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1941-1949: ORIGINS OF THE COLD WAR

As World War II came to a close, the United States and the Soviet Union emerged as superpowers. The two nations met many times, often with Great Britain and other involved nations, to discuss a post-war agreement. The opposing views of the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. very quickly became obvious and the differences between capitalism and communism increased tensions between them. During this period, the foundation was laid for the Cold War that would continue for many years. In 1946, George F. Kennan formulated the orthodox or traditional interpretation of the Cold War, which places the blame for the war on Stalin and the U.S.S.R., which was accepted by the majority of American and western European officials.
January 1949 February 1945

Yalta: Stalin, Churchill and Roosevelt discuss future military operations and the post-war world

March 1947 July 1945 The U.S. successfully tests the first atomic bomb at Alamogordo, New Mexico September-October 1945 London conference of the foreign ministers of the Soviet Union, the United States, Great Britain, France and China finds agreement difficult. President Truman proclaims the Truman Doctrine which promises US help to countries threatened by communism.

The Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (Comecon) is set up by the Soviet Union, Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Czechoslovakia

June-May 1949 Berlin Blockade: all land and waterways to West Berlin and East Germany are blocked. Berlin is supplied by air lift.

April 1945 President Truman warns the Soviet Foreign Minister Molotov that Moscow must keep to the Yalta agreements

August 1945 The Soviet Union and China (Chiang Kai-shek) sign a treaty of friendship and alliance which confirms Soviet use of Port Arthur and Dairen, the confirmation of the status quo in the Mongolian Peoples Republic and Soviet influence in northern Manchuria.

March 1946 Churchills speech at Fulton, Missouri, speaks of an iron curtain descending on Europe. He calls for an AngloAmerican speech. Stalin sharply criticizes his speech on March 13th.

June 1947 General George Marshall, US Secretary of State, announces the Marshall Plan, the European recovery programme.

April 1949 NATO is set up in Washington.

1949-1953: COLD WAR I


The Berlin Blockade in 1949 was the first time war seemed to be a possibility between the United States and the Soviet Union. Between 1949 and 1953, the official mood in the United States shifted from accepting that the Russians were not a long-term threat to America to the view that communist power had to be confronted. In early 1950, Truman instructed the National Security Council to undertake a fundamental reappraisal of the Cold War policy. This document became known as the NSC-68 and viewed the world as bipolar: Russian and American. It seemed as if the only solution would be war between the Soviet Union and the United States. In a way, the two powers fought a war, intervening on opposing sides of the Korean War. The orthodox or traditional interpretation remained dominant throughout this period.

August 1953 January 1950 The Soviet Union ceases to participate in the UN Security Council and the UN agencies June 1950 Moscow protest the intervention of US troops in the Korean War. June 1951 The Soviet Union calls for a ceasefire in Korea. The Soviet Union announces the explosion of a hydrogen bomb.

January 1950 President Truman announces that the United States is to build a hydrogen bomb.

March 1951 The Soviet Union proposes a peace treaty with Germany.

March 1953 Stalin dies of a heart attack. Malenkov becomes Prime Minister.

1953-1969: TO THE BRINK AND BACK