Why did the USA and USSR
become rivals between 1945 and 1949?
Timeline of Events for 1944 to 1949
1945 : The “Big Three” of USA (Roosevelt), USSR (Stalin)
and Britain ( Churchill ) meet at Yalta to decide the fate of Germany
June 1945 : Roosevelt was replaced by Truman and Churchill by Attlee as
the Big Three meet at Potsdam to decide the fate of Germany and Soviet
Sphere of influence
August 1945 : USA dropped atom bombs on Japan
1946 : USSR built the Iron Curtain to protect communist countries in Eastern
1947 : Britain and America unite their zones in West Berlin to create
Bizonia; Truman announces the Truman Doctrine to help any countries to
re - build. Followed by Marshall Aid, which gives $17 billion. Soviets
1948 : France joined their sector to Bizonia to create Trizonia; creation
of the new German currency in Trizonia called the Deutschmark. USSR blocked
all land routes across Germany
1949 : continuation of the Berlin blockade; China becomes communist; USSR
developed atom bomb; creation of NATO
The USSR (communists) had never trusted the USA (capitalists). Their
beliefs meant that they were totally opposite to each other. The communists
believed in controlling industry, the capitalists in people owning business.
Communists had no choice of leader, capitalists do.
• The Soviets wanted to make sure that never again would they face
an invasion. Germany had invaded in 1914 and 1941. Stalin wanted to protect
• Stalin wanted compensation as the USSR had suffered the loss of
28 million soldiers
• Stalin did not trust the West as they had fought against the communists
in the Civil War of 1918 - 1919
• Stalin believe that the British and Americans wanted Russia to
destroy itself fighting Germany
• The USA and Britain had fought six years fighting Germany. They
did not want to see another dictator take control over Europe
• There was a fear that Stalin would treat the people of Eastern
Europe badly. Britain was very angry about the way that Russia had treated
Poland badly by setting up a pro - communist government in Poland.
The Yalta Conference is held in February 1945. The Russians are about
to invade Germany in the east as the Red Army has taken over Eastern Europe
and the Allies are about to invade Western Europe. They have to decide
how Germany is going to be ruled:
Germany would be divided into four zones. France, USA, USSR and USA would
occupy each zone. France accepted as one of the powers as the Allies don’t
want USSR to have to much land.
Berlin would also be divided between the four Allies.
Poland’s borders would be changed. Poland would be given land in
the West, taken from Germany and lose land to the USSR.
Stalin promised to hold free elections in Eastern Europe that were occupied
by the Soviet Army.
USSR would join the war against the Japanese.
Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin at the Yalta Conference
SO IT LOOKED LIKE THINGS BETWEEN THE USSR AND THE USA ARE GOING WELL.
WHY DID IT GO WRONG?
• Things started going bad for several reasons:
• Roosevelt died. He got on well with Stalin, whom he trusted. The
new American President Truman promised that he was “going to get
tough with the Russians”
• Britain had a new Prime Minister, Attlee. He did not have much
experience and, unlike Churchill, who had been able to sort out the problems
between the USA and the USSR, was unable to do so.
• The USA had developed the atom bomb. They believe that they were
stronger than the USSR and could use it as a warning against Russia.
• Germany and Berlin would be divided into four zones. Each zone
would be occupied by the USA, USSR, Britain and France.
• Decisions on the running of Germany would be taken jointly and
some time in the future the country would be re - united.
• There would be free elections held in Germany, there would be
freedom of speech and a free press.
• Germany would be compensation for war damage and most of it would
go to the USSR.
• There were disagreements over free elections in Eastern Europe
that had been controlled by the USSR since the end of the war.
• There was disagreement over Poland. The British wanted Stalin
to hold free elections but he simply refused, stating that the British
were not willing to allow a communist government in Greece.
• The Soviet Union was supposed to join the war against Japan. The
USA dropped the atom bomb without informing Russia.
WINSTON CHURCHILL, NO LONGER PRIME MINISTER OF BRITAIN COINED THE PHRASE
THAT IRON CURTAIN HAD BEEN BUILT BY THE SOVIETS TO KEEP HER PEOPLE IN
AND KEEP THE CAPITAILIST WEST OUT.
Stalin took over countries in Eastern Europe and turned communists in
key influential jobs in each country - Czechoslovakia; Rumania; Hungary;
Poland. This meant that the communist was elected into power. These methods
were peaceful. Stalin also used the KGB - the Russian secret police -
to stop any opposition to communist ideas and banned other political ideas
What was the Truman Doctrine ?
President Truman offered help to any government that was being threatened
either from within or from without its borders. Although it did not mention
communism, he was not going to allow any country to be taken over by the
Why was the Truman Doctrine issued ?
• Truman wanted to get back at Stalin who had broken the promises
made at Yalta to remove troops from eastern Europe
• and hold free elections.
• Stalin wanted to turn Greece communist. Britain had supported
• monarchists in the Civil War against the communists but could
not afford to keep fighting. The USA saw this as an opportunity
to fight against the communists.
• Truman wanted to keep the communists in Russia
SO AMERICA HAS TO KEEP HER PROMISE - MARSHALL COMES TO THE AID !!!!!
Why was the Marshall Plan introduced:
Why did Stalin blockade Berlin ? / Why did a crisis develop in Berlin
• President Truman wanted to contain (stop) the spread of communism.
Czechoslovakia had become a communist state and there was fear that Greece
and Finland would go the same way
• Senator McCarthy was stating that communism was spreading and
eventually the size of the Russian Red Army would be able to achieve world
• Truman wanted to rebuild the economy of Europe which would allow
the USA to trade with other countries and check the spread of Communism
STEP ONE: The Organisation for European Economic Co-operation was formed.
Each country wanting Marshall Aid would join. These countries would then
be told how to spend the money
STEP TWO All the money was to be spent rebuilding the economies into capitalist.
These countries would be able to trade with the USA and have a considerable
sum of the $17 billion
• West Berlin was a capitalist island in east Germany. People from
east Berlin could travel freely and could see the benefits, which Marshall
Aid was providing, to west Berlin. Stalin thought this would turn east Berliners
into anti - communists.
• USA and Britain in 1947 joined their
zones in west Berlin together to create Bizonia. France joined in 1448 to
create Trizonia. They introduced a new currency called the Deutschmark.
They wanted to make Germany stronger and less dependant on the west
The airlift had many results. These included :
What were the key features of the Berlin blockade ?
• Stalin was furious with what the Allies were doing. He walked
out of the joint meetings held with the other three and ordered that Berlin
be cut off
• Stalin decided that he would prevent all land and river routes
across east Germany to be closed to west Berlin.
• The British, French and Americans decided that they would supply
west Berlin with food, fuel, etc by air.
• The blockade went on for over eleven months. Over 1,400 flights
a day were taking place but food remained scarce.
• The breakdown
of trust between the East and the West.
• For the West, the whole
event had been expensive. There were over 1,200 flights a day. 79 people
were killed in accidents. The total cost was over $100 million
The West could claim some sort of win. After 11 months Stalin was forced
to back down and allow West Berlin to remain capitalist.
could claim some victory. In 1949, it was agreed by the West that East Germany
(GDR) and East Berlin should remain under the influence of the Soviet Union.
• But all of this was achieved at a cost. The Allies of Britain, France
and America now stopped trying to rule West Germany. West Germany was now
• It increased the hatred and mistrust of the Americans
and the Soviets. The Berlin blockade showed to both superpowers that they
had to try to stop each other from trying to gain more power.
NATO was created as a direct result of this