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Explain the Breakdown of the Wartime Alliances and the Development of the Cold War by 1947.

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The growing tension between the Soviets and the West, United States in particular, reverberated around the world after the Second World War. Although allied in their fight against Nazi Germany, communist Russia and capitalist America soon came to distrust each other’s goals in a post-war world. The Soviets considered the West as being enslaved by capitalism whereas the Americans believed the Soviets were enslaved by communism. This general mistrust and unwillingness to work together is cleverly depicted in the cartoon in Source A and written in the extract of Kennan’s �Long Telegram’, Source B. Capitalism and communism were and always will be mutual enemies and both sides believed that the goal of their rival was world domination. This mistrust and belief led to the development of the Cold War by 1945.

The Soviets had multiple reasons to mistrust the West. This distrust started as early as 1917 with the outbreak of a Revolution in Russia. The Russian Revolution meant the withdrawal of Russia from World War 1. The West had supported the Whites during the Civil War to ensure the end of the experiment with communism. However the invasion failed as by 1921 it became clear that Russian communism would become embedded in Russia and its colonies. The Russians were blinded by the suspicion of the West that they failed to acknowledge American’s benevolence which helped saved an estimated 7 million Russian lives during the Civil War. The Soviets’ suspicion of the West increased as a consequence of the United States not recognising the USSR as a political identity until 1933.

In 1943 the leaders of the USSR, United States and United Kingdom met at Tehran, capital of Iran to begin to map out the post-war world. This meeting became known as the Tehran Conference. The three main agreements that were reached were firstly that the USSR would declare war on Japan after Germany was defeated, secondly that the West would create a second front in Europe by 1944 and finally that a United Nations organisation would be established to prevent future threats to world peace. In effect the Tehran Conference became a rehearsal for the Yalta Conference in 1945.

The Yalta was one of the most significant conferences of the time, held in February 1945. The conference was organised in hope to organise the United Nations, the future of Poland and East Europe and the treatment of Germany. However, conflicting ideas resulted in a lack of consensus over the governance of Poland, and demonstrated Churchill and Roosevelt’s mistrust of Soviet intentions. The US wanted a new Polish government, while the Soviet Union pushed for Germany’s unconditional surrender and disarmament of the army; the Soviet Union later broke the terms of Yalta, resulting in the crumbling relationship. Kort (1998) described the collapse of the alliance, “the chill that began at Yalta began to deepen and the post war peace soon was encrusted in the frost of the Cold War.”

Perhaps the area of most controversy and tension between the two nations was Germany, and in particular, Berlin. Through the re-division of Germany between Britain, France, the US and Russia, the Allies controlled West Berlin and the Soviets the East. This refusal to work together and constant disagreement between the four major �world powers’ is cleverly depicted in Source A. The cartoon displays the four main leaders in the world during the period of the Cold War and each leader wants to play a different “sport” which can be an allusion to the ideological, political and economic differences the leaders had and therefore could not work well together. Two different aims for Germany became apparent; Stalin wanted Germany to be ruined by reparations, and a buffer of friendly states around Russia to protect them from future Western attacks. On the other hand, Britain and the US wanted a democratic and capitalist Germany to become a world trading partner that was also strong enough to stop the westward spread of Communism. “A fine team – but could do with a dash of unity...” (Source A) is a perfect quote that smartly describes the United Nations at the time of the Cold War.

After Germany’s unconditional surrender on 8 May 1945, the �Potsdam Conference’ was held from 17 July to 2 August and was the last major conference of World War 2.

The Potsdam conference was mainly about establishing protocols on the political, economic and social organisation

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