The Cold War was one of the most dangerous wars in History. It threatened to destroy life on Earth with its new threat of technologically advanced weapons that were a vast change from other forms of warfare used in the First and Second World Wars. The Cold War was fought mostly in the second half of the twentieth century and involved The United States and Russia and their allies. It was called the Cold War because despite the danger of the war, there was no direct combat between U. S. A and Russia and no official battles or fights went on between the two sides.
The new weapons that were being developed made the Cold War so frightening and dangerous because they were more powerful and destructive than anything seen or used before them because they could be dropped at the press of a button and were more accurate and lethal than previous weapons. This was just one of the factors that made the Cold War so dangerous. One of the other reasons why the Cold War was so dangerous was the opponents who fought in it. These were the United States of America and the U. S. S. R or Russia, as it is now known.
Both of these countries had fought in the Second World War but it was Russia that had been affected the worst of all the countries fighting, losing between 20 and 30 million men, a figure brought up to 40 million when communism fell in Russia in 1989 and the true account of all victims was revealed. The United States lost fewer men than any of the other countries who fought in the second world war, and only entered when Japan attacked Pearl harbour in the Pacific ocean in 1941.
After the war, America was by far the best economically stable country whereas the other countries in the war were left to count the Billions of pounds of damage from the war. Russia however was the worst hit country, as Germany pummelled it to destruction the red army somehow beat the Nazis and just survived. Despite the Russian victory, the country was destroyed after the nazi onslaught but with Russia’s huge size and natural resources, they had the potential to quickly turn back into a powerful nation.
The population was still the biggest in Europe despite the heavy loss of life and this meant that Russia still had a huge army and would be able to develop weapons. Both of these countries were developing nuclear and atomic weapons and due to all the factors, they both were superpowers. This made the Cold War so much more dangerous because as superpowers, they both had nuclear capabilities and had massive natural resources plus huge armies as well. On top of this superpowers usually have lots of allies and these allies proved to be a key part of the Cold War.
Superpowers also usually have large populations and large landmasses to go with these other factors. We know that the cold war started in 1945 but the origins went way back, as far as 1917, when communism broke out in Russia, with the Bolshevik revolution. Karl Marx had started the idea of communism in 1848 in Britain. The views of communism that he made were based on the view that democratic governments and churches were exploiting the working class of society. He believed that churches and Christianity were ‘the opiate of the masses’.
By this he meant that churches were exploiting people by making them think that they were going to go to heaven so there was something good to come at the end of their lives. Marx felt that this was just an excuse so he came up with the idea communism where there was no religion, just wealth split between everybody and everything run by the state. Karl Marx also believed that for communism to be a success, it would have to be worldwide, as an international doctrine.
This idea began to break out in early 1900’s in Russia, as the Tsar and the Romanov’s, who were the rulers of Russia, then, were exploiting people. People felt that the Romanovs and the church were getting all the benefits of the working class’ hard work. Source A2 shows us why tensions were beginning to boil over in 1901, when the Marxist beliefs and ideas were beginning to be used in Russia. At the top of the society in the source, the Romanovs and the Tsar are at the top and they have all the riches and an easy life.
As we work the way down the pile, the next class are the Romanovs guards and then we come to the priests, supposedly the ‘opiate of the masses’. This means that the priests and churches are infecting the masses into believing that they will go to heaven, when really they are being sucked dry by the government. The next level down is the army and then the middle classes, whom Bolsheviks also felt were exploiting the working class, as they were taking larger cuts of profits etc. At the bottom then, you can see the working class, who are struggling to hold up society above them.
I think this is trying to show us how without the working class, the society above them would come crashing down and it is only the work and effort of the working class which is holding up society and producing the resources for the higher classes to work with. The words down the side of the picture give us an even clearer view of what Russians thought of the higher classes.
There are reasons why it may not be reliable however. The person who is writing/drawing it was trying to use it as propaganda to convince people in their view. They could have exaggerated their views here to make it a more attractive proposition to be communist. I also know that this poster is attempting to whip up support for a revolution and for people to be communist. In order to so this then, the poster could have been over exaggerated in order to paint a grim and unfair picture of what the Tsar and higher classes were like in Russia.
I think however that what he is saying about the society is mostly true because I know that from source A3, which is an impartial source that the government was being unfair to the working class, it says in source A3 “they (the Americans) had strongly disapproved of Tsarist oppression”. So I think overall, the source gives a valid account of Russian society in 1901. From that source A2, we have seen how the Bolsheviks wanted to come to power, and I know that in 1917, the communist revolution killed the Tsar and Tsaress and their families and a one party communist government replaced their rule.
After this, the Americans became increasingly afraid of communism and its beliefs. This did not however mean that Russia was not afraid of America, because they had just replaced a form of Capitalism themselves, and did not want this to be ruling their country again. The ideologies of America and Russia played a key role in why both countries were so afraid of the other. Ideology is the belief of how a country should be run and your political beliefs. The Ideology of America was Democratic or Capitalist. The government was run democratically and people had a free vote of who to vote for in the elections and what party.
The working world was run for profit and it was every individual or every company for him or herself, a free market where you could make as much or as little money as possible. Contrast this with the way that Russia was run. The communist state was one party and the elections were only used for which candidate they wished to run the party. Every company in the country was state owned. This was the same for all radio and media stations and newspapers. The companies made no profit, all profits were sent back to the state and this money was to be spread out equally between every citizen, it was an equal state in this way.
The clear differences in the way that Russia and America were run made them scared of each other. America was afraid that communism would spread wider, as it was said for communism to work, it needed to be worldwide and Russia was afraid of capitalism because America had helped the opponents of the revolution in 117, so there was little trust due to this. They also disliked how there could be many poor people in America, due to the uneven money spread. There were also geographical reasons for the mistrust between America and Russia.
Russia was surrounded by countries, many of who were America’s allies and had been attacked 14 times since 1800 and did not want America to be the 15th invasion. America however was isolated and unlikely to be invaded by sea and too difficult to be invaded by air. America was suspicious of Russia’s position however, as it had said it weaned to spread, as communism was an international doctrine, something that Karl Marx said would only work with worldwide support for it. Despite their early suspicions, the Russians and Americans were forced to ally during the Second World War, to stop the spread of Nazism into Russia and Eastern Europe.
In 1941, Germany had invaded Russia and began to use Blitzkrieg methods to take over Russian soil. At first, this was successful and Germany was taking much of the U. S. S. R’s land but in 1942, despite their doubts about each others countries, ‘the Big Three’ of Joseph Stalin, Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt met at Yalta to discuss how to stop the spread of the Nazis across Eastern Europe. They decided to open up a second front and they combined efforts and armies to defeat the Nazis.
Perhaps this was something that staved off the American and Russian suspicion about each other, but it definitely prevented either side from attacking each other or saying things about each other’s beliefs. Eventually, Russia managed to defeat Germany and pushed them back towards Berlin, where Russia claimed many new soviet countries for its empire, something which Churchill and Truman when he became president in 1945 disliked. The war in Europe ended in may 1945 and Germany was defeated, the second front by the allies had worked and they could start rebuilding Europe once more.
The Big Three met once again, but due to Franklin Roosevelt’s death and Winston Churchill’s replacement in government, Clement Atlee and Harry Truman, men who were more suspicious of Russia than Roosevelt, although Churchill was very disconcerting towards Russia as well, as we can see when he talked about the Russian iron curtain in his 1946 speech. The suspicion between Russia and America grew when Russia took many new countries when pushing back German troops. Churchill described this in 1946 as an iron curtain and this meant that he thought Russia was gaining too much land than was fair.
Once the war in Europe was over, the allies had to turn their attention to Japan and the Pacific battle. There were several key decisions to be made and these were discussed at Potsdam in 1945. Some of the discussions said that Russia would help to fight Japan also Berlin would be split up into 4 zones, one each for France, Britain, U. S. A and Russia. The other decisions gave Russia part of Poland and land from Finland, Romania and Czechoslovakia. But the biggest announcement was that America had developed a new weapon, and Truman told Stalin this. Stalin, however, knew nothing of the imminent U. S. A atomic bombing of Japan.
Not only the continued advance of red army troops was causing concern fro the west, the fact that the second front was delayed for so long also brought worry to Stalin. D-day only happened in 1944 and this was a full two years after the Yalta conference. Stalin thought that Britain and America were letting Nazism and Communism destroy each other and were happy to let the two die out. Source A5a is the memoirs of Harry Truman and how he described his decision to use the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. President Truman describes how it may have taken until autumn 1946 to defeat Japan from reports form his army General Marshall.
The General also told Truman that if America were to contribute more men, it would take a toll of at least half a million to defeat Japan. He goes on to tell us how the Americans went about constructing a weapon, which could “force the enemy to yield swiftly once we could resort to it. ” In other words, he wanted Japan to be forced to surrender, as quickly as possible and with the least allied lives lost possible and according to him, using an atomic bomb was the only option Truman also takes time to show how much time he and his advisers spent on the consequences of the bomb could have.
He also says that he was justified in not telling Stalin that he was using the bomb, as ‘they recommended (his advisers) using it without specific warning. ” He also says that Churchill also wanted to use the bomb and agreed with its use. He also tries to say how he considered the Japanese, when he didn’t attack Kyoto as it was ‘a cultural and religious shrine of the Japanese. ” We know that it is a secondary source as it was written after the event, but as it was from the man who made the decision to drop the bomb, we know that he could not have lost any memory of it, so in a way it can be considered a primary source.
All of these things make the use of the atomic bombs look justifiable but if you consider that he was trying to justify a huge political decision and prove that losing hundreds of thousands of peoples lives was the right political and moral decision to take, you can see that he could be trying to use these memoirs as propaganda to prove that he was right. We also know that he would not have said in his memoirs that dropping the bomb was wrong even if he thought now it was, because it was too much of a major political decision and too big a loss of life for him to say his decision was wrong.
If we compare Source A5a to Source 5c we can see the flip side of the view. Hugh Higgins took this quote from a book that said, “Japan could be forced unconditionally to surrender without the use of the bomb and an invasion” He is saying that the Japanese were ready to surrender and the Bomb was according to the joint chief of staff unnecessary. He also says that Truman was quoted saying, “if it explodes, as I think it will, we’ll have a hammer on those boys! ” The author is trying to put across the point that America wanted to show Russia that it had considerable firepower to use and that it wasn’t afraid to use it.