THE BEGINNINGS OF THE COLD WAR

Further Developments of US-Soviet Tensions

Further Developments of US-Soviet Tensions

Further Developments of US-Soviet Tensions

Onset of US-Soviet Tensions As the tide turned definitively against Hitler with the advance of the Allies into Europe from 1943 onwards, the leaders of the main Allied powers began to make preparations for life after the War. Winston Churchill (British Prime Minister) and Franklin Roosevelt (US President) were particularly concerned about what would happen to the parts of Europe that would be liberated by the Soviet Union, fearing they would simply be forced into being Communist states.

The Big Three held a couple of different meetings to discuss what would happen after the War:

Yalta, February 1945

Relations between the Big Three were not so tense at Yalta, at least not compared with later meetings. Things initially looked like amicable arrangements could be put in place once Hitler was gone.

* Stalin said the Soviet Union would join the war against Japan once Germany was defeated.

* They agreed that there would be free elections in Eastern European countries that were liberated as the Soviet Red Army made its way towards Berlin.

* The Allies agreed to divide Germany into four zones of control.

The Iron Curtain and the Post-War Division of Europe

US-Soviet TensionsIt was not just in Poland where free elections didn’t happen in areas liberated by the Red Army. Stalin had other ideas for countries such as Czechoslovakia, Romania, Yugoslavia and Hungary.

As we’ve said, until World War 2, everyone else hated the Soviet Union. Even more so than Hitler, Stalin was the international bogeyman. After all the sacrifice that the Soviet Union had made in the war, Stalin wanted a post-war world where his neighbours were friendly to him.

So, instead of holding free elections, friendly local communists were placed in charge of these countries instead, and held ‘elections’ where their non-communist rivals didn’t appear on the ballot paper.

Czechoslovakia after the War is a good example of this. To start with, a coalition of communists and non-communists was place in charge. However, the communists controlled the media, the police and the army, and took advantage of this to arrest non-communist politicians. By 1948, the country was fully under communist control.

So, the Soviet Union liberated part of Europe had a very different post-war experience to the areas freed by the USA and Britain. What Winston Churchill called an Iron Curtain developed – essentially this was a way of saying that all the countries under Soviet control had been cut off from the world and freedom through the Soviet Union making sure they became communist states.