The Cold War

Following the World War 2

Effects of the World War II

After the WW2, Japan and Germany had lost many people.


Capitalism: Individual freedom, freedom of speech, democrocy, opportunity

Communism: lose many rights, no freedom of speech, no opportunity, government controls everything


Mutually Assured Destruction

An agreement between the nations: "If you blow me up, I'll blow you up."

The Berlin Wall

Berlin Wall:

1. When was it built? When was it torn down?

Built on August 15, 1961 and torn down on November 9, 1989

2. Why was it built?

To keep citizens from fleeing West

3. What were some specific ways that people tied to get past the wall?

-in a uniform

-on a tightrope

-on a speeding train

-in old tunnels

-in a hot air balloon

Ways of Escape


East German acrobat Horst Klein made one of the most daring escapes over the wall in early 1963. Thanks to his acrobatic skill, Klein was able to turn an unused high-tension cable that stretched over the wall as his route. He moved hand-over-hand while dangling from the cable 60 feet over the head of patrolling guards, then when his arms became fatigued, he swung his whole body up over the cable and inched his way along. Klein’s dismount wasn’t particularly graceful – he fell off of the cable – but he landed West Berlin.


On March 31, 1983, friends Michael Becker and Holger Bethke took Klein’s idea one step further by letting gravity do the heavy lifting for them. The pair climbed to the attic of a five-story building on the eastern side of the wall and fired an arrow tied to a thin fishing line over a building in West Berlin. An accomplice grabbed the arrow and reeled in the line, which was connected to a slightly heavier fishing line, then to a quarter-inch steel cable. Once the steel cable was attached to a chimney on the western side of the wall, Becker and Bethke zipped across the quarter-inch cable using wooden pulleys.


When Austrian lathe operator Heinz Meixner pulled up to Checkpoint Charlie on May 5, 1963, something must have seemed odd about his red Austin Healy Sprite convertible. Namely, it was missing its windshield. (A closer inspection would also have revealed that his mother was hiding in the trunk.) When the East German guard directed Meixner to pull over to a customs shed, Meixner instead floored the accelerator and ducked. His tiny car slipped right under the three-foot-high barrier dividing the East from the West.


A 1986 Los Angeles Times piece by Gordon E. Rowley described Meisner’s driving escape, but it also detailed a decidedly low-tech method of crossing the border. According to Rowley, some border crossers simply approached the guards and flashed their membership cards for Munich’s Playboy Club. The cards so closely resembled diplomatic passports that the guards often waved them through.


These clever escapes all worked, but in the wall’s early days, brute force was an option, too. In December 1961, a 27-year-old train engine driver named Harry Deterling piloted what he dubbed “the last train to freedom” across the border. Instead of slowing down his passenger train as it approached the fortifications, Deterling throttled it up to full speed and ripped through the wall.

The train skidded to a stop in West Berlin’s Spandau borough, allowing Deterling, seven members of his family, and 16 other people aboard the train to remain in the West. The train’s engineer and six other passengers chose to return to East Germany.


The escape orchestrated by Hans Strelczyk and Gunter Wetzel in 1979 sounds like it came straight out of a comic book. Strelczyk, a mechanic, and Wetzel, a mason, used their mechanical know-how to build a hot air balloon engine out of old propane cylinders. Their wives then pieced together a makeshift balloon from scraps of canvas and old bed sheets, and on September 16, 1979, the two couples, along with their four children, floated up to 8,000 feet and drifted over the wall to freedom.


In May 1962, a dozen people escaped from the East by way of Der Seniorentunnel, otherwise known as “the Senior Citizens’ Tunnel.” Led by an 81-year-old man, a group of senior citizens had spent 16 days digging a 160-foot-long and 6-foot-tall tunnel from an East German chicken coop all the way to the other side of the wall. According to one of the diggers, the tunnel was so tall because the old men wanted “to walk to freedom with our wives, comfortably and unbowed.”


Movies tend to portray East German border guards as soulless automatons who were dead-set on keeping everyone on their side of the wall, but many of the guards were just as desperate to escape as their fellow East Germans. One perk of being a border guard was that a soldier could simply wander over the border to freedom, and a lot of them did. Over 1,300 made the jump in the first two years of the wall’s existence.

The most famous of these escapes was made by 19-year-old guard Conrad Schumann on August 15, 1961—50 years ago today—just the third day of the wall’s construction. Since the “wall” was really just piles of barbed wire at that point, Schumann jumped over the wire in his uniform while toting his machine gun. A photographer caught Schumann’s flying leap, and the jump to freedom became an iconic Cold War image. Schumann eventually settled in the southwestern state of Bavaria and worked as a machine operator. He committed suicide in 1998.

Eastern Bloc and West

The Eastern Bloc was controlled by the USSR

The USSR believed that the Germans should be punished for the war

The Western Bloc was controlled by the USA

USA agreed, but only wanted to punish the people of fault


The Superpowers: Soviet Union (USSR) and the United States of America (USA)

Sphere of Influence: a geographical area that is affected by the political ideals, military, and/or economy of a larger country

NATO:North Atlantic Treaty Organization: The military alliance of the USA with other western European nations, such as UK, France, Italy, and West Germany

Warsaw Pact: The Soviet counterpart to NATO: the military alliance of the Soviet Union with Eastern Bloc countries such as Poland, Romania, Hungary, and Bulgaria

containment: when one country restricts the territorial growth or influence of another, especially a hostile nation

-During the Cold War, the USA and USSR each had a large sphere of influence that affected many countries, the USA and USSR formed separate alliances with these countries

-The alliance between the USA and its European friends was called NATO

-The Alliance between the USSR and its European allies was called the Warsaw Pact

-Both sides tried to prevent the other's spread of ideas, influence, and territorial expansion through a system of containment

The Korean War:


-North Korea invaded South Korea

-U.S. helped South Korea; Communist China helped North Korea

-The conflict ended in stalemate which still exists today

The Berlin Wall:

-Built in 1961

-Divided the German capital city between East into East and West Berlin

How did each superpower "keep an eye" on each other during the Cold War?


-CIA vs. KGB

-U-2 Spy Plane

-Audio Surveillance Briefcase

-Walking stick camera

-Ethel and Julius Rosenberg- US citizens executed for spying and sharing secrets with USSR

The Cold War: 1964- 1991

Key Questions

1. How does being a superpower impact a country's foreign relations?

2. How did the U.S. get involved in the Vietnam War? What happened?

Key Terms

Globalization: the linking of nations through trade, information, technologies, and communism

Domino Theory: the Cold War theory that if one country fell under the influence or control of communism, others would soon follow

Indochina: a large peninsula in Asia, directly south of China; includes the countries of Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia

Guerrilla: an unprofessional, irregular fighter who takes part in combat against larger, professional armies/forces

*How does being a superpower impact a country's foreign relations?*

The Good:

Globalization- Voluntary trade benefits everybody; improvement (economy, cultural enrichment, etc.)

Alliances- military is strengthened

The Bad:

Culture Clash & Conflict- Some countries just don't get along; conflict over differences may happen

Target on back- There's usually a country who wants to be top dog

How did the U.S. get involved in the Vietnam War? What happened?

-The U.S. wanted to prevent the spread of communism in Southeast Asia (domino theory)

-Communist North Vietnam fought to unite with Capitalist South Vietnam

-Eventually, the U.S> could not prevent Vietnam from uniting; Vietnam is still communist today

-The Vietnam War was the longest and costliest Cold War conflict involving U.S.; Over 58,000 service members killed between 1962-1975

How did the Cold War End?

-Thanks to leaders such as Ronald Reagan (USA) and Mikhail Gorbachev (USSR), relations began to ease between East and West

-The Berlin Wall came down and East and West Germany were reunited

-In 1991, the Soviet Union collapsed and became several different (mostly) free and democratic countries