Joseph Stalin And Cold War
The Cold War between erstwhile USSR and the western nations started during the Second World War. However, there is a history why the Russians began looking at the West suspiciously which ultimately led to the Cold War that went on for decades until the fall of the Iron Curtain in the late 1980s.
In the year 1929, when Joseph Stalin became the supreme leader of the Soviet Union, he soon realized that his country was not at par with the western nations, and the country had to survive, he would have to take steps to modernize the economy. He reckoned that with a strong economy, the country would have a potent and powerful military. This would enable his beloved country to handle any external threat. Also, if the country was modernized, the farms would have modern farm equipment to grow crops to feed millions of hungry Russians.
However, Stalin was so worried about being deposed by a military leader that he started getting rid of senior officers on fabricated charges. Ultimately, the massive Red Army was left without a leader. So, when Nazi Germany attacked Russia in 1941 June, the huge Red Army was easily overpowered. Germans continued marching into Russia and were close to reaching Moscow. However, Stalin did not run away from the city. Instead, he passed on a message to the soldiers not to allow the Germans gain an inch of Russian land. Many of the city leaders took it upon themselves to defend their city and fight the Germans. In Leningrad, the city was cut off from Moscow due to the German siege and as a result the city leaders had to make independent decision. This was like by Stalin, and after the war ended, Stalin got rid of these city leaders without any remorse.
However, the Second World War also forced Stalin to form an alliance with the British and Americans. He had several conferences with Winston Churchill and F. D. Roosevelt. It is claimed that the foundation of the Cold War was laid during these conferences, primarily when the Americans and British decided not to invite Stalin to attend the conference at Casa Blanca.
Furthermore, Stalin was also upset that during one of the last conferences, US President Harry Truman did not tell him about the two atomic bombs that the US intended to use on Japan. He found out about the bombs just like everyone else when they were dropped on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The fact that the Americans had such a powerful weapon made Stalin feel inferior, as the Russians did not have this capability. So, this laid the foundation for the arms race that started between the 2 countries.
So when Germany was defeated, Russia did not withdraw its forces from Eastern Europe as was expected. However, during the Potsdam Conference, he assured the Americans that he would not try to impose Soviet policies on Eastern Europe. Instead, Stalin kept pushing for war reparations and war booty. Basically, this allowed the Russian forces to stay put in the Eastern European countries by the time 1945 July came, the Russians were controlling these countries and had managed to install communist puppet governments.
This started the Cold War, with Churchill calling the countries under Russian control as being hidden behind an Iron Curtain. The countries controlled by Stalin and USSR were labeled as the Soviet Bloc. Even Germany was divided, with East Germany being under the control of the Russians. This also led to East Germany making its own constitution and changing its name to German Democratic Republic.
America, the UK and other western nations were always suspicious of Stalin’s motives. When Stalin formed puppet governments, this suspicion grew worse. Finally, the western nations and USSR were at loggerheads and this led to the start of the Cold War which lasted till the break down of the USSR in 1989.
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