Stockman's History Extravaganza

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The Cold War

Conflict in Europe

Following World War II, tensions were high between the western allies and the Soviet Union. The U.S. and Great Britain felt strongly the Allies should not occupy the territories they had conquered during WWII. The Soviets had suffered great losses and were determined not to be invaded again. Stalin decided he must maintain control over Eastern Europe and keep a buffer between the Soviet Union and the nations of the West. Stalin set up communist regimes in Poland and Germany. Winston Churchill said in a speech, “A shadow has fallen….and iron curtain has descended across the continent. It referred to the dividing line between eastern and western Europe.

U.S. Post-War in Europe

In 1946, a top U.S. diplomat named George Kennan recommended that the U.S. and its allies focus on a strategy of containment. Kennan believed that Eastern Europe was firmly in Soviet hands and could not be saved. Therefore the U.S. and the West should focus on containing communism to those countries where it already existed and not let it spread any further.

Truman introduced the Truman Doctrine. This doctrine stated the U.S. would not hesitate to intervene and aid nations overseas to resist communism. It featured a financial plan. Labeled the Marshall Plan, this plan provided nations in war-torn Europe with much needed financial support from the U.S.

A Divided Germany

When World War II ended, the Allies divided Germany among themselves. Part of the country fell under U.S. control, part fell under British control, and part fell to the Soviets. France received a portion from the U.S. and Great Britain. The German capitol of Berlin was also divided. The western part went to the Allies and the eastern part fell to the Soviets. Great Britain, the U.S. and France only saw these divisions as temporary but the Stalin had no intention of giving up the Soviet parts of Berlin or Germany.

Realizing that a unified Germany could not be achieved, the U.S. Great Britain and France unified their sectors into one nation. They called it the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany), and declared West Berlin to be part of this nation. The USSR responded by establishing the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) under communist rule.

To keep people from fleeing, Stalin instituted a blockade of the city by not allowing any needed supplies to reach the people of West Berlin. Wanting to avoid war, Truman authorized the Berlin Airlift, over a 15 month period U.S. and British planes delivered supplies to West Berlin.

The term “Cold War” referred to the tension between the U.S. and the Soviet Union.

China and Korea

In 1949, China became a communist nation following a revolution. Mao Tse-tung (Zedong) led the revolution and assumed power as the new leader. Korea was one of the countries liberated from the Japanese during WWII.

Since both the U.S. and the Soviets played a role in its liberation, the Allies divided the nation along the 38th parallel. The northern half of the country established a communist government. The southern half put in place a pro-U.S. democracy.

The Korean War

In June 1950, the Korean War began when North Korean forces crossed the 38th parallel. The United Nations came to South Korea’s aid.

U.S. forces pushed their enemy back across the 38th parallel and continued to advance north. Concerned that U.S. led forces were so close and wanting to maintain a communist regime in North Korea, the Chinese sent troops to aid the North Koreans.

A stalemate soon developed and after two more long years of fighting, both sides signed a truce in 1953.

The Founding of Israel

The discovery of the Holocaust during WWII served to increase support for the founding of a Jewish homeland. On May 14 1948, with the support of the newly formed United Nations, the new state of Israel officially became an independent Jewish state.

President Truman and the U.S. showed support for the new nation but the Arab nations greatly resented the decision to give part of Palestine to the Jews.Israel’s boundary also had an impact on the Cold War. The U.S. and Israel became allies while the Soviets came to support many of the surrounding Arab states.

The Eisenhower Doctrine

Dwight Eisenhower was elected as president of the U.S. in 1952. He was a war hero of WWII. Eisenhower was concerned about the spread of communism and Soviet aggression. Eisenhower believed strongly in the domino theory. He believed if one nation fell to communism, the its neighboring nations would soon fall as well.

In 1957, President Eisenhower introduced the Eisenhower Doctrine. It stated that the U.S. would not hesitate to aid any country in the Middle East that asked for help resisting communist aggression. A year later Eisenhower sent troops to Lebanon to help their government resist communist backed forces.

The U-2 Incident

Nikita Khrushchev became the Soviet leader following the death of Joseph Stalin in 1953.

Khrushchev met with Eisenhower in the U.S. and invited him to Moscow in an effort to improve U.S. – Soviet relations.

In May of 1960, another incident occurred that damaged the U.S.-Soviet relations and caused Khrushchev to cancel the invitation. It became known as the U-2 Incident. It involved a U.S. U-2 spy plane shot down over the Soviet Union. At first, the U.S. government denied conducting any such spy missions, however when the soviets produced evidence Eisenhower had to acknowledge it. The President took responsibility but refused to apologize. This infuriated Khrushchev.


In 1959, a young revolutionary named Fidel Castro overthrew the Cuban government and assumed control of the nation. He executed more than 700 of his opponents and jailed many more.

Discovering that Castro had ties to communism, President Eisenhower refused to support the new dictator. Castro allied himself with the Soviet Union. In 1961, John F. Kennedy approved an operation to aid anti-Castro Cubans in an invasion of their homeland. The invasion was called the Bay of Pigs and was a complete failure on April 17, 1961.

Berlin Wall

Khrushchev was determined to stop the large flow of refugees from East Germany.

The Soviet Union built a wall that separated communist East Berlin into West Germany through Berlin.

The wall separated communist East Berlin from democratic West Berlin . Anyone attempting to cross the wall without permission risked being shot by east German soldiers. For more than a quarter of a century, the Berlin Wall stood as a chilling symbol of the Cold War.

The Cuban Missile Crisis

Although the Bay of Pigs had been a failure, Castro still feared a future invasion by U.S. forces. Knowing he needed a strong ally, Castro allowed the Soviets to secretly put nuclear missiles in Cuba.This was just 90 miles off the coast of Florida.

When U.S. spy planes spotted these missiles in October 1962, Kennedy responded by authorizing a naval blockade of the island. For 13 days the world watched as the Cuban Missile Crisis brought two superpowers to the brink of war.

Finally Khrushchev agreed to withdraw the missiles in exchange for a U.S. pledge not to invade Cuba. The U.S. also secretly offered the Soviets an assurance that it would eventually remove U.S. missiles stationed in Turkey.

International Alliances of the Cold War


The Cold War basically divided the world in half between countries that allied with the U.S. on one side and those allied with the Soviet Union on the other.

In the hopes of avoiding conflict, the international community founded the United Nations after WWII. The UN was designed as a place where countries could negotiate rather than go to war.


In April 1949, the U.S. signed a treaty with several European nations.

The North Atlantic Treaty allied these nations with one another and stated that each country would come to the defense of any others if ever they were attacked.

It also formed NATO (the North Atlantic Treaty Organization) which would provide a combined military force if such an attack occurred.

The Warsaw Pact was the USSR and its allies answer to NATO. The Pact was formed in 1955. It united the communist countries of eastern Europe in a similar pledge.


In an effort to prevent the spread of communism in Southeast Asia, the U.S. formed the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO). The U.S. also led the way in forming the Organization of American States (OAS) in 1948. The Organization’s purpose was to forge cooperation and prevent Latin American nations from becoming communist.

Ms. Stockman 2013