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High School Hs American history

The Cold War

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Illustrated and Designed By
Christian Alas
Sound By
Margarita Onofre

The Cold War

In late April 1945, even before World War II had ended, representatives from 50 nations met in San Francisco, California, for the purpose of designing a charter for a new organization that was to be called the United Nations. The United Nations was created to help countries avoid war and find ways in which to solve problems through peaceful means. The United States was one of the founders of the UN. The Soviet Union was another powerful member of the United Nations.

Would the United Nations succeed in keeping the world at peace? A large part of the answer depended on the Soviet Union and the United States. Although during the war the U.S. and the Soviet Union set aside distrust from earlier years to fight Nazi Germany, the suspicions on the side of both countries soon reappeared.

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The U.S. government was unhappy with the Soviet Union over the Russian actions in Eastern Europe.

Joseph Stalin, the Soviet dictator of what had been Russia, refused to remove the Red Army from the countries of Eastern Europe that it had overrun when pushing back the Germans during World War II. Stalin had promised to allow these countries to choose their own forms of government through free elections. However, within four years of the end of WWII, the Russians forced Czechoslovakia, Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, and Hungary to adopt Communist governments under orders from Moscow. In Germany, the Russian-occupied eastern part became Communist. The Communists soon took over both Albania and Yugoslavia as well. The outrage of the United States at these events turned the U.S. against the Soviet Union.

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President Truman guided the transition from wartime to peace for the United States. Under a new, “Fair Deal,” Truman proposed many new social reform measures. Truman took a strong position against the spread of Communism abroad and asked Congress for a massive aid plan to aid Europe in their recovery from the war. Named after George C. Marshall, The Secretary of State, the Marshall Plan began in 1948. It sent billions of dollars in money and materials to Western Europe.

The Soviet Union feared the military power of the United States, especially the atomic bomb. The Soviet Union charged that the Marshall Plan was intended as a hostile act. The Soviets resented American protests against Soviet policies in Eastern Europe. The Russians had suffered horrible losses, including the loss of about 15 to 20 million Russian lives, during the war.

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Stalin believed that he was fully justified in seeking to defend the Soviet Union from future attack by controlling the small countries that lay between Germany and the Soviet Union.

The distrust, dislike, and resulting actions between the United States and the Soviet Union came to be called the “Cold War.” Both sides competed for allies in this non-shooting war. For some time in the late 1940s this competition was centered in Western Europe where strong and popular Communist parties threatened to win power through free elections, especially in Italy. These developing nations were categorized by political commentators into a so-called “Third World.” This was done to distinguish them from the other two “worlds:” one “Free” and the other “Communist.”

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Find the vocabulary words (in bold), write them below, and find the definition of each in a dictionary.

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Write 5 sentences using some of the vocabulary words.

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Write one sentence to describe the history of the Cold War for each area below:

What?

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When?

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How?

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Where?

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Why?

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Who?

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Discuss:

1. What organization from an earlier war was like the United Nations?

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2. What was a “Third World” country?

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3. Explain the name “Cold War.”

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4. Give three reasons for tension between the U.S. and the Soviet Union.

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The Cold War