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COLD WAR ORIGINS
Transcript of COLD WAR ORIGINS
Before WWII ended, FDR, Churchill, and Stalin met in Yalta.
They argued about what to do with Germany after the war. Stalin wanted it. Churchill and FDR feared the spread of communism.
In the end, they decided to split Germany into zones controlled by each power.
FDR dies like a week before we beat Hitler in 1945.
Harry Truman, a guy who was picked for VP just because he had no experience, becomes president.
This is very stressful for him.
So the League of Nations totally failed to prevent WWII but we give it another go with the United Nations.
The idea is that it would prevent future wars which it kind of did I guess.
So right after WWII ends Stalin starts gobbling up territory and spreading communism all over the place.
Winston Churchill declared that an "iron curtain" had descended on Europe.
The United States decided on a policy of "containment" meaning we would try to stop the spread of dirty communism.
The Truman Doctrine
So after the nazis are kicked out there's a civil war in Greece between communists and pro-democracy people.
Truman has congress send a bunch of money to fight the communists in Greece.
This is the beginning of the "Truman Doctrine" which basically means the US is going to fight communism whenever possible.
The US was worried that the weakened countries of Western Europe might go commie out of despair.
After communists took over Czechoslovakia, congress freaks out and approves the Marshall Plan.
The Marshall plan pumps 13 billion dollars worth of supplies, machinery, and food into western Europe. This leads to an economic recovery that makes communism less appealing.
In 1948, the US, Britain, and France announced they would combine their zones in Germany into a big zone called "West Germany" which would be an independent country. Western Berlin would be included as well.
Stalin freaks out and blockades Berlin, shutting off all access.
In return, the US air drops supplies into Berlin to feed west Berliners. Stalin gives up but still holds onto East Berlin.
NATO + Warsaw Pact
It's now clear that West and East are enemies locked in a "cold war."
The US forms the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) which is an alliance to defend each other if any is attacked by the Soviets.
In response, the Soviets form the Warsaw Pact, their own alliance.
In China, they finish fighting a civil war between nationalists and communists in 1949.
Mao Zedong, the communist leader, takes over and the nationalists flee to the island of Taiwan.
It's looking like soon all of East Asia will go communist.
Americans start freaking out that communist spies might be in the country. Truman orders an investigation into all federal employees to figure out if they might be secret commies.
Congress sets up the "House of Un-American Activities" to investigate those suspected of communism.
"Blacklists" were created of communists and they were not allowed to pursue work- this was especially common in Hollywood. Many actors and directors were forced out of the business.
At the height of the red scare, one congressman named Joseph McCarthy held hearings for anyone suspected of communism.
Careers were ruined as people turned in their neighbors for suspected communist activity. Leading a union, protesting for civil rights, etc were all reasons people were tried.
Finally in 1954 McCarthy claimed the army was run by communists which was too far- he was censured by congress but much of the damage was done.