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The Origins of the Cold War. 1945-1949. The German Question. Germany divided into four zones of occupation NOTE: Berlin was inside of the Soviet zone and connected to the west by three agreed air corridors. German Question. The West and USSR had different ideas about what to do with Germany

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the german question
The German Question
  • Germany divided into four zones of occupation
    • NOTE: Berlin was inside of the Soviet zone and connected to the west by three agreed air corridors
german question
German Question
  • The West and USSR had different ideas about what to do with Germany
  • USSR
    • Wished to cripple Germany economically and destroy its industrial potential
    • Stripped its zone of factories and took reparations
  • West
    • Wished to rebuild Germany in order to open markets and revive a devastated Europe
    • Began to rebuild its zone / cut off reparations to USSR
salami tactics
Salami Tactics

1946–47: Stalin insured that Communist governments came to power in all the countries of eastern Europe which Russia had control of in 1945.

The Hungarian Communist Rakosi described this process as ‘slicing salami’ – gradually getting rid of all opposition, bit-by-bit.   In this way, Russia gained control of:


Albania (1945) – the Communists took power after the war without opposition

Bulgaria (1945) – a left-wing coalition gained power in 1945; the Communists then executed the leaders of all the other parties.

Poland (1947) – a coalition government took power in 1945, but Stalin arrested all the non-Communist leaders in 1945, and the Communists forced the other non-Communists into exile.

Romania (1945–1947) – a left-wing coalition was elected in 1945; the Communists gradually took over control.

Hungary (1947) –Stalin allowed elections in which the non-communists won a majority; however, some communists were elected. They began to demand that groups which opposed them should be banned. If not, it was suggested that the Russians would take over the country. The Communist leader Rakosi then got control of the police, started to arrest his opponents, and a brutal secret police unit. By 1947 Rakosi had complete control over Hungary.


Czechoslovakia (1945–48) – a left-wing coalition was elected in 1945.   In 1948, the Communists banned all other parties and killed their leaders.

East Germany (1949) – the Russians turned their zone of Germany into the German Democratic Republic in 1949.  

Animated Map


Secondly, our victory signifies that our Soviet state system was victorious, that our multinational Soviet state passed all the tests of the war and proved its viability.

- Stalin, February 9, 1946

The Iron Curtain

declaring cold war
Declaring Cold War
  • There are two events that can be considered, in LaFeber’s words, declarations of Cold War
    • Stalin February 9, 1946
      • Election speech
    • Churchill March 5, 1946
      • “Iron Curtain” speech
  • After Potsdam, conflict between USSR and quickly began to develop
    • In addition to Poland and Germany, there were three other major areas /events that contributed to tensions
    • Iran
    • Turkey
    • Greece
  • USSR and GB occupied Iran during WWII
    • Divided Iran into 3 zones
      • Northern zone under USSR control
  • All troops were to be withdrawn within 6 months of end of war
  • Sept 1944
    • Anglo-Iranian Oil company set up by British
      • Granted concession to operate majority of oil fields
    • USSR wanted similar deal but was denied
  • March 1946
    • British withdrew from Iran
  • USSR remained in North
    • Refused Iranian troops entry
    • Supported movement for autonomy of Azerbaijan region – independent government was set up
    • Insisted on pro-USSR officials in Iranian government
    • Demanded oil concessions similar to 1944
  • Iran took issue to UN security council
  • USSR troops then withdrew
  • Iran forces then being to attack the Azerbaijan separatists – USSR troops massed to protect
    • After GB moved troops to assist, USSR stepped down and separatists were suppressed.
  • Straits of Constantinople (Istanbul) are strategic
    • Provide sole entry from Black Sea to Mediterranean
    • Were under international control until 1936 – then came under control of Turkey
  • March 1945 – Stalin demanded that Straits return to international control
  • June 1945
    • Stalin began demands for bases in Dardanelles and Turkish provinces of Kars, Adrian, and Artvin – parts of old Russian empire
  • Issue brought up at Potsdam and then again in summer of 1946 with a demand that the issue be resolved
  • Truman moved battleship to Straits.
    • Issue was dropped
  • Prior to WWII, Greece was a monarchy
  • After invasion, three distinct political groups developed in Greece
    • Nazi collaborators
    • Government in Exile (London)
    • Resistance in Greece
      • This was divided into two groups, left (communist) an a right wing in favor of the monarchy
  • Greece was considered to be under British influence (percentages agreement)
  • GB had been supporting the anti-communist forces in Greece
  • February 1947
    • Britain informed USA that it was financially no longer able to support Greece
    • Fears developed that the communist would win as a result
two halves of the same walnut

“Two Halves of the Same Walnut”

The Truman Doctrine and the Marshal Plan

truman doctrine
Truman Doctrine

March12th, 1947 Truman announced his doctrine to the Congress

  • The US would provide aid to Greece and Turkey
    • $250 million to Greece
    • $150 million to Turkey
  • Truman Doctrine would commit the US to “containing” communism around the world – it was, in essence, a declaration that communism was now a threat to US interests that would be fought

Read pages 56-58

Why was the Truman Doctrine a “milestone” in American foreign policy?

What do you think LaFeber meant by “ideological shield”?


Truman Doctrine Speech

The very existence of the Greek state is today threatened by the terrorist activities of several thousand armed men, led by Communists, who defy the government's authority at a number of points, particularly along the northern boundaries. A Commission appointed by the United Nations security Council is at present investigating disturbed conditions in northern Greece and alleged border violations along the frontier between Greece on the one hand and Albania, Bulgaria, and Yugoslavia on the other.


Truman Doctrine Speech

One of the primary objectives of the foreign policy of the United States is the creation of conditions in which we and other nations will be able to work out a way of life free from coercion. This was a fundamental issue in the war with Germany and Japan. Our victory was won over countries which sought to impose their will, and their way of life, upon other nations.


Truman Doctrine Speech

To ensure the peaceful development of nations, free from coercion, the United States has taken a leading part in establishing the United Nations, The United Nations is designed to make possible lasting freedom and independence for all its members. We shall not realize our objectives, however, unless we are willing to help free peoples to maintain their free institutions and their national integrity against aggressive movements that seek to impose upon them totalitarian regimes. This is no more than a frank recognition that totalitarian regimes imposed on free peoples, by direct or indirect aggression, undermine the foundations of international peace and hence the security of the United States.


Truman Doctrine Speech

The peoples of a number of countries of the world have recently had totalitarian regimes forced upon them against their will. The Government of the United States has made frequent protests against coercion and intimidation, in violation of the Yalta agreement, in Poland, Rumania, and Bulgaria. I must also state that in a number of other countries there have been similar developments.

At the present moment in world history nearly every nation must choose between alternative ways of life. The choice is too often not a free one.


Truman Doctrine Speech

One way of life is based upon the will of the majority, and is distinguished by free institutions, representative government, free elections, guarantees of individual liberty, freedom of speech and religion, and freedom from political oppression.

The second way of life is based upon the will of a minority forcibly imposed upon the majority. It relies upon terror and oppression, a controlled press and radio; fixed elections, and the suppression of personal freedoms.


Truman Doctrine Speech

I believe that it must be the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures.

What are the implications of the President of the United States making this kind of statement?

What does this policy commit the US to?

europe in economic crisis
Europe in Economic Crisis
  • World War II had devastated Europe
  • It was believed that the resulting poverty, high unemployment, and dislocation would add to the appeal of communism in Western Europe.
marshal plan
Marshal Plan
  • Plan was conceived of to help rebuild Europe and thus prevent rise of communist parties
  • It was offered to all countries, including Soviet Union, that would accept certain conditions
    • Open books
    • Economic controls through world organizations controlled by US (World Bank and International Monetary Fund)
Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Lasted for approx. 4 years 1947 – 1951
    • $13 billion ($130 billion 2006) in aid provided

Berlin BlockadeJune 24, 1948 to May 11, 1949

"Berlin and Germany were the only places where the two sides came into contact, that is Soviet troops and troops from the Allied countries. In other places we didn't have direct contact between our two armed forces. That was one of the reasons why Berlin became a battlefield for the Cold War."

Mikhail Semiryaga Soviet military administration

berlin blockade june 24 1948 to may 11 1949
Berlin BlockadeJune 24, 1948 to May 11, 1949
  • June 2– June 20, 1948:
    • The occupation currency in use in Germany was replaced with the Deutsche Mark in the 3 Western Sectors.
      • Partly intended to force Stalin to accept unification of German Sectors.
    • USSR objected – wished to keep Germany weak and resisted efforts to rebuild
      • stated that this was breach of Potsdam agreement to treat Germany a a single economic unit.
berlin blockade june 24 1948 to may 11 19491
Berlin BlockadeJune 24, 1948 to May 11, 1949

June 24, 1948

  • USSR blocked all major road, rail and canal links between West Berlin and Western Germany. (Ground access had not been formal negotiated)
    • Did not seal every route, but delivery 12,000 tons of food & coal normally supplied by the West to Berlin every day was now impossible.
berlin blockade june 24 1948 to may 11 19492
Berlin BlockadeJune 24, 1948 to May 11, 1949
  • The Soviets cut electricity supplies to factories and offices - only large power station in West Berlin had been dismantled for reparations
  • The Western Allies imposed a counter-blockade on the Soviet zone.
berlin blockade june 24 1948 to may 11 19493
Berlin BlockadeJune 24, 1948 to May 11, 1949
  • General Lucius D. Clay, proposed sending an armored column from West Germany into West Berlin to test USSR resolve
    • Truman rejected this as too risky
  • The concept of supplying Berlin by the three established air corridors was proposed and accepted
berlin blockade june 24 1948 to may 11 19494
Berlin BlockadeJune 24, 1948 to May 11, 1949
  • June 25, 1948
    • Clay launched airlift to provide city with necessary food and coal
    • Civil and military aircraft flew supplies into the Western sectors of Berlin along three air corridors established at Potsdam
berlin blockade june 24 1948 to may 11 19495
Berlin BlockadeJune 24, 1948 to May 11, 1949
  • April 16, 1949
    • The peak of the airlift - an aircraft landed in Berlin every minute
    • 12,940 tons of goods, coal and machinery delivered in 24 hours
  • May 12, 1949
    • USSR lifted its blockade just after midnight
  • The airlift lasted 462 days
    • Airlift continued until September due to fear of blockade being reinstated.


  • Two opposing military camps would be created, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the Warsaw Pact
    • NATO

Created April 1949

    • Warsaw Pact

Formally created by the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance in May 1955

  • The blockade and airlift and hardened the conflict into two opposed camps, the West and the East.
  • Germany would be divided into two separate nations
    • Aug. 1949:

West = Federal Republic of Germany (FDR)

    • Oct. 1949:

USSR = People’s Republics of Germany (DDR)