Describe the events between 1945 and 1948 which plunged Britain and the USA into a Cold War with the USSR.

 

 

Summary

Nine events 1945–1948 plunged America and Britain into a ‘Cold War’ with Russia.

Tension was growing even at the Yalta Conference (Feb 1945) and at the Potsdam Conference (July 1945), the arguments came out into the open.  

During 1946–47, Stalin made sure that Communist governments came to power in all the countries of eastern Europe by ‘salami tactics’.   At Fulton, on 5 March 1946, Winston Churchill said that they were cut off by ‘an iron curtain’.   Russia said Churchill had declared war on them.

Then America stepped in.   In February 1947, President Truman started to pay for the soldiers fighting to stop Greece turning Communist.   Then, in March 1947, he said it was America’s DUTY to ‘contain’ Communism (the ‘Truman Doctrine’).   The American general George Marshall said America should give $17 billion of aid to stop Europe turning Communist.   Congress voted for Marshall Aid in March 1948, when the Communists took power in Czechoslovakia,

Stalin retaliated by setting up Cominform in October 1947.  

 

 

Nine events 1945 and 1948 plunged America and Britain into a ‘Cold War’ with Russia.

 

Tension was growing even at the Yalta Conference (Feb 1945).   On the surface, the conference seemed successful.   But afterwards, Churchill wrote to Roosevelt that ‘The Soviet Union has become a danger to the free world.’

At the Potsdam Conference (July 1945), the arguments came out into the open.   In March 1945, Stalin had arrested the non-Communist Polish leaders.   Also America’s new president, Truman, was determined to ‘get tough’ with the Russians.   So, the Allies openly disagreed about how to divide Germany, the size of reparations and Soviet policy in eastern Europe.

 

During 1946–47, Stalin made sure that Communist governments came to power in all the countries of eastern Europe.   By ‘salami tactics’, Russia gained control of Albania, Bulgaria, Poland, Hungary, Romania and East Germany.

Seeing this, on 5 March 1946, Winston Churchill gave his Fulton speech, at which he said that the countries of eastern Europe – cut off by ‘an iron curtain’ – were ‘subject to Soviet influence . . . totalitarian control [and] police governments’.   Russia’s reply was that Churchill had declared war on them; it was certainly open acknowledgement of a rift.

 

Further events, however, brought America into the conflict.

The Greek government was fighting the Communists, supported by British soldiers.   When, in February 1947, the British said they could no longer afford to keep soldiers in Greece, President Truman stepped in.   He paid for the British soldiers in Greece.

Then, in March 1947, Truman took this further.   He said it was America’s DUTY to ‘contain’ Communism (the ‘Truman Doctrine’).   Truman had officially declared ‘cold war’ on Russia.

Next, the Americans announced how they intended to wage ‘cold war’.    In June 1947, the American general George Marshall went to Europe. He said every country in Europe was so poor that it was in danger of turning Communist!   He said that America should give $17 billion of aid to get Europe’s economy going.

 

Stalin retaliated.   He forbade Communist countries to ask for money.   Instead, in October 1947, he set up Cominform.     Every Communist party in Europe joined. It allowed Stalin control of the Communists in Europe.

 

At first, the American Congress did not want to give the money for Marshall Aid.   But then, in March 1948, the Communists took power in Czechoslovakia.

Congress was scared, and voted for Marshall Aid on 31 March 1948.   Russia and America were at ‘cold war’.