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Introduction of the Cold War:
This video gives you an overview of how the Cold War started. Watch to learn how two superpowers rose to put the world on tension with continual speculation of war that led to an arms race.
The end of World War II saw two opposing super powers emerging in the form of the United States of America and the Soviet Union. The United States was capitalist- a system where almost everything is privately owned and run for profit. The Soviet Union was communist- a system where everyone owns the means to create a common wealth all based around a central ideology.
After dealing with Nazi Germany, these two super powers sought to spread their influence to the rest of the world and thus, a cold war began. It was not a direct war but rather a series of proxy wars, decades of intimidation, propaganda and espionage.
Germany was occupied after the war. The Soviets controlled the area around Berlin, but not the city itself. The Soviet Union and the Western allies felt threatened by each other and feared that another war would soon begin. However, as Prime Minister Winston Churchill declared that an iron curtain had descended upon Europe, Soviet leader, Joseph Stalin didn?t like the idea of West German regaining any form of power. Therefore in 1948, the Soviets blockaded the western section of Berlin to force the western allies to give them control of the whole city. This did not work as the allies airlifted the supplies in.
In 1949, NATO was formed to strengthen the western allies. Germany became divided into East and West as was Berlin itself. Stalin wanted control of the country?s own Russia?s boarder for security reasons. Because of this, the Soviet Union claimed the states it had invaded during the war and established Communist regimes with in them. He set up secret police with in these regimes to crush opposition swiftly. Yugoslavia had been expelled by the Soviets in 1948, but remained its own communist state. Propaganda was spread by East and West to subvert their enemies. The world had been divided into East and West. United States President, Harry Truman sought to contain the spread of communism by forming regimes under threat over communist force. He also set up various bodies and organizations to defend United States interests.
A new communist power rose in the East in the form of People?s Republic of China in 1949. The old Republic of China retreated to Taiwan and remains there to date. Korea had been divided in half after World War II and both sides claimed to govern the whole country.
To help further spread communism, China and the Soviet Union aided the Northern government to invade the South. Loads of United Nations countries came in to defend the South, with the United States providing the vast majority of troops. The Korean War was fought to a stalemate. The arms rest was agreed upon only after the death of Joseph Stalin. Korea remains in a state of cease fire to date.
1953 saw Nikita Khrushchev come to power in the Soviet Union. He OPENLY criticized the rule of Stalin and sought to move on to bigger and better things. In response to NATO, he created WARSAW Pact, an alliance of the Eastern bloc countries in 1955.
The United States and the Soviet Union continued to spread their influence to the Middle East, Latin America, South Eastern Asian and Africa. Cuba eventually became a communist state and the battle of the Bay of Pigs saw an escalation in tensions between the Soviet Union and the United States. When these tensions subsided, a direct hotline was set up between the White house and the Kremlin. The Vietnam war- also based on ideology, left the United States humiliated after a bitter defeat.
Eventually the United States came up on top when President George Bush declared the end of the Cold War in 1993. This was mainly as a result of the communist states coming to a realization that capitalist states were doing better economically.