The Truman Doctrine-The U.S. offers assistance to Greece and Turkey who were being threatened by communism. Then the US Secretary of State released the Marshall plan, which included that they would be giving european nations, including Germany, some economic aid. In response, the Soviet Union could not tolerate the U.S. helping Germany after the damage Germany had caused the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union then wanted to be in control and freedom of action over the funds to Germany. This event is important because it was the first significant divide or act of dividing the U.S. from the Soviet Union post WW2.
Soviets Block West Berlin
Following the war, Germany was divided into 4 occupational zones controlled by the U.S, Britain, France and the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union demanded that Germany pay reparations and wanted them to be disarmed. The other countries, majorly the U.S. thought that wasn't a good idea and wanted to take a different course of action. Eventually, the U.S. cut off reparation shipments from their zone. Then, Britain, France and the U.S. all combined their zones, which was a threat to the Soviets. To respond, the Soviets blocked all roads and railroad lines to West Berlin (where these countries were) on June 24th. This is important because it shows how high the tension was regarding how to move forward post WW2.
Soviets First Atomic Bomb
The next major thing to happen in the cold war is when the Soviets detonated their first atomic bomb. On August 29,1949 they tested it and it worked properly. It showed that the Soviet Union was advancing in nuclear weapons, which was unexpected and a danger to the U.S. This is an important thing to the cold war because it sets up the nature of the war. The cold war likely stayed ‘cold’ because both countries, the U.S. and the Soviet Union had great power in things like weapons, and the new biggest threat, atomic bombs. This is important because they had mutually shared destruction, so that both countries knew if they attacked the other there was a real threat, ultimately leading to a ‘cold’ war rather than a lot of fighting.
The Space Race Begins
In October of 1957, the Soviets launched the first space satellite, called Sputnik 1. It orbited the earth and transmitted radio signals for 21 days before burning up in earth's atmosphere. In result, this advancement to space worried the U.S because it brought up concerns that the Soviets had surpassed the U.S. in technological advancements. Then, on October 1 1958 the U.S. established NASA as the primary federal agency responsible for the advancement of space technology. After this, what is now called the “race to space’ was officially underway. The space race is extremely important to the cold war because it drove more competition and national pride. It added more intensity but wasn't exactly a military threat, but a technological advancement one.
Cuba Missle Crisis
Known as one of the biggest cold war confrontations occured when an American U-2 spy plane photographed a Soviet SS-4 medium range ballistic missile being assembled in Cuba. This posed a huge threat to the U.S because Cuba is just 90 miles south of Florida. JFK, the president at the time, employed the U.S Navy to block access to the island from the soviets so they couldn't deliver additional missiles and or military equipment. Then, he gave an ultimatum to the Soviets that the existing missiles be removed. Then, a crucial moment came when Soviet ships going to Cuba encountered the blockade. There was a standoff that lasted 13 days with no military force used. This was important because the cold war became really close to not being known as the ‘cold’ war any longer.
The Berlin Wall Begins Construction
After rising tensions between the Western powers and the Soviet Union, who were both occupying certain areas of Germany post war, the Soviets decided to take the tensions to another level and start the construction of a physical barrier between the east and west. This added to the already symbolic “Iron curtain” that divided east and west Berlin since 1945. This was important in the cold war because it is clear the uneasy and rising tension was causing an effect, or action.
Tensions Between East and West Germany cool
A policy of rapprochement with the Eastern bloc by German Chancellor. He wanted to spread change through conciliation and the Germans and Russians agree to a treaty that renounces use of force. This is important because it is showing that the Russians may now agree that the use of force is not the best way to go about political tensions because of what has gone down with the U.S and the cold war.
Soviets invade Afganistan
The Soviet-Afgan war was a guerrilla war against the Soviet Army and the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan for over nine years. They invaded them after 1978 when Afghanistan communist party took power. The U.S imposes sanctions on the Russians and went on to boycott the Moscow Olympic games. This is important because you can see the U.S. and Soviets still disagree on big levels.
Reagan announces Star Wars Program
U.S. president Reagan announces the new development of a stragetic defense initiative. This would be a big project that would construct a space based antimissle system. It was called "Star Wars". This important to show the Soviets Reagan was serious about the threats they posed and that he was going to protect his citizens no matter how hard the task.
The End of The Cold War
By the time Reagan and Gorbachev agree to eliminate all land-based immediate-range missiles and the Berlin Wall fell, the Warsaw pact had basically dissolved. Gorbachev resigned and the Soviet Union was no longer.