The Cold War

The Importance

A Brief Summary of The Cold War

The Cold War was the period of time between 1947-1991 where the United States and Soviet Union constantly built up militaristic power to such a degree that almost caused nuclear war. The 44 year time period was outlined by political and militaristic tension and many historic events that influenced life across the world. The typical time span of The Cold War is seen as starting with Harry S. Truman delivering the Truman Doctrine in 1947, to the Berlin Wall being torn down in 1989, leading to the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Who's Who?

Harry Truman -

  • U.S President from 1945-1953
  • Delivered the Truman Doctrine in 1947, beginning the Cold War

Josef Stalin -

  • Leader of the Soviet Union from 1927-1953
  • Attempted to seize control of Berlin in 1948 and began the Berlin Blockade, to try and take West Berlin to go with the East he already controlled.

Fidel Castro -

  • Dictator of Cuba from 1960-2007
  • Led a revolutionary movement in Cuba in the late 1950's.
  • Allied himself with Nikita Khrushchev of USSR in 1960.

Dwight D. Eisenhower-

  • U.S President from 1953-1961
  • WWII hero and former commander of NATO
  • Resolved the Suez Crisis

Mao Zedong-

  • Leader of China 1949-1976
  • Initiated the Great Leap Forward in China that propelled China to Communism through heavy industry,

John F. Kennedy-

  • U.S. President from 1961-1963
  • Ordered no air support in the Bay of Pigs Invasion and caused a defeat of the Cuban exiles, which ultimately led to the Cuban Missile Crisis.
  • President during the Cuban Missile Crisis, the closest the world has ever come to nuclear war. Known for resolving the crisis with Nikita Khrushchev, leader of USSR.

Nikita Khrushchev-

  • Leader of Soviet Union from 1956-1964
  • Found United States U-2 Spy Planes in 1960, which began the U-2 Spy Plane Incident
  • Stored Soviet missiles in Cuba in 1962, causing the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Ronald Reagan-

  • U.S. President from 1981-1989
  • Proposed the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) in other to respond to possible nuclear attacks
  • Asked mister Gorbachev to " TEAR DOWN (Berlin) WALL!"

Mikhail Gorbachev-

  • Leader of the Soviet Union from 1985-1991
  • Was asked to " TEAR DOWN (Berlin) WALL!" in 1989
  • Introduced new reforms to the Soviet Union, such as glasnost
  • Opened the Berlin wall on November 9,1989

Important Terms and Definitions


Communism – A form of government where every citizen is made equal. (Soviet Union)

Democracy – A form of government in which every citizen has the right to make their own money, have freedom and speech, and other simple freedoms. (United States)

NATO – The pact between the United States and their allies to defend themselves from Soviet Attack.

Warsaw Pact – The alliance between the Soviet Union and its allies as a direct response to NATO.

HUAC/HISC - Foundation led by Joseph McCarthy that searched for Communists in the United States and caused the “Red Scare.”

The Space Race – Competition between the United States and the Soviet Union to get to the moon, with the United States winning.

U-2 Spy Plane – A stealth aircraft used to survey areas without easy detection.

Brigade 2506 – The group of Cuban exiles hired by the CIA to invade Cuba for the Bay of Pigs Invasion.

SALT I & II – Treaties between the U.S. and USSR to limit the amount of missiles allowed during the Cold War

Black September – The terrorist group responsible for the attack on the Israel Olympic team in the 1972

Strategic Defense Initiative – The defense system proposed by Ronald Reagan that involved surveillance, weapons and support programs based in space.

Great Leap Forward – The jump-start to Communism in China led by Mao Zedong.

Glasnost – A policy created by Mikhail Gorbachev that included freedom of speech, and information and free elections in the Soviet Union in the late 1980’s.

Chernobyl – The location of a power plant in the Ukraine that suffered a severe nuclear meltdown.

Important Events of the Time

Truman Doctrine-

  • Truman tells world the U.S. will help any country about to go under the control of communism.
  • Soviet Union Doesn't respond well to this
  • This starts the cold war

NATO/Warsaw pact-

  • NATO was created in 1949, it united the democratic countries against a possible communist attack
  • The Soviet Union creates the Warsaw pact in 1955 in response to NATO, it united all the Communist countries
  • Countries started to leave the Warsaw pact after the Soviet Union took control in 1958
  • The Warsaw pact ended in 1991 while NATO is still around today

Marshall Plan-

  • Plan was proposed by U.S. Secretary of State George Marshall
  • Gave money to countries that needed to rebuild after WWII
  • Countries that were given money had to promise not to turn Communist

The Building of the Berlin Wall-

  • Germany and Berlin where divided between the Allied Powers after WWII
  • West Berlin belonged to the US, Great Britain, and France, and East Berlin belonged to the Soviet Union
  • The construction of the wall began on August 13 1981
  • The Wall was built to prevent East German to escape into West Germany

Cuban Missile Crisis-

  • Thirteen days in October where the world came closest to nuclear war
  • United States Spy Plane spots Soviet missiles in Cuba in summer of 1962
  • Matter is resolved by letters sent from John F. Kennedy to Nikita Khrushchev and vice-versa, as well as an emergency telephone hotline between them

Helsinki Accords-

  • A political agreement, not a treaty, which opened July 3, 1973
  • Composed of four baskets

Baskets cover different issues such as security, trade, human rights, etc.

Moscow/LA Olympics-


  • Jimmy Carter wrote a letter to the International Olympics Committee to change the location or cancel the 1980 Olympics
  • There was a 2:1 margin vote to boycott the Olympics
  • Out of the 145 countries eligible to participate, only 81 did( United States did not attend)

  • Boycott was led Soviet Union
  • Romania was the only Warsaw pact country to compete
  • The competition was unbalanced, with the USA winning 175 medals and West Germany winning 59

Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster-

  • Nuclear reactor meltdown takes place in 1986 in Chernobyl, Ukraine
  • Soviet Union keeps the disaster secret until a plane spots it
  • Soviet Union denies any help from countries after the truth is out
  • 250,000 in the surrounding area are evacuated.

Fall of the Berlin Wall-

  • Ronald Reagan delivers a speech on June 12, 1987 at the Berlin Wall, challenging Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down this wall!” to reunite Eastern and Western Germany.
  • The wall begins to come down November 9, 1989
  • German Unification signified by the complete destruction of the wall on October 3, 1990