APUSH Unit 8: Start of the Cold War

General Timeline
General Maps

Map # 1: Divided Germany

APUSH Unit 8_ Beginning of Cold War Map

Map # 2: Korean War (1950-1953)

Course Content

Beginning of Cold War:

Origins of the Cold War

Initial Tensions Between US & USSR

  • During WW2, US/Britain & USSR disagreed on their vision of a post-WW2 society

    • US & Britain created Atlantic Charter (1941): Promoted democracy & self determination

    • USSR wanted to promote communism throughout the world

  • USSR was allied w/ US & Britain in WW2, but their alliance started to strain

    • First strain was at Casablanca Conference (Jan 1943)

      • US, Britain, and USSR (Big Three) met to discuss war strategies

      • USSR disagreed w/ US & Britain over their plans as USSR wanted to liberate France first

    • The 3 leaders then met at the Tehran Conference (Nov 1943)

      • Stalin (USSR leader) promised FDR (US leader) to join the war in the Pacific after the Allied victory in Europe

      • In exchange, FDR promised to attempt to liberate France within 6 months

  • However, the 3 nations disagreed on the future of Poland

    • US & Britain allowed USSR to annex Polish territory but disagreed on its government form

      • US & UK wanted current exiled Polish government (which was democratic)​

      • USSR wanted the exiled Polish communist government (which was located in Lublin)

    • They left this dispute unresolved


Yalta Conference (Feb 1945)

  • Near the end of WW2, the Big 3 (US, Britain, USSR) met in Yalta (Russia) to discuss post-war compromise

  • ​They discussed 4 main ideas:

1. Russia would join the war in the Pacific (against Japan) & in exchange, Russia would receive some land lost to Japan in Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905)

2. Poland would be run by a majority of communist Poles & minority of Pro-Western democratic poles. There would be free democratic elections in Poland

3. An international body, United Nations (UN), would be created. It would have all nations in General Assembly, and 5 permanent members (US, Britain, France, USSR, China) in the Security Council, each with veto power

4. Germany would be divided into 4 zones of occupation (by US, Britain, USSR, France) based on location of troops at end of WW2. Berlin was in USSR's zone, but since it's an important city, it would also be divided into 4 zones

  • US & Britain believed this was a good agreement

  • USSR wasn't satisfied & wanted more

    • USSR then established communist regimes in Central & Eastern Europe

    • USSR also ignored compromise of Poland & established a communist regime w/o free elections

  • This disagreement between US's capitalist vision & USSR's communist vision caused a 46-year-long war called the Cold War


Start of the Cold War

Potsdam Conference (Jul-Aug 1945)

  • After WW2 Victory in Europe, the Big Three (US, Britain, USSR) met in Potsdam, Germany, to discuss how to deal w/ Germany & its territories​

  • Truman reluctantly accepted concessions in Poland

    • Germany-Poland border would be adjusted so that Poland gains more territory

    • Truman had to recognize the Polish communist gov, thinking that the pro-Western forces might eventually gain power (which didn't happen)

  • They agreed to permanently divide Germany

    • Western nations (US, Britain, France) unify their holdings into West Germany (a democratic ally to the US)

    • USSR's zone becomes East Germany (a communist USSR ally)

    • All nations would get reparations from their respective zones

      • Western nations (US, Britain, France) soon canceled these reparations


Situation in China

  • China had a civil war between communists (led by Mao Zedong) & nationalists (led by Chiang Kai-Shek)

    • US allied with the nationalists (obviously), but they were very weak

    • US initially sent money & weapons to the nationalist forces under Chiang

    • Truman then sent Army Chief of Staff George C Marshall to investigate the situation in China

      • Discovered that the only way to defeat the communists was all-out war w/ China → Was unfeasible, so Truman had to accept communist control of China​

  • Now, communist China would ally w/ USSR, causing another big threat to the US

  • US had to now strengthen Japan as a buffer between US & Communist China/USSR

    • US occupied Japan from 1945-1952

    • US helped revive the Japanese economy & promoted economic growth in Japan


Truman Doctrine (1947)

  • Beforehand, US's foreign policy was more concerned w/ an offensive approach of promoting democracy worldwide

    • Inspired by Woodrow Wilson's ideals of self-determination

  • Now, US believed the best approach to foreign policy is to be defensive & focus on stopping the spread of communism instead of promoting democracy

    • This was known as the idea of "containment"

      • A remarkable shift in US foreign policy

  • Truman Doctrine (1947) was a statement by Pres. Truman where he promoted the idea of containment

    • As part of the doctrine, Truman would provide aid to nations under the threat of communism

      • Truman gave $400 million to Turkey & Greece as they were potentially under communist threat

  • This foreign policy of containment would last for more than 40 years


The Marshall Plan (1948)

  • A main desire of the US was to rebuild the European economy

    • US wanted to rebuild the European market so that American goods can be sold there

    • The main reason was that US wanted to recover European nations so they don't fall to communism

  • In Jun 1947, Secretary of State George Marshall announced the Marshall Plan (1948), a plan to give economic aid to European nations

    • Offered aid to all European Nations + USSR, but USSR & its Eastern/Central European communist satellites refused aid

    • 16 Western European nations participated in receiving aid

    • Economic Cooperation Administration (Est. 1948) was the agency that administered this plan

  • For 3 years (1948-1950), Marshall Plan gave about $15 billion of US aid to European nations

    • Caused industrial production to grow 64% & GDP to grow significantly​


Mobilization in the US

  • US started to mobilize in case of war with USSR

    • Passed a military draft in 1948

    • Atomic Energy Commission (Est. 1946) to oversee construction of nuclear weapons

      • First hydrogen bomb was approved in 1950

  • National Security Act (1947) did the following:

    • Established Department of Defense (combined the War and Navy Departments into one)

    • National Security Council (NSC) would oversee foreign military-related policy

    • Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) would collect info through secret political/military operations

    • Gave the president more power to pursue his international goals

Berlin Blockade & Airlift

  • US wanted to strengthen Western Europe & revive the power of West Germany

    • In 1948, all 3 Western nations (US, Britain, France) combined their 3 zones of occupation into West Germany

    • The Western nations promoted economic development in West Germany & even canceled West Germany's reparations

  • USSR responded angrily to consolidation of West Germany & imposed a blockade of West Berlin (Jun 1948)

    • USSR blockaded West Berlin so that the people of West Berlin could starve → USSR could gain supremacy over Berlin

    • Western Allies (US, Britain, France) couldn't give supplies (such as food) to the people of West Berlin due to this blockade

  • Western Allies decided to now airlift supplies to the people of West Berlin

  • In May 1949, Stalin lifted the blockade of West Berlin since it was unnecessary

    • The airlift made the blockade unnecessary

  • This is regarded as the 1st major battle of Cold War

  • In Oct 1949, division of Germany became official


Creation of NATO (Apr 1949)

  • After US had strengthened its allies (through the Marshall Plan & consolidation of West Germany), it wanted to create a formal organization of them

  • In Apr 1949, US created the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)

    • Consisted of US & all its Western European democratic allies

    • Had a standing military force in Europe to defend from a Soviet invasion

  • In response to the creation of NATO, the USSR created the Warsaw Pact (1955) with its communist allies in Central & Eastern Europe


NSC-68 & New Cold War Policy

  • Many pro-communist events in 1949 made the US more vigorous in containing communism

    • In Aug 1949, USSR exploded its 1st atomic bomb

    • In Oct 1949, the Chinese Communist Party officially took over China

  • The US needed to be more vigorous & militaristic in containing communism

  • National Security Council Report NSC-68 marked a change in US foreign policy

    • US was now becoming more militaristic in containing communism

    • US realized it needed to establish itself as the leader of the non-communist world & use military force to stop communist expansion anywhere in the world

  • NSC-68 led to a major expansion of US military


The Korean War (1950-1953)

Initial Division of Korea

  • During WW2, Japan had control over the Korean peninsula

    • US & USSR both worked to weaken Japanese control of Korea​

      • USSR supported a communist regime in the Northern part of Korea

      • US supported a democratic regime in the Southern part of Korea

  • After Japan lost WW2, it was forced to cede Korea

    • USSR established a strong communist regime in the Northern part (North Korea)

    • US established a weak democratic regime in the Southern part of Korea (South Korea)

      • South Korea wasn't well-equipped military​

      • Led by Syngman Rhee

    • North & South Korea were divided by the 38th parallel (a latitude line)


Battles of Korean War

North Korea (aided by the USSR) invaded South Korea & captured its capital of Seoul (Jun 1950)

Truman got the UN to bring some forces from the UN to help South Korea. Truman put Gen. Douglas MacArthur in charge of UN forces in South Korea

In Sep 1950, UN forces landed at Inchon (in South Korea but behind the North Korean battle front). This allowed South Koreans to push back North Korea to the 38th parallel

By March 1951, South Korean forces managed to regain some territory & push North Korea back to the 38th parallel. This led to 2 year negotiations for a stalemate, ending in 1953

When North Korea became invaded, China joined the war & helped North Korea re-invade South Korea & capture Seoul (Jan 1951)

In Oct 1950, South Koreans pushed North Koreans even further & captured their capital of Pyongyang