Why did the USA-USSR alliance begin to break down in 1945?
As the war came to an end, the long standing differences between the West and the USSR, emerged.
|Differences||In the West||In the USSR|
The societies of the USSR and the West were organised on very different principles
|The West: Capitalism and democracy
||The USSR: Communism and dictatorship
This had built up since 1918
|Western mistrust of the USSR
||Soviet mistrust of the West
|Conflicting aims in Central and Eastern Europe, 1945.
During the fighting the USSR had suffered by far the greatest loss of lives and property. It was determined to protect itself in the future.
These differences could be seen in the increase in tensions between the Yalta Conference, February 1945, and the Potsdam Conference, July 1945.
|Yalta was held with German still undefeated.
Present were Stalin (USSR), Roosevelt (USA), Churchill (Britain)
|There was much AGREEMENT:
|There was little disagreement over the borders of Poland|
|Potsdam was held after the defeat of Germany
Present were Stalin (USSR), Truman (USA), Churchill then Atlee (Britain)
|There was DISAGREEMENT:
Over what to do with Germany. Truman did not want to repeat the mistakes of the Treaty of Versailles and cripple Germany too harshly.
Over reparations. Stalin want more compensation from Germany than Truman.
Over suspicions of Soviet policy in Eastern Europe. Stalin had imprisoned non-Communist leaders in Poland and set up a Communist government.
Truman did not tell Stalin than he intended to drop an atomic bomb on Japan
The end of the war meant that cooperation to defeat a common enemy was replaced by tension between the West and the USSR.
|Points of tension|
|The atomic bomb||
|Germany||Disputes arose over
|The ‘Iron Curtain’ speech, March 1946||Churchill described the frontier of Soviet occupied Europe as an ‘iron curtain’.
How had the USSR gained control of Eastern Europe by 1948?
At the end of WWII Eastern Europe fell under the domination of the USSR – Poland, East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria – how?
- The Red Army drives German forces west and occupies Eastern Europe. By May 1945 Soviet troops controlled all states but Yugoslavia, Albania, and Greece.
Communist Parties in these countries welcome the Red Army and receive its support. Pro-German groups were executed or debarred from power. Despite being a minority, Communists exercise strong influence.
- Coalition governments are set up. They include Communists and non-Communists. Since Eastern Europe was mainly agricultural with land worked by peasants, most non-Communists came from the popular political parties representing peasants and small farmers.
- Backed by Moscow and the Red Army, the Communists gradually force non-Communists out of power. Methods include intimidation, vote rigging, show trials, imprisonment, and executions. By 1949 all countries behind the Iron Curtain are one-party Communist states taking orders from the USSR.
Why did this happen?
How did the USA react to Soviet expansionism?
The Truman Doctrine – March 1947
What did it say? – that the USA should support free peoples who were resisting attempts to overwhelm them by armed minorities or by outside forces.
Why did Truman make this policy?
- In February 1947 Britain said it could no longer afford to support Greece and Turkey. Both appealed to the USA for money.
a) In Greece, although rejected in elections, Greek Communists were fighting a guerrilla war against the Royalist government. Britain was supporting the Royalists with money and 40,000 troops
b) Stalin demanded a naval base in the Turkish Straits, and the return of land seized by Turkey in 1918. Soviet troops threatened the border. Britain was supporting Turkey with money.
- Truman decided the USA should help. He believed
a) if one country fell to Comunism, those nearby would be at risk. This became known as Domino Theory.
b) the USA should adopt a policy of containment. This meant supporting nations in danger of Communist take-over with economic and military aid.
What were the consequences?
- Greece defeated the Communists and Turkey successfully resisted Soviet pressure.
- The rivalry between the USA and the USSR increased.
The Marshall Plan, June 1947
What was it?
A programme of aid to help war-torn Europe to re-equip its factories and revive agriculture and trade.
- The USA offered money, equipment and goods to states willing to work together to create economic recovery.
- In return, they would agree to buy American goods and allow American companies to invest capital in their industries
- Marshall invited European states to meet together and decide how to use American aid
What did the USA aim to achieve?
A strong and prosperous Europe to bring:
- economic benefits to both the Europeans and the USA through the revival of trade
- political benefits. The Americans believed that unless living conditions in Western Europe improved quickly, people might vote for Communist Parties. Prosperous countries would resist the spread of Communism.
What were the consequences?
- Sixteen Western European states set up the Organisation for European Economic Cooperation (OEEC) to put the Plan into action
- By 1953, the USA had provided 17 billion dollars to help them rebuild their economies.
- Europe became firmly divided between East and West.
- Stalin accused the USA of using the Plan to dominate Europe and create a strong West German state hostile to the USSR.
The Berlin Blockade, 1948-9
In 1945 all the Allies agreed to divide Germany, and Berlin into four zones. Germany was to be kept as one country and for their to be free elections. However, tensions rose.
|Democracy||The USSR gave political authority in its zone to the minority Communists and blocked Western attempts to create democracy throughout Germany.|
|Reconstruction||The war left Germany devastated. While the USA and Britain wanted to help Germany recover its prosperity as quickly as possible, the USSR wanted to keep Germany weak.|
|Reparations||In 1946 the Western Allies stopped giving the USSR reparations from their zones.|
|Berlin||1. Berlin was within the Soviet zone. Soviet troops were able to control all access. Western Allies were allowed access to their sectors by road, rail, canal and air corridors.
2. The USSR believed the Western Allies had no right to be in Berlin. It saw their presence as a threat because they had a base inside the Soviet zone, and the Capitalist way of life was on show there.
3. Western Allies wanted to be there to prevent the USSR controlling the capital, and to observe Soviet activity behind the Iron Curtain.
A series of events highlighted these tensions in 1948. The Allies:
Cooperated between their zones, included them in the OEEC and the Marshall Plan, introduced a new currency into their zones, and announced their intention to set up a democratic new state of West Germany.
These actions were viewed with suspicion by Russia, seeing a country that was a threat. They cut off all road, rail and canal links with the Western sectors of Berlin.
|Soviet aims||To force Western Allies to pull out of their sectors, and to abandon their plans for the separate development of their German zones.|
|Western Options||Abandoning Berlin would mean handing two million West Berliners over to Communist rule, losing their only base behind the Iron Curtain, and opening the way for Soviet domination of Western Germany.
Using troops to force the routes open might mean war with the USSR.
Using planes to supply West Berlin by air, which the USSR could only stop by shooting the planes down.
|The airlift||Round the clock airlift of food, fuel, medicines.
In 11 months a total of 275,000 flights delivered an average of 4000 tonnes of supplies a day.
West Berliners continued to support the Western Allies
May 1949, the USSR reopened the land routes to Berlin.
The results of the Berlin Blockade
|Two Germanys||The three Western Zones became the anti-Communist Federal Republic of Germany, and the Soviet zone became the pro-Communist German Democratic Republic.|
|NATO||In 1949 the Western Allies decided to set up the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) a defensive alliance against the USSR. (the USSR set up a counter organisation with the Communist countries of Eastern Europe called the Warsaw Pact).|
|Cold War||The crisis made it clear that Europe was now divided between the superpowers, a state of permanent hostility existed between them – a Cold War – hostility that fell short of actual fighting.|
Who was more to blame for the start of the Cold War, the USA or the USSR?
Both sides were to blame for the Cold War, because it was based on mutual mistrust of the others intentions.
Differences in their systems of government, Communism versus Capitalism.
Fear of aggression from the other side, Soviet domination of Eastern Europe versus Western support for a prosperous Germany, NATO and its atomic bomb.
Mutual hostility of leaders, mutual distrust of Truman and Churchill, and Stalin.
Tension over issues such as Eastern Europe, Greece and Turkey, the Marshall Plan, Germany and Berlin.
What was seen by one side as a justified act of self-defence, was seen as a threat by the other.