Modern Europe Conflict and Change in Europe to the 21st century
Rise of Superpowers • United States vs. Soviet Union • Emerged as 2 “superpowers” – had the military and political strength to influence worldwide events. • Distrust started between the USA and USSR • USA didn’t like the USSR expanding its borders • Both had different beliefs and political systems • Both stockpiled weapons in case of war – nuclear arms race • Distrust grew into a state of tension called the Cold War – because it never involved any fighting. • Involved competition in science – Space Race • Race to launch satellites and land on the moon • Sputnik • Developed growing alliances
The “Iron Curtain” Falls on Europe • Iron Curtain • A political boundary • Fun Fact . . . • Iron Curtain was a term used in the German theater to separate the stage from the audience in case of a fire! • People in countries controlled by the Soviet Union COULD NOT LEAVE! • Armed guards watched over the borders. • Winston Churchill (British PM) said in 1946 that an “Iron Curtain” had fallen across Europe. • Dividing line between Eastern and Western Europe. • Berlin Wall became the symbol of the “Iron Curtain”
What was the Berlin Wall? • The Berlin Wall • At the end of WWII, Germany was divided into 4 zones • Berlin was the capital of Germany (located in the Soviet section) and was divided into 4 zones as well • West Berlin = sections controlled by USA, France and Great Britain – surrounded by East Germany • East Berlin = represented the Soviet controlled sector of the city • Many people wanted to flee (defect) from Communist East Germany • Border between East and West Germany was closed • Many defectors went through the open border between East and West Berlin
Berlin Wall was the response to stop defectors • 1st Berlin Wall was built out of cinder blocks and barb wire around the 3 western sectors of the city • Soon replaced by a concrete wall that isolated West Berlin • Many people were killed when they tried to cross the border • President Reagan visited Germany in 1987 – speech at Brandenburg Gate
Summarizing Activity – Write it Down After WWII, many East Germans moved to West Germany for better jobs and living conditions. To stop this outflow of people, East Germany built a wall. The Berlin Wall was first constructed in the dark, early morning hours of August 13, 1961. The people of Berlin woke up to find a barbed wire fence (later made of concrete) separating the city!!! Armed guards patrolled the wall. Families and friends were separated. Write about how you would feel if you lived in East Berlin and could not leave. (minimum of 4-6 sentences)
Collapse of USSR – Reunification of Germany – End of the Cold War • Soviet Union experienced economic issues – 1980’s • Large Expenses • Weapons buildup • Space race • Supporting countries in Eastern Europe • Poor economy – can’t compete in world economy • Government planning left many communist countries with barely enough food and goods to meet their citizens’ needs.
1985 - Mikhail Gorbachev became Soviet leader • Popular with people • He wanted and talked about social change and economic reforms • “perestroika” = restructuring • “glasnost” = openness • What were these changes? • Limited amount of alcohol Soviets drank by increasing the prices and the sales • Alcoholism was a big problem at that time • Decreased military spending to ease international tensions.
Economies in Eastern Europe didn’t improve . . . • Protests grew among the people • 1989 – Gorbachev said the Soviet government would no longer help suppress the protestors • They didn’t want their governments to be overthrown. • Poland and Czechoslovakia began to break away from Soviet rule
Reunification of Germany in 1990 was a prime example • Berlin Wall remained until 1989 • Demonstrations prompted the government to remove border crossing restrictions • East Germans were so overjoyed, they began to tear the wall down. • Removal of the wall signified that European countries could work together towards democracy • Part of the wall remains today as a memorial • Benefits of German reunification • Today, the German people can travel freely throughout Germany • Reunites generations of families divided by the wall • Combined the economic and political power of East and West Germany – put aside their differences and work towards democracy
1990 Economic conditions are still poor in USSR Gorbachev is losing popularity with the people Regional governments no longer feel the need to comply with the communist party and refuse to pay taxes Lithuania declares their independence from the USSR 1st McDonald’s opens in Russia 1991 Economic and social collapse Communist party and democratic ideals conflict peaks Gorbachev wants to give the republics their freedoms December 8 – Ukraine, Belarus and Russia agreed to break away from the USSR and form the Commonwealth of Independent States Late December – Gorbachev resigned as President of USSR = Communism collapsed Unable to compete with the economic and political appeal of the West
The Cold War is over!!! • Soviet Union came to an end . . . . • Divided into 15 individual republics . . .
Summarizing Activity – True or False • The Soviet command economy was a strong, growing economy. • Gorbachev increased military spending and continued Cold War policies. • The city of Berlin was divided after WWII. • Germany has never been reunited into one country. • The Soviet Union split into 15 republics.