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European History


Cold War in Europe

Cold War between U.S. and USSR creates “iron curtain” between Eastern, Western Europe, heightens fear of nuclear war but does not lead to combat in Europe

U.S. policy of containment aims to stop spread of communism; USSR wants buffer states to protect against invasion

1945:United Nations founded to settle international problems and watch over human rights, using military force if necessary

1947: U.S. Marshall Plan aids postwar recovery in Western Europe

1948–1949: USSR blocks roads through East Germany; U.S. sends aid to West Berlin in Berlin airlift

1949:North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) formed: U.S., Canada, U.K., France, Italy, Portugal, Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Denmark, Norway, Iceland

1949: Germany split into Communist German Democratic Republic (east), capitalist German Federal Republic (west); Berlin (located in East Germany) also split into eastern, western zones

1953: Stalin dies; new Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev denounces Stalin’s crimes three years later

1955:Warsaw Pact (Communist East’s counterpart to NATO): USSR, Poland, East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria; communist Yugoslavia and Albania stay independent

Communist countries experience unrest as economies stagnate, political expression is limited, and West continues to prosper; USSR sends army to keep Eastern bloc under control

  • 1956: USSR crushes Hungarian reform movement

  • 1961: Concrete Berlin Wall divides city in two

  • 1968: USSR suppresses Alexander Dubcek’s Prague Spring reform movement in Czechoslovakia

  • USSR proclaims right to intervene under Brezhnev Doctrine