Lecture 19 – World War to Cold War
The Cold War began very gradually, growing out of the end of World War II
• Late 1942 German war (racist war) had ended and the allies (Britain, US, USSR) decided
that they wanted unconditional surrender
• The period of push for surrender lasted until 1945 but by 1943 it was clear that the allies
were in charge and Hitler was only reacting
• Like WWI, the powers went outside of Europe with involvement in Japan (1940), Russia
(1941), the US (1941) – the war demanded more resources than Europe could give.
− US and the USSR bore the brunt of supply industrially
− US and the USSR were the only states with enough economy and industry to
• Accordingly, decisions about the future were made in DC and Moscow
• World War II was the last civil war of Europe and cost them world hegemony and
• The cold war emerges as an ideological war that would afflict the world until 1989-91
 Why was postwar Europe already being shaped on the battlefield?
Three main reasons why post-war Europe was shaping on the battlefield...
1. The entry of the US into the war (2 years late) established hegemony in the allied
alliance. They became the productive arsenal. In the spring of 1941 they enacted the
Lend Lease program, which gave arms to the allies in return for foreign military bases.
$43 billion in resources provided. Not only decided the winners of the war, but gave US
international hegemony and authoritative presence in Europe, financially and militarily.
− Gave financial, territorial and strategic support so that the allies could hold out for
− In the Atlantic Charter, freedom, security, and self government laid out by
Roosevelt and Churchill with a promise for no land grabs.
− Arms decided by Europe first policy decided at the Arcadia conference. Pledged
to supply resources for Germany’s defeat.
− Landing in Sicily and D-Day turned the tide in favour of the allies and were
related to American intervention. 2. June 1941 the USSR was invaded by Germany
− Allied offensive began in 1943
o Stalingrad 1942
o Kursk 1943
o Poland 1945
o Berlin 1945
− The USSR remained industrially intact after the 5 year plans even though large areas
were under Nazi occupation. Part of the expansion has established industry far East into
− Bolstered by population resources and a new generation of military officers
− Outside help – Churchill and Stalin meet. After Pearl Harbour, the US extends the Lend
Lease to Russia.
3. No formal peace to conclude the war
− It was decided what would happen after the war, while the war was still going on.
− Everything was decided based on positions of armies in 1945.
− Alliances were military and not political – politics and ideology were too thorny to deal
with during the war. Much easier and safer to stick with military alliances and leave
fragile politics for after, lest they fracture the military alliance.
Tehran 1943 – Territorial agreements, Europe divided along a North, South line. Anglo
America on the West side, and Soviets on the East side. Finalized in 1944
Yalta 1945 – Romania, Bulgaria, and Hungaria will be liberated by the Reds. Greece conceded
to the Western allies.
Potsdam 1945 – after the death of Roosevelt and Hitler, the main territorial questions were
unresolved as the atom bombs dropped. Churchill was voted out and Atlee and the British
Labour Party take over.
 Why did world war lead to Cold War?
Despite the fact that there was a military alliance, there was a great deal of suspicion and mistrust
within the alliance as well as a gulf of misunderstanding about what Post-War Europe would
look like. The two new superpowers had different political aims. Both sides believed that the
other would violate previous agreements.
There were also difficult questions like who would govern liberated territories? How property
claims were going to be resolved? Who should choose successor regimes? What about the
liberated people themselves? What did the US and USSR want?
− Aim was for security through re-claiming land lost in the 1918 Brest-Litovsk and
− Wanted re-claimed land to be friendly states – frontiers to represent a closed sphere of
− The problem was that friendly states also included sovereign states. They had to violate
international law to get Poland and Czechoslovakia.
− Wanted trade and the potential for free investment and an open markets
− To do this they believed they had to undermine the emergence of communism in Western
Europe and create a competing sphere of influence.
The result in conflicting aims was an ideological clash that assumed the dimensions of an
It also created paranoia – that one was out to destroy the other
− Stalin accuses foreign encirclement
− US accuses an attempt to subvert free enterprise in the West.
Unlike in 1918, the US decides to be active in the reconstruction and defence of Europe
− Western Europe feared Soviet expansion
− Western Europe wanted mild social reforms
− Feared soviet military, and the presence of parties in their democratic system. Wanted to