Thursday, April 7, 2016

History of the Cold War #7



On August 29, 1949, American flights detected radioactive fallout over the Kazakhstan desert--the USSR had exploded an atomic bomb.

Truman announced to the American public what they had feared would happen, but the US had predicted they wouldn't catch up for many years.

How did the Soviets achieve atomic bomb capability sooner than expected?

Spies, traitors, secret communists, and individuals who didn't want the US to be the only power with atomic power.

From 1945 until 1949, the United States used her atomic capabilities as a force for peace. At the invitation of the United States, Soviet officials visited Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Atomic capabilities, power and leverage were clear.

Stalin used these years to test how far he could push the west. His paranoia of Western power and thought were so extreme that 7-10 million POWs who were exposed to Western ideals were sent to the gulag--forced labor camps. Slowly non communist leaders of Eastern Europe countries disappeared: Czechoslovakia, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria all became satellite countries and fell under the hegemony of the USSR.

Stalin's speeches were peppered with disdain for capitalism and filled with subtle and not so subtle threats. In February 1946, in a speech before elections to the Supreme Soviet, he conveyed that capitalism makes war inevitable. Soviet expert to the State Department, George Kennan predicted never ending combat between communism and capitalism.

While visiting Truman in his home state of Missouri, Churchill gave an address at Westminster College. The famous phrase that defined the east, west divide comes from this speech, "From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the continent."