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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

  • 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


US Containment Strategy: Truman Doctrine

  • 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

  • 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?

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

  • Berlin Airlift

A Red Scare: 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: 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

Korean War Results

  • 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

  • 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