The Escalation of the Cold War, 1949-1955: After Stalin

The Escalation of the Cold War, 1949-1955: After Stalin

History GCSE Revision: The Escalation of the Cold War, 1949-1955

After Stalin

GCSE History Revision - Nikita Khrushchev New DirectionIn March 1953, Josef Stalin died in his bed after a reign of around two decades of paranoia, murderous repression and general tyranny. His successor, Nikita Khrushchev, recognised that Stalin had created a regime that was based entirely around Stalin himself and had murdered millions to fulfil this object. He decided to set a different course, and began a policy of de-Stalinization. Part of this involved taking a slightly more diplomatic approach to the by-now freezing Cold War.



The political fate of Austria after the war was one of the few cases of an amicable settlement to a Cold War dispute. The country had been occupied by France, Britain, the USA and the Soviet Union. Unlike in Eastern Europe, however, a non-communist government ran the show. The occupation of Austria came to an end in May 1955, with the occupiers signing the Austrian State Treaty, which committed Austria to being a neutral state that was neither allied to NATO nor the Soviet Union

However, there were also developments in these years that helped to solidify the Cold War:


The Warsaw Pact

GCSE History Revision - Warsaw PactBy 1955, the countries behind the Iron Curtain had developed into Communist states. Under the guidance of the USSR, they signed a mutual defence and cooperation pact in Warsaw on 14 May 1955. There were clear parallels between NATO and the Warsaw Pact, though in the view of the USA the Pact was just another example of the Soviet Union taking control of Eastern Europe. The immediate cause of the Pact being signed was the inclusion of West Germany in NATO, an event which meant that the Communist East now had a NATO power on its doorstep. The countries that signed the Pact were the USSR, Albania, Bulgaria, Poland, Hungary, Romania, Czechoslovakia and East Germany.

The Cold War now had two main opposing coalitions of countries.