The Cold War Begins (1945 - 1990)
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by Jim Shields
| 11 Questions
Note from the author:
Causes/effects of the Cold War (1945-1950)

THE COLD WAR BEGINS (1945 - 1990)

The atomic bombing of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the close of World War II created a profound effect on the world - especially - on the "Big Three" wartime Allies (Britain, the U.S., and USSR). Pronounced differences between the democracies (Britain, US) and communism (USSR/Russia) grew after World War II. Americans, already concerned about the communist government of the USSR, began to shift their attitudes toward that nation. In fact, a tense relationship existed during the war between the US and the USSR. Americans knew USSR dictator Josef Stalin had secretly negotiated a pact with Hitler at the beginning of the war to divide up eastern Europe, a pact that ended when Hitler invaded the USSR and Stalin turned to Britain and the US for help. As World War II ended, the US and the USSR began to compete against each to influence how the post-war world would look. When China's government also became communist, the "Cold War" between the free world (the U.S., Britain, and their allies) and communism began to dangerously accelerate. This exercise will give you an overview of the beginnings of this competition.. We'll start by looking at a map showing the extent of Germany's occupation of Europe (and the USSR) at its height:
Study this map carefully and answer the following questions:
At the beginning of WWII, USSR Premier Josef Stalin and German dictator Adolf Hitler signed a non-aggression pact that also secretly agreed to divide eastern Europe between them. What changed it?
A Stalin changed his mind and voided the pact
B Hitler invaded the Soviet Union (USSR) (Battle of Stalingrad)
C Poland joined the Ukraine in defeating both Germany and the USSR, stopping them
D Britain attacked the USSR & Germany
How did Stalin's attempt at joining forces with Hitler affect his relationship with the Allies later in the war?
A They didn't know about the pact
B It didn't affect the relationship; they needed the USSR to win
C Although they needed the USSR to win, they were still distrustful of him
D They understood Stalin's goals with Hitler and accepted them
How did the Battle of Stalingrad (USSR) affect the outcome of WWII?
A It ended Hitler's invasion of the Soviet Union
B It was a decisive victory for the Soviet army and gave them momentum to attack Germany
C It weakened Germany's army signficantly, giving the Normandy invasion a better chance at success
D All of these
Stalin repeatedly asked the Allies to open a second front in Europe to relieve the USSR from German attacks. When did that finally occur?
A June 6, 1944 with the Normandy invasion (Operation Overlord)
B Sept 15, 1940 (Battle of Britain)
C July 10, 1943 with the opening of the Italian campaign by Allied forces
D Aug 19, 1944 with the liberation of Paris
What WWII allies were known as the "Big Three"?
A Germany, USSR, Italy
B Germany, Italy, Japan
C US, USSR, Britain
D Japan, France, Britain
During WWII, the Soviet Union (Russia) lost 11,000,000 soldiers (killed and missing) as well as somewhere between 7,000,000 and 20,000,000 million of its civilian population in fighting Germany's invasion. One hundred years before that Russia suffered 400,000 casualties when Napoleon invaded with the Grand Armee' of France. Given this history, how might the Soviet Union have reacted after World War II? What protections might they have insisted on to defend themselves from future invasion? (one to two paragraphs)
A short history: the Russian revolution in 1917 - led by Vladimir Lenin - brought about a communist government in Russia. Not content with remaining solely as Russia, communist rebels set about conquering nearby peoples and their governments, forcing all to convert to communism. The federation then called itself the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, or USSR (known as the Soviet Union).

But what - exactly - is communism? Click on the following article and then write a paragraph to two paragraphs about what communism is:

The administration of US president Harry Truman watched as communist rebels attempted to take over Greece after World War II. The government of Britain had its army assist the Greek army for a time, but then suddenly withdrew after a few years of the fighting. Meanwhile, in China, a civil war broke out between China's democratic government and communist rebels, led by Mao Zedong. In a speech before Congress in 1947, Truman reflected on the shape of the post war world, concerned that in the struggle between free societies and communist governments, communist governments could gain the upper hand.
But what could the US do about it? Watch excerpts of the speech here (click on the above link) and write a two to three sentence summary of what president Truman is suggesting:

What was the Truman Doctrine about? Go to the following website (U.S. State Department, Office of the Historian) and read the article, then summarize in a sentence or two in your own words:

With the dangers the United States was facing through the spread of communism worldwide and ideological competition between communist governments and free governments during the Cold War, US officials began to build the nation's nuclear arsenal. Nuclear secrets found their way from US laboratories to both Russia and China (more on that Wednesday), and both of these countries also began to stockpile nuclear weapons. Watch the following video, then write a response to the question below:.
What are some of the dangers of the nuclear missiles? Could they be launched by mistake? If so - what would be the consequences of a "nuclear error"? (One to two paragraphs)
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