Superpower relations 4

RECAP QUIZ (this should take just 2 minutes)
  1. What was the ideology of the USA?
  2. What was the ideology of the USSR?
  3. What was the ideology of Britain?
  4. What was the second wartime Conference?
  5. What was the name of the alliance between Britain, USA and USSR during WWII?
Answers (click to reveal)
  1. Capitalism
  2. Communism
  3. Capitalism
  4. Yalta
  5. Grand Alliance

The key events of 1945-1946

So far we have looked at the different ideologies of the USA and the USSR, and the wartime Conferences of the Grand Alliance. Today we are going to look at the next events in this story, following the end of WWII. You need to read through the table then complete the task below.




The Potsdam Conference – July/Aug 1945

This was the last meeting of the Grand Alliance. The key leaders were Truman of the USA and Stalin of the USSR.

There were many things left unsure of and not agreed at the end of the Potsdam Conference. Crucial amongst these was what would happen to the countries of Eastern Europe. Stalin also became concerned at the USA’s testing of a nuclear bomb. The conference ended with tension increasing and a poor relationship between Truman and Stalin

The dropping of the atomic bomb – August 1945

In order to end the war against Japan quickly the USA dropped two atomic bombs, one on the town of Hiroshima, the other a few days later on Nagasaki. Japan soon surrendered.

Stalin felt threatened by this new technology. He became even more determined to secure the borders of the USSR. This led to him creating a buffer zone of communist countries in Eastern Europe. The atomic bomb also led to the arms race as the USSR decided to develop atomic bombs of their own. There was a large increase in tension.

Kennan’s Long Telegram – 1946

George Kennan was the American ambassador in Moscow (USSR). He wrote a message that worried the US government, it said that Stalin was trying to take over and destroy capitalism but that he would back down if the USA stood up to him.

This message terrified the American government. It encouraged them to follow a new policy of ‘containment‘. This meant they would look to contain communism around the world (stop it spreading).

Churchill’s iron curtain speech – 1946

The former British Prime Minster, Winston Churchill, gave a speech in America in which he argued that the USSR was a threat to world peace. The iron curtain became a metaphor for the division of Europe.

This speech was given in America, so Stalin saw it as showing the American views of the USSR. As a result there was a growth in tension, secrecy and mistrust between the USA and the USSR.

Novikov Telegram – 1946

Novikov was a Soviet working in Washington (USA). He sent a message to the USSR which argued that the USA was trying to use their military to take over the world. He also said that the American people were in favour of war with the USSR.

In many ways Novikov’s Telegram was a response to Kennan’s Long Telegram. It not only increased tension but also led to Stalin increasing the USSR’s defences against what they saw as the threat of the USA. This included ‘encouraging’ more and more countries to communism.

YOUR TASK. Create your own summary of these 5 events. This could be as 5 flashcards. It could be your own annotated timeline or cartoon strip. It could be a mindmap. It could be your own written story of the events. YOU DECIDE. You should try to reduce this information into key points.

BIG THINK: What is the relationship like between the USA and the USSR by 1946? Why has it changed so much since the Grand Alliance?

Well done you have completed this lesson!

Want to know more?

1. Research into the atomic bomb – why did America drop it? Were they morally right to do so? Why do you think they dropped the bomb when the USSR had promised to help defeat Japan at the earlier conferences?
2. Watch the documentary below, it is the second in the series and goes into lots of detail on this time period