Chapter 26 Postwar Europe and North America, 1945-1968
Section 1 From
World War to Cold War
World War to Cold War
the defeat of the Axis Powers in World War II, most people hoped that
victory would bring an era of lasting peace. Disagreements among the
Allies over what to do about defeated Germany and how to govern Eastern Europe, however, soon shattered these hopes.
Within five years of the war's end, Europe and much of the world had
divided into opposing camps behind one of the two superpowers-the United
States and the Soviet Union.
Stalin, Franklin Roosevelt, and Winston Churchill at Yalta
As in World War I, so in World War II the problem of how to handle a
defeated Germany divided the victorious Allies. When
World War II ended in Europe on May 8, 1945, the three leading members
of the Grand Alliance had not decided what to do about Germany. The
problem of what to do with Germany had troubled U.S., British, and
Soviet leaders for many months; it would remain a problem over which
they disagreed for many years.
Yalta Conference. In
February 1945 Franklin Roosevelt, Joseph Stalin, and Winston Churchill
considered Germany's fate at a meeting at Yalta, a Soviet resort on
the Black Sea. At Yalta the three leaders agreed to divide Germany
temporarily, for the purpose of supervising the German surrender.
British, French, U.S., and Soviet forces would each control one zone. A
postwar peace conference would determine the long-term future of
under Allied control. Following
the German surrender in May 1945, the four Allied armies completed the
occupation of their respective zones. The U.S., British, and French
zones were in the western part of Germany; the Soviet zone was in the
east. The German capital of Berlin, though lying entirely in the Soviet
zone, was similarly divided into four sectors. At the same time, the
Soviet Red Army rolled across Eastern Europe, occupying many nations.
June 1945 the Allied governments established the Allied Control
Council to oversee a temporary government for Germany. All council
decisions had to be reached by consensus - any member could exercise a
veto. Consequently, the council soon deadlocked over issues of governing
the country. Britain and the United States wanted to rebuild the German
economy, while the Soviet Union and France hoped to keep Germany weak.
Increasingly, the Allies ignored the council and simply imposed their
own decisions on their own zones.
Nuremberg trials. Despite
over how to handle Germany as a whole, the Allies had no trouble
agreeing on what to do with the worst Nazi war criminals. From November
1945 through September 1946, an international panel met in the German
city of Nuremberg, where the Nazi Party had held its annual Nuremburg
rallies. At the Nuremberg trials, twenty-two top Nazis were tried for
"crimes against humanity" and other criminal acts.
Nineteen were eventually convicted, twelve of whom were sentenced to
death. One of the judges at Nuremberg described the Nazis' crimes:
These crimes are unprecedented ones because of the shocking numbers
of victims. They are even more shocking and unprecedented because of
the large number of persons who united to
[The Nazis] developed a
in cruelty and a
fate was part of the larger issue of how to prevent another world war.
On this issue, as they had before, the Allies disagreed sharply. Stalin
and Churchill called for dividing the world into spheres of influence
among the victors. President Roosevelt, however, preferred the
internationalist approach that had formed the basis for the League of
Nations. Internationalists called for a successor to the League that
would keep the peace and punish aggressors. This clash of views
eventually produced a compromise. At a conference held in San Francisco
from April to June 1945, 51 countries, including Great Britain, the
United States, and the Soviet Union, agreed to establish the United
Nations Organization (later simply called the United
satisfy those calling for a continuation of the 'spheres of influence'
approach, the five major powers-the United States, Britain, the Soviet
Union, France, and China-became permanent members of the Security
Council, which was charged with the task of dealing with large issues of
war and peace. Each permanent member could veto any action proposed in
the Security Council. The 'internationalist' approach was
represented in the composition of the General Assembly. The Assembly was
ultimately designed to include all nations that wished to join. All
members of the General Assembly would have equal voices and equal votes.
Many Americans looked skeptically on the United Nations, with
some objecting to its incorporation of internationalist ideas. One
person responsible for persuading many of the skeptics to support the
new organization was Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of U.S. president Franklin
Born in New York City in 1884, Roosevelt had always been interested in
social causes. After marrying Franklin and later becoming first lady,
she continued to work for civil rights. Encouraging those who felt the
sting of discrimination, for example, she repeatedly insisted, "no
one can make you feel inferior without your consent." To set an
example, in 1939 Roosevelt
the Daughters of the American Revolution to protest that group's
discrimination against African American opera singer Marian Anderson.
1945 President Harry Truman appointed Roosevelt as a delegate to the
United Nations. In 1946 she was named chairwoman of the UN Commission on
Human Rights, where she played a central role in drafting the 1948
Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Grand Alliance Dissolves
demonstrated by the deadlock over Germany, the Great Powers had
increasingly contradictory views of what the world after the war should
look like. The most striking difference was that the Western nations
believed in democracy, while the Soviets supported communism. The
Western Allies believed in the principles of a market economy-in which
private businesses and individuals determined what goods and services
should be produced, how they should be produced, and for whom they
should be produced. The Soviets, on the other hand, remained devoted to
the principles of a command economy, in which the government made all
economic decisions. During the period from 1946 to 1948 these
disagreements dissolved the Alliance.
Yalta Conference had revealed a basic difference between the United
States and the Soviet Union regarding the future of Poland. Stalin
insisted that the postwar government of Poland must be friendly to the
Soviets. Roosevelt wanted Poland to be democratic. Soon after the war,
the Soviet army snuffed out any remaining democratic tendencies in
Poland and installed a government that the Soviets could easily control.
Many Americans came to believe that Stalin could not be trusted.
deepened when Stalin publicly announced in February 1946 that the
communist struggle for world domination would resume and began to
increasingly interfere with democratic elections in Eastern Europe. The
following month, in a speech before a gathering in Fulton, Missouri,
former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill voiced what many people
Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has
descended across the Continent. ...
All these famous cities and the populations around them lie in the
Soviet sphere and are subject, in one form or another, not only to
Soviet influence, but to a very high degree and increasing measure of
"Iron Curtain" speech seemed to announce the division of
Europe between the liberal democratic West and the totalitarian communist East.
Truman Doctrine. Events
in the Balkans further deepened the division between East and
West. In March 1947 President Truman asked Congress for $400 million in
aid for Greece and Turkey.
Turkey had been under pressure from the Soviet Union for some time. In
Greece, Communists were waging a bitter civil war against the
conservative Greek government. The situation came to a head in February
1947, when the British government informed the United States that it would
soon be reducing its contributions to Greece because of economic
pressures at home.
Anxious to prevent a communist victory in Greece, President
Truman decided to take up where Britain had left off. He warned Congress
that the situation in Greece was a turning point for democracy in the
nation's struggle against communism and outlined what came
to be called the Truman Doctrine: "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."
This policy soon became known as "containment"- the United
States would contain, or prevent the spread of communism wherever it arose in the world.
approved Truman's request, and the Truman Doctrine became a basic part
of U.S. foreign policy. The growing struggle for global power between
the United States and the Soviet Union became known as the Cold
Cold War tensions increased when the Soviets tried to force a decision over
the future of Germany. In June 1948 Stalin blockaded Soviet-controlled
ground access to the western zones of Berlin. Stalin hoped that by
creating a crisis over Berlin he could convince the Western Allies
either to place Germany under Soviet control or leave it demilitarized
President Truman ordered that supplies be airlifted to the western
zones of Berlin. From June 1948 to September 1949, a steady stream of
planes kept the city fed and clothed. Stalin eventually decided that the
Berlin blockade was a failure and in May 1949
he ordered it lifted.
the Grand Alliance dissolved, Europe once again divided in two. In the West were
Britain, France and the constitutional democracies friendly to the United States. In
the East were the Soviet Union and the new communist regimes, most of
which had been installed by Stalin and were kept in power by occupation
forces of the Red Army .
June 1947 U.S. secretary of state George Marshall unveiled an American
plan for sending reconstruction assistance to Europe. The goals of the
Marshall Plan were to ease economic distress in Europe and to help
stabilize democratic governments by raising people's standards of
living. Western European leaders eagerly sketched a framework for
putting the proposed U.S. aid to good use. The Marshall Plan sent more
than $13 billion to Western Europe between 1948 and 1952. Originally,
the United States had offered Marshall Plan aid to the Soviet Union and
the countries of Eastern Europe, but the Soviets and the puppet
governments it controlled rejected it.
of the most obvious signs of the divided continent was Germany. The
Berlin blockade convinced most people in the West that agreement with
Union on the future of Germany would be impossible. Accordingly, the
Americans, British, and French supported the creation of a new Federal
Republic of Germany (West Germany) in May 1949. The new state had its
capital at Bonn. Its first chancellor was Konrad Adenauer, the leader of
the Christian Democratic Party, who was elected in September 1949.
the Soviets created a separate government for East Germany. In October
1949 the German Democratic Republic was formally proclaimed. Its capital
was East Berlin, and its leaders were German Communists selected and controlled
by the Soviet Union.
Alliances: NATO and the Warsaw Pact
Stalin tightened his grip over the countries of Eastern Europe, the
Western Allies began to fear what they saw as growing Soviet aggression.
In 1949 the Truman administration invited representatives of Great
Britain, France, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Portugal,
Denmark, Norway, Iceland, and Canada to join
United States in a military alliance. The North Atlantic Treaty of April
1949 established NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
This treaty committed the member nations to defend one another in case
efforts to fight communism were not restricted to the countries of
Europe, however. When communist North Korea invaded South Korea in June
1950, the United States and the United Nations responded by sending
troops to Korea to stop the Communists. (See Chapter 27 for a full
the Soviets were also pursuing efforts to ensure their security. Since
October 1947, the countries in the Soviet sphere, often called the
Communist bloc, had been members of the Communist Information Bureau (Cominform).
One of the main goals of the Cominform was to spread communism to
Western Europe. The Cominform gave rise in 1949 to the Council for
Mutual Economic Assistance (COMECON).
The creation of NATO and particularly the 1955 admission of West
Germany into the alliance caused the Soviet Union to form its own
military alliance, the Warsaw
in May 1955, the Warsaw Pact was an agreement of mutual military
cooperation among the Soviet Union, Albania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania,
Czechoslovakia, Poland, and East Germany. The
establishment of the two alliance systems marked a division of Europe
that would last for decades.
explain the significance of the following:
explain the importance of the following:
Republic of Germany
issues divided the Allies after World War II?
was the consequence of the alliance system that arose after the war's
and Diplomacy What
factors led to the establishment of the two German states after the war?
that you are a member of the Allied Control Council. Write an article
for a newspaper in your home country explaining how the Allies are
dealing with the defeated Germany.
do you think the Allies could not agree
on what to do with Germany after the war?