The Cold War was actually never a war in itself. That is why people refer to it as the «Cold War» Since there weren’t any military actions between the US and the Sovjet Union.
After Germany had lost the Second World War in 1945, a new war had begun, the Cold War, a war that would last until 1991[g1] .
Why did the Cold War start?
The Cold War started in 1945; right after World War II had ended. The reason it started was because the allies disagreed about how the European map should look. Each side had a different meaning[g2] . The Soviet, led by the fearsome dictator, Joseph Stalin, had a history of being attacked by European countries. First Napoleon in 1812, then by the Germans during WW I, and then again by the Germans during WW II.
The Soviet had to deal with an immense death toll after WW II, (estimated at around 27 million), and the vast destruction on Soviet land. Therefore Stalin wanted to punish the Germans.
But the west side didn’t want to punish the Germans, because that is what they did after WW I. And the western side understood that if peace were to be held up, you can’t take from them what little they had left. To secure that a new leader like Adolf Hitler wouldn’t grow forth, they wouldn’t supress the people.
Japan gave up WW II right after the U.S had bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki with the atom bomb. This was a huge advantage for the Americans, not only did they have a weapon that the Soviets or anybody had in the world; they also had a lot of power. No one would even try to attack the Americans, knowing that doing so, would exterminate their own country.
But Stalin wouldn’t just sit and watch that the US was the new world power. Stalin had the math learning in school doubled, he wanted nuclear physicists. And on the 29th of August, 1949, it was done. The Soviet Union became the second country in the world to have developed a Nuclear Bomb.
This came as a shock for the Americans, because they no longer had the advantage of having the most destructive weapon in the world.
Following the years after 1949 many people lived in fear that tomorrow they might not wake up to a world they knew.
This was the start of the Cold War, a war that would last until 1991, when the Soviet Union Dissolved.
Germany after WW II
German was split into four pieces. One British, one American, one French and one Soviets side. Soviet got the eastern part of Germany; they also got Poland and most of the eastern European side.
Since the western side didn’t want to punish the people was much as the Soviets wanted, the life style in western Germany was far better than the one in eastern Germany. People could go to work each day, have a good salary and get food on the table each day. Compared to what the eastern side got.
The Soviets wanted to punish the Germans, and so they did. Life on the eastern side of Germany wasn’t easy, many people died from starvation, and also many people were shot by the KGB, thought to be Spies from the US.
The Berlin Blockade.
Even though Berlin was in eastern Germany, it was divided into four pieces. One British, one American, one French and one Russian.
The British and the American merged their territories of Berlin into “Bizonia”. Later the French joined and made together with the Americans and British, “Trizonia”. This was to help rebuild the German economy, including the introduction of a new “Deutsche Mark” currency to replace the old “Reichsmark” currency that the Soviets had debased.
One of the other things that helped ice the relationship between the western forces and the Soviet Union was the Berlin Blockade. Even though Berlin was in eastern Germany, it was still divided into four pieces, leaving 3 western country based sides, and one Soviet. But on the 24th of June, 1948, Stalin instituted the Berlin Blockade. This was one of the first major crises made during the Cold War. Stalin blocked all of the connection from western Germany to eastern Germany.
This caused a lot of problems for “Trizonia”. Food, supplies or material could not be delivered to the western side of Berlin. But the western side had a good idea to solve this. Shortly after Stalin had started the blockade, the US, UK, Canada, Australia, France, New Zealand and several other countries began the massive "Berlin airlift", supplying West Berlin with the provisions they needed.
On the 12th of May, 1949, Stalin ended the Berlin Blockade, seeing that it had no use.
The Berlin Wall
The Berlin Wall was a huge wall built to surround West Berlin from eastern Germany and eastern Berlin. The Berlin wall had guard towers along the wall, in order to not let anyone escape from East Berlin or eastern Germany, into West Berlin. The Berlin wall was built by the eastern German government, saying that West Berlin wasn’t “De-Nazified”. The wall would stand from 13th of August, 1961 until its fall on the 9th November, 1989.
Here is a picture of the Berlin Wall in 1986. You can clearly see the famous “Death stripe” where many Germans lost their life, trying to escape to western Berlin. Photo: http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2021/1982035178_a63a4d1399.jpg
Eastern Germany and policies
The Soviets wanted to introduce Communism to eastern Germany, and so it was. SMAD (Soviet Military Administration of Germany) made a decree in June 1945, stating that the people of eastern Germany had been granted permission to form political parties in the Soviet zone. And the election date was set to October 1946.
Two new major parties was founded, the KDP (German communist party) and the SPD (Social Democratic Party of Germany) and before the election they merged, creating the SED (Socialist Unity Party of Germany).
SED won the election in 1946, but was always under the heavy pressure from the Soviets in eastern Germany. Nothing would be changed in eastern Germany, without the Soviets having a word about it.
You couldn’t really call it a government, but more like a “Place holder” for the Soviets. By doing this, the western countries couldn’t say that the people of eastern Germany didn’t have a real government.
The Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan
In 1947, USA’s President Harry S. Truman’s advisers highly advised him to take immediate steps to stop the communism to spread in Europe. Truman promised military help to country who would defend themselves against the communism. Truman didn’t really care if the country was a dictatorship or a democratic country, only if they wanted to defend themselves from the communism. This was later named the Truman Doctrine.
But the Americans didn’t only give military help to countries who wanted to defend themselves against communism. But after WW II there was a large amount of hunger and need in Europe. And as there were no actions on American ground under WW II, the Americans had plenty of food and resources. So in 1947, the Americans made the Marshall Plan.
The Marshall Plan was something that was proposed by the American foreign minister, George Marshall. The Marshall Plan was to give to the countries who wanted it, loans and gifts. This was to get the lifestyle up in the European countries, so that no one would want the communism.
But this wasn’t for free, when a country would receive the Marshall-help, they would also need to take away the toll on the American products. So the Americans could also earn some money on it.
The Marshall Plan was also offered to the Soviet Union, but they declined the offer, and forced other eastern European countries to do the same. Even though the need there for the Marshall Plan was even bigger than in western European countries.
NATO and the Warsaw Pact
It wasn’t only the US who feared the Soviet Union and communism. But so did many other western European countries. In 1949, Canada, USA and 12 other western European countries formed N.A.T.O (North Atlantic Treaty Organization).
NATO was a Military alliance, stating that an attack on one of them would be an attack on them all.
In 1953 Stalin had suddenly died, and so many believed that the Cold War was over, but shortly after, Nikita Khrushchev took over. Khrushchev made the conditions in the Soviet Union better, but the Cold War was far from over.
But only six years later after NATO had been made, the Soviets responded, and in 1955 the Warsaw Pact was made. The Warsaw Pact was a Military pact made by the Soviet Union, and forcing East European countries to join.
For the first time the world held their breath, would these two military alliances destroy the world in a third world war?
The Cuba Crisis
The Cuba crisis is described as only a hair piece away from a third world war. The Americans supported the Cuban dictator, Fulgencio Batista, and the Americans were used to get what they wanted under his regime. But in the years following 1950, a group of men led by the young lawyer, Fidel Castro, rebelled against Batista. And in the in the start of 1959, Castro’s men could walk into Havana (the Cuban capital), having haunted the corrupt dictator, Batista, out of the country.
When Castro took over, he promised the Cuban people freedom and a better lifestyle. And the last part he upper held. Between 1960 and 1980, the common life age had risen with 10 years. But he didn’t really upper held the first part. Castro didn’t allow other people to disagree with him, and he made sure those who was, was punished with a life time in jail.
But the American didn’t really like what Castro did in Cuba, Castro confiscated American property, and Castro urged people in other Latin American countries to rebel against their US supporting dictator.
But the Soviets wanted to support Castro, because he wasn’t supporting the US. And this would be an extremely good advantage for the Soviets to have a dictator in a country so close to America as Cuba was.
Many people didn’t like what Castro was doing, and many of them moved to the US. And in 1961, 100 000 Cubans had moved to the US. Later that year a part of the Cubans went home to Cuba in order to try and fight down Castro’s regime.
These rebels were supported by the American president, John F. Kennedy, and when they came to Cuba in order to make a riot against Castro, it showed that actually a lot Cubans supported Castro and wanted him as a dictator for the country.
In 1962 the Americans found out that the Soviets were planning on installing nuclear rockets on Cuba. This was terrible news for the US. If the Soviets could set up these nuclear rockets on Cuba, the Soviets could easily bomb the American cities.