When Did The Cold War Begin Essay

When Did The Cold War Begin? Essay, Research Paper


would define the Cold War, as a war without battles. ?Although all the other components of war i.e. armies, weapons,

propaganda, events etc and two opposing ?sides (the West vs the East) were there, there were no

battlefields.? No Generals led their

armies to war and no direct conflict ever took place.? However it is difficult to identify a starting point because

there was no single action that could be pinpointed as the event that started

the Cold War. ?The conflicting

ideologies between the sides went back as far as 1917 when Russia had its revolution

and because one side was communist and the other believed in democracy,

arguments between the leaders could be traced back to that time and possibly, in

some cases, even before that.? Russia?s

claim to some land areas and desire to expand her borders went back to the days

of the Tsars. ?Due to the Second World

War both sides had built up substantial arms and had big armies equipped and

ready for action. ?In spite of the fact

that the Allies had Russia fighting with them during the Second World War this

was only after Hitler invaded Russia in 1941 ? until then they had fighting

together and Stalin needed rather than wanted Allied help.? Their alliance was based on a mutual desire

to beat Hitler rather than being a ?friendly? one. ??????????? The Yalta and Potsdam conferences

partly fit this definition as a starting point because the Allied leaders and

Stalin met and had conferences where there were some disagreements and some

differences became clear. ?However I do

not believe Yalta could be seen to be the start of the Cold War because they

met to ally themselves and defeat Hitler. ?Promises made to Stalin for pro-Russian governments to be set up

in some countries after the war were made to ensure Russia remained on their

side and were not meant to be seen as an excuse to take over Poland etc and

make them communist. Their primary concern was the defeat of Hitler and most

features of the Cold War were not evident at this time. ?On the other hand big differences in policy became

very much apparent at Potsdam. ?In

particular the agreement at Yalta that Stalin could set up pro-Soviet

governments in Eastern Europe after the war became a major source of concern to

President Truman who did not trust Stalin to keep to the original wording of

the agreement.? He was also unhappy

about future Russian intentions and worried that Russia would not withdraw from

countries they occupied as promised. ?Stalin in his turn did not trust the West who had kept the atomic

bomb a secret from him and he wanted huge compensation from Germany to help

rebuild Russia. ?Truman did not want to

repeat the mistakes made at the end of World War One and resisted.? He was fearful that crippling the German

economy as Stalin wanted would lead to German Nationalism and the rise of the

Fascists once more. ?However, some

features were missing at this stage. For example, the propaganda, which played

such a huge part in the Cold War, was virtually non-existent in mid 1945. ?Stalin was still ?Uncle Joe? to millions and

the truth about Stalin?s communism and its effect on the Russian people was

still not fully known. ?The backing of

other countries armies in wars such as in Korea, was also not a part of the

superpower?s foreign policy at Potsdam and the working through other groups of

countries against the opponent only came fully into being later.? ??????????? Other

events also fit the definition to some extent. ?For example the Truman doctrine was an open statement by America

that they would help countries threatened by Communism to stay democratic. ?In addition his Marshall Aid plan which put

$17 billion in a ?pot? to help Europe rebuild her economy was rejected by

Stalin who believed it to be anti ? Communist and that it might weaken his hold

on Eastern Europe.? Truman?s policies

were openly opposed to Russia and communism. ?Open ideological battles became very apparent after Potsdam and

the Berlin blockade only served to heighten the tension between the East and

West. ?Stalin was forced to back down

when he realised that without open war he could not win.? It was obvious to him that the West would

not give up the part of Berlin that they controlled.? The fact that they put all their efforts into relieving the

people living there with food and supplies being dropped every three minutes

showed him that even though he had blockaded Berlin they were unwilling to let

him just walk in and take over the whole city. ?This was a major victory for the West and meant that until the end

of the Cold War Russia only ever had part of Berlin and the West had a ?foothold?

in Russian controlled territory. ?The

formation of NATO in 1949 as a Western alliance and the Warsaw Pact of 1955

were also very important events in the Cold War.? The major countries in Europe who had not been neutral during the

war were effectively divided into two camps.?

The NATO countries being backed by the USA on the one side and the

Warsaw Pact by Russia.? The two ?Super

Powers? had divided Europe by the end of the 1950s and this would, in time,

spread to virtually the rest of the world. ? ??????????? However, all of the elements seem to be in place by the time of Korea in

1950 (with the exception of the Warsaw Pact). ?By then Germany had divided in two and the democratic Republic of

Germany had been created in September 1949. ?The previous month Russia had exploded their first Atomic bomb

giving them an equal threat to the West. ?Neither side wanted or could risk a nuclear war. ?The division of Europe by the so-called ?Iron

Curtain? was well established and the Communists had a firm hold on power in

the Eastern countries.? Propaganda

campaigns were under way with each side trying to undermine the other. ?The policy of placing spies in embassies in

each other?s countries took on greater importance as each side tried to find

out the capabilities of the other and whether there was a risk of all out

conflict.? Each side was suspicious of

the other and knowing that they both held nuclear weapons made them fearful of

a war.? ??????????? Therefore

I conclude that the Cold War was definitely under way by the end of the Potsdam

Conference. ?However, it is much harder

to say exactly when it began because no shots were fired, no battles and no

single event that could be pinpointed as the absolute beginning. The Truman

doctrine specifically wanted to contain the spread of Communism and could be

taken as an openly hostile act by Russia. ?The first overtly

threatening action was the blockade of Berlin but there were already growing

tensions before. The formation of NATO to safeguard Western Europe was too late

to be the beginning of the Cold War but it was a significant act.? From a historian?s point of view it may be

simper to take Potsdam as the start because it was there that Truman and Stalin

became suspicious of one another and their motives and each realised that

Europe would, in all probability, end up divided. ?With Stalin controlling Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Romania, Hungary,

Poland and East Germany while the rest, excluding Albania which was Communist

but not directly under Russian control, remained as democracies.


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