Joseph Stalin (1879-1953)
Real Name (Joseph Vissarionovich Djugashvili)
After a military career he lead the October revolution by Lenins side. The name Stalin means Man of Steel and was taken to give him a more frightening appearance. He began to work high up in the Communist party and after some dirty tricks he became leader after Lenins death in 1924. He collectivised farming and heavy industries (1936-1938). He formed a non-attack pact with Hitler under WWII wich Hitler broke. At this point East-West relations were not very strained but after the USSR gained control of most of Eastern Europe the war issues increased between the U.S. and U.S.S.R. He is remembered as a tyrant, especially after the massive suffering that followed the forced collectivising in the 1930’s. Krutzhev made mild statements renouncing Stalins regime in 1956.
Nikita Sergejevitsj Krutzhev (1894-1971)
Educated metalworker. Had a long political career before he became leader after Stalin. He was first secretary in Moscow 1935-38 and member of the police council. Prime Minister of both Ukraine and Russia in different periods. He became first secretary of the communist party in 1958. He had a very harsh foreign policy that culminated in the Cuba crisis in 1962. In 1964 the party removed him from his position. He was especially criticized for his poor agricultural policy and bad relations to China.
Mikhail Sergejevitsj Gorbachov (1931- )
Member of the Communist party from 1952. Became first secretary of the Stavropol area in 1970. Member of the police bureau from 1980. Became general secretary in 1985 and president of the Soviet Union in 1988. He differenced a lot from his predecessors and had a more open policy. In 1988 he imposed Glasnost, a reform that made formerly forbidden and taboo subjects open for debate. Under the name perestroika a great number of reforms were introduced in the Soviet Union. It made the union freer and in the end dissolved the Soviet Union as it was made somewhat democratic (Todays prime minister of Russia is still hostile towards democracy). He signed treaties with George Bush and began a disarmament of both Soviet and The US. He received the Nobel Peace Price in 1990 for his role in ending the Cold War.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945)
Democrat and president of the United States during WWII. Not too important for the Cold War as he died in 1945, the year you can say the Cold War begun. Although he had some social reforms and gave the State more control than ever he was a proclaimed anti-communist.
Harry Shippe Truman (1884-1972)
Although he was vice president for Roosevelt for
a short period he scarcely saw him and he heard little of the atomic bomb before he had to decide whether to bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki or not. He was the first American president to really deal with the Soviet Union in the way that distinguished the cold war. In 1947 the Soviet Union pressured both Turkey and Greece through military and diplomatical force and through guerrillas. This made Truman develop the Truman doctrine to aid the war torn west Europe. In 1950 North Korea attacked South Korea and Truman decided that the United States should enter this conflict. This would set the tone for the following fifty years as the U.S. would involve themselves in many conflicts abroad especially to face what they saw as the Communist Threat.
John Fitzgerald Kennedy (1917-1963)
Although he was only president for three years, he is one of the most well known presidents. This may have more to do with the fact that he was assassinated than his politics. He was a charismatic and popular president who wrote incredible speeches and he won the Pulitzer Prize in 1955. His economic programs launched the U.S. into their largest expansion since WWII. He tried to overthrow Fidel Castro by use of Cuban exiles trained and armed in the United States, this failed bitterly. After that the Soviet Union stressed the situation in Berlin by putting more pressure on West Berlin. This pressured was relaxed after the erection of the Berlin wall they relaxed this pressure. Instead Moscow concentrated their efforts towards Cuba, they sought to install nuclear missiles there. While the world trembled in fear of nuclear war the Soviet Union backed down. Kennedy now began his struggle two rid the world of nuclear arms and head towards permanent peace.
Richard Milhous Nixon (1913-1994)
Before his forced retirement following the Watergate scandal in 1974 he lead a very conservative policy and cut down on welfare. He tried to patch up relations between the U.S., USSR and China. He ended one of the most demanding conflicts the U.S. had entered since WWII, the Vietnam War. Would probably be remembered as a good president if it weren’t for the Watergate scandal.
George Herbert Walker Bush Sr. (1924- )
President under what could be called the end of the cold war. He had been vice president under Ronald Reagan for seven years before he was elected in 1988. When Mikhail Gorbachev, who Bush supported resigned Bush was left in a world of enormous change. He took the decision to invade Panama in 1989 and he lead the “first” gulf war in 1991. In 1992 he lost the elections to Bill Clinton. He became the last American president of the cold war.
Other Important Leaders:
Fidel Castro (1927- )
After several years of guerrilla he and his accomplices overthrew the Batista regime and has since that been the leader of Cuba. He was Prime minister from 1959-1976; first secretary of the Communist Party from 1956; from 1976 he was also the head of state. Attempted assassinated several times by the U.S. In connection with the cold war he is most well known for his role in the Cuba crisis involving the USSR and the U.S.
A.k.A. Josip Broz
Yugoslav leader 1945-1980, broke with the USSR in 1948. His foreign policy was neutral and he was the most powerful leader of the alliance-free countries. Yugoslavia was at the time a buffer zone between the West and the USSR. They lead a somewhat looser communist policy than the Soviet Union and had higher living standards up to 1980. Tito lead a country with a mixed ethnicity and after 1980 the country broke out in civil war and was split up because they no longer had a strong and controlling leader.
Mao Zedong (1893-1976)
<bilde> He was one of the founders of the Chinese Communist Party in 1926. He became leader of the Party in 1935. In opposition to other communist leaders he meant that the farmers should be the driving force of the Chinese Recolution. In 1937 he made the initiative to begin a liberation war against Japan. Both before and after this he led the Communists in a civil war. The Communist seized power in 1949. He collectivised farming and what there were of industry. China was in a conflict with the USSR from 1950 up to the brake in 1963. Tried to force industrialization in 1958 but failed bitterly leaving the country in dire straits. After this Mao resigned as state leader but continued as party foreman. In 1966 he began the Cultural Revolution. Unquestioned leader of the party to his death in 1976.
Related documents:The Cold War: Conflicts
The Cold War: Communism vs. Capitalism
The Cold War: Timeline