The Cold War

There have been several wars fought by many nations throughout the world, include two world wars, the Vietnam War, civil wars, and many others. Each of the wars included much destruction, loss of life, fighting, battles, injuries, and physical and mental trauma. However, a war which is not fought on a battlefield but with mostly words and strategic decisions is called a cold war.

A cold war was 'fought' for many years between approximately 1945 and 1990. It was a war without a fight between the Soviet Union (today's Russia) and the United States. The end of World War II was in 1945 when Germany surrendered to the Allies which included the U.S., Britain, France, and the Soviet Union. During WWII, the Soviet Union and the U.S. worked cooperatively to defeat Nazi Germany, but following the war relations became 'cold' between the two superpowers.

It began when Germany was divided among the Ally countries, and the part the Soviets were given to control was turned into a communist country, like the Soviet Union. This meant there were no elections, little freedom for the people, a poor economy, a dictatorship, censorship of the media, and a secret police society watching the citizens closely. In fact, a wall was built in 1961 separating the two halves of the capital of Germany in Berlin. It was called the Berlin Wall.

The United States and the other All countries were not pleased with this development. Those living in East Germany were not permitted to leave and became prisoners behind the wall. The whole world was watching the developments between the two superpowers, the Soviets and America.

The two countries began trying to influence other countries throughout the world. The Cold War also led to the development of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), such as nuclear weapons capable of the destruction of another country. During WWII, though they got along, the Soviet leader, Joseph Stalin, became distrustful of Harry Truman, the U.S. President, because he did not keep Stalin informed about the use of the Atomic Bomb used in Japan. Its use also worried Stalin that the U.S. would one day use it against the Soviets.

There were several events that took place during the Cold War, which only made things worse between the two countries. Many celebrities in the U.S. were unfairly accused of being communists, the Soviets began successfully testing their own nuclear weapons in 1949, between 1950 and 1953, the Korean War broke out as North Korea tried to spread communism to the South.

In 1953, the Soviets had a new leader, Nikita Khrushchev, following the death of Stalin. He became the leader of the Communist Party, but things did not get better. In 1956, with the Soviet's backing, North Vietnam invaded the South to spread communism, and the U.S. tried to intervene in what became the Vietnam War, leading to a great loss of life for America. North Vietnam won the war in 1975 and the entire country became a communist nation.

In addition, a new leader in Cuba, Fidel Castro, forcibly took over the country and it also became a communist nation. The U.S. tried to stop it from happening during the Bay of Pigs invasion but failed to prevent the spread of communism. At one point, during the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Soviets placed nuclear missiles in the country just 90 miles from the U.S.

Finally, beginning with SALT (Strategic Arms Limitation Talks), agreement between the U.S. and the Soviets in 1972 and 1979 led to the two superpowers limiting the production of missiles capable of carrying nuclear weapons. After further tension in the 1980s related to influence of Third World countries, which included parts of Africa, Asia, and Latin America, the Cold War ultimately began to break down. Another leader in the Soviet Union, Mikhail S. Gorbachev, began dismantling the Soviet communist system and began efforts to bring democracy to the country. Treaties were eventually signed by both countries and the Cold War came to an end in 1991.

A: Russia
B: France
C: Germany
D: Britain

A: Free elections
B: Secret police
C: Media censorship
D: Dictatorship

A: Harry Truman
B: Mikhail S. Gorbachev
C: Joseph Stalin
D: Nikita Khrushchev

A: Communism
B: The Berlin Wall
C: Nazi Germany
D: Weapons of mass destruction

A: Harry Truman
B: Mikhail S. Gorbachev
C: Joseph Stalin
D: Nikita Khrushchev

A: Cuba
B: Vietnam
C: East Germany
D: China

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