The Allied forces had pushed Nazi Germany back in 1944-5, after launching D-Day and fending off a desperate German counter-resistance. Hitler was pronounced dead and the war in Europe came to an end.
As the war drew to an end, the Big 3 - Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill sat down to discuss what to do with Germany; echoes of 1918 in their minds.
The mood was good; the Russians were happy that the Americans had opened up a second front in the West, and it was clear that the Nazis were being swept away. Japan was still a problem
though. As they discussed
what to do, several agreements were made. Russia would give
the US a helping hand and join
the war in Japan. Germany would have to suffer the humiliation of total surrender, and would be divided into four zones according to where the different allied troops were. Berlin would suffer the same fate. All Nazi-controlled states would get free elections, though Stalin would be allowed some influence in Eastern Europe; the Russians had - after all - lost 20 million men.
How short lived the 'Yalta-feel' was. By July 1945 when the Big 3 met at Postdam (where Atlee had replaced Churchill and Truman replaced Roosevelt) the mood was sour. Stalin had dragged his heels about helping the US in Japan and was now very worried over Truman's claims that a weapon of mass destruction would be used against them. Why had he not been told? Similarly, Truman was outraged that Stalin was not moving from eastern Europe, and now deep divisions were arising on what to do with Germany. Quite how it should be split and the amount of reparations could not be agreed. From best friends to suspicious neighbours, times had changed.
Relations were bad at Potsdam. They got worse. Stalin left 3 million of his troops in Eastern Europe and quickly rigged elections in his favour. Within months, eastern Europe had become satelite states to Russia, all the way to Eastern Germany.
By 1946 the situation was encapsulated by Churchill's visit to Fulton University, Missouri where he gave a speech showing how an invisible 'iron curtain' had spread accross eastern Europe, dividing the free countries of the west from the subjugated countries of the east.
After Germans left Greece there were two rival groups left: the Monarchists and Communists. Greece was seen as a backdoor to western Europe and the home of democracy. As a result, Churchill sent troops to Greece in 1945, under the pretence of maintaining order, but in reality to help the Monarchists. The USSR appealed to the new United Nations but it did nothing as the United States had a veto– Stalin therefore paid for the Communists in Greece to keep fighting. It was now a proxy Civil War, backed by two different sides.
The British could not afford to spend more money on war, so declared they were leaving Greece. Fearing the spread of Communism, the Americans stepped in and paid for the British to stay. The US was now fighting the USSR through the UK and Greece! In the end the monarchists won, but were always very weak. Greece showed the world that America was no longer isolationist but interventionist.
Issues at hand: European post-war economic recovery, Communist influence in Eastern Europe, domestic racism, spread of Communism worldwide, McCarthyism
Policies: Introduced Marshall Aid and Truman Doctrine. Sought to meet Communism head-on with an iron fist. Was stern with Stalin and allowed him no room. Felt a dual approach of economic aid and military might would help win the day. Came up with Containment.
A political idea which promised money, equipment and advice to any country which was threatened by a Communist takeover
The aim was to stop communism from spreading any further – a policy known as ‘containment’. The struggle in Greece had persuaded Truman this was necessary
Position: Chief of Staff of the Army, Secretary of State, and third Secretary of Defense.
History: Fought in WW1 and became organizer of US troops in WW2, leading them to victory. Was then advisor to Truman
Policies: Sent to Europe to analyse its state. Was appalled. Feared spread of Communism due to excessive hardship faced in Europe. Believed great monetary expansion was needed.
Aso known as the European Recovery Program
It claimed that about $17billion would be needed to rebuild Europe’s economy and stop it from falling into Communist hands (the thinking was that the poorer the nation, the more likely this would happen)
Initially the US Congress rejected this idea and the amount of money. However, after Czechoslovakia's pro-democracy leader was murdered it made it available over 4 years