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The Cold War

The Cold War of the two postwar superpowers was not an

episode like other wars of modern times.
The new post-war system that emerged in 1945 was now,
for the first time in modern history, dominated by two extraEuropean powers.
The term cold war was invented to describe a state of
affairs. The principal ingredient in this state of affairs was
the mutual hostility and fears of the protagonists.
These emotions were rooted in their several historical and
political differences and were powerfully stimulated by
myths which at times turned hostility into hatred.

Why did the Cold War happen?

The most convincing answer must eschew any mono-causal
determinant. Instead, three structural reasons can be
identified and one of human agency:
each superpower was, globally, the sole major threat to
the other;
they were deadly ideological rivals;
their political differences, especially with respect to
EastCentral Europe, which is where the Cold War
began, were non-negotiable.
As for human agency, the Soviet Union was led by one
of the most paranoid men in history, Joseph Stalin

The WWII Impact

The world from which the Cold War was born was one in
which there were high expectations of social reform and
international cooperation.
Leaders in the allied states doubted whether such goals could
be easily fulfilled, partly because of the enormous difficulties
of economic reconstruction and the failure of a peaceful world
order in 1919.
The lessons of the past and the needs of the present were seen
differently in the Soviet Union, Western Europe and the US.
In part, these differences can be explained by short-term selfinterest, particularly in those countries which had suffered
most from the war.
In terms of insecurity and potential threats, it is necessary to
consider the contrasting impact of the war on the allies.

The WWII Impact

Soviet Union suffered enormous economic losses. Its
industries were moved eastwards and its population was
reduced by up to 29 million in a war of extermination on the
Eastern European front.
Britain was weakened economically, although it had neither
the huge armed forces nor the massive problems of
reconstruction which characterized the Soviet Union.
Only the US could wield formidable military and economic
strength and this has to be considered in any objective
assessment of tensions stemming from supposed concerns
about power and threats to security.

The WWII Impact

Rather than so-called national security problems, the initial
source of disagreement and tension in 1945 was the failure
to reconcile the maintenance of expanding vital interests
with the preservation of the vital interests of others.
Tensions also stemmed from the failure to implement the
new principles of international political and economic
cooperation which were expounded most forcefully in the
The Cold War may, therefore, have been born out of the
failure by both sides to reconcile old practices with new

The WWII Impact

The West needed to proclaim the end of power politics, but
if such policies were still pursued, such hypocrisy had to be
concealed from domestic opinion for political reasons.
One way to do this was to attack Soviet power political
ambitions in Europe while pretending that Britain and the
US had no such goals in the Middle East or the Pacific.
An imperialist deal with the Soviet Union, based on vital
interests, would have been acceptable on a global basis to
Stalin, but it would not have been acceptable in the West.

The WWII impact

1. Resolved the German problem, defined as the difficulty of
balancing German power, but at the price of creating a
Soviet problem.
2. By concluding with the utter defeat of Germany and Japan,
completely destroyed the balance of power in Europe and
3. Produced a physical and ideological confrontation between
two very great powers with ideologies which claimed global
4. Introduced truly global politics and war.
5. Shaped a new global geopolitics and geostrategy.

The WWII impact

6. Concluded 500 years of European domination of world
7. Promoted the United States to the rank of first-class
superpower, a rank it alone has held for a long time.
8. Produced in its aftermath a context of such political,
economic and strategic insecurity in Europe that the United
States reversed its 200-year principle of avoiding entangling
alliances, especially in peacetime.
9. Enmeshed the United States in European security affairs, a
condition that still stands, through NATO, in the twentyfirst century.

The WWII impact

10. Eventually produced a uniting Europe. The European
Union is a child of the French, Belgian and German
experiences of the war years.
11. Ended militarism in most of Europe, with the noteworthy
exception of the Balkans. Any residual attractions of war
that remained after 191418 were definitively removed by
the ghastly happenings of 193945.
12. Conclusively delegitimized fascist ideologies, though, alas,
not all fascist practices.
13. Led to the creation of the state of Israel.

The WWII impact

14. Produced another attempt, the most ambitious yet, to create
a multinational institution capable of policing international
order with justice the United Nations (UN). This was the
third great power club, following the Congress (and
Concert) System of the nineteenth century and the League
of Nations ofthe interwar years.
15. Accelerated decolonization by delegitimizing the overseas
European empires.
16. Led to the innovation of international war crimes trials.


The WWII Impact

17. Promoted the institutionalization of management tools to
discipline international financial affairs, promote freer trade
and encourage economic development and recovery. The
institutions created under US sponsorship were the
International Monetary Fund (IMF), the International Bank
for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) (popularly
known as the World Bank) and the General Agreement on
Tariffs and Trade (GATT).


The WWII Impact

18. Accelerated progress in both theoretical and experimental
nuclear physics, to the point of their weaponization in 1945.
19. In its atomic conclusion on 6 and 9 August 1945, cast doubt
upon the strategic utility of all traditional means and methods
of warfare.
20. In its nuclear legacy, changed the conduct and goals of
foreign policy, perhaps for ever.
21. Created the largest refugee flows in history, which had the
unplanned consequence of completing most of what remained
to fulfil the Wilsonian principle of 1919: the national selfdetermination of peoples.


The WWII Impact

22. Promoted rapid progress in medicine, especially in antibiotics.
23. Accelerated cultural awareness of the importance of human
rights, a development made manifest in the drafting of the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This was incorporated
into the Charter of the UN in 1948.
24. Accelerated social change everywhere, as great wars
invariably do the only exception being the cases where
authoritarian governments were able to resist the pressure for
changes that might threaten their authority.


Even before the Axis countries surrendered, the three Great

Powers the United States, the British and the Russians
got together to address the question of how to organise the
world after the war.
The Teheran Conference that ran from 28 November to 2
December 1943 was the first summit meeting between
Winston Churchill, Joseph Stalin and Franklin D. Roosevelt.
It set out the major guidelines for post-war international
Two other Allied conferences were subsequently held, one
in Yalta (from 4 to 11 February 1945) and the other in
Potsdam (from 17 July to 2 August 1945).
At the peace conferences, age-old antagonisms that had
been buried during the war resurfaced and the three Great
Powers quickly realised that the Western and Soviet spheres
were divided by increasingly divergent views.

US/USSR Relationship during WWII

Before the end of the World War II,
Stalin, Churchill and Roosevelt met at
Yalta to plan what should happen when
the war ended. They agreed on many
1. The establishment of the United Nations
2. Division of Germany into four zones
3. Free elections allowed in the states of
Eastern Europe
4. Russias promise to join the war against

Winston Churchill (England), Franklin Roosevelt

(US) and Joseph Stalin (USSR) meet in Yalta in
1945 to decide the fate of post-war Europe.

No agreement was reached on Poland.


The Yalta Conference

Roosevelt was particularly anxious to secure the cooperation of Stalin,
while Churchill was apprehensive of the Soviet power.
The three Great Powers first of all agreed on the arrangements for the
occupation of Germany: the country would be divided into four zones of
The USSR secured the extension of the eastern German border to the
Oder-Neisse line, placing nearly all of Silesia, part of Pomerania, part of
eastern Brandenburg and a small area of Saxony within Poland.
The northern part of East Prussia, around the city of Knigsberg
(renamed Kaliningrad), was incorporated into the USSR.
Stalin managed to secure use of the Curzon line as the eastern border of
Poland, thereby keeping all Ukrainian and Belorussian territories within
Moscows sphere of influence.
Declaration on the policy to be followed in the liberated regions,
envisaged free elections being held and democratic governments taking

The Yalta Conference

The United States obtained the USSRs agreement to enter
the fight against Japan
Roosevelt also saw the successful conclusion of his plan for
the formation of a United Nations Organisation, which was
to be created on 25 April 1945.
Yalta seemed to be the final attempt to reorganise the world
on a basis of cooperation and agreement.


The Potsdam Conference

The climate had changed significantly in the intervening
Germany had surrendered on 8 May 1945 and the war in
Europe had come to an end.
Japan stubbornly resisted US bomb attacks but the United
States had a final trump card: on 16 July, the first atomic
bomb test explosion took place in the desert in New
Harry Truman replaced Franklin D. Roosevelt, who had
died on 12 April 1945, and Clement Attlee took over as
head of the British delegation after Winston Churchills
defeat in the general elections of 26 July. Only Joseph
Stalin was personally present at all the Allied conferences.

The Potsdam Conference

The atmosphere was much more tense than at Yalta.
The Red Army had quickly occupied the eastern part of
Germany, part of Austria and all of Central Europe. Stalin,
aware of this territorial advantage, took the opportunity to
install Communist governments in the countries liberated by
the Soviets.
Stalin completely redrew the map of Eastern Europe.
The Potsdam Agreements also endorsed vast movements of
The three Heads of State did agree on the practical
arrangements for Germanys complete disarmament, the
abolition of the National Socialist Party, the trial of war
criminals and the amount that should be paid in reparations.



The Cold War was a confrontation between the two social

systems (and power blocs headed by the Soviet Union and
the United States) which had geopolitical, ideological, and
cultural dimensions, was global in scale, and was conducted
by all means short of a major hot war between the two main
The rather surprising absence of a major hot war during that
conflict was made possible, in part, by the lethal nature of
nuclear weapons. They made the arms race more costly, but
at the same time, because of their ultimate destructive
power, a full-scale war became too suicidal to resort to.


It could have been slightly better andmore likelymuch

It might have been less confrontational, if both sides had
been ready to negotiate and compromise.
But, it might have been more catastrophic if either
American or Soviet leaders had behaved more irresponsibly,
especially during critical Cold War crises fraught with the
real danger of a nuclear war.


Two points of view

To most Americans the USSR seemed dedicated to the conquest
of Europe and the world for itself and for communism and was
capable of achieving, or at least initiating, this destructive and
evil course by armed force abetted by subversion.
From Moscow, the western world was inspired by capitalist
values which demanded the destruction of the USSR and the
extirpation of communism by any means available, but above all
by force or the threat of irresistible force.


The end of the Second World War did not signal a return to
normality; on the contrary, it resulted in a new conflict.
The major European powers that had been at the forefront of
the international stage in the 1930s were left exhausted and
ruined by the war, setting the scene for the emergence of
two new global superpowers.
Two blocs developed around the Soviet Union and the
United States, with other countries being forced to choose
between the two camps.


The main interpretations of the Cold War origins are:

an ideological school, which sees the Cold War primarily
a clash of ideologies,
two opposite models of social development,
two giant projects of social progress;
a realpolitik school, which describes the Cold War as a
peculiarbipolarphase of great power competition,
driven mostly by conflicting geopolitical interests of the
two rivals;
a cultural determinism school, that sees the Cold War as a
chapter in the long struggle of civilizations between
Orthodox, authoritarian, collectivist Russia, and a liberal,
individualistic, Catholic/Protestant West.

Realpolitik and geopolitics were essential, especially in the

wake of the Second World War, which left only two great
powers and many power vacuums between them in
strategically important areas of Central and Eastern Europe,
the Far East, Northern Asia, and the Near and Middle East.
For American and British planners, the Soviet Union, with
its hostile ideology and huge military capability, became the
next logical candidate after Nazi Germany for the role of
Eurasian hegemonic poweran emergence of which the US
and its allies tried to prevent in two world wars.


For the Soviet Union, the American-led Western bloc aimed

at depriving it of the well-deserved fruits of great victory
and, ultimately, its destruction.
The Soviet geopolitical aims in the wake of the Second
World War included:
a buffer zone of pro-Soviet states on the western borders
(as they were in 1941),
an enfeebled Germany and Japan,
regaining Tsarist possessions in the Far East,
acquiring a controlling influence over the Black Sea
straits and strongholds in the Mediterranean via
trusteeship over former Italian colonies.
Stalin also planned to create a Soviet enclave in Northern
Iran to cover the USSRs vulnerable southern flank, where
most Soviet oil deposits were located.

Ideology made the Cold War more intense, global, and

more globalbecause both sides believed in the
universal nature of their principles and wanted to spread
them to the whole world.
more intensebecause each side believed it had a
monopoly on truth and was determined to win.
more dangerousbecause ideological hostility led to
exaggerated suspicions and fears, which in turn pushed
both sides to overkill in providing for their security.


Cold War Characteristics

Political, strategic and ideological struggle between the US
and the USSR that spread throughout the world
Struggle that contained everything short of war
Competing social and economic ideologies


Key Concepts: How did the Cold War affect the

domestic and foreign policies of the United States?
Domestic Policies:
1. McCarthyism
House Un-American
Activities Committee
3. Loyalty oaths
5. Bomb shelters

Foreign Policies:
1. Korean War
2. Arms Race
3. Truman Doctrine
4. Eisenhower Doctrine

Key Concept: What were the six major strategies ?

The six major strategies were:
Foreign aid,
Surrogate wars.

Post WWII/Cold War Goals for US

Promote open markets for US goods to prevent another
Promote democracy throughout the world, especially in
Asia and Africa
Stop the spread of communism through containment of the
Domino Effect

Post WWII/Cold War Goals for US

Promote open markets for US goods to prevent another

Promote democracy throughout the world, especially in
Asia and Africa
Stop the spread of communism through containment of
Domino Effect

Post WWII/Cold War Goals for USSR

Create greater security for itself

lost tens of millions of people in WWII and
Stalins purges
feared a strong Germany
Establish defensible borders
Encourage friendly governments on its borders
Spread communism around the world, especially
Third World countries

Winston Churchill
From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic an iron
curtain has descended across the Continent. Behind that
line lie all the capitals of the ancient states of Central and
Eastern Europe. Warsaw, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Budapest,
Belgrade, Bucharest and Sofia, all these famous cities and
the populations around them lie in what I must call the
Soviet sphere, and all are subject in one form or another, not
only to Soviet influence but to a very high and, in some
cases, increasing measure of control from Moscow.

Towards a bipolar world (19451953)


Phase I-Shaping of the confrontation, 1945-1947

The international context in which the emerging hostility was crystallizing was
clearly to America's advantage.
While the Soviet Union emerged from the war with vastly enhanced prestige,
with influential Communist parties playing key roles in such countries as
France and Italy, the Soviet position in the world was still very inferior to that
of the United States.
The Western Hemisphere was firmly in the American grip:
Africa and the Middle East were politically controlled by America's allies
(with American economic assets expanding particularly rapidly in the
Middle East)
The southern Asian arc was still part of the British Empire,
Iran already in 1946 was seeking U.S. political assistance against the Soviet
Nationalist China was striving to consolidate its authority;
Japan was subject to an exclusive U.S. occupation.

Both sides were in an ambiguous position.

Unsettled political and social conditions in the West as well
as the Soviet advantage on the ground favored the Soviet
Union in the event of hostilities in Europe.
The West, vastly overestimating Soviet strength, did not
contest Soviet primacy in Central Europe, fearing instead a
Soviet push westward.


The military picture was not as clear-cut.

Neither side could afford to maintain the enormous forces
that were at its disposal at the conclusion of the war.
American armed forces, which at their peak numbered some
12.3 million men, were rapidly demobilized because of
domestic political pressures and economic need. By 1947,
American ground forces had shrunk to only about 670,000
At their peak, Soviet armed forces numbered about 11.3
million men. Contrary to postwar myths, the Soviet Union
did not refrain from large-scale demobilization, which was
an economic necessity, given wartime devastation and
enormous manpower losses; by 1947 the Soviet Union had
only approximately 2.8 million men under arms.

For political reasons, the Soviet government chose to keep

its demobilization a secret. As a result, contemporary
Western estimates of Soviet military strength were
considerably higher than reality.
The element of uncertainty in the military relationship was
also introduced by the U.S. monopoly in atomic bombs.
In the immediate postwar era there was considerable
uncertainty both as to the actual destructiveness of the new
atomic weapons and the American capacity to deliver these
weapons on Soviet targets.


Phase II-Soviet Probes, 1948-1952

The cold war now became primarily an American-Soviet affair.
By 1947 the United States had assumed responsibility for British
undertakings in Greece and Turkey and, more generally, taken the lead
in fashioning the strategy of the West.
American goals were succinctly expressed in the concept of
US President Harry S. Truman broke with the policy of his predecessor
Franklin D. Roosevelt and redefined the countrys foreign policy
guidelines. On 12 March 1947, in a speech to the US Congress, the
President presented his doctrine of containment, which aimed to provide
financial and military aid to the countries threatened by Soviet


Applying the doctrine of containment, the Americans

encouraged Turkey to resist Soviet claims to rights over
naval bases in the Bosphorus.
They also secured the withdrawal of Russian troops from
Since March 1947, efforts to crack down on Soviet
espionage had been coordinated and the United States set up
its Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
These changes to external policy marked a real turnaround
in the history of the United States, which had previously
remained on the sidelines of European disputes. For the US,
isolationism was no longer an option.


Essentially, the strategy rested on two premises: Soviet

expansion must be halted, by both military and political
means; and this in turn would create the preconditions for an
eventual mellowing or even breaking up of the Soviet
Soviet actions in Berlin and Korea appeared to have been
aimed both at the consolidation of existing Communist
power and, had an American response been lacking, also the
expansion of the Soviet sphere


The United States continued to enjoy the decisive advantage

in economic power and international influence, though its
relative military position in some respects actually
The U.S. economy grew during this phase to over $400
billion (in 1966 dollars), and the United States was able to
undertake a massive program in injecting its capital into
Western Europe, thus reinforcing a vital political link.
Soviet postwar recovery was pressed energetically and the
Soviet economy passed its prewar levels with the GNP
crossing the $150 billion mark (in 1966 dollars) by the time
of Stalin's death.


The international climate was similarly skewed to U.S.

The coup in Czechoslovakia,
the Berlin blockade,
the purge trials in Eastern Europe
the invasion of South Korea, etc. all created a distinctly
anti-Soviet mood.
Probably a more accurate measure of international attitudes
was provided by the February 1951 vote condemning the
Chinese intervention in the Korean War. The pro - U.S. vote
was 47 to 7 with 10 abstentions.


After the outbreak of Korean hostilities, Soviet ground

forces were being built up rapidly in order to offset any
Western atomic threat.
Soviet defense spending-despite a decline to under $30
billion in 1948 from its wartime high of about $50 billionwas still more than twice that of the United States, and
Soviet armed forces grew in manpower to almost five
million men by the time of Stalin's death, a figure
approximately one million above prevailing Western
estimates and considerably in excess of the U.S. 1.6 million
men under arms.
American defense spending did not rise until the Korean
War, but then it did so rapidly, exceeding by 1952 in total
dollar value Soviet military allocations.

Truman Doctrine
1947: British helps Greek government to fight communist
They appealed to America for aid, and the response was the
Truman Doctrine.
America promised it would support free countries to help
fight communism.
Greece received large amounts of arms and supplies and by
1949 had defeated the communists.

The Truman Doctrine

"I believe that it must be the policy of the United States to
support free peoples who are resisting attempted
subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures.
I believe that we must assist free peoples to work out their
own destinies in their own way.
I believe that our help should be primarily through
economic and financial aid which is essential to economic
stability and orderly political processes."


The Marshall Plan

In 1947, US Secretary of State Marshall announced the Marshall Plan.
This was a massive economic aid plan for Europe to help it recover
from the damage caused by the war
There were two reasons for this:
Helping Europe to recover economically would provide markets for
American goods, so benefiting American industry.
A prosperous Europe would be better able to resist the spread of
communism. This was probably the main motive.


The Marshall Plan

In a speech made on 5 June 1947 at Harvard University in
Cambridge, Massachusetts, General George C. Marshall
proposed the granting of economic and financial assistance
to all the countries of Europe, subject to closer European
cooperation. This was the Marshall Plan or European
Recovery Program.
France and Great Britain were very keen, convening a
conference three weeks later in Paris, to which they also
invited the USSR, in order to elaborate a common
programme in response to General Marshalls offer. But
Vyacheslav Molotov, the Soviet Foreign Minister,
categorically refused to countenance any international
control and opposed economic aid for Germany.


The Soviet Union rejected the Marshall Plan and persuaded

its satellite countries and neighbouring Finland to refuse US
Those countries that had been interested, such as Poland and
Czechoslovakia, had to give in.
16 countries signed up to the Marshall Plan: Austria,
Belgium, Denmark (with the Faroe Islands and Greenland),
France, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy (and San Marino),
Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal (with
Madeira and the Azores), Sweden, Switzerland (with
Liechtenstein), Turkey and the United Kingdom.
They set up a Committee of European Economic
Cooperation (CEEC) which drew up a report establishing
the priorities for the European economy, which later became
the OEEC, and then OECD.

The programme for European recovery was divided into

subsidies and loans amounting to a total of approximately
13 billion dollars distributed between April 1948 and June
The United States also allocated money to developing the
production of strategic goods in European colonies where
the Americans wanted to stop the spread of Communism


The political importance of the Marshall Plan

Through this aid, US President Harry Truman wanted to help
the free nations of Europe solve their economic problems.
But it was also a question of stopping Communism, which was
a threat in countries such as France and Italy.
In the April 1948 elections, the Christian Democrat Party
defeated the Italian Communist Party.
The Marshall Plan marked the entry of Western Europe into
the consumer age, symbolised, for example, by Coca-Cola and
Hollywood films.


The Zhdanov Doctrine and the Cominform

On 22 September 1947, delegates from the Communist
Parties of the Soviet Union, Poland, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria,
Romania, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Italy and France
gathered near Warsaw and created the Cominform, an
information bureau located in Belgrade.
The Cominform actually served as an instrument for the
USSR to keep close control over Western Communist
parties. The aim was to close ranks around Moscow and to
ensure that European Communists were in line with Soviet


Zhdanov, Stalins right-hand man, persuaded the participants

in the constitutive meeting to approve the doctrine according
to which the world was now divided into two irreconcilable
camps: an imperialist and antidemocratic camp led by the
United States and an anti-imperialist and democratic camp
led by the USSR.
He emphasised the fact that the anti-imperialist bloc across
the world relied on the democratic workers movement, on
Communist parties and on those involved in liberation
movements in colonial countries.


The Division of Germany

During 1945, the Allies began organizing their respective
occupation zones in Germany.
The Americans occupied the South, the British the West and
North, France the South-West, and the Soviets Central Germany.
The Eastern part was administered by Poland, except the town of
Knigsberg (renamed Kaliningrad) and its surrounding area,
which were annexed by the USSR.
Berlin was divided into four sectors and placed under the
administrative control of the Allied Kommandatura.
In 1946, the main war criminals were tried in Nuremberg by
Allied judges.
In the same year, the fate of the German satellite states and of
Italy, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Finland was determined in
Paris by separate peace treaties.

The Berlin Crisis: June 1948-May 1949

1948: three western controlled zones of Germany united; grew
in prosperity due to the Marshall Plan
West wanted East to rejoin; Stalin feared it would hurt Soviet
June 1948: Stalin decided to gain control of West Berlin, which
was deep inside the Eastern Sector
Cuts road, rail and canal links with West Berlin, hoping to
starve it into submission
West responded by airlifting supplies to allow West Berlin to
May 1949: USSR admitted defeat, lifted blockade


The Berlin Blockade

After having politically reorganized their occupation zones
in defeated Germany, the British and Americans wanted to
revive the German economy, which implied a radical
monetary reform.
On 20 June 1948, the Western Allies introduced in all the
Western zones a new unit of account, the German mark, the
Deutsche Mark that replaced the Reichsmark, which had
lost all its value.


The Foundation of the Federal Republic of

From 20 April to 2 June 1948, the British, the Americans
and the French met in London to discuss the future of the
country and decided to call a constituent assembly, the
German Parliamentary Council.
Its members were appointed by the parliaments of the
federal states, the Lnder. These federal entities were
created by the occupying powers, on more or less historical
lines. For example, whilst the State of Prussia was abolished
by the Allies, Bavaria was retained.


The Foundation of the FRG

The Basic Law was promulgated on 23 May 1949. It later
became the provisional Constitution of the Federal Republic
of Germany (FRG).
The provisional capital was Bonn
The city of West Berlin became a Land but remained under
Allied control.
Even if the right of supervision enjoyed by the Western
Allied powers limited German sovereignty, the FRG was
seen as the only rightful heir to the German Reich, dissolved
in 1945 when Germany unconditionally surrendered.
Konrad Adenauer, who was the preferred partner of the
Americans, became the first Chancellor of the Federal
Republic of Germany.

The Foundation of the German Democratic

As a response to the foundation of the Federal Republic of
Germany (FRG) in Bonn, in October 1949 the USSR
encouraged the proclamation of the German Democratic
Republic (GDR) in Berlin.
East Berlin became the capital of the GDR. The West
refused to recognize this State which, following the example
of the FRG, presumed to speak for all of Germany.


The Strengthening of Alliances

On 22 January 1948, Ernest Bevin, British Foreign Secretary,
gave an address in the House of Commons in which he
denounced the Soviet threat.
He affirmed his resolve to develop Britains cooperation with
France and the Benelux countries within a Western Union.
A few days later, the coup dtat in Prague on 25 February
1948, in which the Communists took power in Czechoslovakia
by force, heightened the climate of international tension and
danger .
On 17 March 1948, in Brussels, five countries signed the Treaty
establishing Western Union, which aimed no longer merely to
guard against a potential German threat but to prevent any
armed aggression in Europe.

On 11 June 1948, the US Congress passed the Vandenberg
resolution, which put an end to American isolationism by
authorising the United States to be involved in international
alliances even in peacetime.
On 4 April 1949, twelve Foreign Ministers signed the North
Atlantic Treaty in Washington, thereby establishing the
North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO).
The Five of Western Union were joined by the United
States, Canada, Denmark, Iceland, Italy, Norway and
The North Atlantic Treaty came into force on 23 August
1949 and established a transatlantic framework for the
defence of Western Europe.

In 1953, the new US President Dwight D. Eisenhower and

his Secretary of State John Foster Dulles extended the
Truman Doctrine by introducing the rollback policy,
which aimed not merely to contain Communism but to
actively drive it back.
The early 1950s were characterised by a phenomenon
termed pactomania.
Several treaties similar to the North Atlantic Treaty were
the ANZUS Treaty (Australia, New Zealand and the
United States) in 1951,
SEATO (the Southeast Asia Treaty Organisation) in
the Baghdad Pact in 1955.

Eisenhower Doctrine
The Eisenhower Doctrine was announced in a speech to Congress
on January 5, 1957.
It required Congress to yield its war-making power to the
president so that the president could take immediate military
It created a US commitment to defend the Middle East against
attack by any communist country.
The doctrine was made in response to the possibility of war,
threatened as a result of the USSRs attempt to use the Suez War
as a pretext to enter Egypt.
The British and French withdrawals from their former colonies
created a power vacuum that communists were trying to fill.

Warsaw Pact
Warsaw Pact: organization of communist states in Central and
Eastern Europe that USSR established in in response to NATO
May 14, 1955 in Warsaw, Poland
Founding members:

Albania (left in 1961 as a result of the Sino-Soviet split)

East Germany (1956)


The Korean War

On 25 June 1950, Communist troops from North Korea
crossed the 38th parallel, which since 1945 had been the
military demarcation line between the North of the country
(under Soviet influence) and the South (under US
The confrontations along the border and the invasion of the
South of the peninsula would mark the beginning of the
Korean War.


The Korean War

United States were able to take advantage of a moment when
the Soviet delegate was temporarily absent from a United
Nations Security Council meeting to commit the UN to
defending South Korea.
They called on the UN to apply the principle of collective
security and to vote for sanctions against North Korea.
In June 1950, US air and naval forces landed on the
peninsula. Sixteen countries, including the UK, the
Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg, were involved in the
creation of an international force under US command.
North Korea, on the other hand, enjoyed the diplomatic
support of the Soviet Union and military aid from Communist

The Cold War reached its climax during this conflict.
It led to an obsessive fear of Communism in the United
States and also had an effect on Western Europe, which felt
increasingly weak compared with the two Great Powers on
the international stage.


Senator Joe McCarthy (1908-1957)

McCarthy, a Republican senator from Wisconsin, did the most to whip
up anti-communism during the 50s.
On February 9, 1950, he gave a speech claiming to have a list of 205
Communists in the State Department.
No one in the press actually saw the names on the list.
McCarthy continued to repeat his groundless charges, changing the
number from speech to speech.
During this time, one state required pro wrestlers to take a loyalty oath
before stepping into the ring.
In Indiana, a group of anti-communists indicted Robin Hood (and its
vaguely socialistic message that the book's hero had a right to rob from
the rich and give to the poor) and forced librarians to pull the book from
the shelves.
Baseball's Cincinnati Reds renamed themselves the "Redlegs."


McCarthys Downfall
In the spring of 1954, the tables turned on McCarthy when
he charged that the Army had promoted a dentist accused of
being a Communist.
For the first time, a television broadcast allowed the public
to see the Senator as a blustering bully and his
investigations as little more than a witch hunt.
In December 1954, the Senate voted to censure him for his
conduct and to strip him of his privileges.
McCarthy died three years later from alcoholism.
The term "McCarthyism" lives on to describe antiCommunist fervor, reckless accusations, and guilt by
Arthur Millers play The Crucible was
on the surface about the Salem Witch
Trials. Its real target, though, was the
hysterical persecution of innocent
people during McCarthyism. (poster for
1996 film version)


II. From peaceful coexistence to the

paroxysms of the Cold War (19531962)


The Thaw
The Thaw became possible after the death of Joseph
Stalin in March 1953.
It refers to the period from the early 1950s to the early
1960s when repression and censorship in the Soviet
Union became more relaxed, millions of Soviet political
prisoners were released from Gulag labor camps, etc.
It was due to Nikita Khrushchev's policies of deStalinization and peaceful coexistence with other nations.
Khrushchev denounced Stalin in "The Secret Speech" at
the 20th Congress of the Communist Party then ousted the
pro-Stalinists during his power struggle in the Kremlin.


The Geneva spirit

From 18 to 23 July 1955, the Heads of Government of the four Great
Powers (the United States, the United Kingdom, France and the USSR)
met in Geneva. It was their first summit meeting for ten years.
The negotiations focused on European security, disarmament and EastWest relations.
Although the four powers did not reach agreement, especially as far as the
fate of Germany was concerned, the meeting closed in a climate of dtente
between the various protagonists.
Other signs that hinted the desire for peaceful coexistence:
the visit of FRG Chancellor Konrad Adenauer to Moscow in 1955, t
he trip by Khrushchev to the United States in 1959
Krushchevs meeting with US President John F. Kennedy in Vienna in


Tensions again
In the United States, President Eisenhower had to make
allowance for the risk of escalation and the hazards of direct
nuclear confrontation with the Soviets.
In 1953 he opted for the so-called new look strategy. This
combined diplomacy with the threat of massive retaliation.
It had to come to terms with technological progress made by
the Soviet Union, which tested its first atomic weapon in
1949, with the first hydrogen bomb following in 1953.


Cold War tensions increased

in the US when the USSR
exploded its first atomic
bomb in 1949.

Cold War tensions increased in the

USSR when the US exploded its
first hydrogen bomb in 1952. It
was 1000 times more powerful
than the Hiroshima atomic bomb.


The Repression of the Hungarian Uprising

In Central and Eastern Europe, with the death of Stalin and
the start of de-Stalinisation launched by the new Soviet
leader, Nikita Khrushchev, the populations of several
satellite states attempted to free themselves from Soviet
In Poland, Wadysaw Gomuka, became the new First
Secretary of the Central Committee of the Polish United
Workers Party. He managed in extremis to prevent a Soviet
military intervention aimed at suppressing riots by workers
and an attempted takeover in October 1956.


The situation in East Germany and Hungary was very

different. The Soviet military intervened in both countries,
in June 1953 and November 1956 respectively, Moscow
being determined to crush the popular uprisings and reassert
full control over its satellite state.
In Hungary, intellectuals and students embittered by the
Communist regime demanded the withdrawal of Soviet
troops and the organisation of free, multi-party elections.
In late October 1956, following the news of the Polish
rebellion against Soviet hegemony, Hungarys political
opposition also demonstrated its discontent by marching
peacefully through the streets of Budapest before organising
armed conflict.

A new Hungarian government, led by Imre Nagy, called for

the withdrawal of Soviet troops and abolished the one-party
system before announcing Hungarys unilateral withdrawal
from the Warsaw Pact and proclaiming the countrys
Between 4 and 8 November 1956, Nikita S. Khrushchev
ordered the Red Army to put down the Hungarian Uprising
by force. Soviet troops attacked en masse and abolished the
independent national government.
The West was in no position to react appropriately and was
forced to stand helplessly by as the Russians returned to


Berlin Wall
On August 13, 1961, a low, barbed-wire barrier rose between
East and West Berlin. Within days, workers cemented concrete
blocks into a low wall, dividing neighborhoods and families,
workers and employers, the free from the repressed.
The USSR called the wall a barrier to Western imperialism, but
it also was meant to keep its people going to the West where the
standard of living was much higher and fundamental freedoms
The West Germans called it Schandmaur, the "Wall of Shame."
Over the years, it was rebuilt three times. Each version of the
wall was more higher, stronger, repressive, and impregnable.
Towers and guards with machine guns and dogs stood watch
over a barren no man's land. Forbidden zones, miles wide, were
created behind the wall. No one was allowed to enter the zones.
Anyone trying to escape was shot on sight.

Space Race
Cold War tensions increased in the US when the USSR
launched Sputnik I, the first artificial satellite into geocentric
orbit on October 4, 1957.
April 12, 1961: Yuri Gagarin became first human in space
and first to orbit Earth.
US felt a loss of prestige and increased funding for space
programs and science education.
On May 25,1961, Kennedy gave a speech challenging
America to land a man on the moon and return him safely by
the end of the decade.
Apollo 11 landed on the moon on July 16, 1969.


The U-2 Incident

USSR was aware of American U-2 spy missions but lacked technology to
launch countermeasures until 1960.
May 1, 1960: CIA agent Francis Gary Powers U-2, was shot down by Soviet
Powers was unable to activate plane's self-destruct mechanism before he
parachuted to the ground, right into the hands of the KGB.
When US learned of Powers' disappearance over USSR, it issued a cover
statement claiming that a "weather plane" crashed after its pilot had
"difficulties with his oxygen equipment."
US officials did not realize that the plane crashed intact, Soviets recovered its
photography equipment and captured Powers, whom they interrogated
extensively for months before he made a "voluntary confession" and public
apology for his part in US espionage.
The Soviets convicted Powers on espionage charges and sentenced him to 10
years in prison. However, after serving less than two years, he was released in
exchange for a captured Soviet agent in the first-ever U.S.-USSR spy swap.

The Bay of Pigs Invasion

The Bay of Pigs Invasion was an unsuccessful attempt by USbacked Cuban exiles to overthrow the government of the Cuban
dictator Fidel Castro.
Increasing friction between the US and Castro's communist
regime led President Eisenhower to break off diplomatic
relations with Cuba in January 1961.
Even before that, however, the CIA had been training antirevolutionary Cuban exiles for a possible invasion of the island.
The invasion plan was approved by Eisenhower's successor,
John F. Kennedy.


On April 17, 1961 about 1300 exiles, armed with US weapons,

landed at the Baha de cochinos (Bay of Pigs) on the southern
coast of Cuba hoping for support from locals.
From the start, the exiles were likely to lose. Kennedy had the
option of using the Air Force against the Cubans but decided
against it.
Consequently, the invasion was stopped by Castro's army. The
failure of the invasion seriously embarrassed the Kennedy
Some critics blamed Kennedy for not giving it adequate
Others blamed Kennedy for allowing it to take place at all.
Additionally, the invasion made Castro wary of the US. He
was convinced that the Americans would try to take over the
Cuba again.

Cuban Missile Crisis

This was the closest the world ever came to nuclear war. The US armed forces
were at their highest state of readiness ever, and Soviets in Cuba were
prepared to launch nuclear weapons to defend the island if it were invaded.
In 1962, the USSR lagged far behind the US in the arms race. Soviet missiles
were only powerful enough to be launched against Europe but US missiles
were capable of striking the entire Soviet Union.

On April 1962, Soviet Premier Khrushchev deployed missiles in Cuba to

provide a deterrent to a potential US attack against the USSR.
Meanwhile, Fidel Castro was looking for a way to defend his island nation
from an attack by the US. Ever since the failed Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961,
Castro felt a second attack was inevitable. Consequently, he approved of
Khrushchev's plan to place missiles on the island. In the summer of 1962 the
USSR secretly installed the missiles.

The crisis began on October 15, 1962 when reconnaissance

revealed Soviet missiles under construction in Cuba.
After seven days of intense debate within the White House,
Kennedy imposed a blockade around Cuba to stop the arrival
of more Soviet missiles.
On October 22, Kennedy announced the discovery of the
missiles and his decision to blockade Cuba and that any
attack launched from Cuba would be regarded as an attack on
the US by the USSR and demanded that the Soviets remove
all of their offensive weapons from Cuba.
October 27 was the worst day of the crisis. A U-2 spy plane
was shot down over Cuba.


Cuban Missile Crisis

Tensions finally began to ease on October 28 when
Khrushchev announced that he would dismantle the
installations and remove the missiles, expressing his trust
that the US would not invade Cuba.
Further negotiations were held to implement the October 28
agreement, including a US demand that Soviet bombers be
removed from Cuba, and specifying the exact form and
conditions of US assurances not to invade Cuba.


III. From dtente to renewed tensions



Having narrowly avoided nuclear war, the Cuban Crisis. brought

about a sort of truce in the Cold War.
In 1963, a direct line the famous red telephone was
established between Washington and Moscow and the two Great
Powers opened discussions on limiting the arms race.
There were also other reasons behind the moderate approach
adopted by the two parties:
The United States was finding it increasingly difficult to finance its global
military presence, and its growing involvement in the Vietnam War from
1964 onwards met with strong criticism from the general public.
In Europe, all eyes now turned to the Ostpolitik: the Federal Republic of
Germany was developing closer relations with the German Democratic
Republic, Poland, Czechoslovakia and the USSR.
As Europe remained at the heart of the East-West confrontation, it sought
to promote dtente between the two military blocs.


Improvements in EastWest relations

On 1 August 1975, the Final Act of the Helsinki Summit
closed the Conference on Security and Cooperation in
Europe (CSCE).
The 35 participants, including members NATO and the
Warsaw Pact, as well as non-aligned states, recognised the
de facto borders established in Europe following the Second
World War.
The Helsinki Agreement covered noninterference in internal
affairs, military issues, economic, technical and scientific
cooperation, democratic principles and even environmental


The Slow Thaw. La Detente

Since the end of WWII through Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson,
Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, and Bush administrations, the Cold War = central
foreign policy concern
Better relations between communists countries and the US began with one of
the most hard-lined anti-communist presidents, Richard Nixon. In his only
Nixon could go to China trip, Nixon was the first US president to visit that
communist country.
In 1969 Nixon began negotiations with USSR on SALT I, (Strategic Arms
Limitation Treaty Agreement), which froze the number of ballistic missile
launchers at existing levels, and provided for the addition of submarinelaunched ballistic missile (SLBM) launchers only after the same number of
intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) and SLBM launchers had been
It was the first effort between US/USSR to stop increase nuclear weapons.
SALT II was a second round of US/USSR talks (1972-1979), which sought to
reduce manufacture of nuclear weapons. SALT II was the first nuclear treaty
seeking real reductions in strategic forces to 2,250 of all categories on both

The Prague Spring

The climate of dtente resulted in a less turbulent period for international
relations, but crises remained.
The break in relations between Moscow and China was confirmed in 1962
and sparked military clashes around the SinoSoviet border in 1969.
In the East, opposition to the Soviet bloc mainly came from Czechoslovakia.
In January 1968, Alexander Dubek, a liberal Communist sought to reconcile
Socialism and freedom. The liberalisation of the regime began in the spring of
1968. Censorship was abolished, and Czech citizens were permitted to travel
On 21 August 1968, troops from the Warsaw Pact countries, with the
exception of Romania, took advantage of extended training operations to
invade Czechoslovakia and arrest the deviant leaders.
The Western powers and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO)
reacted to the invasion of Czechoslovakia only with declarations of regret.


The Vietnam War

Was part of the overall Cold War confrontation and the
American struggle against the spread of Communism in the
world, but did not involve a direct confrontation between
the two superpowers.
The US justified its military intervention in Vietnam by the
domino theory, which stated that if one country fell under
the influence of Communism, the surrounding countries
would inevitably follow.
The aim was to prevent Communist domination of SouthEast Asia.


In 1961, President John F. Kennedy, convinced that Communist China

was actively supporting North Vietnam, approved a US military
campaign in Vietnam to help the nationalist government crush the
Communist rebellion.
His successor, Lyndon B. Johnson, who was keen to see peace in SouthEast Asia and to maintain Americas economic and political interests in
the region, stepped up his countrys involvement, massively expanding
the American presence from 23 000 troops in 1965 to over 540 000 in
The Viet Cong Communist rebels, supported by the North Vietnamese
Army, were supplied along the Ho Chi Minh Trail, which consisted of a
network of paths, tunnels and bunkers that the Americans tried in vain to
This only led the USSR and China to intensify their assistance to the
Communist National Liberation Front, which they supplied with arms
and food; however, they did not intervene directly.


In February 1965, the United States began bombing military

and industrial targets in North Vietnam. This was followed
by a protracted guerrilla war, despite some fruitless attempts
at international mediation.
In January 1968, the Communist Tt (New Year) offensive
caused the conflict to escalate.
The American public, shocked by the daily television
coverage and the heavy loss of life, became increasingly
hostile to the war, forcing the country to withdraw and cut
its military expenditure.


The Paris Agreements of 27 January 1973 finally provided

the United States with an opportunity to pull out from the
Their South Vietnamese ally would stand alone for only two
years before falling to the Viet Cong and the North
The fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975 marked the true end of
the Vietnam War. T
he American military intervention in the Vietnam weighed
heavily on US policy and caused serious damage to the
countrys international standing, especially in Western


Soviet Expansionism. The Third World

The USSR was benefiting from the decolonisation process and gaining its
own new spheres of influence.
The Central American country of Nicaragua had been a zone of American
influence. The Sandinista Liberation Front took advantage of President
Carters lack of interest in Nicaragua to overthrow the dictator Anastasio
Somoza. Very rapidly, Cuba and the USSR became the Sandinista regimes
new allies.
The USSR also profited from the settlement of the Vietnam conflict in 1975
to gain a foothold in Africa, particularly in Guinea, Mozambique and
The fall of the Ethiopian imperial regime of Haile Selassie in September
1974 and the immediate establishment of a Communist dictatorship in the
oldest African state emphasised the Soviet hold over Africa


Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan Interrupts Thaw

In 1978, the USSR invaded Afghanistan and tried to set up a
friendly government.
It became the USSRs Vietnam, a long war with no clear victory
possible and many casualties and high costs.
The US supported the Afghani rebels (the mujahideen).
In 1989 the Soviets finally withdrew.
Islamic extremists used the opportunity to take over the country.


The Arms Race and Star Wars

In the United States, the Watergate scandal led to the resignation
of President Richard Nixon on 8 August 1974. This affair
discredited the institution of the Presidency in a country that was
already traumatised by defeat in the Vietnam War and a loss of
international influence.
On 4 November 1979, in an Iran led by Ayatollah Khomeini,
Iranian students occupied the US Embassy in Tehran and held
more than 50 people hostage.
The United States seemed incapable of settling the matter, and in
April 1980 the US military operation to save the hostages ended
in fiasco, discrediting President Carter.
The hostage crisis lasted for 444 days.


In 1980, after all these failures and humiliations, the

Americans voted in a man who was determined to restore the
image of the United States in the world. New President Ronald
Reagan used the term evil empire to describe the USSR and
re-launched the arms race.
The late 1970s saw the start of the Euromissile crisis, the
installation by the United States of cruise missiles and rockets
in Europe as a counterbalance to the threat posed by the
deployment of Soviet weapons.
The actual deployment of US missiles in some countries in
Western Europe from 1983 onwards (the United Kingdom, the
Netherlands, Belgium, Italy and the FRG) led to the failure of
the disarmament negotiations in Geneva, which had been under
way since June 1982.

The Arms Race and Star Wars

The Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) was a proposal by
President Reagan in 1983 to use ground and space-based
systems to protect the US from attack by nuclear ballistic
missiles. It focused on strategic defense rather than doctrine of
mutual assured destruction (MAD).
It was quickly nicknamed Star Wars.


Criticism of SDI:
It would require the US to change, withdraw from, or
break earlier treaties.
The Outer Space Treaty of 1967, which requires "States Parties
to the Treaty undertake not to place in orbit around the Earth any
objects carrying nuclear weapons or any other kinds of weapons
of mass destruction, install such weapons on celestial bodies, or
station such weapons in outer space in any other manner" and
would forbid the US from pre-positioning in Earth orbit any
devices powered by nuclear weapons and any devices capable of
"mass destruction.

Unproven technology.
Huge costs.
Resume arms race with the Soviets.


The Start of The End

Gorbachev becomes Soviet premier and understands that the
Soviet economy cannot compete with the West, partly because
of Afghanistan and partly because of the costs of keeping up
Gorbachev recognizes there is increasing social unrest in the
He tries to reform the USSR with glasnost (= openness) and
perestroika (=reform)
Gorbachev is further pressured to reform the USSR when
Reagan gives his speech in Germany challenging Gorbachev to
tear down this wall.


The Collapse of the Communist Bloc

Mikhail Gorbachevs reformist policies in the Soviet Union fuelled
opposition movements to the Communist regimes in the Soviet bloc
In Poland, economic reforms led to strikes in the spring and summer of 1988.
The Solidarity movement (Solidarno) called for trade union pluralism.
The Polish Communist leaders recognised the social movement in April
The first semi-legal elections since the Second World War, held on 4 and 18
June, saw the collapse of the Communist Party, and Tadeusz Mazowiecki
became the first non-Communist head of government in Eastern Europe.
In December 1989, Lech Wasa, symbolic leader of Solidarno, replaced
General Jaruzelski of the Polish United Workers Party as President and on 9
December 1990, he became President of the Republic of Poland.


The victory of the trade unions candidates in these elections

triggered a wave of peaceful anti-Communist revolutions in
Central and Eastern Europe.
In Hungary, demonstrations against the regime increased during
1987 and 1988.
On 18 October 1989, the Stalinist Constitution was abandoned,
and Hungary adopted political pluralism.
Earlier that year, in May, the Iron Curtain separating Hungary
from Austria had been dismantled, enabling many East
Germans to flee to the West.
In Hungary, the parliamentary elections held on 2 April 1990
resulted in the formation of the Democratic Forum government.


In Czechoslovakia, a programme of reforms inspired by those of the USSR

was adopted in December 1987 but was not widely implemented.
The regime became more oppressive and suppressed demonstrations in

Vclav Havel was unanimously elected interim President of the Republic

by the parliament of the Socialist Republic on 29 December 1989, and was
reappointed as President of the Republic in July 1990.
In Bulgaria, a coalition government was formed on 7 December 1990, and
a new Constitution was adopted on 9 July 1991.
In Romania, following violent demonstrations, the Communist dictator
Nicolae Ceauescu was executed on 25 December 1989 and a new
Constitution establishing pluralism was adopted on 8 December 1991.
The fragmentation of Yugoslavia led to a long and bitter civil war

The collapse of the GDR and the fall of the Berlin Wall
While Gorbachev was liberalizing the Soviet regime and the
movements opposed to Communism were gathering
strength in Central and Eastern Europe, the German
Democratic Republic appeared to be an invincible fortress,
solidly constructed by the Communist Party, which was
supported by the army and the secret police, the leaders of
which were set against any change and counted on the
support of the Soviet troops stationed in the GDR.
There was a growing wave of opposition, supported by the
Protestant churches, which in the autumn of 1988 called for
a society with a human face, and subsequently in 1989 for
a liberalisation of the regime.


A series of vast demonstrations took place, calling for

freedom of thought, freedom of the press and freedom of
They also demonstrated in favour of a united Germany.
On 4 November, a crowd of a million people gathered on
Alexanderplatz in East Berlin. On 9 November, this led to
the decision to authorise travel abroad. Immediately,
thousands of people wanted to cross through the frontier
posts in Berlin, which were forced to open up to the crowd.
Eventually East and West Germany are reunited in 1990.


New Alliances
The Summit of the Heads of State or Government held in Paris on 19 21
November 1990 adopted the Charter of Paris for a New Europe, recalling
the principles of the Helsinki Final Act.
The Charter welcomed the end of an era of confrontation and division and
proclaimed the desire to build, consolidate and strengthen democracy as
the only system of government.
The Visegrad Group was created with the aim of moving away from
Communism and implementing the reforms required for full membership of
the Euro-Atlantic institutions. I
t was established on 15 February 1991 at a meeting attended by Jzsef
Antall, Prime Minister of Hungary, Lech Wasa, President of Poland, and
Vclav Havel, President of Czechoslovakia
On 1 July 1991 in Prague, the seven member countries of the Warsaw Pact
(USSR, Bulgaria, Romania, German Democratic Republic, Hungary,
Poland and Czechoslovakia) decided to dissolve the Political Consultative
Committee of the Warsaw Pact

The new regimes soon declared their intention to turn to the

countries of Western Europe for the necessary economic aid
and assistance to facilitate the transition.
The aspiration for ownership and modernity embodied by
the European Union was a driving force behind the
transformation of the countries of Central and Eastern
Moreover, the countries of the former Warsaw Pact,
concerned about the stability of their frontiers because of the
revival of nationalism in Central Europe and a possible
resurgence of Russian imperialism, needed a credible
guarantee and found it in NATO.


The USSR Dissolves

On December 21, 1991, the presidents of Russia, Ukraine and
Belarus signed the Belavezha Accords declaring the USSR
dissolved and established the Commonwealth of Independent
States (CIS) in its place.
On December 25, 1991, Gorbachev yielded as the president of the
USSR, declaring the office extinct. He turned the powers that
until then were vested in him over to Boris Yeltsin, president of
The following day, the Supreme Soviet, the highest governmental
body of the Soviet Union, recognized the collapse of the Soviet
Union and dissolved itself.
This is generally recognized as the official, final dissolution of
the Soviet Union as a functioning state.