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Thomas Marshall
Note by Thomas Marshall, updated more than 1 year ago
Thomas Marshall
Created by Thomas Marshall almost 5 years ago


AS - Level History Note on Essay Help-I will upload my essays as I do them and then the grades I get on them, created by Thomas Marshall on 10/26/2016.

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Assess the view that Khrushchev gambled with world peace during the 'Year of Crisis'. 1956 has been considered as a year of crisis, as there were several incidents that occurred that some would argue threatened world peace. These events, such as the uprising in Hungary, the Suez crisis and the Poznan riots were all potential triggers for confrontation or retaliation between the two superpowers. Khrushchev’s response to each of these events, it is argued did not threaten world peace overall, however, it must be suggested that had the USA not reacted in its own way, this may have not been so successful in preventing conflict. Khrushchev did not gamble with world peace in the Year of Crisis because of previous events that had occurred in East Germany. In 1953, the East German workforce staged an uprising against higher production targets with no compensation. This caused a large-scale uprising that was crushed by the use of Soviet force. Due to the recent events such as the Berlin Blockade and the creation of West and East Germany, there was existing hostility between the Superpowers over the territory of Germany. Furthermore, with the USA following a clear policy of containment within the Truman doctrine, would have been understandable if they had supported the East German workers. However, apart from condemnation over the use of force, there was no interference. This shows tacit acceptance of the Soviet Sphere of Influence in Eastern Germany. Germany was considerably more important than Poland, Hungary or the Suez in Egypt to the USA. This illustrates that by not intervening with Germany they would not interfere in any of the uprisings. This would, therefore, show that Khrushchev was not gambling but taking a calculated risk so that the idea of peaceful coexistence would exist whilst still remaining in control of the satellite states. One of the most important events that happened in the year of crisis was the Hungarian uprising, that followed on from the announcement of destalinisation in Khrushchev’s secret speech in February 1956. After several months of increasing political turmoil resulting in several changes in government, Hungary experienced more freedom. However, when Hungary decided it wanted to exit the Warsaw Pact, this was a freedom too far for the Soviet Union. Khrushchev, when he decided to sent the tanks into Hungary, did not gamble with world peace. This is because just three months before the uprising in Hungary, the British and the French had invaded the Suez Canal in the interest of their economies. This meant that this invasion of another sovereign state and use of force could be seen by the USSR as a sign that this sort of behaviour was acceptable. Of course, the USA was outraged by Britain and France’s decision to invade, as they were uninformed. This meant that the USA now lost all moral high ground on the issues over the use of force because Britain its ally had used force to protect its own interest. As one historian says, the Suez crisis could for the USSR ‘deflect world attention from their own brutality in crushing the simultaneous Hungarian uprising’1. This was a very bad thing for America because it was now associated with this aggressive action in Egypt and therefore to take any kind of military action to defend democracy in Hungary would be indefensible. It was therefore, left with the only avenue of expressing its outrage in words not actions. Therefore, it is argued that Khrushchev was not gambling with world peace. Rather he was taking a calculated risk that he could be confident that the USA would not interfere and cause a threat to World Peace. On the other hand, however, Khrushchev did take risks with world peace. The secret speech that he made in February 1956 was, by the view of one historian, ‘an extraordinarily dangerous and daring thing for Khrushchev to do‘2. Khrushchev distanced himself from many of the actions that Stalin had taken, especially the purges and show trials of the 1930s. He spoke about the fact that many people had been imprisoned wrongly and that the Soviet Union was there to work on everyone’s behalf. This was a revelation to those listening as it appeared to be a signal of a break with the past and a thawing of the oppressive nature of Stalinism. It was unclear what this ‘destalisnation’ meant in reality, and this was one of the gambles that it could be argued, Khrushchev took, as his speech was open to interpretation. This was because they couldn’t predict what would happen. Many loyal Stalinists were strongly opposed to the idea. Therefore, many of the Communists left the meeting in disgust of what Khrushchev had done. It alienated a great many people and was a gamble with not only stability in the USSR but the whole Eastern Bloc if they decided to interpret the speech as an indication of gaining some form of independence. However although a risk it was unlikely the USA would do anything at all regarding this speech, as it was clearly directed at the members of the congress and was considered an internal Soviet matter. The USA, cautiously welcomed the apparent thaw, in the speech in terms of moving away from Stalinism, but like everyone else that heard the speech, it was unclear what this would actually mean in practice. Therefore, it is suggested that although it was a risk it was relatively low in the scheme of world peace although civil unrest within the USSR and the eastern bloc was entirely possible. Overall, it is argued that that Khrushchev did not gamble with world peace but took calculated risks ensuring his control of the Eastern Bloc whilst also gaining new allies in the Middle East. However, he did take risks with his secret speech because it was so vague as to be widely interpreted. These risks, though substantial, were unlikely to threaten world peace as the USA saw the speech as an internal affair. However, in Hungary, where there appeared to be the greatest chance of conflict between the Superpowers, it did not happen because the USA, did not involve themselves as a result of the threats to their economic interests in the Middle East as result of the Suez crisis.

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