The Cold War was the development of the
tense relationship between the three main
powers (USA, Britain and the USSR) after
World War Two.
The Cold War was never fought directly through
military action; it was fought by the USA and USSR
threatening each other with power and nuclear
The Cold War started after World War
Two in 1945 and lasted until 1991 when
the Soviet Union was dissolved.
Why did the Cold War start
after 1945 and not before?
Before 1945, the three main powers were
focused on fighting World War Two.
After the war had been won, the powers focused on enforcing their
social, political and economic model everywhere; this brought to
attention the fact that the powers had different ideologies.
The USA used a Capitalist model whereas the USSR
was Communist; it was impossible for both models
to be imposed without difficulties so it had to be one
or the other.
The USA was run democratically with two
parties however the USSR was a one-party
The USA and USSR had different plans for Germany after the war; the USA wanted
Germany to recover quickly so it could become a useful trading partner whereas the
USSR wanted to weaken Germany further so it could enforce Communism on the
country with little difficulty as Germany was previously Capitalist.
The final stages of World War Two
of Italy leading to
16/12/1944: Battle of Bulge
of Iwo Jima
28/04/1945: Death of
30/04/1945: Death of
08/05/1945: VE Day
Bombing of Nagasaki
The Yalta Conference
The Yalta Conference was held during
February 1945 with Stalin, Roosevelt and
Despite ideological differences, the big
three (Stalin, Churchill and Roosevelt)
managed to agree on splitting Germany
into four zones of occupation and allow
free elections in Eastern European
Russia was invited to
join the newly formed
Russia promised to help
America fight the war against
Japan after Germany was
The Potsdam Conference was held
during July 1945 with Stalin, Truman
At this point, Germany had been defeated, Roosevelt had
passed away and been succeeded by Truman and Churchill
lost his position as Prime Minister after the 1945 general
election. The only remaining power from the original Big
Three was Stalin.
This gave Stalin added influence because he knew what had been
agreed from the start whereas Truman and Attlee were new to their
position so didn't have a great understanding of what had previously
Truman disagreed massively with the agreements made on
reparations; in addition, he opposed the spread of Communist
power and Stalinisation in Eastern Europe.
Truman kept the fact that America was in
possession of an atomic bomb secret.
When Truman dropped the atomic bomb on Japan, Stalin
was furious that he hadn't been told since America and
Russia had agreed to fight Japan together during Yalta.
Stalinisation of Eastern
After the end of WW2, countries that had
previously been occupied by Germany and
it's allies were liberated by the three main
Stalin wanted to regain
Communist power over
Russia launched an offensive on Romania; in response, the Romanian King
removed the Pro-Nazi dictator (Marshal Antonescu) from power with the hope
that this would please the Western allies so they would be able to negotiate a
ceasefire and form a government where the Communists would be a minority.
This failed so the king was forced to sign an armistice between Romania and
Russia who had achieved control over the country already.
Stalin had the opportunity to occupy Bulgaria in 1944 however Bulgaria was
technically at war with Britain and America but not with Russia. Local Communists controlled several
armed partisans and was able to set up a Patriotic Front that managed to seize power and establish a
government in Sofia before the Red Army arrived. They then tried to enforce a Communist revolution in
Bulgaria and purged the former ruling class (over 10,000 people were executed. Stalin didn't want to lose
his alliance with Britain and the USA so he tried to persuade the Bulgarian Communists to pursue a less
radical policy. However this failed as the local Communists were determined to gain complete power no
Soviet troops joined partisans in Yugoslavia under
the leadership of Joseph Tito and launched an
attack of Belgrade on the 14th of October. Tito's
position was strengthened further when the
British linked up with him rather than the
non-Communist leader, Colonel Mihailovic. Tito
was loyal to Stalin however he still wanted to
remain independent so he continued to enforce
Communist regimes on Yugoslavia and Albania
(liberated by his own forces); Stalin later dissolved
Tito's plans in order to keep his Western allies.
The People's Liberation Army (ELAS) in Greece had proven itself to be the most
effective resistance force during the war. Although Stalin viewed Greece as being
under the influence of Britain, he still urged ELAS to join him and form a coalition
government. The British responded by ordering ELAS to disband its partisans which
led to a revolt breaking out in Athens on the 3rd of December 1944, encouraged by
Tito. Stalin stopped Tito from helping the Greek Communists and allowed British
troops to shut down the revolt so he could keep his Alliance with Britain.