Prelude… “I know you will not mind my being brutally frank when I tell you that I can personally handle Stalin,” President Roosevelt told Winston Churchill during WWII… By 1944, Roosevelt was so sure of Stalin’s cooperation that he began calling the Soviet dictator “Uncle Joe.” … he did not understand what a wily and difficult adversary Stalin would turn out to be. Churchill, however, clearly understood the situation. “Germany is finished,” he declared. “The real problem is Russia. I can’t get the Americans to see it.”
1945… Ever since the Russian Revolution of 1917 there had been bad feelings between the two nations. President Wilson had sent American troops to support anti-communist resistance… The US did not even recognize the Soviet Union as legitimate until 1933. The Soviets had disagreed with the other allies on tactics, etc. throughout WWII. The US did not like that the Soviets had signed a non- aggression pact with Hitler. Stalin was angry that the allies did not invade western Europe sooner (to take pressure off of the Russian front).
Yalta… February 1945 – Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin met at Yalta to work out the future of Germany and Poland. They agreed to divide Germany up into zones controlled by America, Britain, France, and the Soviet Union. The America, British, and French zones would later become West Germany…The Soviet zone would later become East Germany Roosevelt pressed Stalin to help against Japan if invasion became necessary… Stalin agreed to help once Germany surrendered, in exchange for 2 Japanese islands. Poland would hold free elections for leaders… but as a potential invasion route into Russia there was tension over this new government. The creation of the United Nations was agreed upon… (The League of Nations failed as a result of America refusing to join)…
The United Nations April 1945 – 50 delegates met in San Francisco to adopt a charter. Nations would try to settle their differences peacefully, promoting justice and cooperation. All nations were members of the General council US, Soviet Union, Britain, France, and China had permanent seats on the Security Council… with veto power over proposed policies.
The Potsdam Conference (Berlin suburb) Truman Takes Over April 12, 1945 Roosevelt dies (2 weeks before the first UN meeting), VP Truman was now President… July 1945 – first meeting between Stalin, Truman, and Clement Attlee (Churchill’s replacement) Continued Yalta debates over the future of Poland and Germany Truman gets word of the New Mexico atom bomb test. He tells Stalin that the US now has a weapon of extraordinary force in an attempt to intimidate Stalin. He had already been informed by his spy network…
Postwar Goals America wanted a democratic government in Poland… trade markets, etc.. The Soviet Union wanted to start “Satellite Nations” (countries subject to the Soviet Union) as a way to rebuild to protect their interests. This would spread Communism throughout the world… Revolution in capitalist societies was inevitable, so their role was to speed up the process…
Soviets Tighten Their Hold The Soviets promised free election in Poland… didn’t happen for 2 years… by this time Poland’s Soviet installed government had eliminated nearly all opposition… They sponsored similar takeovers in other nations of Eastern Europe… Albania (1945) and Bulgaria (1948) Czechoslovakia (1948) Hungary and Romania (1945 – lost elections…stayed… 1947 – won) East Germany (1949) – Became the German Democratic Republic… Finland (1948 – Treaty of cooperation with Soviets) and Yugoslavia (1945 – Tito controlled for 30 years with own form of Communism)
The Iron Curtain February 1946 – Stalin predicts the ultimate triumph of Communism over Capitalism. He establishes a “Cominform” (an agency intended to coordinate communist activities around the world). One month later Churchill calls on Americans to help keep Stalin from enclosing any more nations behind the Iron Curtain of Communist domination. These two speeches set the tone for the Cold War – the competitive development between the US and Soviet Union for power and influence in the world…
Containment Early 1946 - George Kennan (top American diplomat in Moscow) sends a telegram to the State Department… The Soviets had “no real faith in the possibility of a permanent happy coexistence of the Socialist and capital worlds…” therefore, “the United States policy toward the Soviet Union must be that of a long-term, patient but firm and vigilant containment of Russian expansive tendencies.” Resist the spread of Communism to the rest of the world!
The Truman Doctrine Since 1945 Stalin had been eying Turkey for their Black Sea ports in the Mediterranean… Greece was in Civil War… 1947 – Britain could no longer fund aid to both = America had to act quickly! March 1947 – Truman delivers a speech before the joint sessions of Congress calling on the US to take a leadership role in the world. The Truman Doctrine stated that “…it must be the policy of the US to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation (conquest)…” Congress approved $400 million to aid Greece and Turkey and later established military bases in these countries.