)

  • Joseph McCarthy

    • Publicly accused people of disloyalty without providing evidence


  • The Red Scare USA, but no shots were fired directly at each other on our own soil.

  • There are communists in our town!

    • Communist’s Goal: remove members of the town and send them to the USSR for re-education.

    • Towns People Goal: remove all communists from town

  • How we play…

    • At night, the communists will be asked to wake up and silently identify 1 person to send to the USSR – especially the McCarthy’s

    • At night, the McCarthy’s will be asked to wake up and silently identify 1 person that they believe is a communist – I will either confirm or deny their accusation. If the person is a communist, the McCarthy’s should accuse that person during the day without giving away their own identity.

    • During the day, all towns people will have a chance to accuse fellow townspeople of communist behaviors. You must have a reason to suspect someone and confront them in front of the entire town. The town will vote and if agreed to, up to 2 people will be kicked out of town each day.

    • End of Game: The game ends when either the communists have been completely removed from the town or the communists have completely removed the town.

  • Rules

    • Be as quiet as humanly possible

    • No peeking and NO CHEATING


  • Cold War – Let’s Review USA, but no shots were fired directly at each other on our own soil.

  • USSR strategy of “satellite” countries

  • US strategy of “containment”

    • Truman Doctrine

    • Marshall Plan

  • Germany tensions keep rising…

    • Germany & Berlin divided

    • Berlin airlift

  • At home…

    • The Red Scare - Federal Employee Loyalty Program, HUAC, spies & McCarthy

  • But the war is still cold… No shots have been fired.


  • Nuclear Weapons USA, but no shots were fired directly at each other on our own soil.

  • The nuclear arms race began…

    • 1945 US has 1st atomic bomb

    • 1949 USSR detonates their 1st atomic bomb

    • 1954 US develops the hydrogen bomb (hydrogen bomb=500 atomic bombs)

    • 1955 USSR creates the hydrogen bomb

    • US & USSR competing to build the best, newest weapon


  • Korean War USA, but no shots were fired directly at each other on our own soil.

  • aka Truman’s War

  • Post WWII, Korea split in half at the 38th parallel:

    • Soviet & China support North Korea

    • US and NATO support South Korea

    • DMZ: strip of land dividing North and South Korea at the 38th parallel; most heavily militarized border in the world

  • After years of border skirmishes, war broke out1950-1953


Why does the US care so much about Korea? USA, but no shots were fired directly at each other on our own soil.


  • Korean War Results USA, but no shots were fired directly at each other on our own soil.

  • Many soldiers and civilians were injured:

    • US – 36,000 soldiers killed

    • South Korea – 1 million soldiers and civilians killed

    • North Korea & China (combined) – 1.8 million soldiers and civilians wounded or killed

  • DMZ

    • Most heavily militarized zone in the world

    • US troops are still stationed in South Korea

  • In 1953, 60% of the federal budget went to defense


  • Bay of Pigs USA, but no shots were fired directly at each other on our own soil.

  • Who? CIA trained Cuban exiles (yes, the US government trained them)

  • What? Unsuccessful invasion of Cuba

  • Where? Cuba

  • When? April 17-19, 1961

  • Why? Try to overthrow the Cuban government (Fidel Castro – new communist Cuban dictator)

  • So What?

    • Approximately 100 exiles killed, remaining were held hostage

    • After 20 months of negotiations, hostages were released in exchange for $53 million in food and medicine

    • Failed invasion a huge embarrassment to the new president - JFK


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