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The Cold War: East vs. West

Examine the who, what, where, when and whys of this great post-WWII conflict.

The Cold War lasted for 45 years. The first major “battle” took place in Germany. France, the US and Britain went into Germany with the Soviet Union and they each occupied a certain area. They went there to find out what to do next in Germany. The US, France, and Britain joined all of their areas together and formed the Federal Republic of Germany, or West Germany, and they gave it a democratic government. The Soviet Union was afraid that they would be attacked by this new country and took their area and made it the German Democratic Republic or East Germany.

They split the capital, but part of West Berlin was in the east. To stop the Western powers from coming in, Stalin blockaded the city. In response, the US started the Berlin airlift and flew tons of food and supplies into West Berlin. This lasted for 11 months until the blockade was lifted. Hundreds of people left East Berlin to go to the West. To stop people from leaving, the Soviets built a huge concrete wall dividing East and West Berlin. The Berlin wall stood for 28 years and became a symbol of communism and the Cold War. The wall showed the Soviets’ power and control over people.

America’s concern was to stop the Soviets from getting any more power. To do this, the Truman Doctrine was issued by President Harry S. Truman. It stated that any country threatened by communism would be aided with military and money. It becomes know as containment.

The Marshall Plan was created to help Europe rebuild after the war. The US sent $13 billion to Europe, hoping it would help them rebuild. The US was trying to help countries achieve a democratic government and free their people. But the Soviet Union did just the opposite – it established totalitarian governments.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO for short, was created by the US, Canada, Turkey, Greece, and 8 western European nations. The countries in NATO pledged to protect each other in the event of a communist attack. This started to look like an alliance.

The Warsaw Pact was created by the Soviet Union as a response to NATO. Because of NATO and the Warsaw Pact, huge amounts of supplies like tanks, planes, missiles, and nuclear weapons were produced but never used.

After the war was over it was necessary for some countries to rebuild their government. Different types of governments were tried in Europe. One was the parliamentary, another was coalitions, and the third and last was democracy.

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