Origin of the Cold War

Asses Truman and Stalin in the origin of the Cold War


  • Could refer to the events of the year 1945: Yalta Conference (and Roosevelt), Germany’s surrender;
  • Potsdam Conference (the differing stance of Truman – and why); the contrasting views as to what
  • constituted “security” for the members of the Grand Alliance; issues relating to Germany, Poland
  • After meeting Josef Stalin at the Potsdam conference in July 1945, President Harry S. Truman wrote in his diary: "I can deal with Stalin. He is honest-but smart as hell." Not a year later tempers flared on all sides as Stalin spoke about the ultimate collapse of capitalism and President Truman instructed his Secretary of State James Byrnes to stop "babying the Soviets." Diplomacy between the two countries quickly degenerated into mutual distrust, military and nuclear buildup, and cold war. This state of cold war would span nine presidencies and nearly fifty years.
  • 1945: Potsdam & the Atom Bomb
  • The uneasy alliance between the United States and Soviet Russia during WWII quickly unraveled in the post-war era. Even during the war, problems had surfaced. Joseph Stalin believed that the opening up a second front in Europe was intentionally delayed by the Allies so that Russia might continue to bear the brunt of the German war. Following the death of President Roosevelt in April and the surrender of Germany in May 1945, President Truman met with the Allied leaders in Potsdam, Germany.
  • Truman and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill quickly became suspicious of Stalin's intentions. When Churchill proposed an early withdrawal of Russian forces from Iran, Stalin objected. For his part, Truman was reluctant to say much about America's new weapon, the atomic bomb, and he left Potsdam rather quickly so as not to have to explain to Stalin why he had not kept his ally informed (he subsequently shared atomic information with England and Canada, but not with Russia).
  • Both nations held dramatically different worldviews, nurtured by their domestic values. The Soviet Union envisioned a world-wide global revolution leading to a Communist utopia. The United States believed in democracy and private enterprise. As their World War II coalition melted away in the face of growing political disagreements, the rhetoric of both nations turned shriller and argumentative, making faith in negotiations and treaties virtually non-existent.
  • The Truman Doctrine arose from a speech delivered by President Truman before a joint session of Congress on March 12, 1947. The immediate cause for the speech was a recent announcement by the British Government that, as of March 31, it would no longer provide military and economic assistance to the Greek Government in its civil war against the Greek Communist Party. Truman asked Congress to support the Greek Government against the Communists. He also asked Congress to provide assistance for Turkey, since that nation, too, had previously been dependent on British aid.
The Cold War: Crash Course US History #37