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History GCSE Example Paper 2

History GCSE Example Paper 2

GCSE History Revision

Cold War 1

“We refused to be forced out of the city of Berlin. We demonstrated to the people of Europe that we would act and act resolutely, when their freedom was threatened. Politically it brought the people of Western Europe closer to us. The Berlin blockade was a move to test our ability and our will to resist.”

– President Harry S Truman, 1949

http://www.nationalcoldwarexhibition.org/learn/nato-warsaw-pacts/nato.cfm

Source question:

1. Do you agree that Stalin started the Berlin blockade for the reasons given by Truman? Explain your answer

Harry Truman in this speech suggests that the Berlin blockade was designed to test the US and its allies. In some respects this is accurate, as in blocking off transport routes (and therefore supplies) to Berlin the Soviet Union hoped to gain control of the western zone of the city. However, it is important to recognize that there were other reasons why Stalin ordered the blockade. At this moment in time Stalin felt that the Soviet Union’s own position in Germany was under threat due to moves that were made by the US and its allies in their zones of control, as well as elsewhere in liberated Europe. These included the Marshall Plan, which Stalin viewed as an attempt by the United States to buy influence and support within Europe and Germany, the moves that were made in the western part of Germany to create a unified state without consulting the USSR, and the introduction of a new currency in the western zone, again without the USSR’s consent.

2. In what ways did events in the final years of World War 2 create the conditions for the Cold War?

With a question such as this one it is important that you acknowledge there was more than one reason for the event taking place and explain as many reasons for it as possible. The better your explanation and the more reasons given, the better your mark for the question will be.

In this case, you could discuss the following factors:

The development of the atomic bomb – this changed the dynamics of future conflicts. The US’s failure to inform the Soviet Union about the technology angered the Soviet Union. Nuclear weapons played a key role throughout the remainder of the Cold War

The liberation of Europe into different zones – because of the way in which Europe was liberated (with the USA and Britain liberating from the West, and the USSR from the East), at the end of the War Europe was divided into different zones, each controlled by a different power. As powers with completely different ideologies, the USA and the USSR had totally different objectives as to what to do with the areas they liberated. In particular, the Soviet Union’s desire to retain some level of control in the countries of Eastern Europe created tension, as the US did not want these countries to be turned into Communist states. The division of Germany also created conditions for the two powers to clash over the country’s post-war future. The Soviet Union also wanted to extract massive reparations from Germany, whereas the USA did not want to do this.

Note that you need to be able to explain the links to the World War. Therefore listing other causes (for example, the USA being capitalist and the Soviet Union being communist) is not a good way to answer the question.

3. Compare the Marshall Plan with the founding of NATO. Which of these played a bigger role in contributing to the Cold War?

When you see a question in the exam that asks you to compare two things, it’s important that you talk about both of them equally, instead of just focusing on the one that you think is the most important. In the end, the one that you decide is the most important does not matter, so long as you can give a good reason for why you think it is the most important (you should give this reason at the end of your answer). Note that if the question asks you to compare to specific events, it is a good idea to briefly describe the event.

In this case you could talk about:

The Marshall Plan – was the aid program created by the United States to help Europe recover following the end of World War Two, under which European countries were offered billions of dollars of economic aid. It played an important role in raising tensions between the USA and the Soviet Union, because in the USSR’s view it was an attempt by the USA to gain economic control over European countries and bring them under American influence. As a result of this, the Soviet Union refused to allow countries in Eastern Europe to accept aid from the Marshall Plan.

NATO – The North Atlantic Treaty Organization was an alliance of countries that included the USA, Britain, France and Italy (plus other countries that had been liberated by the USA/GB during the War). It was a mutual defence pact that committed its members to defend one another in the event that one of them was attacked. As with the Warsaw Pact, the founding of NATO created a bloc of countries that would go to war together, meaning that the division between the USA and the USSR now took the form of formal military alliances with their respective supporters.

And possible reasons why you could say one was more important than the other include:

The Marshall Plan was more important, because it was a very serious challenge to the Soviet Union’s goals after World War 2. Stalin believed that it gave the USA a serious chance of gaining control over countries in which the Soviet Union wanted to retain control, and it contributed to him taking a more aggressive position that created confrontations such as the Berlin Blockade. In contrast, the creation of NATO was an event that took place once the key battle lines of the Cold War had already been drawn.

The creation of NATO was more important, as it changed the dimensions of the Cold War. It meant that were one side to attack the other, it was guaranteed that many other countries would also be involved. It also led to the USSR responding by creating the Warsaw Pact, which created an alliance of countries in support of the USSR. On the other hand, although the Marshall Plan was designed partly to win support of the USA, it had no direct military component, whereas NATO did.

Cold War 2

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1. How accurately does this cartoon reflect the US and the Soviet Union’s reactions to and actions after the Cuban Missile Crisis?

In some ways, the cartoon is an accurate reflection to Kennedy and Khrushchev’s reaction to the Cuban Missile Crisis. The cartoon shows the two figures attempting to close the lid of a box marked ‘nuclear war’, from inside which some sort of monster is trying to emerge. This signifies the fact that neither leader wanted a nuclear war to take place, and is a reference to the fact that the two figures were able to negotiate a peaceful solution to the Cuban Missile Crisis. The cartoon also partly reflects the actions of the USA and the USSR after the crisis, because in 1963 the two countries signed a nuclear test ban treaty, and in 1968 they signed a non-proliferation treaty. However, it is important to point out that this did not mean that either the USA or the USSR did not act in a way that could have provoked the other nation and therefore increased the risk of nuclear war. Both sides continued to stockpile nuclear weapons; both also came into dispute over events such as the Prague Spring; and existing sources of Cold War tensions such as the division of Germany and the Soviet Union’s support for communist groups across the world continued.

2. Describe the events that led to the Cuban Missile Crisis.

To answer this question effectively, you would need to discuss the following points:

Fidel Castro coming to power in the Cuban Revolution in January 1959

The lack of support Castro’s regime received from the USA versus the support it received from the Soviet Union and the significance of this in creating a country loyal to the USSR that was very close to the USA.

The Bay of Pigs incident of April 1961, in which anti-Castro forces given backing by the USA tried and failed to retake Cuba: this event brought Cuba closer to the USSR than ever, to the point where Cuba allowed the Soviet Union to build nuclear missile launch sites on the island in May 1962.

The fact that the Soviet Union’s decision to do this was motivated partly by the USA placing missile sites in Turkey in April 1962.

The role played by the U2 Missile Crisis, in which an American spy plane that had been photographing Soviet missile sites was shot down, in further increasing tensions between the USA and the USSR at this time.

The discovery of the sites in Cuba by the USA and the decision to send a naval blockade to prevent Soviet ships reaching Cuba.

3. Compare the building of the Berlin Wall with the Prague Spring. Which of these two events posed a bigger threat to the Soviet Union’s control in Eastern Europe?

When you see a question in the exam that asks you to compare two things, it’s important that you talk about both of them equally, instead of just focusing on the one that you think is the most important. In the end, the one that you decide is the most important does not matter, so long as you can give a good reason for why you think it is the most important (you should give this reason at the end of your answer). Note that if the question asks you to compare to specific events, it is a good idea to briefly describe the event.

In this case, you could mention the following points:

The Berlin Wall – in this case, it may initially seem that the building of the Berlin Wall was not a threat to the Soviet Union, since it was the Soviet Union that decided to build it. However, you need to consider that it built the wall because it feared the residents of its own, economically stagnant Eastern part of the city moving to the more prosperous West. The move was therefore motivated by weakness. The wall also came about after the US ignored the Soviet Union’s demands for it to leave West Berlin, again showing a certain weakness. Furthermore, in the longer term West Berlin continued to thrive, whilst East Berlin remained poor. The presence of this rich enclave within East Germany was highly damaging to the communist model, and so in the long run the division of Berlin in this way did a lot of damage to the Soviet Union and communism.

Prague Spring – The Prague Spring demonstrated the level of opposition to Soviet-approved economic models within some Warsaw Pact countries. The crushing of demands for things such as freedom of expression and the peaceful nature of the Czech protesters did severe damage to the Soviet Union’s reputation in the West, including amongst groups in these countries (such as left-wing parties) that had previously offered support to the East. The event also demonstrated that the idea of the Warsaw Pact countries having independence from the Soviet Union was a fallacy.

And possible reasons why you could say one was more important than the other include:

The Berlin Wall was more important, because it created a long-term example of the Western model in the East, so that people in the East could see the failure of the communist economic model, with the attempt to prevent people accessing it creating underground resistance to the East German regime. The attempt to neutralize West Berlin as a threat therefore backfired. In contrast, the Prague Spring in many ways simply confirmed what people in the West already knew about the Soviet Union after the invasion of Hungary in 1956.

The Prague Spring was more important, because it turned international opinion further against the Soviet Union. Although in the short term it suppressed resistance to communism in Czechoslovakia, in the longer term it created outrage amongst anti-Soviet groups in these countries; in the longer term these movements gained greater and greater support, culminating in the events that led to the collapse of communist regimes in countries such as Hungary, Poland and Czechoslovakia.

Cold War 3

http://asterling.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8341ed39853ef013488183f1e970c-320wi

1. What does the photograph tell us about the way the Cold War was brought to an end? Does it tell the whole story of how the Cold War came to an end?

The photograph shows US President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, who are engaged in an informal discussion. The two men’s facial expressions and body language suggest two men who are friends and are happy to work together. To an extent the photograph reflects the course of Cold War relations during the Gorbachev era. Gorbachev was much more willing to engage in negotiations with the US than his predecessors, and at the same time introduced reforms such as Glasnost and Perestroika, which seemed to indicate that the Soviet Union was attempting to reform itself in a way that the West favoured. However, the photograph does not provide a full picture of the final years of the Cold War. It does not show that there continued to be tensions between the USA and the USSR over events such as the invasion of Afghanistan. It also does not show the fact that Regan at times adopted an aggressive stance towards the USSR, in the form of referring to it as the ‘Evil Empire’ and also launching the Strategic Defense Initiative. The photograph also does not tell us about the role played by internal problems in the Eastern bloc that led to the downfall of communism, such as the economic problems that created opposition to communist regimes and the growth of opposition political movements such as Solidarity in Poland.

2. Explain the main objectives of Glasnost and Peristroika

The Glasnost and Perestroika initiatives were intended to bring economic and political reform to the Soviet Union. The term ‘Glasnost’ meant ‘openness’ and ‘Perestroika’ meant ‘restructuring’. Under Glasnost, a degree of free speech and criticism of the regime would be permitted, and the economic management of the country would become more transparent and controlled less by committees of Communist Party officials. Perestroika brought in a limited number of elections (though all candidates were members of the Communist Party), and also elements of free-market competition in the economy. It must be stressed that the reforms were designed to strengthen the Soviet Union through reform rather than dismantle it.

3. Compare the victory of Solidarity in Poland with the Strategic Defense Initiative. Which of these two developments played a bigger role in causing the collapse of Communism and the Soviet Union?

When you see a question in the exam that asks you to compare two things, it’s important that you talk about both of them equally, instead of just focusing on the one that you think is the most important. In the end, the one that you decide is the most important does not matter, so long as you can give a good reason for why you think it is the most important (you should give this reason at the end of your answer). Note that if the question asks you to compare to specific events, it is a good idea to briefly describe the event.

In this case, you could mention the following points:

The Victory of Solidarity – was very significant in bringing down Communism in the Eastern Bloc, because it was the first case of a communist regime having to make major concessions to an opposition movement. Solidarity’s survival and continued support in spite of martial law in 1981 demonstrated that opposition to Communist governments could not simply be repressed. In spite of this repression Solidarity was able in 1988 to force the government to make major concessions, including the calling of elections. The victory of Solidarity in these elections demonstrated the popular backing for change from Communism. Shortly after the victory of Solidarity other opposition movements elsewhere, such as Czechoslovakia and East Germany, also succeeded in forcing the regimes in these countries to give up power. The victory therefore served as an example and gave impetus to other movements, and led to the first of several collapses of Communist regimes in Eastern Europe.

The Strategic Defense Initiative – This initiative was important because it allowed the US to show its economic and military superiority over the Soviet Union. Whilst the Soviet economy was stagnant and therefore unable to continue investing in new nuclear technologies, the US through the initiative gave off the impression that it could and would continue to build more advanced weapons that would be superior to those of the Soviet Union. The USSR was unable to respond to the initiative in any meaningful way, and as a result it was left in a greatly weakened position.

And possible reasons why you could say one was more important than the other include:

The Victory of Solidarity was more important, because it brought about definitive political change in a Warsaw Pact country, and helped inspire other similar examples elsewhere. It was the culmination of decades of underlying opposition to communist economic policies and lack of political freedoms, and brought about genuine change. In contrast, the Strategic Defense Initiative arguably simply temporarily increased Cold War tensions by attempting to initiate another arms race. The SDI had no direct effect on factors such as the economic hardships suffered by people in the Eastern bloc or their opposition to their governments, which were the single most important factors in ending the Cold War.

The SDI was more important, because it helped bring about an end to the Soviet Union’s ability to present itself as a viable military superpower. It made the Soviet Union appear much weaker than the USA. The victory of Solidarity only caused the collapse of communism in Warsaw Pact countries, whereas the SDI damaged the Soviet Union itself.

You have reached the end of the paper. Congratulations!

Take a break, then return to the GCSE History Revision pages and carry on revising!