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Intro

This section covers the early years of the Cold War, from 1944 to the death of Stalin in 1953. We will be exploring the origins of the Cold War, and asking how far Soviet and Western policy decisions were to blame. How expansionist were Stalin's aims in Europe after 1945? What was the impact of the Marshall Plan and Western policies of 'containment'? Why did Stalin impose such rigid Soviet control on East European socialist movements? And why did he clamp down on the Soviet Union after 1945? You will find some answers to these questions in this section, which contains extracts from my books, photographs and videos, and a further reading list. Register here to get information on accessing more materials including my responses to exam questions on these themes.

Cold War, Soviet occupation of Berlin, Stalin, 1945

Soviet forces in Berlin


From World War to Cold War

As the Red Army advanced into Eastern Europe during 1944-45, Stalin was already thinking about the post-war situation and about imposing Soviet-style regimes on the liberated territories. Read more...

The Hardening of Positions

Victory in May hardened Stalin's expansionist line. Read more...

Containment

That new policy of 'containment' had its origins in the 'Long Telegram' sent by George Kennan, the deputy head of the US Mission in Moscow, to James Byrnes, the Secretary of State. Read more...

Cominformity

Cominform (the Communist Information Bureau) was the Soviet response to the Marshall Plan. Read more...

The Post-war Soviet Clampdown

The Soviet leadership fought the Cold War by tightening its ideological grip and sealing off the country from Western influence. Read more...

The Zhdanovshchina

It is by his name (the Zhdanovshchina) that the official clampdown against Western ('anti-Soviet') tendencies in all the arts and sciences became known. Read more...

A Soviet Holocaust?

As the Cold War and official xenophobia intensified, Soviet society was gripped by fear of foreigners. Read more...

Q & A

Here are some exam-like questions. Read more...

Podcast

A recording of a lecture/class about these themes using primary documents. Read more...

Further Reading

A list of further reading. Read more...

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