Cold War

Timeline created by Abby Connell
In History
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    Joseph Stalin's Rule

    After World War II ended, Stalin instituted a harsh, militaristic rule of the Soviet Union. Stalin's rule was the oppressive time of gulags, when millions of Soviet Citizens were sent to work until death in harsh work camp conditions. Stalin instituted five-year plans to improve the economy, none of which made much change. The Soviet Union controlled every Eastern European nation but Yugoslavia, and they dealt very harshly with the US and East Germany, to which he refused to grant freedom.
  • Truman Doctrine

    The goal of the Truman Doctrine was to contain communism to the areas already influenced by the Soviet Union.
    The first step of the Doctrine was offering aid to Greece and Turkey, to protect them both from communism and economic hardship.
  • Marshall Plan

    The Marshall Plan was suggested by Secretary of State George C. Marshall to help Europe rebuild.
    It offered economic aid to all of Europe, but on behalf of all of Eastern Europe, Stalin refused the help.
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    Berlin Blockade and Airlift

    In June 1948, Stalin blocked off all traffic to Berlin through East Germany.
    Hundreds of planes flew in food and supplies to provide for the people of West Berlin.
    The Soviets backed down their blockade after 324 days.
  • Creation of NATO

    The North Atlantic Treaty Organization was created as an anti-Soviet alliance of Western Europe.
    Members were to protect each other militarily.
    Stalin tightened his hold on his own possessions, and two distinct blocs were being created in the world.
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    Nikita Khruschev's Rule

    Nikita Khruschev followed Stalin, and almost began his rule with the process of de-Stalinization. With Gosplan, Khruschev moved for an increase in agriculture and consumer goods, as well as a reduction in military and heavy industry. He was also the leader during the space race and arms race, so Gosplan was soon again reversed. As long as the Communists were in control, Khruschev allowed for some variation in Eastern European governments.
  • Geneva Summit

    The United States and the Soviet Union, along with representatives from Britain and France, gathered to discuss European security and the disarmament of Germany. Among discussions were President Eisenhower's "Open Skies" plan, which meant legal aerial surveillance between the US and the Soviet Union. There were no agreements, but it was the begininning of many steps toward compromise.
  • De-Stalinization

    Khrushchev made a speech at the closed 20th Party Congress against Stalin. De-Stalinization began, with the goal of shifting the Soviet Union from heavy industry to agriculture and consumer goods.
    De-Stalinization was slowed, and industry was incresed again with the beginning of the space race and arms race.
  • Hungarian Revolution

    The Hungarian people rose up against the communist government put in place by the Soviet Union.
    The revolution was going almost successfully, and the Soviet Union appeared ready to enter negotiations with the Hungarian Government.
    Russia soon turned around, however, and decided to put an absolute end to the Hungarian Revolt, creating what some call the darkest event in the Cold War.
  • Space Race Begins

    With the Soviet Union's launch of Sputnik, the Space Race was begun. Americans were horrified that the Soviets beat them in the area of technology. A race to the moon had begun between the USSR and the US, and new math and science programs in the US were created, as well as NASA, to combat the Soviets' technological superiority.
  • Building of the Berlin Wall

    The Berlin Wall was originally created to keep western “fascists” from entering East Berlin and soiling the socialist state.
    Put up overnight, it served to keep the people of East Germany from a mass immigration to West Germany.
  • Cuban Missile Crisis

    After a spy plane captured footage of the construction of a missile base in Cuba, President Kennedy placed a military blockade around Cuba to keep it from receiving more military aid.

    Kennedy insisted that Khrushchev, the leader of the Soviet Union, remove all missiles from Cuba.
    To avoid nuclear war, Khrushchev agreed to back down, in exchange that the United States would not attempt to invade Cuba.
  • Nuclear Test Ban Treaty

    The world powers agreed against testing nuclear weapons in the atmosphere, under water, or in outer space, in order to ease tensions over starting nuclear war.
    This was the first step toward control of nuclear weapons.
    France was trying to build up their nuclear program, so they refused to sign the treaty.
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    Brezhnev's Rule

    Brezhnev was the ruler of the Soviet Union after Khrushchev. Leaning more toward a militaristic state, Brezhnev instituted "Re-Stalinization," as well as a massive arms build-up. Brezhnev sent troops to invade Czechoslovakia in response to Prague Spring, and issued the Brezhnev Doctrine. The Doctrine stated that the Soviet Union had the right and duty to intervene in any of their satellite nations where they saw fit.
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    Prague Spring

    Czechoslovakia’s new first secretary, Alexander Dubcek, sought to establish a human face to communism.
    Far-reaching political and economic reforms created a brief period of freedom for the Czechoslovakian state.
  • Invasion of Czechoslovakia

    In response to Prague Spring, Soviet troops cracked down on Prague’s reformist movements.
    Prague's liberal leader was replaced with Gustav Husak by the Soviet government.
    It stopped the reform, and although it slowed the destruction of Eastern European communism, it hurt efforts for peace with the United States for the Soviet Union.
  • Ostpolitik

    The chancellor of West Germany wanted to improve relations with Eastern Europe. He wanted Eastern nations to renounce force, as well as the threat of force.
    He negotiated treaties with the Soviet Union, Poland, and Czechoslovakia, formally accepting existing boundaries.
    Brandt's absolute goal was "Two German states in one German nation," by combining West Germany and East Germany into one country with two different governments. Ostpolitik never got that far, however.
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    SALT 1

    This was the first group of Strategic Arms Limitation Talks.
    SALT 1 ended in a treaty to stop making nuclear ballistic missiles and to reduce the number of antiballistic missiles.
    Both the ABM Treaty and the Interim Agreement were signed during SALT 1, and they had different purposes to prevent future buildup of nuclear weapons.
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    Détente

    The US, USSR, and China were all on the verge of war or an economic breakdown, so they tried to step back tension.
    This time period began when Nixon visited Russia, and it was a period of general arms reduction and an easing of tensions.
    The leaders of the US, Soviet Russia, and China sought to create rules for the proceedings of their rivalry.
    In an act of Realpolitik, Nixon and Kissinger, US Secretary of State, made alliances based on the needs of the nation, rather than on particular morals.
  • Helsinki Conference

    The Helsinki Conference was meeting between the United States and the Soviet Union. Soviet-dictated boundaries were recognized by the law, and World War II was finally officially over. Attendees of the conference made negociations on political and military issues, territories and boarders, peaceful settlement, economic issues, trade, scientific cooperation, human rights, emigration, and family reunification, as well as agreements on follow-up meetings.
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    Solidarity

    "Solidarity" was a social movement in Poland inspired by Pope John Paul II, who was from Poland originally. Solidarity was a massive workers' union, and it was banned from Poland in 1981. It continued underground, and after the revolution of 1989, it was reinstituted in Poland.
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    Margaret Thatcher's Rule

    Margaret Thatcher was the Prime Minister of Great Britain during the time of the revival of the Atlantic Alliance. She took a hard-line stand against the Soviet Union. As a conservative, Thatcher broke down support for the ruling socialist party in order to come to the position of Prime Minister. She faced mass striking and social protest in her rule, and reformed much of the country's political and economic programs.
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    Papacy of Pope John Paul II

    From Polish descent, Pope John Paul II was the first non-Italian Pope in 400 years. He highly advocated for human rights and political change. Pope John Paul II was the inspiration for the Solidarity movement in Poland.
  • SALT II Treaty Signed

    This treaty was signed for the limitation of nuclear weapons in the United States and the Soviet Union. It ended up being one of the most controversial treaties in the Cold War.
    The US and Soviet Union were both anxious about the other's progress, so they were looking for assurances of peace.
    The treaty established numerical equality in nuclear weapons between the two power houses.
    It did almost nothing to stop the arms race, and Soviet invasion of Afghanistan meant it was never put into action.
  • Afghanistan Invaded

    In the midst of talks over arms reduction and easing of tentions, troops from the Soviet Union invaded the near-to-civil-war Afghanistan.
    This was a major block with the US, because SALT II talks abruptly stopped.
    Troops were removed under the power of Mikhail Gorbachev, as a move to reduce tensions between the East and the West.
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    Atlantic Alliance Revitalized

    The Atlantic Alliance had existed years before the Cold War, but it was revitalized in the 1980s. The Atlantic Alliance comprised of the United States under Ronald Reagan, Great Britain under Margaret Thatcher, and West Germany under Helmut Kohl. They all believed that the Soviet Union posed a serious threat in the 1980s to world peace.
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    Ronald Reagan Presidency

    Ronald Reagan was the President of the United States during a time in the Cold War, and also during the revival of the Atlantic Alliance. Reagan was a hard-liner against the Soviet Union, and he sproke against them from behind a military buildup. He was the first to call the Soviet Union the "Evil Empire."
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    Helmut Kohl's Rule

    Helmut Kohl was the West German chancellor during the revival of the Atlantic Alliance. Kohl was very pro-American, and came to power with the Christian Democrats. Kohl remained the chancellor of Germany during its unification in 1990, and aided them with their struggle as a combined country. He was replaced by members of the SDP after a long period of high unemployment in Germany.
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    Mikhail Gorbachev's Rule

    Mikhail Gorbachev was the last ruler of the Soviet Union. His rule was not completely absolute, though. Gorbachev instituted many reforms to improve conditions in the Soviet Union. Gorbachev wanted to reduce the buildup of arms, decrease big industry, integrate a free market into a communist economy, promote free speech, and end corruption. Gorbachev had good intentions, and the free speech allowed in his reforms led to a period of revolution for Eastern Europe.
  • Perestroika

    Perestroika literally meant "reconstruction," and it was Mikhail Gorbachev's economic goal for reform and revival.
    Perestroika was centered around combining communism with a partially free market.
    It was marked as a failure within two years.
  • Glasnost

    Glasnost was the opening of free speech by Gorbachev. It allowed some political liberty, and people couldn't be punished for speaking out against the government. It literally means "openness," and it opened up discussion on social and political issues in the Soviet Union. It was much more successful than Perestroika.
  • INF Treaty

    Gorbachev and Reagan met in Washington D.C. and signed the INF Treaty. This banned any intermediate-range missiles in Europe. This marked a real reduction in arms, and a reduction in pressure by the Soviet Union.
  • Velvet Revolution

    Without bloodshed, Czechoslovakia freed itself from communist rule. Playwright Vaclav Havel became the President of Czechoslovakia. The government tried to open markets from a command economy into a free economy, opening international trade, as well.
  • Democratic Elections in USSR

    Mikhail Gorbachev began to attack corruption in the Soviet Union, in order to bring educated people into the decisions of the government. He went even farther, and allowed free elections in March 1989 for the first time since 1917 in the Soviet Union.
  • Polish Freedom

    In Poland in 1989, Solidarity was legalized again, and free elections were held in June. Walesa, the leader of the Solidarity movement, was elected President in 1990. The freedom of Poland triggered revolutions throughout Eastern Europe.
  • Collapse of the Berlin Wall

    The Berlin Wall was torn down when the head of the German Communist Party announced that the people of East Germany could cross the border as they pleased.
    Its collapse marked the beginning of the end of the Cold War.
    Shortly after, Germany was unified under one government, in a long and grueling process.
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    Boris Yeltsin

    Boris Yeltsin became President of Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union. He played a major part in weaking Gorbachev and taking over the country. However, Yeltsin's new government was not a smooth transition to a successful country. It took longer than he expected to transition into a market economy, and Russia became increasingly reliant on their oil production. Yeltsin's rule was not a simple or entirely peaceful one, but the transition out of a communist government is not simple.
  • Fall of the USSR

    Gorbachev's reforms of speech let out pent up feelings of the people, and a storm of revolution. In a triumph of capitalism over communism, the USSR dissolved into 15 different countries in the Dember of 1991. This marked the end of the Cold War.
  • Velvet Divorce

    The Czech Republic and Slovakia split into two seperate countries peacefully. The state had been made unstable by ethnic differences, and was no longer able to remain unified. It was named after the previous "Velvet Revolution."