Cold war

the expression cold war designates the globalpolitical contrast, which the USA and the Soviet Union (USSR) from 1945 to 1990 with all available means, but underneath the threshold of an open direct war stated and would deliver.

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not all European countries belonged to one of the two military alliances on…
... were however economically usually with a side connected

the east west conflict led to the formation of two hostile power blocs and pertinent military alliances of the signatory states of NATO and the contract Warsaw Treaty. These confederations of states faced each other high-prepared and coined/shaped historical situation a often called bipolar world. Between them was however the so-called movement of the non-aligned states, which a neutral position between the dominating parties tried to take.

The development there began already with the emergence of the USSR at 1917, solidified themselves however only after the decay of the so-called anti-Hitler coalition starting from 1945 and the division of Europe following on it. 1947 coined/shaped the US-American journalist walter Lippmann for it English term cold were.

The cold war was expression of a fundamental system contrast: To the traditional power-politics spheres of interests, which determine also otherwise international relations, contrary ideologies stepped aggravatingly in addition. From western view thereby always „liberty and democracy stood “approximately „totalitarian dictatorship “as well as „for free-market economy “approximately „planned economy “. From eastern view all-round development “„of new humans “stood in communism “against the systematic „exploitation “in „dekadenten capitalism “from the state party realized „.

The superpowers avoided „are called “war of direct military actions against each other, advanced however an unparalleled arms race , particularly in the area of the nuclear weapons. The threat of the nuclear war, which both sides took into account, caused for the first time in mankind history the danger of self extinction. The clash of interest threatened to escalate several times militarily: in the Berlin blockade 1948, during the Korea war 1950und particularly in the Cuba crisis 1962. There the direct war between the superpowers, which would have led for the application of nuclear weapons, could be avoided only extremely scarcely.

After the Cuba crisis the conflict on bilateral level was adjusted by crisis dialogue and arms control contracts, produced however for it many deputy wars: for instance the Viet Nam war, wars in Kambodscha, Angola, Afghanistan as well as numerous armed conflicts in Africa, means - and South America. In some these wars or civil wars was in each case a superpower with own troops openly involved, while the other one supported the opposite side with money, weapons, logistics and information: so the USA in Korea and Viet Nam, the USSR in Afghanistan. Particularly in countries of Africa and Latin America both groups of rebels supported against not genehme governments.

An important role played thereby the espionage. Intelligence services like the CIA of the USA, the Soviet KGB, the Federal Information Service (Federal Intelligence Service) of the FRG, the Ministry for public security (MfS) of the GDR among other things if important information procured for their governments, spread disinformation and propaganda, implemented sabotage and even murders at unpopular persons and supported organizations and dictatorships of terror. Thus one knows today that Eastern Bloc countries like the GDR of notices of the Red Army parliamentary group (RAF), the separatist Irish republican army (Irish Republican Army), which and the people front for the release of Palestine (PFLP ) logistically and financially supported baskischen ETA. The CIA however formed Todesschwadrone in Latin America out among other things in physically not verifiable torture methods or support over friendly secret services the Afghan being lords. The Glienicker bridge in Berlin was an important scene with the exchange of caught agents between east and west.

The match of the systems ran also in technological, cultural and sporty area. Thus the space programs of both superpowers were considerably advanced, in order to demonstrate to the opponent the own scientific-technologic superiority.

The iron curtain “- border installations with Stacheldrahtzäunen, awake towers and self firing plants - particularly obviously split Europe and Germany, at the citizens of Berlin wall. A similar situation became with the division of Korea existing this very day along 38. Degree of latitude production.

In the rivalry of the two German states the allocation of Europe particularly stood out. The Federal Republic of Germany recognized the German Democratic Republic not as independent state on and called its message in east Berlin therefore „constant agency “. FRG printed media in the possession Axel Springer always printed the abbreviation GDR in quotation marks. The SED however always called east Berlin „capital of the GDR “, although the four-power status of completely Berlin did not permit this. Actually however the FRG government treated the GDR since the east contracts of the government Willy Brandts as independent state. Also the conservative government under Helmut Kohl followed that.

The German unit became however not 1990 as mutual agreement on a new condition, but when carried out entry of the GDR to the condition area of the Basic Law.

Relaxation efforts began after the death of the Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin 1953, however always new setbacks experienced. US president John F. Kennedy proclaimed 1961 after its choice victory the end of the conflict, on which however the Cuba crisis followed as new high point. Also during the proclaimed „peaceful coexistence “both superpowers continued the arms race and deputy wars without reduction. Only serious chances opened 1985 with the guidance change in the Kremlin to military disarmament and political approximation of the blocks. Mikhail Gorbatschows renouncement of the Brezhnev doctrine drew the self-determination of the peoples of central Eastern Europe, the decay of the Eastern Bloc and 1991 the dissolution of the Soviet Union starting from 1989. With it, at least provisionally, the bipolar allocation of world ended.

The evaluation of this epoch is particularly among US-American historians the subject of a controversy. The traditional view sees the main responsibility for the process of the cold war in an ideologically justified expansion urge of the Soviet Union. The recent, revisionistic line so mentioned rates however the policy of the two states than equivalent or makes the behavior of the USA coined/shaped of economic and hegemonialen interests responsible for it.

1917 the Bolsheviks under guidance

of Lenin in the course of the October Revolution power seized the prehistory (1917-1944 ) in Russia. Western powers, under it the USA tried to prevent unsuccessfully with intervention troops a developing of a socialist Gesellschaftsystems. With it the latent phase of the cold war began.

Only 1933 recognized the USA the new USSR on. Starting from 1934 the geopolitically isolated USSR tried to approximate the European democracies, which did not succeed however. In order to secure itself before a threat of the German Reich and to be able to convert the Baltic and Finland Moscow locked own conquest plans concerning Poland briefly in the year 1939 before beginning of the Second World War the so-called Hitler Stalin pact . To the assault of the armed forces initiated by Hitler 1941 change the USSR into the so-called anti-Hitler coalition and fought together with the western allied ones against the German Reich. The relationship between Stalin and the US president at that time Franklin D. Roosevelt was because of their common goal of defeating Germany completely relatively in a friendly manner. The USSR was supplied with war material (Lend lease agreements) and strategically supported in the air war.

from Jalta to the division of Germany (1944-1949)

1944 had used Stalin in the Baltic already communist partially by force governments, but had prevented a possible revolutionary development in Greece , Italy and France, where strong left-wing oriented groups of resistances existed. It knows the leaders of the there communist parties on to accept a parliamentary order in a capitalistic system since it regarded these countries as part of the western sphere of interests.

On the conference of Jalta in February 1945 the anti-Hitler coalition showed first tears: Roosevelt rejected concrete agreements with the USSR for the post-war period, although this carried the involving heavy losses advance of the Red Army at the soil, by Hitler's assault on its area and the German work and extermination camp the by far largest losses at soldiers and war destruction had suffered. Thereupon Stalin changed its course and tried to implement Soviet safety interests in the areas without consultation, controlled by it, with the westallied. The Westallierten in the areas controlled by them did same.

Potsdamer Konferenz
Potsdamer conference

after Roosevelts death to 12. April 1945 broke the so-called anti-Hitler coalition: Its successor Harry S. Truman turned to a strictly antisoviet and anticommunist course. As it to the conference of potsdam of the first successful test of an atom bomb experienced (16. ), He placed Stalin conditions for its - of Roosevelt still desired - to July 1945 declaration of war at Japan (8. August) and gave the instruction for the employment of the first atom bombs. These became to 6. August on Hiroshima, to 9. August on Nagasaki thrown off. They should accelerate the unconditional surrender of Japan. At the same time the impact of two different bomb types at „the living object was tested “. The releases were among other things in opinion of the US historian David Horowitz also a purposeful power demonstration to the USSR for the post-war period and should forestall their further advance in Eastern Asia.

The atom bomb releases on Japan

since the postwar conference in London were based the USA then also politically opposite the USSR upon their restaurant economics and their nuclear weapon monopoly, which existed until 1949. They wanted to create united Europe with private-economical and parliamentary structures and a world order under their hegemony on this basis. The USSR again wanted to strengthen their pre-aged safety sphere in Eastern Europe. The USA recognized this interest and the Soviet measures met in addition not on.

Also of Germany postwar order was disputed in potsdam. The decision over it and over those the USSR promised reparations were postponed. Thus the further conflict was pre-programmed. The mutual distrust grew: The USA estimated the USSR as aggressive expansionistic and wanted their expansion outward to contain (Containment politics: Iran crisis 1946, Turkey crisis). How secret documents show Pentagon of 1950, it concerned already early also to bring (roll bake) and destabilize the USSR by armament Eastern Europe under western influence.

Starting from 1946 the USA accepted a divided Germany. The USSR preferred a united, neutral Germany with say of all winners. It tried to consolidate first the own economy and home policy ; Expansion could not afford it therefore.

Harry S. Truman, successor Roosevelts

1947 obligated the Truman doctrine the USA to support „all free peoples who oppose subjecting from the outside by armed minorities or with pressure “. Cause for it was the situation in Greece and the Turkey, which no communist regimes should receive. In order support in congress of US and the own population to receive, representative Truman the USSR now for the enemy picture „of the free world ". The mental collecting main for its doctrine was long telegram the American diplomat George F. Kennan. Therein Kennan excluded each mode vivendi (way of the Miteinanders, political arrangement) with the USSR.

The Mars resounding plan offered support to all European States of, also the USSR, to the reconstruction. This broke the negotiations off in addition in Paris however, since the USA required political and economic concessions, which were for the USSR with their state-capitalistically organized economy inakzeptabel. Thus the Eastern Bloc received no western economic aid and closed thereupon economically more closely together.

1947/48 accomplished the westallied without arrangement with the USSR a currency reform in the three west zones of Germany and Berlin. The USSR regarded this therefore as break of the Potsdamer of conference resolutions, according to which Germany was to be protected as political and economical unit, and answered with the Berlin blockade, a total economic and commercial blockade. This should the supply of the city with food and fuel material to succumbs to bring, in order to bring it under own control. The prevented the west with the citizens of Berlin air lift. But this first high point of the cold war strengthened the western fear of a Soviet expansion in Europe.

1949 was united the three west zones to the FRG and the western military-federation-eats NATO based. The USSR answered with the establishment of the GDR. Thus were completed and cemented the bipolar world order Germany and Europe division. Also economically the division with the establishment of the OECD and European community for coal and steel in the west, the advice for mutual economic aid ( RGW/COMECON) in the east carried out itself. In addition NATO imposed against the Eastern Bloc countries the COCOM - to embargo for high technology and armaments.

In that year the CSU ignited its first atom bomb; China became communist. Thereupon the USA intensified their containment politics: They recognized the new Chinese government not on, refused the VR China the UN - membership and rigged Japan strengthened to an anticommunist Gegenpol. Their also for NATO obligatory military strategy was based until 1954 on the threat with „substantial retaliation “(substantial retaliation) „at places and with means of own choice “for each communist expansion attempt not defined more near. Thus the USA pursued now openly a policy roll bake, i.e. a Zurückdrängen of state communism in central Eastern Europe and Asia.

from the Korea war to the Cuba crisis (1950-1962)

Korea war: US - UN - Units cross 1950 the 38. Degree of latitude

1950 escalated the cold war in northeast Asia to the Korea war. This was a deputy war particularly between the USA, which supported South Korea, and which VR China, which supported North Korea. Had preceded 1949 the departure of the Soviet troops from North Korea and the US troops from South Korea; both superpowers had the country after the surrender of Japan to 38. Degree of latitude along divided. Afterwards the North Korea niche dictator Kim wanted to displace IL-sung the South Korean dictator Syngman Rhee and to combine Korea under its guidance.

North Korea niche troops exceeded the border and occupied large parts of South Korea. The USA intervened thereupon with own troops and the north Koreans pushed far back, so that only the intervention of unofficial Chinese troops protected North Korea US-American occupation. Because the USSR the UN security council temporarily boycotted, segnete these the US intervention later off. From now on Korea remained divided.

In the USA the anticommunism increased enormously. The committee for un-American activities was created. Senator Joseph McCarthy led the committee for investigation „anti-American activities “. He did not systematically only try communists, to make to intimidate and of their offices rob but all possible liberals intellectual ones as assumed feeler gauges and system opponents to cross-examine („McCarthyism “). It was replaced and reprimanded finally 1954.

1952 offered the Germany notes Stalins to the three Western powers the reunification of Germany. It should more neutrally, but become self-defense capable state in of the Potsdamer conference specified borders. Thus Stalin wanted to turn the predictable NATO - membership away of the FRG and to make it the military buffer zone between east and west.

Some FRG politicians, under it Gustav Heinemann, regarded neutrality as larger protection and load-carrying perspective, because a disarmed Germany without alliance obligations would have had larger political freedom of action in relation to both superpowers. This would have on neighbour states in Europe to radiate and a first step to the policy of detente between the power blocs to be be able. Heinemann had withdrawn 1950 with first signs of the military west connection from the CDU and the all-German people's party had already created, which remained to a large extent unsuccessful however.

The Western powers distrusted to Stalins suggestions and saw therein disadvantages for itself predominantly. FRG Federal Chancellor Konrad Adenauer demanded first all-German free elections and a warranty Stalins to leave to Germany the alliance choice. Stalin dealt unexpectedly with it and permitted free elections, however under supervision of four winner powers. The westallied answered with the reference to 1948, when of Germany had failed four-power administration. Thus the suggestion was rejected and a chance for German reunification, which did not depend on a previous system change in the Eastern Bloc, for is given enough time up. - 1955 were however accepted a similar offer for Austria. Thus the north south connection of NATO was in Europe interrupted, among other things also by neutral Switzerland.

With the office blank began 1952 also the rearmament of the FRG, after in the previous year already the Federal Border Police (BGS) had been created. Also the GDR furnished paramilitärische units.

Josef Stalin

1953, to 5. March, died Stalin. His successor Khrushchev tried a relaxation course in view of the atomic deadlock and substantial problems relating to domestic affairs and introduced the policy „of the peaceful coexistence “. Thus chances were offered to the USSR to „the Entstalinisierung “. But their readiness to negotiate ended first with the rebellion in the GDR to 17. June. There it became visible that the GDR government enjoyed hardly the confidence of the East German population, free elections it entmachtet and would have endangered the autonomy of the GDR.

1954 drew even the USSR also with the hydrogen bombs and new airplanes with intercontinental range with the USA. Thus the so-called equilibrium of the fright was established. Its preservation determined from now on the relations of the superpowers and advanced the arms race additionally. The USA began now to set up in Western Europe also on the soil of the FRG atomically expandable short-range missiles. They held to the deterrence doctrine „massifs of the retaliation “and their decision monopoly for atomic escalation in „the case of defense “.

1955 created the CSU the contract Warsaw Treaty as Gegenorganisation to atomically rigging NATO. The FRG created the German Federal Armed Forces, the GDR shortly thereafter the national People's Army (NVA). NATO took up the Federal Republic to that Paris contracts : Thus the German Federal Armed Forces were integrated into an atomically armed alliance, received therein however only limited military say. Therefore and its Secretary of Defense at that time Franz Joseph bunch to arm also the German Federal Armed Forces atomically in order to attain more own arguments against the USSR and full equal rights in NATO planned Adenauer.

1956 came it into Hungary to the Hungarian rising of the people: Several hundredthousand demonstrators demanded elections democratic with broadcast occupations and a general strike, a detachment of the USSR and proclaimed Imre Nagy to the Prime Minister. When this announced the withdrawal from the contract Warsaw Treaty, Soviet troops struck the rebellion niederund killed about 20,000 Hungary. Assistance from the west, the radio Free Europe had announced, was missing.

1957 in April announced an interview Adenauer the plans for atomic armament publicly. „The Göttinger communist manifesto “of 18 physicists (12. April) introduced the first broad except-parliamentary opposition in the FRG: the combat the atomic death movement, which was carried particularly by SPD , churches and trade unions. It partly demanded the renouncement of nuclear weapons and the withdrawal from NATO.

To 2. October 1957 suggested the Polish minister of foreign affairs Adam Rapacki before the UN plenary assembly surprisingly a mutual renouncement of the military alliances of nuclear weapons and a demilitirization completely Central Europe. Thus it took up suggestions British Prime Minister of the Anthony Eden by 1954, which planned a demilitarized zone on both sides of the iron curtain, in order to gain experiences in control from disarmament measures to. The Soviet minister of foreign affairs Molotow had developed this idea further. But its suggestions required the renouncement of the US nuclear weapon monopoly in NATO, while the west required the dissolution of the contract Warsaw Treaty. In December 1957 NATO decided its atomic armament; thus the Rapackiplan was rejected and each attempt to stop the atomic armament of the blocks failed. Only the German Federal Armed Forces did not receive own nuclear weapons.

1960 failed meeting in Paris between US president Eisenhower and the Soviet head of the government Chrustschow, angedachte as „peace summits the “. US espionage airplane over the USSR had been shot briefly before. The USA addition to observe the USSR since 1956 under injury of their air space. Chrustschow required the confession of the president that it had acted with thereby over „aggressive document “, which rejected Eisenhower. In the same year the USA decided first economic measures against Cuba, since the Revolutionstregierung there dominant since at the beginning of of 1959 had hit a socialist course under Fidel Castro. Whereupon followed a number of unsuccessful covered operations, in order to fall the Castro regime. Between the USSR and the VR China it came to the open discord

Berlin wall

1961, to 13. August, became due to substantial specialist losses by drifts into the west (approx. 2,6 millions Humans since 1949) over night the citizens of Berlin wall establishes. Soviet and US-American tanks in Berlin faced each other directly for short time. US president John F. Kennedy did however without concrete measures and was limited to diplomatic protest, since the wall was not a thousand times better a very beautiful solution, but than war. To 1989 there and at the German domestic border several hundred humans died with escape attempts. However it came here only rarely contrary to the border into Korea to armed incidents between Grenzschützern on both sides.

The superpowers and the world stood

for stationing of Soviet rockets on Cuba 1962 1962 in the Cuba crisis at the edge of a new world war. After the USA Zeus and Thor medium-range missiles had stationed in Turkey, the USSR Fidel Castro supported and stationed for its part atomic rockets on Cuba. These would have extremely lowered the advance warning times for an attack on the USA and thus the secondary impact ability, on which the strategic Atompatt was based, to switch off know. This tried Kennedy with a sea-blockade for Soviet ships, which started Cuba, to prevent. This worked, but after the firing US-American of a reconnaissance plane over Cuba was intensified the crisis. Over secret diplomatic contacts it succeeded to Kennedys brother to induce Khrushchev to the renouncement of the Raketenstationierung: The concession of the departure of US-American rockets from Turkey helped. This did not experience the public in the USA at that time yet. Afterwards „a hot wire was furnished “between the heads of state of both superpowers, the so-called „red telephone “, in order to avoid future almost collisions.

of the Prager Ronald Reagan 1982 1968 reform-oriented members tried

up to Gorbachev (1968-1985) within the communist party of the CSSR under Alexander Dubček measures for the democratization of Czechoslovakia. This so-called Prager spring was however only from short duration. The Soviet leadership rejected the reforms and let troops of the contract Warsaw Treaty into Czechoslovakia march and some politicians off set. Antisoviet demonstrations were bloodily struck down. The west condemned the procedure of the Soviet Union, undertook however no further steps.

1969 began bilateral discussions between the USSR and the USA as a check and delimitation of the nuclear weapons. These flowed in the signing of the salt contracts and the ABM contract. Parallel to it Willy Brandt with its east politics introduced, those on acknowledgment of the status Quo and renouncement of revision of the German east borders the relaxation in Eastern Europe. A further step of the relaxation was 1973 the first conference for security and co-operation in Europe (KSZE), which led to the final act of Helsinki.

1973 were signed a truce between the USA and North Vietnam and the United States withdrew its remaining troops from Viet Nam. This was the end of the US participation in the Viet Nam war.

1979 marked two events the end of the policy of detente of the 1970er taking place almost at the same time years and the beginning of the last chapter of the cold war: the NATO double resolution and the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan, which the east west relations worsened again. US president Ronald Reagan reacted to the Soviet invasion in Afghanistan, which led also to the boycott of the olympic summer games 1980 in Moscow by the western states, with the increase of the defence expenditure, weapon supplies to the Afghan Mujaheddin, as well as „the SDI - project “(also star Wars - program called) for the defense of strategic rockets. With this project Reagan tried to shift the force equilibrium in favor of the USA because the past deterrence doctrine - the Erstangreifer must be afraid a secondary impact of the opponent - would have been expenditure-levered thereby. In this again opened round of forced technological development the Soviet Union could not keep up any longer, particularly since it had already clearly overstretched its forces with the substantial intervention in Afghanistan and for lack of sufficient economic basis. The strikes of the independent trade union Solidarność under Lech Wałęsa in Poland since 1980 led to a further attenuation of the Eastern Bloc.

thaw in the east and decay of the Eastern Bloc (1985-1991)

1985 introduced Mikhail Gorbatschow a reform program, which consisted of Perestroika (turn in economics and administration) and Glasnost (openness and transparency inward and outside). One began to discuss with results disarmament and really cooperated in questions of global security.

Starting from 1989 the ideological argument, which was only located anyway already longer time in the background, with the dissolution of the Eastern Bloc and the case of wall was unnecessary. Gorbachev said, to the legend after, to Honecker in Berlin: „Who comes too late, punishes the life. “However the usually peaceful circulations stood occasionally on the dump. Some hard liners in Moscow demanded the employment of the army against on Mondays demonstrations in the GDR. Gorbachev rejected this however. Only in Romania the protests ran by the intervention of the Romanian secret service Securitate bloodily. At the end the execution of president Nicolae Ceauşescu and its wife stood.

1990 came it to the so-called German reunification. In the year after the contract Warsaw Treaty dissolved. After the declaration of independence of the Baltic republics and the failed Augustputsch also the USSR was dissolved. The rapid collapse of the Eastern Bloc came for the American leadership surprisingly, since it proceeded from a high-prepared Soviet Union, which would not give its sphere of influence up voluntarily.

see also


  • Michael R. /Strobe decided Talbott: On highest level, the end of the cold war and the secret diplomacy of the superpowers 1989-91. ECON, ISBN 3430112478
  • Jürgen Bruhn: The cold war or: The dead armament of the Soviet Union. Pour 1995, ISBN 3883494348 * * John Lewis Gaddis: Incoming goods now know. Rethinking Cold was History. Oxford 1997
  • John Lewis Gaddis: The cold was. All Lane/Penguin Books, London and others 2005, ISBN 0713999128
  • David Horowitz: Cold war. Background the US foreign policy from Jalta to Viet Nam. Klaus car brook publishing house, Berlin 1983, ISBN 3803110130
  • Jeremy Isaacs/Taylor Downing: The cold war. Heyne, Munich 2001, ISBN 3453197100
  • Gabriel Kolko: The century of the wars. S.Fi, Frankurt at the Main 1999, ISBN 3-10-040010-0
  • Wilfried Loth: The division of the world, history of the cold war 1941-1955. dtv Munich, 2000, ISBN 3423307560
  • Rolf Steininger: The cold war. Fischer paperback publishing house No. 15551, Frankfurt/Main 2003, ISBN 3596155517
  • Bernd Stöver: The cold war. C.H. Beck publishing house, Munich 2003, ISBN 3406480144
  • Vladimir K. Wolkow, Harald Neubert: Stalin wanted another Europe. Berlin 2003, ISBN 3360010469
  • Daniel Yergin: Treasure-talk Peace: The Origins OF the Cold was and the national Security State. Bad clay/tone 1978, ISBN 039527267X


  • Selling Democracy. DVD. Bonn: BPB, 27. January 2006 (23 propagandistic Kurzfilme from the years 1948 to 1953, supply lump sum: EUR 6. -; see. [1])

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