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The Cold War
The Cold War is the time between 1945 (end of the Second World War) and 1991 (decay of the Soviet Union). You can find more information about the Second World War on the Homepage about the Second World War.
During this time the world was divided into to parts. There were two world powers the USA and the Soviet Union. The USa represented the capitalism and the Soviet Union the communism. Both world powers had got their sphere of influence in many countries and so some countries were capitalist and other were communist. The capitalism and the communism differ ideological, economical and political. In the capitalism there is a free market which regulates itself through supply and demand. Through more or less work and power somebody in the capitalism earns more or less. The communism tries to abolish private property and tries to create a common, public property. In the communism all people should live under similar social and economic conditions. For example it means that everybody earns similar much.
For a better understanding of the development of the communism it is necessary to go into the past. Until 1917 the tsars reigned in Russia, but in this year there was the october revolution and the tsar was deposed and killed. The nation did not want an authoritarian regime any longer. The bolsheviks started this revolution. Vladimir Ilyich Lenin was the leader of the bolsheviks. The bolsheviks were also despotic like the tsars and so another group was formed, the mensheviks. They were nationalistic. The bolsheviks are often called the "reds" and the mensheviks the "whites". It came to a civil war and the bolsheviks won that war. The USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) was formed. The party of bolsheviks was the CPSU (Communist Party of the Soviet Union). Also in some European countries and in the USA communist parties were created after the First World World, but only the communists in Russia were sucessful. Lenin died in 1924 and Josef Vissarionovich Stalin (real name: Josef Vissarionovich Dzhugashvilli), from Georgia (Caucasus), seized the power and became secretary-general of the CPSU. Stalin wanted to make the Soviet Union a progessive country. But his dictatorship was very cruel. In the 30's he let killed millions of people who were against his dictatorship. He was afraid that someone could take over his power and so let banish, arrest and execute many party officials. On the 30th of January 1933 Adolf Hitler took over the power in Germany. Hitler and Stalin signed a nonaggression treaty. On the 1st of september 1939 Germany began the Second World War. You can find more information about the Second World War on the Homepage about the Second World War. Despite the nonaggression treaty with Stalin Hitler attacked the Soviet Union in 1941. So Stalin formed an alliance with the USA, Great Britain and France. After Japans assault on Pearl Harbor the USA declared Japan war. When it was clear that Germany will lose the war the allies thought about the time after the Second World War. In 1943 Winston Churchill (British prime minister), Franklin Delano Roosevelt (American president) and Stalin had a conference in Teheran (capital of Iran) and they talked about the division of Europe. After the invasion of the Allies in the Normandy on the 6th of june 1944 it was clear that Germany will lose the war. In october 1944 Churchill and Stalin met in Moscow. Churchill gave Stalin a sheet of paper where he wrote down in which Easteuropean countries the Soviet Union will have their influence and in which Easteuropean countries the Western Allies will have their influence. Stalin accepted this suggestion. In february 1945 Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin met again in Yalta on the peninsula Crimea. They decide to divide Germany in 4 occupation zones (Great Britain, USA, Soviet Union, France). Also the influence of the winner powers in other European countries was dicussed. On the 8th of may 1945 Germany capitulated. In july and august 1945 Churchill, Truman and Stalin met in Potsdam. Roosevelt died on the 12th of april 1945 and Harry Truman became the new president of the USA. At the end of the Potsdam Conference Churchill was replaced by Clement Attlee, because he won the elections in Great Britain. On this conference they discussed again the situation after the war. They decided that every winner power can take reparations from its occupation zone. On the conferences in Yalta and Potsdam the western Allies wanted the Soviet Union to help them in the war against Japan. On the 16th of july 1945, short before the Potsdam Conference, the USA have tested successfully the first atomic bomb of the world in the desert of New Mexico. The atomic bomb was developed in Los Alamos in New Mexico. It was called "Manhattan" project. The leader of this project was the atomic physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer. This weapon was unknown until this time. The temperature during the explosion was about 15 million degrees (as hot as the core of the sun). On the 6th of august 1945, a few days after the Potsdam Conference, the first atomic bomb was thrown on Hiroshima. Japan did not want to capitulate and so the USA had thrown another atomic bomb on Nagasaki on the 9th of august 1945. Over one hundred thousand people died at once. Many people suffered from the radiation damages and died caused by them. On the 2nd of september 1945 Japan capitulated. This was the end of the Second World War.
The division of Europe begins
After the Second World War Europe was completly destroyed. Over 20 million Russian have died in the Second World War and the Soviet Union was destroyed. Great Britain and France had also a hard time. The economy of the USA was much better than before the Second World War. Stalin wanted a make a buffer zone between Germany and the Soviet Union and he began to support the communists in the Easteuropean countries. There were also communists from different Easteuropean countries who were in the Soviet Union during the Second World War and now they had to make true Stalin's plans in their homelands. After the Second World War the communist parties in the Easteuropean countries, like Poland and Hungary, were very weak and they could not win the elections. First the communist parties made coalitions with other parties and later the other parties were displaced out of the government. Some politician of other parties were arrested and so the communists won the elections like in Poland in 1947. Stalin did not break the agreement from october 1944 with Churchill and he only supported the communists in these countries which should belong according to the agreement to the Soviet sphere of influence. For example Greece. When the German were driven out of Greece in 1944 the communists had got strong influence in Greece. Great Britain supported the pro-Western government, but according to the agreement Stalin did support the Greek communists. A civil war began in Greece and it ended in 1949 when the Yugoslav head of state Marshal Josip Broz Tito stopped to support the Greek communists. According to Potsdam Conference the Soviet Union could shift the border to Poland to the West and also the German-Polish border was shifted West. The consequence was that many people had to be reseattled. After a very aggressive speech of Stalin in february 1946 the USA wanted to know more about Stalin's foreign policy and the American diplomat George Kennan in Moscow gave the USA an answer which should determine the US foreign policy opposite the Soviet Union. This policy was called
"Containment Policy". The Soviet influence should be contained. On the 5th of march 1946 Churchill had a meeting with Truman in Fulton in Missouri and in his speech he said that Europe is now divided by an iron curtain. In Moscow Churchills speech was judged that is was agreesive. In the Second World War Great Britain and the Soviet Union had occupied Iran, because they did not want Germany to get the oil deposits in Iran. In march 1946 Great Britain and the Soviet Union should take out, but only Great Britain took out. This situation could escalate, but short time later the Soviet Union took out, too. After the Second World War Germany and Austria were divided into 4 occupation zones (Great Britain, USA, Soviet Union, France). The both capitals Berlin and Vienna were also divided into 4 occupation zones. For all the casualties the Soviet Union wanted much reparations and took it from its occupation zone. After the Second World War Germany was very weak and the Allies thought that a weak Germany would be better, because it would not be dangerous, but in the end they decided to set up the German economy. The Allies made in Germany a Denazification to punish people who had important positions during the Nazi Time. Considering Germany the Western Allies and the Soviet Union could not achieve an agreement.
The Marshall Plan
The winter 1946/47 was very cold and even Great Britain bread had to rationed and the power supply was also insufficient. Great Britain decided to give up its colonies, for example India, Burma, Sri Lanka and many African countries. Great Britain also wanted to stop the support for Greece and Turkey. After a discussion with the new US foreign minister General George Marshall Truman asked the congress, in a congress speech on the 12th of march 1947, for a financial support of 400 million US Dollars for Greece and Turkey. His speech was ideological against communism and it is often called Truman Doctrine. The congress agreed to the financial support. In march 1947 there was a meeting of the four foreign ministers (USA, Great Britain, France, Soviet Union) in Moscow and the situation of Germany should be discussed, but the meeting ended without any result. Marshall wanted to set up the European economy and he did the first steps which led to the Marshall Plan. The reason for the financial support for Greece and Turkey and the building up of the European economy was that the USA were afraid that communism could expand very fast in poor countries. A good European economy would be also good for the USA for example for US exports. On the 5th of june 1947 Marshall made a speech where he published the Marshall Plan, in the Harvard University where he became honour doctor. Every European country could request financial support from the Marshall Plan also the Easteuropean countries and the Soviet Union. In june 1947 there was a conference in Paris with all countries which were interested in the Marshall Plan. Stalin did trust the Marshall Plan, but the Soviet foreign minister Molotov came to this conference. British people who spied for the Soviet Union told Molotov that the Western Allies wanted a strong economy in Germany. The Soviet Union wanted a weak Germany and so Molotov left this conference. Next month this conference (july 1947) was made again, but the Soviet Union has forbidden all Easteuropean countries to came to this conference and to request financial support from the Marshall Plan, but some Easteuropean countries wanted financial support from the Marshall Plan. The Westeuropean countries talked about building up Europe and in september 1947 they agreed. The Easteuropean countries and communist parties of some Westeuropean countries formed an alliance called Cominform. The Soviet Union tried to show the communist parties that the West is very aggressive. After this meeting the communist party in France tried to make disturbances through worker strikes, but in december 1947 it came to an agreement between the workers and the government. Czechoslovakia kept to Stalin's prohibition and did not participate in the Marshall Plan and so the USA did not help Czechoslovakia. In 1948 there were struggles for power in Czechoslovakia and the communists won. Since february 1948 Czechoslovakia finally belonged to the Soviet sphere of influence. For ths USA it was a setback. The communist party in Italy became stronger and stronger and the danger was that they can win the parliamentary elections. The USA secretly gave financial support to the anticommunist parties in Italy. The pope and the church were also against the communist and the christian democrats won the parlamentary elections on the 18th of april 1948. After the Second World War Yugoslavia also became communist, but without the influence of the Soviet Union. The Yugoslav head of state Marshal Josip Broz Tito made his own policy and in 1948 he was excluded from the Cominform. Yugoslavia stayed communist, but independent of the Soviet Union. On the 3rd of april 1948 the US congress agreed to a financial support of 5.3 billion US Dollars for Europe. Short time later food and other things came to Europe. The economic building up of Europe lasted to 1952 and altogether the US congress agreed to over 13 billion US Dollars of financial support for Europe.
The Berlin Blockade
As already mentioned after the Second World War Germany and Austria were divided into 4 occupation zones (Great Britain, USA, Soviet Union, France). Both capitals Berlin and Vienna were also devided into 4 occupation zones. For Germany and Austria an Allied Control Council was established where the Allies should decide together about Germany and Austria. Berlin was surrounded by the Soviet occupation zone. In Berlin there was a Soviet occupation zone, but also three Western occupation zones and some streets and air corridors were free to travel from West Germany to the Western occupation zones in Berlin. Berlin was destroyed through many bombs during the Second World War. The Western Allies and the Soviet Union could not agree in any conference about the situation in Germany, because the Soviet Union was afraid of a strong Germany. This showed that Germany could be divided. The Western Allies wanted to establish a government in West Germany and make a currency reform, because the old German currency the Reichsmark was very weak. In 1948 Great Britain, the USA, France, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg met in London to talk about the reconstruction of Germany. The Soviet Union saw this conference as a further step to a division of Germany and so the military governor of the Soviet occupation zone, Marshal Vasily D. Sokolovsky, left the Allied Control Council on the 20th of march 1948. Now a division of Germany was sure. After that the Soviet Union intensified the regulations and controls on the transport ways to West Berlin. According to the London Conference West Germany should belong political and economical to the West. On the 20th of june 1948 the Western Allies made a currency reform in West Germany. The Reichsmark was replaced by the Deutsche Mark. The Soviet Union closed the border to West Germany and made a currency reform in its own occupation zone and wanted only this currency to valid for whole Berlin. Of course the Western Allies did not want to accept it and on the 24th of june 1948 the Soviet Union isolated West Berlin. This was the beginning of the Berlin Blockade and the current in West Berlin was switched off. The Western Allies were decided not to give Berlin to the Soviets and they made a blockade between West Germany and East Germany. The American military governor for Germany General Lucius D. Clay wanted to break through the Berlin Blockade with military forces, but the USA did not want to risk a war against the Soviet Union und so an airlift was established. General Clay also participated in the airlift. Form West Germany American and British airplanes (for example DC-47 Dakota, DC-54 Skymaster, DC-74 Globemaster) flew to West Berlin to support the city with food. On some days a few tons of food were transported to Berlin and beside the airports Tempelhof and Gatow the airport Tegel was built. The USA and Great Britain were afraid that they cannot keep the airlift during the winter 1948/49. The social democrat Ernst Reuter was an important person in West Berlin. During the Berlin Blockade he was elected to the mayor of West Berlin and did everything that the Western Allies do not leave West Berlin to the Soviet Union. He also made appeals to the people in West Berlin that they must hold out this blockade. The airlift was also continued during the winter and coal to heat was also transported to West Berlin. In 1949 negotiations began between the Western Allies and the Soviet Union. The Berlin Blockade and the blockade of East Germany, made by the Western Allies, were abolished of the 12th of may 1949. The Soviet Union did not reach its goal, because the Ostmark did became the currency of West Berlin and the Soviet Union could not drive out the Western Allies of West Berlin. On the 23rd of may 1949 the Bundesrepublik Deutschland (Federal Republic of Germany) was founded in West Germany. On the 7th of october 1949 the Deutsche Demokratische Republic (German Democratic Republik) was founded in East Germany. On the 4th of april 1949 the NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) was founded by 12 Western countries. The USA had the guide role. This military alliance should be a defense against the Soviet Union.
The Korean War
On the 8th of august 1945, one day before dropping the atomic bomb on Nagasaki, the Soviet Union declared Japan war. The Soviet Union marched in China and liberated Manchuria from Japan and later the Soviet Union wanted to liberate Korea from Japan. The USA and the Soviet Union agreed that Manchuria and Korea should belong to the Soviet sphere of influence, but the USA changed their mind and they wanted to divide Korea. The 38th Northern parallel should be the border. The Soviet Union should occupy the North and the USA the South. The Soviet Union kept to this agreement and only occupied North Korea. In september 1945 the US troops landed in South Korea and liberated the South from Japan. The USA made Syngman Rhee head of government in South Korea. He was against communism and he lived many years in the USA and studied there. In North Korea the Soviet Union made Kim Il Sung head of government. During the Second World War he was in the Soviet Union. On both sides there were rebellions and political enemies who were treated cruel. A union of North Korea and South Korea was improbable. On the 15th of august 1948 in South Korea (capital Seoul) the Republic of Korea was founded and on the 9th of september 1949 in North Korea (capital Pyongyang) the Democratic People's Republic of Korea was founded. Syngman Rhee became president of South Korea and Kim Il Sung became prime minister of North Korea. In 1949 the American and the Soviet military forces left both Korean countries. Kim Il Sung planned an invasion in South Korea. Stalin and Kim Il Sung thought that South Korea would not be a sufficient reason for the USA to start a war. The USA reacted, to the North Korean invasion, very fast and very decided. With an agreement of the Soviet Union North Korea started an invasion in South Korea on the 25th of june 1950. The United Nations Security Council was called very fast and demanded North Korea to go back to the 38th parallel. Simultaneous they agreed to military actions against North Korea. On the 28th of june 1950 the North Korean troops reached Seoul, the capital of South Korea. The US action in South Korea was led by the war hero, from the Second World War, General Douglas MacArthur. A few days later the first US troops landed in South Korea near Seoul.
They could not do anything against the Soviet T-34 tanks and they had to escape. In the next months the situations was the same and the USA had got many setbacks in South Korea. In august 1950 the largest part of South Korea was occupied by North Korea. More US troops came to the non-occupied part of South Korea to support the other US soldiers and the South Korean soldiers. Meanwhile General Douglas MacArthur prepared an amphibious operation. On the 15th of september 1950 US troops landed in Incheon. This part of South Korea was occupied by North Korea. Until the end of september 1950 the US troops could back-conquer the whole of South Korea. The US troops did not stop at the 38th parallel, but they also wanted to conquer North Korea to make a united Korea. Except US soldiers there were also UN troops in the Korean War. Because of the invasion of the UN troops in North Korea China entered this war. At the end of october 1950 there were the first combats between UN troops and Chinese troops. At the end of 1950 the Chinese troops had driven out the UN troops of North Korea. In january 1951 the Chinese army could conquer Seoul again, but in march 1951 the UN troops back-conquered Seoul. In 1951 the war on the ground came to a standstill, but the war was continued in the air. During 1951 there were several negotiations about an armistice. This negotiations lasted over one year. Important points were the new border between North and South Korea and what should happen with the prisoners of war of both sides. In 1952 General Dwight David Eisenhower won the US presidential elections. In july 1953, after Stalin's death on the 5th of march 1953, an armistice came into force and this was the end of the Korean War. The border is not exactly the 38th parallel. Hundredthousands of people died in the Korean War and both Korean countries were destroyed very strong.
Fear of strange influences
The USA were afraid of communists in the own country. Persons from important ranges were cited from the "House Un-American Activities Committee" to check if they are not communists. It began in the 40's and it also went on in the
50's. The climax of this hunt against supposed communists was reached in 1950 when Senator Joseph Raymond McCarthy became chairman of the "House Un-American Activities Committee". Many people from politics, science, from the film industry and other ranges were under suspicion that they are communists. People who were only under suspicion that they are communists were displaced and some actors for example were not allowed to work any longer. Some persons were even condemned to detentions. McCarthy's accusations were unsteady and he even accused George Marshall (author of the Marshall Plan) to be a communist. Because of his methods he was dismissed in 1954 and his political career war over. There were also trials against people who were accused that they gave information about building atomic weapons to the Soviet Union, during the Second World War. One of the most famous trials was against Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. They were found guilty and despite all protests they were executed on the 19th of june 1953. But there were also many Americans who were of the opinion that this judgement was fair. In the Soviet Union and its influence zone it was worse than in the USA. It was at the same time when communists were hunted in the USA, in the 40's and at the beginning of the 50's. In all these countries many people who were against the communists were arrested and some were executed. Communists who wanted to be independent of the Soviet Union were also arrested. For example the Hungarian foreign minister László Rajk was accused that he has spreaded Western influences in the communist party in Hungary. He was condemned to death and he was executed in 1949. The proofs were faked. Stalin wanted all countries in his influence zone to do what he tells them. Stalin was so afraid of a putsch against him that he even did not trust his closest employees. When he only felt the smallest danger for his power he let arrest these people and put them into labour camps. Stalin also acted against Jews with the argument that they want to spread Western influences. Lavrenty Pavlovich Beria, the chief of the NKVD (People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs), was also resposible for arrests and executions of thousands of people.
Struggle for power in the Soviet Union
In the night from the 28th of february 1953 to the 1st of march 1953 Stalin had an apoplectic stroke. Despite medical assistance he died on the 5th of march 1953. It was not clear who will be Stalin's successor and so a struggle for power began in Soviet Union. Nobody should have so much power like Stalin and so more than one man should have the leadership. Georgy Maximilianovich Malenkov became prime minister and this was the highest function. Beria became
deputy prime minister. Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchov also belonged to this collective leadership. From this time there were real improvements in the Soviet Union. Many political prisoners, who were imprisoned during Stalin's power, were released. The Soviet Union also wanted to improve the relationship to the West. The USA did not trust the Soviet Union. In other communist countries it was further so bad like in the Soviet Union in Stalin's time. In East Germany Walter Ulbricht was in power. During the Second World War he was in the Soviet Union and he wanted to continue Stalin's plans in East Germany. Similar to the NKVD in the Soviet Union in East Germany there was the Stasi (Ministry for State Security) which acted against people who were against the East German regime. The Soviet Union wanted him to make a more liberal policy, but he wanted to extend the industry and the workers had to work more and more. On the 17th of june 1953 it led to strikes in East German cities which were not only against the work increase, but also against the whole policy in East Germany. The American radio station RIAS in West Berlin appealed to strikes. Beria let knock down these strikes with Soviet tanks and many workers died. After this action some Soviet politicians also Khrushchov came to the resolution that Beria wanted to reign alone like Stalin. After that Beria was accused to work for the West (it was not thr truth), he was found guilty and on the 23rd of december 1953 he was executed. Increasingly Khrushchov also displaced Malenkov from the government. Khrushchov also improved the relationship to China which was also communist. Since the end of the 20's the nationalistic Kuomintang under the leadership of Chiang Kai-shek and the communists under the leadership of Mao Tse-Tung fought against each other in China. In 1931 Japan has occupied Manchuria. The communists (Red Army) became popular, because they resisted against Japan. In 1937 Japan occupied parts of North China. During the Second World War both parties fought against Japan. After the Second World War a civil war began in China and the communists had won this civil war.
Chiang Kai-Shek and his government had to escape to Taiwan. On the 1st of october 1949 the People's Republic of China was founded. Mao Tse-tung was the first president of the People's Republic of China till 1959. The USA were shocked when the People's Republic of China was founded on the 1st of october 1949. They hoped that China will be under the leadership of Chiang Kai-shek and belong to the Western influence zone. Despite a friendship treaty in 1950 between China and the Soviet Union the relationship between both countries was not optimum, because Stalin saw Mao Tse-Tung as a rival. Khrushchov also improved the relationship to Yugoslavia. The occupation of West Germany ended in 1955 and West Germany was rearmed and became member of the NATO. The Soviet Union was against a rearmament of West Germany. After that the Soviet Union and some countries in Eastern Europe made a military alliance in 1955 which was called Warsaw pact. In 1956 on the 20th party congress of the CPSU Khrushchov made a speech where he criticized Stalin and his crimes. This speech was very surprising and spreaded very fast over the whole world. In China this speech was seen very negative and the relationship between China and the Soviet Union became worse. In 1957 there was a revolt against Khrushchov, but it was finished very fast. Malenkov also participated in this revolt and he was excluded from the party.
Poland and Hungary
Like the labour strikes in East Germany in 1953 on the 28th of june 1956 labour strikes began in Poland. First they were aonly economical, but later also political. The Polish government also used tanks and many workers died. In Poland Wladyslaw Gomulka was in power. Gomulka was a communist, but after the Second World War he wanted an own communist direction for Poland. Of course Stalin did not want to accept it and in 1951 he let arrest him. In 1954 he was released and he was head of government in Poland. In october 1956 Khrushchov flew to Warsaw (capital of Poland), because the Soviet Union was of the opinion that Gomulka will try to make a Poland which is independent of the Soviet Union. Khrushchov even threatened Poland with a military action. The Soviet troops in Poland were on standby. Gomulka said Khrushchov that the people in Poland would oppose the Soviet troops and in fact some people demonstrated. The conflict was solved while Khrushchov accepted Gomulka as the first secretary of the party (head of government) and Gomulka insured Khrushchov that Poland will accept the Soviet leadership. And this situation remained for the next years. On the 23rd of october 1956, when the situation in Poland calmed down, student rebellions began in Hungary's capital Budapest. Workers joined them and together they demonstrated for more liberality and against the Soviet Union. The Hungarian government asked the Soviet Union to intervene and finish these rebellions. Soviet troops marched in Budapest. The previous Hungarian government was replaced by the politicians Imre Nagy and János Kádár. Nagy became prime minister and Kádár became secretary-general of the Hungarian socialist labour party. They were on the side of the demonstrators. Nagy insured the Soviet Union that Hungary is not going to be independent from the Soviet Union and on the 28th of october 1956 the Soviet troops retreated from Budapest. Nagy wanted to make liberalisations in Hungary like free elections and he wanted the Soviet troops to leave Hungary. On the 1st of november 1956 Nagy declared that Hungary is leaving the Warsaw Pact and he declared Hungary as a neutral state. This showed that Nagy wanted to make Hungary completely independent from the Soviet Union. This was to much for the Soviet Union. On the 4th of november 1956 Khrushchov let occupy Budapest with Soviet tanks. Also on the 4th of november 1956 Kádár dissociated from Nagy and he made an opposite government in agreement with the Soviet Union. The Hungarians defended themselves against the Soviet tanks and thousands of Hungarians died. Hungary hoped that the West will help them, but the West did not want to interfere in the Soviet influence zone, because of the risk of a war. After a few days the Hungarian rebellion was finished. Many rebels got detentions and also many were executed. Nagy was accused that he is a traitor, he was arrested, condemned and executed on the 16th of june 1958. Under Kádár's leadership there were some reforms, but not fundamental changes. So Kádár's government followed the direction of the Soviet Union.
The arms race and the race in the space
On the 29th of august 1949 the Soviet Union successfully tested its first atomic bomb in Semipalatinsk in the steppe in the Northeast of Kazakhstan. The physicist Igor Vasilyevich Kurchatov was the leader of the development of the Soviet atomic bomb. Beria, who was responsible for the Soviet atomic bomb project, was always sceptical if and how fast the development goes forward. A few days later US airplanes registered very high radiation in the Pacific Ocean. The USA were shocked, because they thought that the Soviet Union will finish its first atomic bomb in the 50's. Stalin has spended very much finances to develop very fast an atomic bomb. Beria used prisoners to mine uranium. Information from spies in the West also accelerated the construction of the Soviet atomic bomb. The USA thought about the development of a hydrogen bomb. Compared to the explosion strength of an atomic bomb of 20 kilotons (20000 tons) a hydrogen bomb reaches an explosion strength of 20 megatons (20 million tons). So a hydrogen bomb is 1000 times stronger than an atomic bomb. Many scientists, even Oppenheimer who had developed the first American atomic bomb, were against the development of such a strong weapon. The atomic physicist Edward Teller was of the opinion that the development of a hydrogen bomb is absolutely necessary as a protection against the Soviet Union. In january 1950 Truman decided to build a hydrogen bomb. The hydrogen bomb was also developed in Los Alamos under the leadership of Edward Teller. On the 1st of november 1952 the USA tested the first hydrogen bomb in the world on the Marshall Islands in the Pacific Ocean. The lead of the USA was not long, because on the 12th of august 1953 the Soviet Union tested a hydrogen bomb in Semipalatinsk. It was very important to develop small hydrogen bombs that could fit in a bomber which can drop them in the case fo emergency. So the arms race continued with the development of new atomic weapons and thousands of atomic weapons were produced. In the USA the air force was extended to drop many atomic bombs and hydrogen bombs in the case of emergency. Intercontinental missiles should became an important way of transporting atomic weapons, because they can fly a few thousands kilometers. Some intercontinental missiles in the 70's could fly over 15000 km. After the Second World War the USA took some German scientists with them who built the V1 and V2 missiles for Hitler. One of them was Wernher von Braun the head of the German rocket technology. The Soviet Union was very far with its rocket technology and on the 15th of may 1957 it tested the SS-6 in Kazakhstan the first intercontinental missile in the world. Eisenhower increased the US defense budget. On the 11th of june 1957 the first American intercontinental missile "Atlas" was tested. Intercontinental missiles could also be used to bring satellites into space. On the 5th of october 1957 the Soviet Union started the "Sputnik 1" with the SS-6 rocket in Baikonur in Kazakhstan. It was the first satellite worldwide which flew into space. The race in the space began. The USA were shocked that the Soviet Union is further in the space than the USA. On the 3rd of november 1957 the Soviet Union started the next satellite "Sputnik 2". This time a living being was on board, it was the dog Laika which died in space. The first American attempt to start a satellite called "Vanguard" on the 6th of december 1957 failed, because the rocket exploded during the start. The first successful start of an American satellite called "Explorer 1" was on the 31st of january 1958 in Cape Canaveral in Florida. In october 1958 the NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) was founded. The USA were shocked when the Soviet Union sent Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin on the 12th of april 1961 into space with the capsule Vostok 1. He was the first man in space. On the 5th of may 1961 the USA sent Alan Bartlett Shepard into space with the Mercury project of the NASA. The new US president John Fitzgerald Kennedy wanted absolute that the USA send a manned mission to the moon before the Soviet Union. On the 16th of july 1969 the "Apollo 11" mission was started. The crew consisted of Neil Alden Armstrong, Edwin Eugene Aldrin and Michael Collins. On the 21st of july 1969 the capsule landed on the moon. Armstrong and Aldrin were the first men who stepped on the moon and Collins had to stay in the moon orbit.
The Berlin Wall
In 1958 Khrushchov wanted an agreement with the Western Allies concerning Berlin. He demanded the Western Allies to leave Berlin. The West did not think to give up Berlin. In the 50's the economy in West Germany has completely recovered from the Second World War and the population lived in prosperity. The economy in East Germany was quite weak. The West German federal chancellor Konrad Adenauer wanted a reunification of West Germany and East Germany. Khrushchov was afraid of this idea. Khrushchov did not want a military strong Germany like in the Second World War and he did want that whole Germany becomes capitalistic. Another problem for East Germany and the Soviet Union was that hundreadthousands of people fled from East Germany. It was possible, because people could move between the four occupation zones in Berlin freely, thus also between East Berlin and West Berlin. Many East German came from East Berlin to West Berlin and from West Berlin they could travel to West Germany. It had economical consequences, because more and more workers were missing. In september 1959 Khrushchov follow Eisenhower's invitation and he visited the USA. Here both head of states talked about Berlin and they tried to find a peaceful solution. Berlin was always a delicate topic, because the USA did not want to give up West Berlin, but they also did not want to risk a nuclear war with the Soviet Union because of Berlin. On a meeting in Paris in 1960 the Berlin question should be discussed. On the 1st of may 1960 the American pilot Francis Gary Powers was shot down during an espionage fly with a U-2 reconnaissance plane over the Soviet Union. Eisenhower did not want to apologize for this espionage action and so Khrushchov did not come to the meeting in Paris. The relationship between the USA and the Soviet Union became worse. In 1960 John Fitzgerald Kennedy was elected to the new US president. In june 1961 there was a meeting between Kennedy and Khrushchov in Vienna. Khrushchov demand again that the Western Allies should leave Berlin, but of course Kennedy did not accept it. A nuclear war seemed to be not out of the question. The relationship between the USA and the Soviet Union stayed bad. On the 15th of june 1961 Walter Ulbricht said that it is not planned to build a wall in Berlin. In july 1961 Kennedy offcially said that he wishes a peaceful solution with the Soviet Union, but that he will also increase the defense budget. Khrushchov find this speech very aggressive. Khrushchov did not want to risk an atomic war because of Berlin and so he decided to build a wall in Berlin to stop refugee wave from East Germany. On the 13th of august 1961 East Germany began to lay out a barbed wire around West Berlin. The Western Allies were not prepared for this. As long as the Soviet Union do not march in West Berlin and West Berlin stays attainable the USA did not want take action. In the last moment people from East Berlin tried to flee to West Berlin. A few days later the Berlin Wall was built. Many families were separated. The population of West Berlin appealed to the Western Allies to do something against the division of Berlin. In october 1961 there was a dangerous incident when East German border posts did not want let pass an employee of the US government to East Berlin, because he did not want to show his diplomat passport. In the next days US employees were always accompanied by US soliders which should force passing the border and this was very provoking. Beyond that on the 25th of october 1961 General Clay let post ten M48 "Patton" tanks on the famous border crossing "Checkpoint Charlie" in the middle of Berlin. On the 27th of october 1961 ten Soviet T-54 tanks were posted on the other side of the
"Checkpoint Charlie". This situation was very dangerous, but Kennedy and Khrushchov communicated and after 16 hours both sides retreated their tanks. On the 26th of june 1963 Kennedy made a speech in front of the Schoeneberger Rathaus, the city hall of West Berlin. He said that the West Berlin citizens can be proud that they do not give up West Berlin. He finished his speech with the sentence "Ich bin ein Berliner." (I am a Berlin citizen.). There were always people who tried to flee over the Berlin Wall and they were often shot by East German border patrols.
The Cuban Missile Crisis
Since 1952 Fulgencio Batista was president of Cuba. He made a regime and abolished all democratic institutions. On the 26th of july 1953 a young lawyer named Fidel Castro put up resistance to the Batista regime and he was arrested and released in 1955. Then he went to Mexico and here he met Ernesto Guevara (often called "Che"). In december 1956 he returned with 80 Cubans to Cuba to overthrow Batista. In fights with Batista's troops many of these Cubans died, but Castro and Guevara survived and they reatreated into the Sierra Maestra mountain. They were supported by the Cuban population and in january 1959 they could overthrow Batista. Castro seized the power in Cuba and he made Cuba a communist country. Castro nationalized the agriculture and the industry and also some US companies lost their possession. The consequence was that the political relationship between the USA and Cuba became very bad and the USA imposed a commercial embargo on Cuba. Cuba and the Soviet Union politically moved closer together and the Soviet Union supplied Cuba with the products which the USA did not deliver anymore. Since 1960 with Eisenhower's agreement the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) trained Cubans to make an invasion on Cuba and to overthrow Castro. In 1961 Kennedy continued this plan. The USA wanted to keep it secret and not to intervene in a military way. On the 17th of april 1961 1500 Cubans landed in the Bay of Pigs on Cuba. The USA expected that the Cuban population will help in this invasion, but the Cuban population did not help. The Cuban army came with tanks and after three days the invasion failed. The USA did not want to intervene offcially military and so they did not send airplanes to support the Cubans. Over 1000 Cubans survived and all of them were arrested. In 1962 the USA prepared a new invasion of Cuba which should be much bigger. In 1962 Khrushchov planned to deploy atomic missiles on Cuba to set the USA under pressure. Castro agreed and in july 1962 the Soviet Union began to build rocket launching ramps and to ship atomic missiles. Thousands of Soviet soldiers with tanks were stationed on Cuba. On an espionage fly on the 14th of october 1962 an American U-2 took pictures of launching ramps and missiles on Cuba. In the next 2 weeks Kennedy and his advisers discussed what to do. Some suggested to bomb the launching ramps and other were for a diplomatic solution. In the end they agreed on a sea-blockade of Cuba. On the 22nd of october 1962 Kennedy made a television speech where he informed the American nation about the danger on Cuba. On the 24th of october 1962 the sea-blockade of Cuba began with American ships. During the Cuban Missile Crisis there were several meetings between Robert Kennedy (brother of John F. Kennedy) and the Soviet ambassador Dobrynin in the USA. For Khrushchov the sea-blockade was an aggressive act and the danger for an atomic war increased. Despite the sea-blockade the Soviet Union did remove the atomic missiles and so the USA prepared an invasion of Cuba. On the 26th of october 1962 the USA got a message from Moscow. In this message the Soviet Union said that they will remove the atomic missiles from Cuba when the USA insure not to make any further invasions on Cuba. On the 27th of october 1962 the USA got a new message from Moscow with a second condition. The second condition was that the USA must remove the American atomic missiles from Turkey. On the same day the Soviets shot down an American U-2 reconnaissance plane over Cuba during an espionage fly. The US military wanted to take revenge for the shot U-2, but this could end in a nuclear war so Kennedy did not permit it. Kennedy sent Khrushchov a message that the USA would not make any further invasions on Cuba and that they will finish the sea-blockade. Kennedy also agreed to remove the American atomic missiles from Turkey, but this should be kept secret. On the 28th of october 1962 Khrushchov agreed and the Soviet atomic missiles were removed and shipped to the Soviet Union. In 1963 the American atomic missiles were removed from Turkey.
The Vietnam War
After the Second World War the Japanese had to leave Indochina (Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam). Before the Second World War Indochina was a French colony and now France wanted Indochina back. On the 2nd of september 1945 Ho Chi Minh, who was communist since years, has founded the Democratic Republic Vietnam und he became its first president. During the Second World War Ho Chi Minh has founded the Vietminh and after the Second World War he wanted independence for Vietnam. France did not want to accept it and so in 1946 the Indochina War began between France and Vietnam. China supported Vietnam with weapons and ammunition. France was better equipped than the Vietminh, but the Vietminh was more successful in the Indochina War. On the 7th of may 1954 France was finally defeated near Dien Bien Phu in North Vietnam. According to the Geneva Conference from 1955 France retreated from Indochina and Vietnam was divided through the 17th Northern parallel into North Vietnam (captial Hanoi) and South Vietnam (capital Saigon). Only North Vietnam stayed communist. In South Vietnam Ngo Dinh Diem became president and he was supported by the USA, because he was against communism. But he also made a regime. In 1956 there should be elections in both Vietnamese countries and Vietnam should be reunited. Ngo Dinh Diem did not agree to the elections, because he did not want to give the communists a possibility to take the power. A reunification of Vietnam became improbably and in 1960 in South Vietnam a communist organisation called Vietcong was formed and this organisation wanted to overthrow Ngo Dinh Diem. Through the Ho Chi Minh Trail, which led through Laos and Cambodia, North Vietnam supported the Vietcong in South Vietnam. In 1961 the USA sent US soldiers to South Vietnam to fight against the Vietcong. They wanted absolutely to hold South Vietnam, because they feared that otherwise communism could spread over whole Southeast Asia. More and more people in South Vietnam were against the regime of Ngo Dinh Diem and on the 1st of november 1963 he was overthrown and shot in a military putsch. On the 22nd of november 1963 there was an assassination attempt on the US president John F. Kennedy in Dallas (Texas) in which he was killed. Probably it was a conspiracy which was not solved until today. Automatically the US vice-president Lyndon Baines Johnson became US president. The situation in South Vietnam was very unstable and the governments often changed. The USA were afraid that they can lose South Vietnam. At the beginning of august 1964 it came to an incident in the Gulf of Tonking. In this incident US destroyers were attacked by North Vietnamese torpedo boats. In return the USA bombed North Vietnam for the first time. On the 7th of august 1964 the US Congress agreed to a resolution whcih gave the US president Johnson many authorities in Vietnam. From this moment one can say that the Vietnam War began. Johnson won the US presidential elections in 1964 and in october 1964 Khrushchov was overthrown. Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev seized the power in the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union and China wanted to support North Vietnam military, but not together, because the relationship between the Soviet Union and China was still bad. Ten thousands of US soldiers were sent to Vietnam. The USA wanted to start peace negotiations with North Vietnam, but North Vietnam did not want and so the USA continued the bombardments. The USA also threw off napalm over North Vietnam and it set everything immediately in fire. The USA also used herbicides, for example "Agent Orange". They should destroy the tropical rain forest in South Vietnam where the Vietcong hided. This herbicides also contained dioxin and later many people from South Vietnam and US soldiers became and many children were born with deformations. On the 8th of march 1965 the first US ground troops landed in South Vietnam. In june 1965 General Nguyen Van Thieu became head of state of South Vietnam. The USA did not want to give up South Vietnam and North Vietnam did not want negotiate and so the war went on. Because of hundread of thousands US soldiers South Vietnam was modernized from the USA and American consumer goods were now available here. Beside all the Vietnamese who have lost everything through the war there were some who became rich through black market trade and drug trade. Many US soldiers in Vietnam used drugs. In the next years many attempts for peace negotiations failed. In 1968 there were over half a million US soldiers in Vietnam, the financial US expenses for the Vietnam War were several billion US Dollars per year and nevertheless through all the US bombardments the Vietcong did became weaker. In the population there were more and more protests against the Vietnam War and in 1970 during protests at the Kent State University in Ohio four students were shot by the National Guard. There were also increasingly more US politicians which were against the Vietnam War. In january 1968 the Vietcong did the Tet Offensive. It was one of the largest offensives in the Vietnam War and in this offensive the Vietcong attacked many towns in South Vietnam and for a short time the Vietcong could even occupy the US embassy in Saigon. In may 1968 peace negotiations were started in Paris. Johnson did not see a solution for the Vietnam War and so he did not stand as a candidate for the US presidential elections. Richard Milhous Nixon won the US presidential elections in 1968. Robert Francis Kennedy, the brother of John F. Kennedy, also wanted to stand as a candidate, but on the 6th of june 1968 he was killed in an assassination attempt in Los Angeles (California). The backgrounds of this assassination attempt are not clarified until today. Since 1969 Nixon prepared the retreat of US troops from Vietnam and South Vietnam should take over the war. On the 3rd of september 1969 Ho Chi Minh died. In 1970 the USA attacked Cambodia and in 1971 Laos to destroy the supplying lines (for example the Ho Chi Minh Trail) between North and South Vietnam. The relationship between China and the Soviet Union was very bad and the USA tried to establish diplomatical relations to China. In february 1972 Nixon traveled to China as the first US president. The US security advisor and later US foreign minister Henry Kissinger and the North Vietnamese Le Duc Tho negotiated together since 1970. On the 8th of october 1972 both met in Paris and this was a step for a peace treaty. On the 27th of january 1973 a peace treaty was signed and in the next two months all US soldiers left Vietnam. But the civil war between North and South Vietnam continued. In 1975 North Vietnam did a large offensive against South Vietnam and without the US support South Vietnam could not repel it. On the 21st of april 1975 Nguyen Van Thieu resigned his function and he fled. On the 30th of april 1975 North Vietnam occupied Saigon. The US embassy in Saigon was evacuated with helicopters and some South Vietnamese could also flee in this last moment with these helicopters. On the 2nd of july 1976 a united and communist Vietnam was founded and it was the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. Saigon was renamed into Ho Chi Minh City. Vietnam was completely destroyed, about three million Vietnamese and over 50000 US soliders died in the Vietnam War. The spreading of communism in Southeast Asia was limited to Cambodia and Laos.
The danger of an atomic war
The biggest threat during the Cold War was a nuclear war. There were many wars in history, but a nuclear war could destroy whole mankind. Beside the enormous destruction strength which cannot be compared with any conventional weapon another problem is the radiation from the radioactive wastes and it can last decades until bib parts of these wastes decay. These regions are uninhabitable. The USA and the Soviet Union had thousands of atomic warheads in 60's and it was enough to make the whole world uninhabitable. The reason why it did not come to an atomic war was that there was always an atomic balance between the superpowers USA and Soviet Union. To maintain this balance both sides had spend much finances, because when one side produced more atomic weapons or developed new technologies then the other side had to do the same. Within minutes intercontinental missiles from the USA could reach the Soviet Union and vice versa. Both superpowers installed early warning systems. There were always a few hundread intercontinental missiles with atomic warheads in underground missile silos which were ready to launch. Also submarines could carry some intercontinental missiles and launch them. In the USA certain military persons could command to launch atomic weapons when the president was out of reach or when he could not decide it himself. This was very dangerous, because there were always US generals which were of the opinion that it is the right way to use atomic weapons. Some US American built bunkers in there homes to protect themselves from the radiation of radioactive wastes. Another danger for nuclear explosions were accidents and mistakes. From time to time it happened that bombers with hydrogen bombs crashed and only because of the safety devices of the bombs it did not end with a nuclear explosion. But in some cases radioactive material was scattered. During some airplane crashs some atomic weapons were lost and not found. But there were also many mistakes and it happened a few times that through wrong data one side thought that the other side has already launched atomic missiles. Those mistakes could very easy cause an atomic war. Since 1952 also Great Britain has got own atomic weapons and since 1960 also France. Since the 50's there were protests against atomic weapons. The British philosopher and mathematician Bertrand Russell also participated in these protests. On the 30th of october 1961 on the island Novaya Zemlya in the Artic Ocean the Soviet Union fired the strongest atomic weapons which was ever tested. It was a hydrogen bomb with an explosive energy of 50 megatons. In 1963 the USA, Great Britain and the Soviet Union signed an agreement to stop atomic weapon tests in the atmosphere, under water and in space, but not underground. This was a first step to stop the arms race and the high financial expenses. On the 16th of october 1964 China has tested its first atomic bomb and on the 17th of june 1967 its first hydrogen bomb. This increased the danger of a nuclear war. In the 60's the USA and the Soviet Union developed defense missiles against intercontinental missiles. With these defense missiles intercontinental missiles could be destroy in the air. On the 1st of july 1968 the USA, Great Britain and the Soviet Union signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. According to this treaty countries possessing atomic weapons should not help other countries to build atomic weapons and they also should limit their own atomic weapons. Since 1969 there were some meetings between the USA and the Soviet Union where they discussed the restrictions of arms. On the 26th of may 1972 in Moscow Nixon and Brezhnev signed a treaty where the arms limitations were regulated and this treaty was called SALT I
(Strategic Arms Limitation Talks).
Social and economic aspects and changes
The Cold War was also a time of social changes. An important thing was the Hippie movement. This movement is typical for the 60's. Despite the prosperity in the USA a counter movement of the youth was formed against consumption and materialism. The Hippie movement was also against social obligations and limits. They especially condemned the Vietnam War and made protests with the slogan "Make love, not war". The Hippies are also known as "Flower Power" and this should stand for peace and love. Usually Hippies lived in group houses, they wore other clothes and they took drugs. The society diéspised them. The center of the Hippies war San Francisco in California. Music also changed in this time with singers like Elvis Presley and music groups The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and many other. Parallel to the Hippies and also resulting from the Hippie Movement there were also other movements for example student movements in 1968. These student movements were in several countries like the USA, France and Germany. All these protests sometimes led to violent arguments with the police. In West Berlin during demonstrations on the 2nd of june 1967 a student named Benno Ohnesorg was even killed by the police. On the 11th of april 1968 in West Berlin there was an assassination attempt on the West German student leader Rudi Dutschke. He survived heavily injured, but on the 24th of december 1979 he died, because of the late sequences. All these movements had got a socialist character and the Western countries wanted to stop it. In the 60's in the USA there was also a civil right movement of the Afroamericans. Especially in the Southern States of the USA racism was very common. In the 60's there was still racial segregation in the USA. Afroamericans were not allowed to go to the same schools, restaurants and so on like white Americans. The Afroamerican Martin Luther King made speeches and led demonstrations against the racial segregation. President Johnson supported the rights of the Afroamericans. There were often violent arguments between Afroamericans, white Americans and the police. On the 4th of april 1968 there was an assassination attempt on Martin Luther King, in Memphis (Tennessee), where he was killed. In the 60's young people in the Soviet Union began to hear Western music and to wear Western clothes, but the Soviet Union tried to suppress these Western trends. In the Soviet Union and in the other communist countries there was not unemployment like in Western countries. Everybody could get a job. Often more jobs were created than were necessary and the result was a low productivity. National attempts to increase the productivity failed, because there was not any motivation. In the shops the product range was very limited and many products were often missing. Freedom of speech and strikes were forbidden in the communist countries. In the 50's Khrushchov wanted to increase the wheat procution. In the steppe in Kazakhstan enormous cultivated areas for wheat were made, hundredthousands ofpeople were sent there and very much money was invested in this project. After a few years the harvests became more and more worse and so the Soviet Union had to buy wheat from the USA. In the USA and in the Soviet Union much money was invested in defense and weapons. Many US companies profited from the defense contracts and it also set the economy in the USA in motion so that general prosperity prevailed. In the Soviet Union the economy was weak anyway and the defense contracts weakend the economy even more instead of setting it in motion.
The Chinese Cultural Revolution and the Prague Spring
In 1958 Mao Tse-tung made new policy called the "Great Leap Forward". It should be a social and an economical reform. Now the society was very emphasized than before and nothing was private any longer. This reform should improve the Chinese economy. In reality this reform was a catastrophe where millions of Chinese died. In 1960 many parts of this policy were taken back. In 1965 Mao Tse-tung made a movement against the people who were against the "Great Leap Forward". He was also of the opinion that the Soviet Union becomes more and more western and he saw the same danger for China and so he wanted to renew communism in China. Simultaneous he wanted to stabilize his power. With this movement he could mobilize the youth and students and they became powerful and they had the task to uncover counterrevolutionaries. Through this movement many important party members lost their power, for example Deng Xiaoping. This movement is known as the Cultural Revolution. The consequence was an anarchy which could be only stopped with the help of the military. At the end of the 60's the situation stabilized. Mao Tse-tung died on the 9th of september 1976 and then the Cultural Revolution finally ended. Since 1957 Antonin Novotny was the president of Czechoslovakia. He was convinced of Stalin and he did allow any liberalisations. At the end of the 60's the economical situation in Czechoslovakia was very bad. Novotny made some reforms, but it was to slow and it did not help. In january 1968 the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia dismissed him. Alexander Dubcek became the first secretary of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia (head of government). He made liberalisations and reforms. Simultaneous he insured that he will furthermore accept the Soviet leadership. But the Soviet Union became more and more sceptical concerning Dubcek's policy. The head of governments of the other Easteuropean countries were also of the opinion that Dubcek's policy endangers the unity of the Eastern Bloc. Brezhnev demanded Dubcek to limit his reforms and take back some reforms. Dubcek refused to do so and on the 21st of august 1968 Soviet troops marched in Czechoslovakia. Some people in Czechoslovakia offered active resistance, but against the Soviet tanks they had not got any chance. Some people died. Dubcek and other liberal politicians were arrested. In 1969 Gustáv Husák became Dubcek's successor and he haunted a hard line. Dubcek and other liberal politicians were dismissed from the Communist Party. These liberalisations and reforms from Dubcek which were finished through the Soviet troops on the 21st of august 1968 are called Prague Spring.
The Middle East and Chile
Since the First World War Palestine was under the mandate of Great Britain and in 1948 this mandate should end. The UN (United Nation) decided to divide Palestine and one part should be Jewish and the other part should be Arab. On the 14th of may 1948 the State of Israel was founded. Especially after the horror of the Second World War the Jews should get a own country. One day after the foundation of Israel the neighbour states declared Israel war. This was the Israeli war of independence and this war lasted until july 1949. Israel has won this war and the area of Israel became bigger. Since 1954 General Gamal Abdel Nasser was the Egyptian president. In 1956 he nationalized the Suez Canal. Great Britain and France did not like it, because they had shares at the Suez Canal. Since years it was forbidden for Israel to use the Suez Canal. Great Britain, France and Israel started an offensive and in 1956 they occupied the Sinai Peninsula and the Suez Canal. The USA and the Soviet Union demanded Great Britain, France and Israel to retreat from this region. They retreated and they were replaced by UN troops. Since 1960 Nasser built the Aswan Dam in the Nile. The USA did not agree with Nasser's policy and so they did not support him financial to build the Aswan Dam. The Soviet Union supported him financial to build the Aswan Dam. The situation between Israel and the Arab countries was bad. In 1967 Egypt closed the Straits of Tiran for Israeli ships and so Isreal had not got access to the Red Sea any longer. On the 5th of june 1967 Isreal attacked the Arab neighbour states and the Six-Day War began. The Israeli Air Force destroyed the Egyptian airplanes on the ground. In six days Isreal occupied the whole Sinai Peninsula, the West Bank and the Golan Heights. Some Arab countries were supported from the Soviet Union with weapons and Isreal from the USA. Since 1970 Anwar Al-Sadat was the Egyptian president. Egypt and Syria wanted to reconquer the lost regions from the Six-Day War. On the 6th of october 1973 Egypt and Syria attacked Israel in a surprise attack. This day was the Jewish public holiday Yom Kippur and so this war is called Yom Kippur War. On this holiday many Israeli soliders were off duty and so Israel's defense was weakened. All Israeli soldiers were called back and a few days later Israel could beat off Egypt and Syria. On the 22nd of october 1973 an armistice came into force with the help of the UN. After the Yom Kippur War an oil crisis began. Until march 1974 the Arab countries did not export oil any longer to countries which helpd Israel. The consequence was an energy crisis in some industrial countries. After the oil crisis oil was much more expensive than before. The USA did like it that Cuba was communist since the revolution of Fidel Castro, because geographical Cuba is were close to the USA. The USA also did not like it when in the 60's there was the possibility that Chile could became communist. The USA influenced the presidential elections in Chile in 1964. The christian democrats won these elections. In 1970 there were again presidential elections in Chile and this time the socialist Unidad Popular won the elections and Salvador Allende became president. The USA were shocked about the result of these elections and they saw it as the spreading of communism on the whole world. Since years the USA were afraid of the spreading of communism on the world. Allende dispossessed the great land owners and he gave the land to many farmers. He also nationalized banks and copper mines. The Chilean copper mines had been always important and the USA had many shares of these copper mines. The USA did not give credits to Chile any longer. Allence also promoted social institutions, but without financial help the Chilean economy became worse. Since 1972 there were strikes and riots. The USA planned to make a military putsch in Chile. On the 11th of september 1973 there was a military putsch against Allende and his government. This military putsch was led by General Augusto Pinochet Ugarte. Until today it is not clear if Salvador Allende was killed in this military putsch or if he committed suicide. The CIA was involved that the Chilean military could do this putsch. Pinochet made a military dictatorship and immediately he acted against political opponents. Many people were arrested and killed.
Policy of Détente
Since 1970 there were first approaches between West and East Germany. The Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) officially recognized the German Democratic Republic (East Germany). Willy Brandt was the first German chancellor who visited East Germany. In 1970 Brandt signed a treaty with the Soviet Union and a treaty with Poland. In both treaties the borders inside Europe and their inviolability were recognized. It was seen very positive that in 1970 Brandt kneeled down in front of the memorial for the victims of national socialism during his visit in the Warsaw Ghetto. Walter Ulbricht, who still in power in East Germany, was against the Policy of Détente, because he still followed Stalin's policy. So the Soviet Union forced him to resign his office and Erich Honecker became his successor. Beside the SALT I treaty concerning arms limitations which Nixon and Brezhnev have signed on the 26th of may 1972 in Moscow, they also agreed to prevent military arguments with all their might. This larger and larger approach led to a Policy of Détente. On the 17th of may 1972 5 men were arrested who broke into the Watergate Building (headquarter of the democratic party in Washington D. C.). In this moment they installed bugging devices. It came to the Watergate Affair. In 1973 a senate committee was formed to investigate the Watergate Affair. The senate committee found out that there were many bug actions and many politicians and consultants from Nixon environment resigned their office or they were dismissed. In 1974 it was proved that Nixon was also involved in the Watergate Affair. On the 9th of august 1974 Nixon resigned his office. The US vice president Gerald Rudolph Ford automatically became the new US president. He continued Nixon's Policy of Détente and he tried to get a new treaty about arms limitations with the Soviet Union. On the 3rd of july 1973 the "Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe" met in Helsinki (capital of Finland). Except Albania all European countries participated in this conference and also the USA, Canada and the Soviet Union came to this conference. On the 1st of august 1975 these countries signed the Helsinki Final Act. This treaty contained the inviolability of the borders in Europe, cooperation on many fields (for example science and economy) and the observance of human rights as well as liberty of opinion.
Angola and Ethiopia
After the dictatorship in Portugal was terminated in 1974 by a coup d'etat also the last Portuguese colonies became independent. Angola became independent on the 11th of november 1975. Already before the independence there were three political groups in Angola who fought for the independence of Angola. The MPLA was a communist group and the FNLA and the UNITA were against communism. According to an agreement between these groups there should be elections in Angola. Despite this agreement a civil war between these groups began in 1975. The USA supported the FNLA with weapons and the Soviet Union supported the MPLA with weapons. Cuba also supported the MPLA with weapons and Cuban guerrillas fought in Angola for the MPLA. Later the USA also supported the UNITA. South Africa supported the UNITA with weapons and later also with troops. In 1975 the Cuban troops defeated the South African troops and so the FNLA and the UNITA had lost. On the 11th of november 1975 the MPLA founded the People's Republic of Angola and of course this country was communist. The US Senate did not agree further financial support for Angola. South Africa also retreated. The war in Angola continued, but the FNLA and the UNITA could not overthrow the government of the MPLA. Since 1974 there were student strikes in Ethiopia. The military joined these strikes. In 1975 the monarchy in Ethiopia was abolished and Major Mengistu Haile Mariam seized the power. He founded the Socialist People's Republic of Ethiopia. In 1977 Somalia invaded Ethiopia and occupied the region Ogaden. The Soviet Union and Cuba supported Ethiopia and with this support Somalia was driven out of Ogaden. This intervention of the Soviet Union led to a deterioration of the relationship between the USA and the Soviet Union.
Deterioration of the American-Soviet relationship
In the US presidential elections in 1976 Jimmy Carter got more votes than Gerald Ford and so he became the new US president. According to the Helsinki Final Act of 1975 also in the Eastern Bloc the human rights had to be guaranteed, but in reality they were not guaranteed. Under Carter the USA encouraged people in the Eastern Bloc to show violations of human rights and to oppose them. In the Soviet Union and in the Easteuropean countries there were people who protested against violations of human rights, but many of them were locked in prisons and labour camps. In 1977 the Soviet Union replaced their old SS-4 and SS-5 medium-range missiles in Eastern Europe through new SS-20 medium-range missiles. The SS-20 medium-range missiles had got a range of 5000 km and so they could not reach the USA from Eastern Europe. The USA also invested much money into the armament and new weapon technologies and simultaneous there were talks between the USA and the Soviet Union about SALT II (further arms limitations). As a reaction to the Soviet SS-20 missiles some countries in Western Europe in 1979 agreed that on their ground American Pershing II medium-range missiles can be deployed. The result of this decision were protests in Western Europe and the Soviet Union itself felt threatened. The human right problems in the Eastern Bloc, the modernizing and deploying of medium-range missiles in Europe and also the intervention of the Soviet Union and Cuba in Ethiopia led to a deterioration of the relationship between the USA and the Soviet Union. Deng Xiaoping, who was deprived of his power during the Cultural Revolution in China, came again to power after the death of Mao Tse-tung on the 9th of september 1976. Because of the bad American-Soviet relationship there was a political approach between the USA and China. In opposite to Mao Tse-tung Deng Xiaoping wanted to modernize China and he also wanted to make economy reforms. In Iran since 1941 Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi was in power and he did modernizations. The USA supported this political direction and Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi. For the USA it was important that Iran stays Pro-Western, but another important thing for the USA was oil. There were many resistance movements against the Shah and finally he made a dictatorship. Since 1978 the resistance became stronger and stronger and in 1979 the Shah had to flee from Iran. Ayatollah Khomeini came to power and he founded the Islamic Republic of Iran. All Western influences and modernizations of the Shah were abolished. The result of these unrests in Iran was a rise of the petroleum price and so in 1979 and in 1980 there was a new oil crisis. On the 18th of june 1979 Carter and Brezhnev signed the SALT II (Strategic Arms Limitation Talks) treaty about arms limitations in Vienna. However SALT II was not ratified by the US Senate. Except SALT II there were not any other successes in this meeting in Vienna and the relationship between the USA and the Soviet Union did not improve. On the 4th of november 1979 Iranian students occupied the US embassy in Teheran (capital of Iran). The reason for this taking of hostages was that Iran demanded the USA to extradite Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi who was in the USA for a medical treatement. The Shah died on the 27th of july 1980 in Cairo. The hostages were released in january 1981.
The Soviet war in Afghanistan
Since the end of the 70's Afghanistan also became a crisis region. In 1973 Mohammed Daoud Khan has overthrown King Zahir (his cousin) and he seized the power in Afghanistan. He was pro-Western and he stopped all contacts to the Soviet Union. In 1978 he was killed by the communist party in Afghanistan and Nur Muhammad Taraki seized the power. He made some reforms. Women now should get the possibility to learn how to read and write. This new communist government was fought by the Mujahideen (islamic resistance fighters). In the USA there were considerations to support the Mujahideen, because the USA were afraid of the spreading of communism. At the beginning of 1979 Taraki asked the Soviet Union for military support, but the Soviet Union only delivered weapons. In september 1979 Taraki was overthrown by Hafizullah Amin and killed. Amin tried to improve the relationship to the West. The Soviet Union feared that Amin is going to turn completely away from the Soviet Union. In december 1979 the Soviet Union decided to send troops to Afghanistan. At the end of december 1979 the Soviet Union marched in Afghanistan and killed Amin on the 27th of december 1979. The Soviet Union made Babrak Karmal the new president. The USA criticized the Soviet invasion in Afghanistan and they began to supply the Afghan resistance fighters with weapons. The Soviet invasion in Afghanistan deteriorated the American-Soviet relationship much. The weapon supplies ran over Pakistan. To be allowed to supply weapons over Pakistan to Afghanistan the USA also supported Pakistan financially. The war between the Soviet Union and the Mujahideen lasted many years. Leonid Brezhnev died on the 10th of november 1982 and Yuri Andropov became his successor. Andropov wanted to accomplish a retreat of the Soviet troops under certain conditions. But the USA and the Soviet Union could not achieve an agreement. The Stinger missiles which the USA devilered made the situation for the Soviet Union in Afghanistan very difficult. With these Stinger missiles the Afghan resistance fighters could shoot down Soviet airplanes. The Soviet mass media was not permitted to show negative photos from the war in Afghanistan in the Soviet Union. Gorbachev's reforms in the middle of the 80's made it possible to report more freely about the war in Afghanistan. In 1986 Mohammad Najibullah became the president of Afghanistan and he wanted to negotiate with the resistance fighters, but it was not successful. In 1988/89, under Gorbachev, the Soviet troops retreated and the Soviet involvement in Afghanistan ended.
A setback for the Policy of Détente
In 1980 in Poland many prices were increased and this caused many strikes. For the future the strike in the Lenin Shipyard in Gdansk should be very important. In september 1980 from this strike the trade union Solidarnosc (solidarity) followed, under the leadership of Lech Walesa. This economical strike developed more and more to a political strike and finally the government made the workers some concessions. The USA were very satisfied with this development in Poland and the Soviet Union saw it as a big threat. Soon Solidarnosc had got 10 million members and Solidarnosc was more and more against the communist party in Poland. In 1981 the Polish minister of defence General Wojciech Jaruzelski became prime minister. On the 13th of december 1981 he declared martial law in Poland and the reason he gave was that he wanted to prevent an invasion of the Soviet Union. Solidarnosc was forbidden, the communication (for example telephone) was stopped, there was a prohibition of public assemblies and the military was everywhere. The leaders of Solidarnosc were arrested. But in the underground Solidarnosc continued their work. In 1980 Ronald Reagan became US president. Already at present of Jimmy Carter the Soviet war in Afghanistan was an enormous setback for the Policy of Détente. Reagan also thought that the Policy of Détente is over and he increased the US defense expenses. Since the end of the 70's there was more and more resistance against the dictator Anastasio Somoza Debayle in Nicaragua. The USA supported Somoza since years, because they did not want Nicaragua to become communist. Several groups developed with own conceptions and they wanted to overthrow Somoza. In 1979 the Sandinistas seized the power and Somoza fled from Nicaragua. In 1980 he was killed in Paraguay. The Sandinistas were supported by Cuba and they established communism in Nicaragua. Since 1981 there was a resistance movement against this new government of the Sandinistas. This resistance movement of the Contras was supported by the USA. The combats between the government and the Contras lasted for many years. Brezhnev's successor Yuri Andropov proposed new arms limitations, but the USA were not interested. Reagan was of the opinion that the economy of the Soviet Union is so weak that the Soviet Union cannot rearm. Reagan's idea was to build a defence system in space which can destroy atomic missiles during their flight. The USA did want to make compromises and beside the Soviet war in Afghanistan this problem led to a bad relationship between the USA and the Soviet Union. Reagan intended to support all anti-communist movements in the world also in countries which belonged to the Soviet sphere of influence. This led again to the fear of an atomic world war. On the 31st of august 1983 there was a tragic occurrence which also deteriorated the American-Soviet relationship. On this day a civil Boeing 747 (Jumbo Jet) of the Korean Airlines (with over 200 passengers on board) was shot down by a Soviet Sukhoi-15 interceptor over the island Sakhalin. The crew and all passengers died. The Boeing 747 was on its way from New York to Seoul. Why the Boeing 747 got of the course is not clarified until today. Also in 1983, as agreed before, American medium-range missiles were deployed in Western Europe. The consequence was an abort of the American-Soviet disarmament negotiations. In 1984 it came to an improvement of the American-Soviet relationship. After a long illness Andropov died on the 9th of february 1984. Konstantin Ustinovich Chernenko became his successor, but on the 10th of march 1985 he also died.
Changes in the Soviet Union: Glasnost and Perestroika
Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev became Chernenko's successor. He was much younger than the previous heads of government in the Soviet Union and he wanted to make reforms. This reforms were called Glasnost (openness) and Perestorika (restructuring). In the following years the Soviet Union became more and more liberal and there was also freedom of the press. This was the first step to the end of the Cold War. Gorbachev took younger people for his government which were more active and with their help he wanted to make his reforms. The most famous were Boris Yeltsin and Eduard Shevardnadze. The Soviet people was inspired of these reforms. Gorbachev wanted to absolutely stop the arms race and not only because of the nuclear danger, but also because the Soviet Union could not afford it economically any longer. That's why on the 19th of november 1985 there was a meeting between Gorbachev and Reagan in Geneva. On this meeting the reduction of several atomic weapons was discussed. In october 1986 there was again a meeting between Gorbachev and Reagan in Reykjavik. An agreement could not be obtained here yet, but the discussions were an important step toward disarmament. On the 12th of june 1987 Reagan made a speech in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin and in this speech he asked Gorbachev to pull down the Berlin Wall. Another important step towards disarmament was the signing of the INF treaty (Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces) by Gorbachev and Reagan in december 1987. This treaty planned that all American and Soviet medium-range missiles which were deployed in Europe should be removed and scrapped. In june 1988 Reagan visited Moscow. This meeting also contributed to a strengthening of the good American-Soviet relationship. In 1988 George Bush was elected to the US president. On the 7th of december 1988 Gorbachev made a speech in the UN and in this speech he said that the Easteuropean countries should go their own ways and that they should not be dependent of the Soviet Union any longer. Beyond that he wanted to reduce the Soviet troops and to remove them from Eastern Europe. Inspired by this speech in 1989 it came to demonstrations in some Soviet republics for example in Georgia. These Soviet republics wanted to become independent, but Gorbachev did want the Soviet Union to decay. Thanks to these changes the trade union Solidarnosc in Poland could become politically active. There were discussions with Jaruzelski and it was agreed that in june 1989 there will be elections in Poland. Solidarnosc has won these elections in june 1989. During 1989 Hungary more and more turned away from communism. Gorbachev also wanted to improve the relationship with China which was very bad since years. On the 15th of may 1989 Gorbachev visited Beijing. On this meeting with Deng Xiaoping they discussed above all the reduction of the border troops of both countries, because the Soviet-Chinese border was guarded very strong on both sides. Since april 1989 students demonstrated for democracy in some Chinese towns including Beijing. During Gorbachev's visit in Beijing in may 1989 the students continued their demonstrations and they also wanted a reformer like Gorbachev. At the beginning of june 1989 these demonstrations on the Tiananmen Square in Beijing were bloodily put down. Tanks were also used and many students were killed. Later many followers of the democracy movement in China were arrested.
The Fall of the Berlin Wall
On the 24th of august 1989 in Poland Tadeusz Mazowiecki was elected to the prime minister. He belonged to Solidarnosc and so he was the first non-communist primie minister in Poland since the Second World War. The communist party in Poland did not oppose these elections and this showed that the changes were real. In september 1989 the American foreign minister James Baker and the Soviet foreign minister Eduard Shevardnadze met in the USA. They discussed about disarmament and this meeting also contributed to a better relationship of both countries. At the beginning of october 1989 Gorbachev traveled to East Berlin to the 40th annual party of the existence of the DDR (East Germany). In the DDR there was furthermore a dictatorship under the leadership of Erich Honecker. When Gorbachev saw the protests in the DDR he advised Honecker to change his policy, but Honecker did not change it. Except the demonstrations on the streets it came to conflicts inside the socialist party of the DDR. On the 18th of october 1989 Honecker hat to resign. Egon Krenz became his successor. The demonstrations of the people in the DDR continued and on the 4th of november 1989 there was a very large demonstration in East Berlin. On the 9th of november 1989 the government of the DDR declared that every DDR citizen is allowed to drive to West Germany. And so the Berlin Wall fell at the night from the 9th of november 1989 to the 10th of november 1989. At this night there was a solemn greeting between thousands of East and West Berlin citizens. But Gorbachev was against a fast reunification of East and West Germany. After the fall of the Berlin Wall it also came to demonstrations in Czechoslovakia. Here the communist government also could not resist and it had to agree to free elections. At the end of 1989 Václav Havel was elected to the president of Czechoslovakia and Alexander Dubcek, who was deprived of his power during the Prague Spring in 1968, was elected to the president of the Czechoslovakian parliament. On the 2nd of december 1989 there was a meeting between Bush and Gorbachev on a ship near Malta. This meeting contributed to a further strengthening of the American-Soviet relationship. The disarmament should be continued and also economical changes in the Soviet Union were discussed. In december 1989 it also came to demonstrations in Romania. The Romanian dicatator Nicolae Ceausescu let shoot at the demonstrators. Ceausescu was deprived of his power and he tried to flee. But he and his wife Elena were arrested, condemned to death and on the 25th of december 1989 they were executed. In 1989 there were also changes in Bulgaria and in 1990 Bulgaria also turned away from communism. Within such a short time all Easteuropean countries abolished communism and so the Eastern Bloc had decayed.
The end of the Cold War
Some Soviet republics also wanted to become independent now, but Gorbachev did want the Soviet Union to decay. Especially the three Baltic Soviet republics Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania wanted to become independent, because they were annexed by Stalin in 1944. On the 11th of march 1990 Lithuania declared itself officially for independent. On the 14th of march 1990 Gorbachev was elected to the president of the Soviet Union. This office was created short before. On the
29th of may 1990 Yeltsin was elected to the president of the parliament of the Soviet republic Russia. In the following months there were negotiations about a reunification of Germany. The four occupation powers Great Britain, France, the USA, the Soviet Union and also West and East Germany were involved in these negotiations. These countries negotiated the conditions for a German reunification and as a conclusion they signed the "Treaty on the Final Settlement With Respect to Germany" in Moscow on the 12th of september 1990. And so Germany became absolutely independent. On the
3rd of october 1990 there was the reunification of West and East Germany. The Soviet Union also changed and first steps were made to turn into free-market economy. During the year 1990 more and more Soviet republics declared their independence. As a result Gorbachev presented several suggestions to hold the Soviet Union together. At the beginning of january 1991 there were some bloodly incidents in Lithuania and Latvia. These republics wanted to be independent and therefore Soviet troops occupied important buildings in Vilnius (capital of Lithuania) and in Riga (capital of Latvia). Several people died and therefore this action was criticized by other countries. And so Gorbachev stopped this bloody procedure. Gorbachev came into a more and more difficult situation, because the hardliners in policy were against him and his reforms and the demonstrations for independence in the Soviet republics were also against him. In Russia people also demonstrated against communism and for Yeltsin. On the 12th of june 1991 there were free elections and Yeltsin was elected to the Russian president. On the 18th of august 1991 there was a putsch against Gorbachev. Conservative politicians from Gorbachev's government made this putsch. When this putsch began Gorbachev made vacation on the Crimea Peninsula. The people who did this putsch kept him there as a prisoner for a few days. At this time Yeltsin was in Moscow and he opposed this putsch attempt. The rebels did not find any support in the population and so this putsch attempt ended on the 21st of august 1991. Yeltsin, who has opposed this putsch, now seized the power in Russia and Gorbachev was deprived of his power. After that further Soviet republics declared themselves independent. On the 8th of december 1991 Russia, Ukraine and Belarus decided to dissolve the Soviet Union. On the 25th of december 1991 the Soviet Union was officially dissolved and 15 independent countries originated from the Soviet Union: Russia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan.
Author and Webmaster: Lukas Czarnecki
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Last Update: 23.11.2005