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Wednesday 7th June 2023

Period Study

In Paper 2 of the Pearson Edexcel GCSE History Course, the candidate will have 1 hour and 45 minutes to answer 4 questions across two booklets with a total of 64 marks (32 marks per booklet) to be awarded. This paper is worth 40% of your qualification/grade.


Paper 2 Booklet P: Period Study

Students answer three questions that assess their knowledge and understanding. The first two questions are compulsory. For the third question, students select two out of three parts. 

Superpower Relations and the Cold War, 1941-1991

P4A | Topic A: The Origins of the Cold War, 1941-58

You’ll study the early tension between the East and West, the development of the Cold War, and the Cold War intensifying. 


P4a1 | The Tehran, Yalta and Potsdam Conferences

The Grand Alliance. The outcomes of the Tehran, Yalta and Potsdam conferences.

  • The Tehran Conference

    • On November 28th to December 1st, 1943, the leaders of the United States, the Soviet Union and Great Britain met in Tehran, Iran

    • The conflict with Nazi Germany began to turn in their favour

    • Franklin Roosevelt, Joseph Stalin and Winston Churchill discussed what to do with Germany once they were defeated 

    • The Soviets suffered terrible losses following Germany’s invasion in 1941 

      • A lot of the Western half of the USSR was in ruins 

    • Stalin demanded compensation for the damages and post-war Germany is to be kept weak 

      • This was agreed upon by the other leaders 

    • The Big Three also agreed on setting up a new international organisation after the war to replace the League of Nations

  • The Yalta Conference

    • From February 4th to February 11th, 1945, the Big Three met again in Yalta, Ukraine

    • By the Winter of 1945, it was apparent Hitler was on the verge of defeat

      • Britain and America closed in on the West

      • While the USSR advanced in the East 

    • Roosevelt, Stalin and Churchill were to decide the fate of Europe at this conference after the end of Nazi Germany

    • Although they were divided by political and ideological differences, they did agree on some matters

    • They agreed that Germany was to be temporarily divided into 4 sectors 

      • Each zone was to be governed by a victorious country; Britain, France, the US and the USSR

    • They decided that the Germans would have to pay reparations for the damages they caused

      • Germany was fined $20 billion 

      • Half of the reparations would be going to the Soviet Union

    • It was agreed that all countries liberated from Nazi rule could hold free elections to democratically choose their Government 

    • Countries were invited to join the United Nations 

      • This was an attempt to prevent future conflicts

    • Stalin was concerned about the future of the Soviet Union due to the huge losses in the Second World War

      • He decided that Eastern Europe should be a Soviet sphere of influence 

      • Churchill and Roosevelt agreed to this but privately held reservations 

      • Stalin claimed land in Poland in return for supporting the democratic election process 

    • The Soviet Union agreed to help fight against Japan in the Pacific 

    • The conference was a success

      • But in reality, tensions were rising 

      • Churchill and Roosevelt saw that the USSR and Communism were becoming a danger to the World

      • Churchill thought Roosevelt was too soft on Communism 

      • In 1945, Churchill gave orders to keep the German arms intact in case they had to be used on the Russians

  • Potsdam Conference

    • From July 17th to August 2nd, 1945, the Big Three met in Potsdam, Germany 

    • Germany had surrendered and Europe was liberated from Nazi rule 

    • This conference was to consolidate what had been discussed at Yalta

    • Roosevelt had died and Harry Truman was now the President of the United States 

      • Truman was far more anti-Communist 

      • He was highly suspicious of Stalin's motives 

    • Churchill and the Conservative Party had lost the General Election and Clement Attlee of the Labour Party was now the British Prime Minister 

    • Stalin was at the height of his power 

    • This conference was far more conflicted compared to Yalta 

      • The leaders struggled to reach an agreement on the specifics of de-Nazification and de-militarisation 

    • There were growing tensions regarding Eastern Europe 

      • Truman was concerned that there’d not been any free elections in Poland or the other countries occupied by the Red Army which had been agreed upon at Yalta 

      • A Communist government was imposed upon Poland 

      • Stalin defended this decision arguing the occupied countries served as a ‘buffer zone’ against future threats 

      • Truman wasn’t convinced, he dismissed the buffer zone argument as an expansionist policy 

    • Unlike the Yalta Conference, the US didn’t pressure the USSR to join the war against Japan

      • Truman hoped to end the war in the Pacific before the USSR gained any significant territory in Asia 

      • He tested a device called the atomic Bomb

      • Its devastation was seen at Hiroshima and Nagasaki causing the Japanese to surrender 


P4a2 | The Ideological Differences between the Superpowers

The ideological differences between the superpowers and the attitudes of Stalin, Truman and Churchill.

  • Ideology

    • The system of ideas and ideals that form the basis of an economic or political policy 

    • The ideological differences between the USA and the USSR meant the two powers had very little common ground 

    • Their differences caused tension after WWII came to an end 

  • The US and Capitalism

    • The US is a Capitalist and multi-party state 

    • They favoured free enterprise, and personal liberty and restricted government involvement in the economy 

    • Roosevelt and Truman were committed to spreading these ideals 

    • The US leaders felt that this governmental approach was the best way to ensure the country’s security 

    • Both Roosevelt and Truman wanted to avoid another economic crisis like the one that crippled the US in the 1930s by ensuring open markets for American trade  

  • Britain and Capitalism

    • Churchill and Attlee shared the Capitalist ideology 

    • But Churchill was more inclined in accepting the Soviet presence throughout Eastern Europe when the leaders met in December 1944

      • This was only if the Soviets acknowledged British influence in other areas

  • The USSR and Communsim 

    • The USSR was a one-party Communist state

    • They controlled all aspects of the Soviet economy

    • The Government decided on how much of a given product would be produced, the prices it could be sold for and the amount of money people was paid for their labour 

    • There was little or no personal liberty 

    • Citizens could only vote for the Communist Party

    • Another aspect was the commitment to encourage further revolution abroad

      • This made Capitalist countries highly suspicious of the USSR

    • Stalin's priorities after the war were security and economic reconstruction 

      • The USSR had suffered severe damage at the hands of the Nazis

      • Stalin wanted to be sure this didn’t happen again by establishing a buffer zone of friendly states in Europe 

      • He also wanted a high proportion of reparations from Germany hoping to weaken the country so much, that wouldn’t be able to become a threat again

  • The Yalta Conference

    • It had seemed initially positive

    • Tentative agreements were made regarding Poland, Germany and reparations 

    • But tensions started to rise 

  • The Potsdam Conference

    • Very few topics could be agreed upon

    • The US and USSR were unmoving in their stances

    • Growing suspicions and fears between the powers reached new heights after the conference when the US dropped atomic bombs on Japan


P4a3 | The Atomic Bomb, Telegrams and Satellite States

The impact on US-Soviet relations of the development of the atomic bomb, the Long and Novikov telegrams and the creation of Soviet satellite states in Eastern Europe.

  • The Atomic Bomb

    • The US hadn’t informed the Soviets about their nuclear technology

    • Although they were allies in the fight against Nazi Germany, Stalin was aware of the project about Nuclear weapons due to successful Soviet espionage 

    • When the bombs were dropped, Stalin was shaken by the barbarity of the weapon

      • He was worried about the Soviet security 

    • Truman and his advisors hoped this show of nuclear strength would make the Soviets more agreeable during negotiations instead Stalin became even more inflexible 

  • The Long Telegram

    • The US was concerned about Soviet reluctance to cooperate 

    • The American Government sought answers for the reason for the USSR’s attitudes from the US Embassy in Moscow

    • They were provided with a lengthy reply from George Kennan in February 1946

    • Kennan stated the Soviet regime was highly suspicious of the outside world, insecure and focused on spreading Stalinist socialism 

    • Kenna said normal diplomacy won’t work

    • The assumption was that the USSR would respond far more quickly on aggression which hardened attitudes in Washington 

    • It contributed to a new policy that aimed to impose any further extension of Soviet power known as ‘containment’ 

  • The Novikov Telegram

    • Stalin asked his ambassador in Washington to do the same things

    • The results were equally as negative as Kennan’s Long Telegram 

    • Nikolai Novikov suggested that the US was focused on world supremacy and would use economic aid to gain allies in Europe 

    • Novikov stated that the US was preparing to wage war on the USSR

  • The Iron Curtain

    • After the Potsdam Conference, Stalin had strengthened his position in Eastern Europe

      • Countries such as Romania, Poland and Hungary now had pro-Communist governments which were loyal to Moscow

    • In March 1946, Churchill stated that an iron curtain has descended across the continent 

      • He was referring to the division of Europe

      • Europe now had a democratic West and a totalitarian East 

      • Both sides were shut off from one another

    • The US and Britain had little to no idea of what was happening in the Soviet-controlled Communist lead countries 

    • Stalin's control of Eastern Europe began to tighten 

  • Satellite States

    • Stalin saw the control of Eastern Europe as fundamental for the security of the USSR 

    • The control of Poland was seen as vital as it had been the gateway to 3 Russian invasions over the course of 150 years  

    • Stalin thought being bordered by friendly governments would ensure the Soviets’ safety 

    • When the Nazis retreated from Eastern Europe, the Red Army took their place and established control 

      • The Soviets had agreed to hold free elections in previously controlled German countries during the Yalta conference

      • However, the Soviets instead established governments of their own

    • As relations worsened, the Soviet Union tightened its control over Eastern Europe

      • Any opposition in the Eastern countries was sliced off bit by bit which Rakosi called Salami Tactics

      •  Leaders of countries such as Poland and Hungary were replaced by individuals chosen by the USSR; the new leadership was loyal to Stalin


P4a4 | The Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan

The impact on US-Soviet relations of the Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan, 1947.

  • The Policy of Containment

    • Since 1945, the Soviets had chosen Stalinist leaders in Poland, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria 

      • They’d also maintained a major influence in Czechoslovakia and East Germany 

    • The American ambassador, George Kennan, and British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, were both wary of Soviet behaviour

    • Kennan’s Long Telegram warnings and the decline in Soviet cooperation caused Truman to become concerned about other areas on the USSR border 

    • Greece was in a civil war and this prompted the American Government to commit to the Policy of Containment 

      • Preventing the spread of Communism  

  • The Greek Civil War

    • The Greek Civil War was fought from 1946-1949 

    • This was happening due to the tensions between the democratic and Communist forces in the country 

    • The British Government had been supporting the anti-Communist forces in Greece since the end of WWII

      • But this was costly for the British 

      • Britain pulled out of commitment in 1947

    • Truman was concerned that Greece and Turkey would fall to Communist forces and fall to the influence of Moscow 

      • He realised that the US would have to take a more active role than it had to before the war

  • The Truman Doctrine 

    • In 1947, Truman gave a speech to Congress, outlining the aims of the Truman Doctrine 

    • The aim was that America was to do everything to support those threatened by Communism 

    • Congress approved and authorised funding to send military advisors to Turkey and Greece 

    • The Soviets reacted angrily and they saw it as the US wanting to dominate Europe 

  • The Marshall Plan

    • In 1947, the US Secretary of State, George Marshall outlined his ideas of helping Europe recover from the devastation of WWII

    • Countries faced mass unemployment, huge rebuilding costs and massive shortages of goods and raw materials 

    • Marshall felt the US couldn’t standby while Europe starved 

    • He argued that it would be beneficial for the US in the long run if Europe’s economy recovered 

    • There was a growing belief that if European citizens continued to suffer, they’d more likely accept Communism as a solution 

    • The Marshall Plan was created in an attempt to prevent Europeans from accepting Communism as a solution by financially supporting them

    • Marshall asked Congress for $17 billion of funding for a European recovery Programme that would last for 4 years 

      • It was initially rejected

      • The alarming behaviour of the USSR made Congress change their stance 

  • Czechoslovakia and the Marshall Plan

    • Moscow was eliminating all disloyal leadership

    • Czechoslovakia had drawn attention to Moscow by pursuing independent policies

    • Jan Masaryk, a Czech politician, was found dead underneath his apartment balcony in 1948

      • Moscow had said he’d jumped 

    • Other Czech officials considering accepting the Marshall Plan were forced out of power and many were arrested

    • Because of this Congress endorsed the Marshall Plan

  • The Soviets’ Reaction to the Plan

    • To receive financial help from the Marshall Plan, you’d have to follow strict criteria and share your financial records 

    • This led to a rejection of the aid by the Soviet Union 

      • The Soviets were suspicious of Marshall aid 

      • They suspected the US was trying to buy Eastern European support 

    • Propaganda suggested the Americans were acting out of self-interest and boasting about their post-war economy 

    • Stalin made it clear that countries in the Cominform were forbidden to accept the aid 


P4a5 | Cominform, Comecon and NATO

The significance of Cominform (1947), Comecon (1949) and the formation of NATO (1949).

  • Cominform 

    • The organisation was established in 1947

    • Cominform was created to ensure compliance with Soviet wishes 

    • All Communist parties were expected to join

    • Cominform meetings were to ensure that all parties knew what was expected of them and to criticise US foreign policy

  • Yugoslavia Expelled from Cominform

    • Yugoslavia was a Communist country and a member of Cominform

    • They resisted Stalinist domination

    • The country’s leader, Joseph Tito, led his own army to victory over the occupying German forces 

    • He hadn’t been reliant on the Red Army to free his country, like most of Eastern Europe 

    • This meant that Tito’s policies were far more independent of Moscow’s

      • This greatly angered Stalin

    • After Tito refused to implement Soviet-style policies of several occasions, Yugoslavia was expelled from Cominform 

    • Yugoslavia was criticised by other Eastern Bloc countries 

    • Stalin sent assassins to kill Tito but none succeeded 

    • Tito outlived Stalin and mended relations with the USSR later on

  • Comecon

    • This was in response to the Marshall Plan

    • The Soviets created Comecon in 1949

    • It was an organisation that bounded the Eastern Bloc together economically through a series of trade agreements 

  • NATO: The Creation 

    • Before 1949, the US was convinced the USSR was a threat to democracy and Capitalism in Western Europe 

    • The Czechoslovak coup d'état and the Berlin Blockade were the final events that persuaded the United States to fully intervene 

    • The US decided a military commitment was necessary to deter future Soviet aggression 

    • The US thought a defence pact was also necessary in order to ease French fears regarding the creation of an independent West German state 

    • The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) was established in 1949

    • Members of NATO committed themselves to protecting other members if they were attacked 

    • Countries that signed in 1949 included Canada, the US, Britain, France, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Italy and Portugal 

      • Greece and Turkey joined in 1952

  • NATO: Feeling Vulnerable 

    • By 1950, NATO countries felt increasingly vulnerable following a string of Communist victories 

      • The Soviets successfully tested its own atomic bomb in 1949

      • In 1949, the Chinese Communist Party led by Mao Zedong seized control of China 

      • South Korea had been invaded by the Communist North

    • Due to the increasingly confident Soviet Union, NATO with the aid of the US agreed to increase spending on armaments

  • NATO: Strength Increase

    • The Western Bloc was further strengthened in 1952 when six Western European countries signed the European Steel and Coal Treaty

      • This led to increased economic cooperation 

    • The military cooperation through NATO was increased in the forces defending Western Europe  

  • NATO: The Challenges

    • There were challenges to NATO unity 

    • There were tensions over West Germany’s entry into the organisation which threatened to divide NATO in the early 1950s 

    • France strongly objected to the inclusion of a country that had invaded them 3x in 70 years 

    • The French didn’t like the control America exerted over NATO

    • Opposition to West German involvement was overcome in 1955, however France left NATO in 1966

      • France left due to the fear of the loss of independence of their own army

    • The Warsaw Pact served as an opposing alliance to NATO 

      • It’d soon outnumber NATO in divisions and tanks

      • The two alliances didn’t exercise military attack on one another 

      • But both of their creations emphasised the anxieties between Capitalist and Communist countries 


P4a6 | The Berlin Crisis: Blockade and Airlift

Berlin: its division into zones. The Berlin Crisis (Blockade and airlift) of 1948-49 and its impact. The formation of the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic.

  • Germany

    • During the Yalta and Potsdam Conference, it was decided that Germany and Berlin were to be temporarily divided into 4 zones 

      • Each zone was to be occupied by Britain. France, the US and the USSR 

    • The West felt that Germany needed to recover quickly in order to safeguard the European economy 

    • Truman was alarmed to hear that across Germany, millions were starving 

      • Stalin feared that Germany would revolt against the Soviet Union

    • The Western leaders were determined to encourage economic revival and began to reform the old German currency in 1948

    • The Western countries agreed to form a new German state from their existing sectors 

      • The economic success of Trizonia began to improve

      • Stalin was enraged by what was happening outside his sphere of influence 

    • Germany’s capital was deep inside the Soviet zone 

    • The introduction of the new currency in West Berlin was seen as intruding upon Soviet control

    • The USSR wanted to keep Germany weak due to the amount of destruction they’d caused in WWII  

      • France shared this belief

      • While America believed that economic recovery was key in stability and peace in Europe 

    • Agreements over Germany caused tension and conflict

  • The Berlin Blockade

    • On June 24th, 1948, Stalin closed all supply routes, canals, roads and railways to Berlin; this was the Berlin Blockade

    • This started the Berlin Crisis on June 24th, 1948

    • Stalin hoped the West would drop their plans or abandon Berlin

    • Russians initially claimed the closures were due to road repairs and technical difficulties 

    • This blocking of routes to Berlin would cause the starvation of 2.2 million West Berliners who relied on food and fuel supplies from the Western zones 

    • This was clever by the Soviets as an attempt to force their way through the blockade would be seen as an act of war

  • The Berlin Airlift

    • Instead of forcing themselves through the Blockade, the US decided they’d fly in supplies 

    • This was a difficult and gigantic task as Berliners needed 9,000 tonnes of food and raw materials per day to survive 

    • On June 26th, 1948, the Berlin Airlift began 

    • Soviets didn’t shoot down any supply planes as this could’ve led to open conflict

    • 200,000 flights were completed 

    • Supply planes took off and landed every 3 minutes in West Berlin 

    • The Soviets' attempts of supplying West Berliners with extra rations and threatening them about cutting off power supplies were unsuccessful 

    • Less than a year later on May 12th, 194, Stalin acknowledged defeat and lifted the Blockade 

  • The Propaganda War

    • Overcoming the Berlin Blockade was a huge propaganda success for the US 

    • The Soviets responded by saying the Blockade was a propaganda idea devised in Washington

  • Two New German States

    • The failure of the Blockade led to two new German states

    • This completed the separation of political and economic divisions across Europe

    • In the West, the Federal Republic of Germany was established

    • In the East, the German Democratic Republic was created

    • This Blockade convinced the US that the USSR was a big enough threat to create a military commitment to Europe

    • A mutual assistance pact was signed by US allies in Europe creating NATO in 1949 

    • In 1955, the USSR created the Warsaw Pact, this was their own alliance in response to NATO


P4a7 | The Arms Race and the Warsaw Pact

The significance of the arms race. The formation of the Warsaw Pact.

  • The Atomic Bomb

    • The US dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima on August 6th, 1945 

    • This triggered a nuclear arms race that lasted for 40 years 

    • Bombs of greater speed, power and sophistication were developed  

    • The US and USSR attempted to gain an advantage over each other through the advancement of weaponry

    • By the late ‘80s, the world could’ve been destroyed many times over by the amount of explosive power possessed by the two powers 

  • The Arms Race: Beginning

    • Stalin responded by ordering his scientists to build a similar weapon

    • By 1949, the Soviet Union had created their own atomic bomb

    • In response, the US created the hydrogen bomb in 1952

      • It was a 1000x more powerful than the atomic bomb

    • The USSR worked on a similar weapon and in 6 months, they’d constructed their own hydrogen bomb

  • The Arms Race: Soviet Lead

    • The Soviets then took the initiative and created the 1st intercontinental ballistic missile in 1958

    • The Soviets created the 1st satellite 

    • The Soviets also created the 1st early warning radar 

    • This prompted panic in the United States 

    • The US believed that they’d fallen behind in the arms race due to the deficiencies in their education system 

    • Eisenhower was accused by his political opponents that he’d let the USSR gain the advantage in the number of missiles

      • Eisenhower knew this was untrue 

      • His surveillance agency, the CIA, had photographic evidence taken secretly by U2 planes flying high attitudes over Soviet airspace 

      • By 1960, the USA had 295 ICBMs which was 120 more than the USSR  

  • MAD

    • Both powers were aware that nuclear war would lead to the end of humankind 

    • They hoped that having enough firepower to destroy their opponent would stop them from ever using their nuclear weapons 

    • Eisenhower made it clear to the Soviets that if they or any of their allies attacked the US, they’d be greeted with massive retaliation 

    • The idea of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) was developed 

    • Both sides hoped that MAD would prevent their opponents from ever attacking

  • The Arms Race: The End

    • MAD led to the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 1972

      • It prevented Moscow and Washington from deploying nationwide defences against strategic missiles 

    • Reagan chose to undermine MAD by initiating a huge and destructive arms build-up

      • The Strategic Defence Initiative (nicknamed ‘Star Wars’) began in 1983 and caused the Soviets to be concerned 

      • If this had been built, the US would have the ability to destroy nuclear weapons from space

      • Soviet leaders knew it would take years to develop something similar, especially considering the poor state of the Russian economy 

    • Due to the poor state of the Russian economy, they were willing to have talks on reducing the number of nuclear weapons possessed by each side after 1985

      • Talks between Reagan and Gorbachev resulted in the signing of the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty in 1987

      • This reduced the number of weapons each country held  

      • This treaty and more led to the end of the arms race 

  • The Warsaw Pact

    • Signed in Poland in 1955, six years after the formation of NATO and in response to the rearmament of West Germany and its entry into NATO

    • It was a defensive, military alliance made between the USSR and several other Eastern European countries 

    • It was officially named the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance 

    • The Warsaw Pact included Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary, Poland, Romania and the Soviet Union

    • The Soviets saw the rearmament of West Germany and their entry to NATO as a threat to the Communist countries and they needed collective security to remedy this

    • The Warsaw Pact was to provide collective security to all of its members, but in reality, it protected the Soviet Union

      • The main decision-making bodies of the Political Consultative Committee and the Unified Command for the Armed Forces were based in Moscow 

      • The military forces of the Warsaw Pact were commanded by Soviet generals 

  • The Uprisings Against the Pact

    • Hungary attempted to leave the Warsaw Pact in 1956, and it didn’t end well for them

      • 1000s were killed

      • Nagy was executed 

      • He was replaced with Kadar and the country remained as part of the Pact

    • In the early 1960s, Romania pushed for greater control of its national defences  

      • It succeeded and gained more self-control over its armed forces and military policies 

    • In 1968, Czechoslovakia didn’t like how the Warsaw Pact gave the USSR control over their affairs 

      • They tried to gain independence 

      • The Czechs went too far with the Soviet Union

      • Brezhnev ordered Warsaw troops to invade and put an end to the reforms in Czechoslovakia 

      • The invasion of Czechoslovakia would be the first and last time collective action would be taken by the members of the Warsaw Pact

    • The willingness of using Warsaw Pact forces disappeared in the 1980s with the appointment of Mikhail Gorbachev

      • Even with protests against Communist rule in 1989

      • Gorbachev did not send Warsaw Pact troops to stop them


P4a8 | The Hungarian Uprising

Events in 1956 leading to the Hungarian Uprising, and Khrushchev’s response.

  • Post-War Hungary and Rakosi

    • Hungary was occupied by the Red Army after WWII

      • This was to make sure that Hungary was governed by leadership that was friendly and cooperative with the USSR

    • By 1949, Hungary was firmly a part of the Eastern Bloc

    • The country was led by a committed Stalinist, Matya Rakosi

    • Rakosi was a devoted Communist

    • Rakosi coined the term ‘Salami Tactics’ to describe how he dealt with his opponents; he’d slice off resistance and anti-Communists bit by bit until only his supporters were left

    • Rakosi created a totalitarian regime based on complete obedience to state control   

      • Based on Stalin's model of Communism

      • It involved economic policies of collectivisation

        • All resources were pulled together and sold to the state 

    • Rakosi used a lot of propaganda to create an idealised, heroic and god-like image of himself 

    • But Rakosi’s control generated little income and Hungary had slow economic growth

      • He was unable to provide consumer goods that’d increase living standards 

  • De-Stalinisation

    • People started to dislike Rakosi’s regime by the mid-1950s

    • Stalin also died in 1953

    • After Malenkov led, Khrushchev became the new Premier

    • Khrushchev denounced Stalin in a secret speech in Moscow 

    • He began a process of de-stalinisation in government, moving away from a totalitarian regime

    • Hungarians saw this as an opportunity to remove their Stalinist leadership

    • They took to the streets concerning Rakosi’s removal

    • Khrushchev allowed this and even withdrew the Red Army 

  • Nagy and Hungary

    • Irme Nagy was the most popular politician among the protestors 

    • On October 24th, 1956, Nagy became the new Hungarian leader 

    • Nagy announced a series of political and economic reforms, he introduced:

      • Democracy

      • Freedom of Speech

      • Freedom of Religion 

    • Khrushchev accepted these changes 

    • On November 1st, 1956, Nagy announced that Hungary would leave the Warsaw Pact and become neutral

      • Khrushchev didn’t accept this 

      • Leaving the Warsaw Pact would mean Hungary would be independent of Soviet control

      • It could encourage other states to follow Hungary and leave as well which would undermine the security of the USSR

  • The Hungarian Uprising

    • On November 4th, 1956, Khrushchev ordered the Red Army back into Hungary

    • 31,550 troops were sent to invade Hungary

    • 1,130 Soviet tanks occupied Hungary’s airfields, major junctions and bridges 

    • After a week of fighting, 722 Soviets and more than 2,500 Hungarians were killed

    • Nagy was executed

    • Hungary’s hopes of independence were destroyed and they were put back firmly in the Eastern Bloc

    • Janos Kadar, improved by Khrushchev, was made leader of Hungary


P4a9 | The International Reaction to the Soviet Invasion of Hungary

The international reaction to the Soviet invasion of Hungary.

  • The US Encouragement

    • The US and the UN did very little to help the Hungarians during the Hungarian Uprising

    • Radio Free Europe, a radio station sponsored by the USA, encouraged the revolt but didn’t assist in any way, shape or form

    • Eisenhower felt that the Soviets would do all they could to prevent the independence of Hungary from the Warsaw Pact

    • The US was worried that if they interfered, it’d carry the very real risk of Nuclear War

  • The Suez Crisis

    • The US was also unable to help as it was responding to a separate crisis in November 1956

    • Britain, France and Israel attacked Egypt in an attempt to remove Gamal Abdel Nasser from power

    • Nasser was trying to nationalise the Suez Canal

    • Britain, France and Israel were trying to keep Western control over the Suez Canal

    • The three countries hoped the US would help them in the Suez Crisis but Eisenhower actually condemned the attack

    • This forced the three states to withdraw 

    • This crisis took place at the same time as the Hungarian Uprising, so the USSR could stop the Hungarian Revolutionaries while everyone’s eyes were on the Middle East 


P4B | Topic B: Cold War Crises, 1958-70

You’ll study the increased tensions between the East and West, the Cold War crises, and the reaction to the crisis. 


P4b1 | Berlin's Refugee Problem

The refugee problem in Berlin, Khrushchev’s Berlin ultimatum (1958), and the summit meetings of 1959–61.

  • The Early Build-Up to the Berlin Crisis of 1961

    • Between June 1961 to November 1961, Berlin became the scene for a showdown between the superpowers in the Berlin Crisis of 1961

    • Agreed upon in the wartime conferences, Germany and Berlin had been split into 4 temporary zones each governed by a major ally  

      • Agreements were made on the exchange of materials and food

      • There was also a commitment to a group discussion before anyone could make any changes to their zone 

    • Due to mistrust, the cooperation in Germany dissolved 

    • Capitalist powers unified their zones, reformed the currency and planned to give West Germany independence 

      • Stalin responded by creating the Berlin Blockade in an attempt to force the allies to relinquish control over their half of the capital

      • The Western powers refused to surrender and Stalin was forced to lift the Blockade 

    • US troops continued to occupy West Berlin

    • The American Government invested huge sums of money to improve the West Berliners’ living standards

    • The conditions in Communist-controlled East Berlin were poor 

  • The Refugee Problem in Berlin

    • Although Khrushchev had a process of de-stalinisation

      • Which gave countries in the Eastern Bloc more of a say in how their country was run

      • Events such as the Hungarian Uprising where revolutionaries were quickly crushed showed that East Berliners would have to move rather than revolt

    • East Berliners would have to escape from the poor conditions in the Communist East and move to the West

    • East Berliners would see shops filled with goods, freedom of speech and comfortable wealth only 100s of metres away in West Berlin

    • East Berlin suffered from shortages, strict Communist rule and few personal freedoms 

    • By the late 1950s, many people were leaving East Berlin to go to West Berlin

    • From West Berlin, they’d travel to West Germany to start a new life 

  • Khrushchev’s Berlin Ultimatum 

    • Khrushchev issued an ultimatum in 1958

    • It stated the Western powers had to leave Berlin within 6 months 

    • It stated following their departure, the full control of Berlin should be handed over to the East German Government 

    • The US refused to accept this 

    • The US did meet with Soviet representatives to solve this situation 

  • The Summit Meetings

    • Khrushchev visited the United States in September 1959 to attend a summit meeting as in an attempt to resolve the situation 

    • Later in September 1959, Khrushchev met Eisenhower at the Presidential retreat, Camp David 

      • Both were optimistic about the talks 

      • A resolution seemed possible 

    • The second summit was planned in Paris for May 1960 was cancelled

      • The Russians intercepted a US spy plane and weren’t happy

    • The Vienna Conference 

      • By 1961, tensions had grown significantly

      •  Khrushchev reissued his ultimatum at the Vienna Conference 


P4b2 | The Cuban Revolution and the Bay of Pigs Incident

Soviet relations with Cuba, the Cuban Revolution and the refusal of the USA to recognise Castro’s government. The significance of the Bay of Pigs incident.

  • The Cuban Revolution 

    • In 1959, a rebel called Fidel Castro took power in Cuba

    • Cuba is an island 90 miles off the coast of Florida, America

    • Castro led the Cuban Revolution out of resentment towards President Batista

      • President Batista’s Government was corrupt and inefficient

      • His Government left wealth in the hands of a small elite

      • He didn't do much to stop poverty in Cuba 

    • The Cuban economy was heavily reliant on the sugar trade 

      • The seasonal nature of the industry meant lots of workers were unemployed and unpaid for much of the year 

      • Many Cubans resented that much of their economy was owned by American businesses and profits went to the US rather than them

    • The President and the state of the economy meant Castro had enough and successfully overthrew the Cuban Government 

  • The US Response

    • America didn’t initially view Castro as an enemy

    • Castro began nationalising the American companies, the US became more aggressive 

    • The US stopped providing aid and all imports of Cuban sugar

      • This damaged the Cuban economy 

      • Castro was forced to look to the USSR for help

  • The USSR Help

    • The USSR seized the chance to gain an ally in the Western hemisphere 

    • They promised to buy 1 million tonnes of Cuban sugar per year 

    • Castro who wasn’t originally a Communist became one 

    • This alarmed the US and relations between Cuba and the US began to decline 

  • The Bay of Pigs Incident

    • By January 1961, the US had broken off diplomatic relations with Cuba entirely 

    • Eisenhower was succeeded by John F. Kennedy in 1961

    • Eisenhower had improved a plan to topple Castro using 1,300 Cuban exiles that’d been training in Guatemala

    • Kennedy was fully briefed on the plan

    • In April 1961, this force landed on the Bay of Pigs, Cuba

    • They were hoping to overthrow Castro

    • However, the invasion was a disaster and Kennedy was humiliated 

    • Castro easily dealt with the invasion and became increasingly insecure with Cuba’s relationship with America 


P4b3 | The Prague Spring

Opposition in Czechoslovakia to Soviet control: the Prague Spring.

  • Other Countries’ Communist Ideologies

    • In 1956, the Hungarian Uprising failed to secure independence from Moscow

    • However, not all countries in the Eastern Bloc accepted full Soviet control

      • Yugoslavia, Albania and Romania differed from the USSR in their interpretation of Communist ideology

      • Khrushchev allowed them to focus on their own priorities 

      • In his process of de-stalisation, he gave these countries greater independence 

    • The greater independence of countries like Yugoslavia, Albania and Romania continued when Brezhnev became the Russian Premier in 1964

    • Czechoslovakia hoped that de-stalinisation would apply in their country

      • But in 1968, they discovered that there were limits to the independence the Eastern Bloc countries were allowed to pursue 

  • Soviet Control in Czechoslovakia

    • During the interwar years, Czechoslovakia had been the most democratic and most culturally and industrially advanced country of the Eastern Bloc 

    • But after 1945, Soviet control caused strict censorship and tight control over the economy which resulted in stagnation

    • Czech dissatisfaction was shown when pro-Moscow leader, Anthony Novotny, was forced to resign

  • Prague Spring

    • Alexander Dubcek became the new leader of Czechoslovakia 

    • He introduced a series of proposals 

      • Dubcek de-centralised the economy which gave factories and farms more say in how they were operated 

      • Censorship was relaxed

      • The West was opened for trade

      • Czech citizens were allowed to travel to West Germany

    • These reforms were greeted positively and began Prague Spring 


P4b4 | The Construction of the Berlin Wall

The construction of the Berlin Wall, 1961.

  • Pre-Construction 

    • The relations between the US and USSR were quickly dissolving and tensions were growing significantly 

    • 3.5 million East Germans fled to West Germany (mostly via West Berlin) between 1945-1961

    • A brain drain began which meant highly skilled workers were leaving the Communist area 

    • Kennedy refused to withdraw US troops from Berlin during his meeting with Khrushchev in 1961 

    • This caused the Soviet Premier to decide to build a wall dividing the city

  • The Berlin Wall

    • The wall was fully erected on August 13th, 1961

    • It ended all free movement between the East and West 

    • On October 27th, 1961, Soviet tanks blocked any further access to the East, including American diplomats and troops 

    • In response, the US also pulled up to the border with tanks and soldiers 

    • A stand-off lasted for 18 hours until both sides withdrew 

  • Propaganda

    • Although this was an immediate solution to the Soviets’ problem, it was also a propaganda defeat

    • The US would exploit the Berlin Wall and how the Soviets had to stop their citizens from leaving their Communist rule with a wall for the next 3 decades


P4b5 | The Cuban Missile Crisis

The events of the Cuban Missile Crisis.

  • The Aftermath of the Bay of Pigs Incident 

    • Castro easily dealt with the 1,300 Cuban exiles that were a part of America’s attempt to overthrow Castro 

    • Castro was now increasingly insecure about Cuba’s relationship with America

    • In September 1961, Castro asked the USSR for weapons to defend Cuba against America 

    • This led to nuclear weapon launchers on Cuban soil in 1962 

  • The Cuban Missile Crisis

    • On October 15th, 1962, the US discovered the Cuban missile sites when the U2 flight captured images of the sites being constructed 

    • Kennedy’s Government had to respond to a development that put most US cities within reach of Soviet missiles; each being able to reach their target in minutes

    • This marked the beginning of the Cuban Missile Crisis

    • Some urged an aggressive response while others, including Kennedy, want a more cautious approach 

    • A quarantine was established around Cuba which stopped any more nuclear weapons from entering Cuba

    • Kennedy gave a speech to the US population demanding that the Soviets remove their missile sites and missiles from Cuba immediately 

    • The pressure was put on Khrushchev in a UN council debate where evidence of the missile development was put on display

    • After talks, a deal was struck between the US and the USSR

      • The missiles would be removed from Cuba in exchange that the US would promise not to invade Cuba 

      • Secretly the US also promised to dismantle missiles in Turkey, which bordered the USSR

P4b6 | The Brezhnev Doctrine

The Brezhnev Doctrine and the re-establishment of Soviet control in Czechoslovakia.

  • Brezhnev’s Concerns

    • Dubcek was careful to assure Moscow that Czechoslovakia remained committed to the Warsaw Pact

    • After 8 months of his reforms, it proved too much for Brezhnev 

    • Dubcek allowed political parties to grow

    • He allowed President Tito of Yugoslavia (a country that wasn’t a part of the Warsaw Pact) to visit Czechoslovakia 

    • Brezhnev was also concerned that freedom of speech would lead to protests in other countries 

  • The Warsaw Pact Invasion of Czechoslovakia

    • Premier Brezhnev ordered Warsaw Pact troops into Czechoslovakia on August 20th, 1968

    • This saw an initial 250,000 troops, 2,000 tanks and 800 aircraft being sent to invade Czecholosavkia with these numbers increasing to over 400,000 troops and 6,300 tanks

    • They removed Dubcek’s Government and ended his reforms 

    • The Czechs didn’t violently retaliate 

      • This is because they saw how futile fighting was in the Hungarian Uprising

    • Czechs protested by standing in front of tanks, putting flowers in the soldiers’ hair and through other forms of passive resistance 

    • A student called Jan Palach burned himself to death in protest

    • This invasion led to 96 Warsaw Pact troops' deaths, 137 Czechoslovakians killed and 70,000 Czechs fleeing to the West immediately after the invasion 

  • Dubcek’s Arrest

    • Dubcek was arrested and forced to sign the Moscow Protocol

      • The Moscow Protocol limited the extent of his reforms  

    • In 1969, Dubcek was expelled from the Czechoslovakian Communist Party

    • Gustáv Husák, who was more favourable to Moscow, was installed as the new leader of Czechoslovakia 

  • The Brezhnev Doctrine

    • After the invasion, Brezhnev justified his actions by saying Dubček’s reforms would’ve affected multiple countries and not just his own

    • He issued the Brezhnev Doctrine in 1968

    • It stated that policies that threatened Communist control would not be tolerated and it’d be the responsibility of all the countries in the Warsaw Pact to get involved if any country undermined Communist control 


P4b7 | Kennedy’s Visit to West Berlin

Impact of the construction of the Berlin Wall on US-Soviet relations. Kennedy’s visit to West Berlin in 1963.

  • Kennedy’s Visit

    • On June 26th, 1963, Kennedy visited West Berlin to the excitement of the German crowds

    • There was a crowd of 120,000 Germans

    • Kennedy made a famous speech stating that Berlin was a symbol of freedom and the struggle against communism 

    • Kennedy said in his speech ‘Ich bin ein Berliner’ intending to mean I’m a citizen of Berlin to show he was by Berlin’s side against communism

      • But Berliner was also a type of German jam doughnut and many misinterpreted his speech thinking he’d said ‘I’m a jam doughnut’

    • The message was strong and put an end to Soviet hopes of the Western allies leaving Berlin 


P4b8 | The Treaties After the Cuban Missile Crisis

The consequences of the Cuban Missile Crisis, including the ‘hotline’. Attempts at arms control: the Limited Test Ban Treaty (1963); the Outer Space Treaty (1967); and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (1968).

  • The Outcome of the Cuban Missile Crisis

    • The Cuban Missile Crisis surprisingly had many positive effects on the US and the USSR’s relations 

    • It was unbelievable how each side was so close to a nuclear war 

    • The leaders of both powers took action to make nuclear war less likely to happen in the future 

  • The Hotline

    • A hotline was established between Washington and Moscow 

    • It provided a quicker means of communication 

    • This was very important as discussions between parties during the Cuban Missile Crisis could take up to 12 hours to receive and decode which was a dangerously long time 

  • The Treaties

    • There were several diplomatic measures and treaties passed to prevent another Cold War

    • The Limited Test Ban Treaty was signed in August 1963, this meant they’d agreed to only conduct nuclear tests underground

    • The Outer Space Treaty was signed in January 1967, this prohibited tests in space and the stationing of nuclear weapons on the moon 

    • Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty was signed in July 1968, this attempted to prevent nations that didn’t possess nuclear weapons from getting information and technology that’d enable them to build their own


P4b9 | International Reaction to Soviet Measures in Czechoslovakia

International reaction to Soviet measures in Czechoslovakia.

  • Internation Reactions

    • The invasion of Czechoslovakia damaged the Soviet Union’s image

    • It was criticised by Capitalists and Communists

    • Countries such as Yugoslavia, Albania and Czechoslovakia all condemned the action

    • It also slowed the détente process with the US

  • A Communist Loss

    • Russia hoped it’d be a show of strength but instead, the invasion of Czechoslovakia laid out the problems of Communism 

    • It showed the stagnating economies and lack of freedom juxtaposed with the growing, free and vibrant West

    • More citizens of the Eastern Bloc were becoming aware of this


P4C | Topic C: The End of the Cold War, 1970-91

You’ll study the attempts to reduce tension between the East and West, flashpoints, and the collapse of Soviet control of Eastern Europe.


P4c1 | Détente, Helsinki, SALT I and II

Détente in the 1970s, SALT 1, Helsinki, and SALT 2.

  • Before Détente

    • After the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, there was an attempt by the USA and the USSR to rein in the arms race 

    • Neither power wanted a war to break out as both had too much at stake 

    • By the lates 1960s, both sides had an equal amount of warheads 

      • Any further attempt to take the lead in the arms race would be costly

      • Both sides didn’t really want to do this as they were suffering from their own economic difficulties 

  • The USSR’s Reasons for Wanting Détente

    • In the USSR, the standard of living hadn’t improved much after WWII

    • All their investments and resources were put into the armaments industry rather than the economy

    • Brezhnev hoped that a pause in the arms race would allow the standard of living to rise in the USSR

    • They could also use their wealth to increase their Eastern European allies’ economies 

    • Improved relations with America meant access to Western technology 

    • Relations with the USSR and China had hit an all-time low after a border conflict in 1969 that threatened to develop into a full-blown war

      • The USA had already taken steps to improve relations with China 

      • The USSR was left vulnerable

  • The USA’s Reasons for Wanting Détente 

    • It offered a way out of the costly Vietnam War 

      • The Vietnam War damaged America’s political image

      • It wasn’t popular in the US

      • The US realised that their military force could only achieve so much and that not all Communist countries were controlled by Moscow 

        • Events in Hungary, Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia proved that tensions existed within the Communist world 

    • Richard Nixon sought to change US foreign policy

      • He removed the focus on Southeast Asia

      • He wanted a global approach that was more reliant on diplomacy 

    • Nixon was also faced with Western European allies being tired of being tied to decisions made by Washington

      • Many wanted to carve their own paths of diplomacy 

      • Willy Brandt, the leader of West Germany, hoped to improve relations with East Germany 

  • Détente: Beginning

    • Began in 1968

    • It’s the relaxation of strained relations 

    • Most of the developments that improved America’s and Russia’s relationship took place in the 1970s 

      • This included SALT 1 and the Helsinki Accords

  • SALT I

    • Introduced in 1972

    • SALT stands for Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty 

    • It took 2.5 years of negotiations between Brezhnev and Nixon

    • It put a cap on how much weaponry each side could have, including:

      • Anti-ballistic missiles

      • Intercontinental ballistic missiles 

      • Submarine-launched ballistic missiles 

    • It also included the Basic Principles Agreement 

      • This outlined procedures for each country to follow if political tensions increased the possibility of nuclear war

    • SALT I was a major step in halting the arms race and de-escalating the threat of nuclear war

    • It was though criticised as it excluded the most recent technology MIRVs (ballistic missiles with multiple warheads able to hit separate targets)

    • Further summit meetings followed this and preparations were made for a new arms limitation treaty 

  • The Helsinki Accords

    • In 1975, the USA and the USSR attended the conference on security and cooperation in Europe 

    • It was held in Helsinki, Finland

    • They were joined by Canada and all the European states (except Albania)

    • All the countries signed an agreement that aspired to remove all sources of tension and promote cooperation

    • This was known as the Helsinki Accords (also known as the Helsinki Final Act or the Helsinki Declaration)

    • The Helsinki Accords were not legally binding like a treaty but they were a significant step forward in the détente process 

    • All sides formally agreed: 

      • To the borders of Europe established after the Second World War

        • This meant the division of Germany was accepted as a reality

      • On further promises of further collaboration on economic, cultural and scientific matters 

      • On commitment to respect human rights and individual freedoms 

        • Things that’d been denied to the people of the USSR and Eastern Europe in previous decades 

    • In America, the Helsinki Accords were heavily criticised by all sides as many didn’t trust the Soviets to stand by the agreements on human rights 

    • The human rights provision had huge consequences for the USSR as it led to massive protests in the late 1980s as Brezhnev signed the agreement, it put Communist governments in a difficult position when they tried to deny what was written in them

      • More and more Helsinki groups across the Eastern Bloc 

      • These groups held the authorities to account for human rights abuses   


    • Negotiations for SALT II began in 1974 and were 5 years in the making

    • There were significant delays over the technicalities of comparing the different types of weapons and how many weapons each side had

    • In the late 1970s, new tensions had developed between the US and the USSR mainly due to Soviet support for socialist groups in Africa

    • The treaty was signed in 1979

    • It put limits on strategic missiles, bombers and multiple warheads 

  • Détente: Ending

    • By the late ‘70s, détente became very unpopular in the US 

    • Republicans and Democrats believed America gained very little from the process

    • The suspicion that the USSR couldn’t be trusted was emphasised when the USSR invaded Afghanistan in 1979

      • This ended any possibility that SALT II would be approved by the US Senate 


P4c2 | Reagan and Gorbachev

The significance of Reagan and Gorbachev’s changing attitudes.

  • Reagan’s Changing Attitudes

    • In January 1981, Reagan became the President of the United States

    • He was an opponent of détente in the 1970s

      • He claimed the US gained little from it and it gave too many compromises 

    • He made little attempt to build bridges with the Soviets in his first term

    • In all his speeches, Reagan would criticise the Soviets and Communism 

      • He called out that their system was unable to feed their own people and provide them with their own basic human freedoms and dignities 

      • He condemned the Soviet Union’s tendency to enforce its rule by force 

      • In one speech he called the Soviet Union, the ‘Evil Empire’

    • During the ‘Second Cold War’, Reagan abandoned the concept of MAD and increased spending on the arms race

    • He announced he’ll be making the Strategic Defence Initiative, and even though they were decades away from building this, the USSR didn’t know and began to panic 

    • But with Gorbachev’s New Thinking, Reagan changed his attitude and called for disarmament

    • Reagan would make a friendship with Gorbachev

  • Gorbachev’s Changing Attitudes

    • Gorbachev was different from his predecessors 

    • He wanted to increase the stagnant Soviet economy than increase spending for the arms race

    • He wanted to reform the USSR and bring in new policies and reformations 

    • Gorbachev’s New Thinking would see the tensions of relations with the USA decrease but also the collapse of the Soviet Union

    • Gorbachev would make a friendship with Reagan 

  • Reagan and Gorbachev

    • In Gorbachev’s first meeting with Reagan, he was prepared to make major cuts to his country’s nuclear arsenal 

      • Reagan was as enthusiastic about arms reduction as well

    • However, the talks at Geneva in 1985 and Reykjavik in 1986 both broke down as Reagan refused to abandon the Strategic Defense Initiative 

    • In 1987, both leaders attended the Washington Summit and came up with the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF)

    • At the Moscow Summit in 1988, Reagan remarked that he no longer thought of the USSR as an ‘Evil Empire’

      • America’s change in perspective was likely due to Gorbachev’s reforms


P4c3 | Gorbachev’s New Thinking

Gorbachev’s ‘new thinking’ and the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Force (INF) Treaty (1987).

  • Gorbachev’s New Thinking 

    • Two Soviet Premiers quickly died and Gorbachev became the new Premier in 1985

    • He wanted to reform his country and abandon the arms race

    • His new way of thinking appealed to Reagan, who responded positively to calls for disarmament 

  • The Soviet Union in the 1980s

    • The USSR’s economy was stagnant because it spent vasts amounts of money in an attempt to keep up with the US in the arms race

    • Gorbachev seemed youthful and dynamic compared to his predecessors 

    • Gorbachev brought energy to the task of reforming the Soviet Union

    • In the West

      • They could supply their citizens with a wide range of consumer goods 

      • The quality of life in the US continued to rise 

      • They were being enriched with new technologies 

    • The Soviet industry had changed little since the days of Stalin; they still focused heavily on industry and machinery 

    • Living standards in the Eastern Bloc had been falling further than the West since the ‘60s 

    • The USSR suffered from shortages and rationing 

    • Gorbachev knew that the rigid Soviet system stood very little chance against the US’s innovations and developments 

  • The Reformation of the USSR

    • With Gorbachev’s new thinking, he set out to reform the USSR with his policies of Perestroika and Glasnost (Openness)

    • Perestroika

      • To restructure the economy by relaxing state control

      • Small-scale businesses and workers’ cooperatives now could compete with state-owned operations 

      • Gorbachev needed to cut the costs of armaments and end the arms race to allow Perestroika to happen 

    • Glasnost

      • Gorbachev relaxed strict censorship

      • Foreign broadcasting stations, like the BBC, were allowed to broadcast from Moscow for the 1st time 

  • Intermediate-Range Nuclear Force Treaty

    • In 1987, both leaders attended the Washington Summit and came up with the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF)

    • They both agreed to the reduction of land-based missiles 

    • This led to the initial destruction of 846 US missiles and 1,846 Soviet missiles 

    • Both countries agreed to remove missiles from Europe within 3 years 


P4c4 | The Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan

The significance of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the Carter Doctrine and the Olympic boycotts.

  • The Invasion 

    • In December 1979, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan 

    • Brezhnev and his Government were concerned that a regime, that’d be hostile to the Soviet Union, would be established there

    • The Communist People’s Democratic Party was ruling Afghanistan and had been supported by Soviet aid

      • However, their leaders were toppled by a group within the party

      • The group was led by Hafizullah Amin, a man less favourable to the Soviets

    • The USSR suspected that Amin was forming links with the US Government through the CIA

    • Amin was very unpopular with Afghan Muslims 

      • There were fears that the country would be taken over by religious fundamentalists 

      • Religious people had already declared a Holy War (a Jihad) against the Government’s supporters 

    • A similar event happened in Iran

      • It also bordered the USSR

      • Muslims within their own borders might be tempted by Islamic Fundamentalism 

    • The Soviets decided to forcibly remove Amin from power

    • They replaced Amin with Babrak Karmal, whom they could trust to maintain links with the USSR

  • The Carter Doctrine

    • Jimmy Carter quickly condemned the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan 

    • Carter took immediate measures to punish the Soviet Union to protect US interests nearby

    • The US viewed Russia’s actions, not as defensive but rather an invasion and an attempt to spread their influence beyond their borders

    • The US didn't ratify SALT II, restricted the trade of electronic equipment to the USSR and boycotted the 1980 Moscow Olympics 

      • The Soviets retaliated by boycotting the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics

    • In a speech to Congress at the start of 1980, Carter made it clear that extending influence to the Persian Gulf wouldn’t be tolerated and Soviet aggression in this area would be repelled by any means necessary, including military force; this was the Carter Doctrine 

  • Reagan and the Mujahideen

    • Carter supplied weapons to the forces fighting the Russians fighting Afghanistan 

    • In 1981, Ronald Reagan became the new US President 

    • Reagan increased the support for the Mujahideen, which were the main group opposing the Soviets  

    • This was vital in preventing Soviet success 

    • By the mid-1980s, the USSR was paying a high human and financial price to remain in Afghanistan and little progress on the ground was being made 

    • The Soviets’ control of the sky was under threat as the Mujahideen now had anti-aircraft missiles provided by the Americans 

  • Gorbachev’s Withdrawal 

    • Mikhail Gorbachev became the new Premier in 1985

    • He chose to withdraw Soviet troops from Afghanistan 

    • He admitted that Soviet Policy had failed there 

    • Gorbachev wanted to focus on domestic reforms and inject prosperity into the economy rather than spend it on military forces in Afghanistan

    • All Soviet troops had left Afghanistan by February 1989 

    • This invasion saw 14,453 Soviets killed and over 56,000 Mujahideen deaths


P4c5 | Reagan and the ‘Second Cold War’

Reagan and the ‘Second Cold War’, the Strategic Defence Initiative.

  • The ‘Second Cold War’

    •  Reagan abandoned the concept of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD)

      • Many claimed this was the best way to deter both superpowers from using nuclear weapons 

    • Reagan instead wanted to take a decisive lead in the arms race 

    • He also wanted to build defences to protect America from nuclear attack

    • In 1982, Reagan increased spending on defences by 13%

      • This began the biggest arms build-up in history

      • It led to the development of new weaponry like stealth bombers, cruise missiles and the neutron bomb 

    • Reagan hoped to hasten the demise of the USSR which he recognised was already in decline 

      • He hoped to bankrupt them or damage their economy so badly that they’d be forced to stop the arms race 

    • To gain an advantage in the Cold War, Reagan hoped to utilise the US’s technological and economic advancements 

      • The Soviets were unlikely to be able to match the advancements in computer technology in the US 

  • Strategic Defence Initiative

    • Reagan wanted to gain an advantage and the centrepiece of this was the Strategic Defence Initiative (nicknamed ‘Star Wars’)

    • This was a space-based missile system that could destroy nuclear missiles before they reached the USA 

    • The US was decades away from being able to produce this kind of system but the Soviets didn’t know this

    • The USSR flew into a panic when Reagan announced the idea because they knew they wouldn’t be able to produce something similar 

    • The Soviets growing awareness of its technological inferiority put them on edge

    • Some Soviets were convinced that the US was planning a surprise attack 

    • During Reagan’s first term of presidency, the Cold War was once again tense again


P4c6 | The Loosening Soviet Grip on Eastern Europe

The impact of Gorbachev’s ‘new thinking’ on Eastern Europe: the loosening Soviet grip on Eastern Europe.

  • The Soviet Union’s Domination

    • After WWII, the Soviet Union’s domination was based on the threat of force

    • The Red Army continued to crush opposition for the next 25 years

    • The Brezhnev Doctrine of 1968 stated that policies that threatened Communist control would not be tolerated and it’d be the responsibility of all the countries in the Warsaw Pact to get involved if any country undermined Communist control 

      • This was still foreign policy when Gorbachev became the Premier in 1985

  • The Impact of Gorbachev’s New Thinking

    • After 4 years into his premiership, he turned his back on the Brezhnev Doctrine 

    • He made it clear that he’ll no longer use force to maintain control over unwilling countries

    • In December 1988, Gorbachev made a speech to the UN during a General Assembly session saying ‘force and the threat of force cannot be and should not be an instrument of foreign policy’

    • He also announced that he’d reduce the number of Warsaw Pact soldiers by 500,000

  • The Eastern Bloc Begins to Break

    • In 1988, huge anti-governmental protests in Poland forced its leader, General Jaruzelski, to hold free elections 

      • This led to the victory of the non-Communist party, Solidarity

      • The Polish Communist Party soon collapsed 

    • In May 1989, the Hungarian Government dismantled the barbed-wire fence between its non-Communist country, Austria

    • In November 1989, the Berlin Wall fell

      • Germany was reunified in 1990

    • In Hungary, Kadar was removed from office 

      • The country’s first free elections were held in 1990

    • Mass protests led the Czechoslovakian Government to hold free elections 

      • A non-Communist called Vaclav Havel won the presidency 

    • In Romania, the overthrow of Communism was very violent compared to Czechoslovakia’s peaceful protests

      • The army initially turned their guns on protestors

      • When they failed to stop them, they changed sides

      • The army captured Romania’s brutal leader, Nicolae Ceausescu and executed him on December 25th, 1989

  • The Baltic Republics

    • As the Soviets’ Empire began to dwindle, republics saw opportunities for independence 

    • The Baltic Republics of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia had long resented being a part of the Soviet Union

    • They were absorbed into the Empire against their will in 1939

    • In 1987, the Singing Revolution began

      • Mass protests took place that involved renditions of the national anthem, hymns and patriotic songs 

    • In 1990, Lithuania declared independence 

      • The country voted to break free from the USSR 

    • Estonia and Latvia later gained independence as well

    • Gorbachev refused to accept Lithuania's independence 

      • In January 1991, Soviet troops were sent to Lithuania to retake the parliamentary building 

      • This resulted in bloodshed when soldiers opened fire on demonstraters in their way

      • This ended with worldwide condemnation of the Red Army’s actions 

      • It increased support for nationalist support in the Baltic countries 

    • By the end of 1991, most international governments formally recognised the countries’ independence 

      • This encouraged other republics like Georgia and Khazakstan to declare separation from the Soviet Union 


P4c7 | The Fall of the Berlin Wall

The significance of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

  • The Build-Up

    • It was a significant moment in the demise of the Communist East

    • Revolutions against the Soviets rose in the 1980s

    • The citizens of East Germany increasingly demanded greater personal and political freedoms

    • Hungary and Czechoslovakia opened their borders to the people of East Germany

      • 1000s of East Berliners used this gap in the Iron Curtain to escape to the West

      • The ones that remained continued to protest

      • East Berlin appealed to the USSR for support but was told that Red Army troops wouldn’t come to their aid 

  • The Fall

    • The Communist party spokesman, Gunter Schabowski, announced on November 9th, 1989, that he’d ease travel restrictions between East and West Germany

    • Thousands of Berliners thought that the checkpoints at the Berlin Wall would immediately open

    • People descend upon the Brandenburg Gate 

    • Guards couldn’t really do much

    • By the next day, symbolically, the Berlin Wall had fallen

    • Huge sections were demolished over the following weeks 

    • Citizens smashed pieces of the wall away with hammers

    • East and West Berliners celebrated by cheering and dancing on the wall 

  • Germany Unites

    • The division between East and West Germany was gone

    • Within a year, elections were held 

    • The country was reunified in 1990


P4c8 | The Collapse of the Soviet Union

The collapse of the Soviet Union and its significance in bringing about the end of the Warsaw Pact.

  • Gorbachev’s Popularity and Unpopularity

    • Gorbachev was very popular outside the borders of the USSR by 1990

    • He was well-received in many of the places he visited

      • Like in the capitals of East Germany, West Germany and China

    • But at home, he was much less popular 

    • Perestroika, his economic policy of relaxing state control, wasn’t able to stop the national income from falling 

      • This led to major shortages in the country

      • Strikes began to break out among certain workers, especially the miners

      • This forced the Government to make concessions 

    • To many Soviets, Gorbachev’s policies had caused anarchy at home and the nation’s strength abroad to disappear 

      • By 1991, Communist Governments had been toppled in Czechoslovakia, Poland, Romania, Hungary and East Germany 

      • The military alliance that provided security to the USSR had also gone

      • Gorbachev refused to call the Warsaw Pact troops to save his ideological partners; this meant the end of the Warsaw Pact that formally dissolved in July 1991

  • Yeltsin and the Hard-Liners

    • In Moscow, Gorbachev felt his power weakening 

    • Boris Yeltsin emerged as a major rival to Gorbachev 

    • Yeltsin was determined to destroy the Communist power, put an end to the Soviet Union and introduce a market economy (which Gorbachev opposed)

    • Pressure also came from the Communist Party 

      • In August 1991, hard-liners (people with the most extreme views) within the party were concerned that Gorbachev’s policies were leading to the disintegration of the USSR

      • They llaunched a coup d’état

    • The plotters captured Gorbachev but lacked the sufficient military and police support to be successful

    • The plotters also failed due to Yeltsin's own actions

      • Yeltsin stood on a tank outside the parliament building in Moscow, he whipped up support against the hard-liners’ actions 

      • Yeltsin persuaded parts of the army to join him

    • Although the coup failed and Gorbachev was freed, he’d been replaced by Yeltsin as the most dominant leader in Moscow 

  • The Collapse of the Soviet Union

    • Within 5 months, Yeltsin had abolished the Communist Party

    • He recognised the independence of the Republics 

    • And he formally dissolved the Soviet Union 

    • 74 years after the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917, which had established the world’s first Communist state, in 1991, the USSR ceased to exist and so did the Cold War


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