The Iron Curtain that Divides Europe

Categories: Cold War

The iron curtain was the division of Europe after WWII, which the Communists feared the western epitome. Joseph Stalin of the Soviet Union, kept it so Democratic ideas out, keeping Communist countries and people in. This metaphoric ‘Iron Curtain’ marked the start of the Cold War. Winston Churchill, the prime minister of Great Britain at the time, though he believes it didn’t take much effort to stop the separation. This separation caused the cold war to host the creation of modern technology.

US Containment of Communism: During the cold war, the Us wanted to put a stop to the spread of communism. One method the US used to keep communism out was the Truman Doctrine. Harry S. Truman, the president at the time formed this doctrine to allow countries to look for help from the US, when threatened with Communism. This was seen as a challenge to the Soviets which led to into the cold war.

Berlin Airlift: After WWII, Germany was divided up between the superpowers.

The division was caused because of the power and the destruction that Germany caused during WWII. To help rebuild and get Germany back on its feet. They divided it up. Berlin was also divided. The Soviets wanted Berlin all to themselves so they blockaded all entrances. The US dropped resources from planes into their sections of Berlin. This was considered the first successful act of containment by the US.

Formation of Alliances: WWII caused fear in the world, so countries went to look for assurance.

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They looked to their neighbors for help and support and then began to form alliances. United Nations was a new and improved League of Nation, which had many more countries, including the USA and the Soviet Union. NATO was a military alliance formed for the North Atlantic countries, Canada, USA, and the UK. The Warsaw Pact was made to counter NATO and consisted of Eastern Europe countries. This was major tension.

Cold War in the Skies: NASA was created which gave people hope and the desire to reach new frontiers. The US and Soviets were competing for top dog. Each trying to create bigger and better than their enemy. This included ICBMs.

Korean War: Under the Truman Doctrine the US intervened in Korea. President Truman put Douglas MacArthur, as famous military commander from WWII, being in charge of the United Nation troops, though removed due to issues with the President. The Chinese Communist government observed Arthur’s war strategies which also led to his downfall. Chinese Communists got involved against the US forcing them back from united North and South Korea as Republic, though leading them to leave the war with only containment.

Vietnam War: Vietnam was divided into two states with one being Communist and the other a Republic. Under the Truman Doctrine during the Cold War, the US intervened when the North began threatening the South Republic. The Northern forces were led by Ho Chi Minh, who believed in the Communist ideals. Ngo Dinh Diem took leadership in Southern Korea for the Republic. Though the US intervened, they did no win. They withdrew from the war in later years failing to keep the Communists where they were at.

Bay of Pigs: Fidel Castro drove his army and overthrew the nations American-backed president. For the next couple of years the US tried to push Castro out of power because Castro was trying to reduce American influence. President Eisenhower launched an attack on Cuba that the believed would be the defence strike. John F Kennedy helped maintain that Castro was no real threat to America but the new president believed going to war with Cuba would show Russia, china and spectral Americans that they wanted to win the cold war. The invasion didn’t go well for the US, they were simply outnumbered by the Cuban troops and surrendered less than 24 hours into the invasion.

Cuban Missile Crisis: When the Bay of the Pigs invasion failed it convinced the Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev that the US would not resist Soviet expansion in Latin America. Once he realized that the US couldn’t resist Khrushchev started to build 42 missile sites in Cuba pointing at the US. A detective plane spotted the missile sites and John F Kennedy declared that missiles that close to the US were a threat. Kennedy announced a naval blockade of Cuba to stop the Soviets from bringing in more missiles. After Kennedy’s blockade, Fidel Castro said his country was being used as a parn in the cold war. Kennedy demanded for the missiles to be removed out of Cuba. Khrushchev removed the missiles and made the US promise not to invade Cuba. After the Soviets protected Cuba, Castro’s blockade for communist revolution.

Civil War in Nicaragua: The United States had funded the Nicaraguan dictatorship of Anastasio Somoza and his family. Communist Sandinista replied and took over Somoza. United States and Soviet Union both gave aid to Sandinistas and their leader Daniel Ortega. The sandinistas gave help to other Marxist rebels in El Salvador. To help the Salvadorians fight the rebels. The United States supported Nicaragua which was an anti communist force called the Contras. The civil war in Nicaragua seriously weakened the country economically and president Ortega helped the first free election in national history

Iran Hostage Crisis: With the help of the US, Iran’s capital hit gleaming skyscrapers. Opened foreign banks, and modernized the factorized. The Shah tried to weaken the political influence of the Iran’s leader who opposed western influences. The leader was Ayatollah Khomeini and he was living in exile. Khomeini had hate for the US because of the support for the Shah. With Ayatollah’s blessing Islamic took 60 Americans hostage and demanded the US to force the Shah to face trial. When the war broke out between Iran and Iraq the US secretly helped both sides so the balance of the power would stay the same. The Soviet union had always been a supporter of Iraq.

USSR Invades Afghanistan: After WWII Afghanistan maintained its independence from the US and Soviet Union. The Soviet influences in Afghanistan started to increase. A Muslim threat started to topple Afghanistan’s communist regime. This lead to the Soviet invading Afghanistan in 1979. The Soviets wanted to raise the communist beliefs and then withdrew but that didn’t happen. The Afghanistan’s rebelled with the US weapons they were given. The US gave weapons to the rebels because they believed the innovation was a threat to the Middle Eastern oil supply.

.Revolts in Hungary and Czechoslovakia: Hungary started a protest because they wanted a more democratic political system and freedom from the Soviet control. Hungary brought Imre Nagy to power and he asked the Soviets to withdraw their troops. The Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev did so, which made Nagy start a one party rule, the Soviets didn’t like that. They came back rolling in with their tanks to stop the movement. After millions of people died the protest topped and Nagy was captured. Nikita Khrushchev pledged a retreat from a Stalinist police, that killed many Hungarians.

Détente: Population protest throughout the world destroyed the United States during the Vietnam war and the terminal did not end the US withdraw. As the US tried to heal, the US backed down from the direct confrontation with the Soviet Union under Richard M. Nixon rule.This didn’t stop the US from trying to contain communism but the two sides agreed to reduce tension between each other. With the election of Ronald Reagan Détente came to an end.

Soviet Openness: Before, leaders had created Totalitarian states, and by doing this, the Soviet society barely changed, and the economy began to decline. In 1985, Mikhail Gorbachev announced a policy known as glasnost, or openness. He did this because he realized that economic and social reforms couldn’t go on without a free flow of ideas and information. With this policy, it brought many changes including the government to allow churches to open, and allowed the publication of banned books.

August Coup: On August 18, 1991, Gorbachev was detained and was demanded to stop down as president. Soviet people lost their fear of the party, and protesters gathered where Boris Yeltsin had his office. On August 20, hardliners ordered troops to attack the parliament building, but they declined. August 21st, the military removed it’s removed its forces from Moscow, and Gorbachev returned.

Russia Under Boris Yeltsin: He adopted a plan known as “shock therapy” to reform the Russian economy. From this. Prices rose from 1992 to 1994, and the inflation rate average 800%. Many factories had to shut down, and thousand were unemployed. With his troubles, a war occurred in Chechnya. In August 1996, the two sides signed a ceasefire.

Poland Ousts Communism: In 1980’s workers at the Gdansk shipyard went on strike which was called, Solidarity. The next year, the Polish government banned it, and declared martial law. Because of the economic crisis, workers walked off their jobs, and demanded raises. General Jaruzelski legalized Solidarity, and held Poland’s first election, where they elected Lech Walesa as president.

Fall of Berlin Wall: The East German government closed its borders because of the escapes. In June 1987, Reagan demanded the wall come down, and two years after it was about to. Egon Krenz, who was the new leader, said he could restore stability to people leaving, and only November 9, the Berlin Wall opened.

Germany Reunifies: Reunification was spoken about because of the fall of Communism. This idea worried many people, but Helmut Kohl, West German chancellor, assured leaders that Germans learned from their mistakes. They were committed to democracy and human rights, and Kohl’s assurances helped other nation accept reunification. Germany was reunited on October 3, 1990.

Breakup of Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia: Reformers in Czechoslovakia also launched a program based on “shock therapy”, which resulted in a sharp rise in unemployment. Since they couldn’t agree on an economic policy, Slovakia and Czech Republic drifted apart. President Vaclav Havel resigned because of this. Czechoslovakia was split into two countries on January 1, 1993. Josip Tito help Yugoslavia together, but after his death, Slobodan Milosevic become leader. The army invaded both Slovenia and Croatia after declaring independence. By 1995, Serbian military controlled 70% of Bosnia.

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The Iron Curtain that Divides Europe. (2021, Apr 23). Retrieved from

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