History of Cold War for Kids
The Cold War history mainly deals with the during relations of the US and USSR. The United States and the Soviet Union fought on the same side during WWII. However, they did not fancy each other, and with the end of the World war, Americans got worried about the rising Russian communism. While the Soviet Union was an essential member of the allied powers, they did build distrust between the allies due to the brutal leadership of Joseph Stalin.
The United States and the Soviet Union emerged as Superpowers of the world and gave rise to a long period of geopolitical tension, known as the Cold War. While no official war was declared on each other, they fought indirectly in proxy wars and raced with each other on their military might and space technology. This Arms race was about exhibiting the best of weapons and nuclear bombs, whereas the Space race showcased science and technology, for example, America’s space mission.
Phases of Cold War
The cold war did not happen to conclude in a day. It passed through several phases spanning over four and half decades. Following is a detailed summary of the Cold War events as per the seven different phases:
1. First Phase (1946-1949)
- After Second World War in 1945, the tension increased between the United States and the Soviet Union.
- The US wanted to curb the spread of communism. However, the geo-political climate changed rapidly, and the first communist government was formed in Poland.
- Communist governments formed in Bulgaria, Rumania, Hungary, Yugoslavia, and other Eastern European countries.
- The US helped Greece and Turkey form capitalism by using Truman Doctrine (March 1947), which enabled them to receive arms and aid to counter communist pressure.
- The US aided Western European countries reeling under poverty, hunger, and instability.
- The Soviet Union tried to safeguard its allies through the Moltovo Plan by assisting its satellite communist parties and bringing them together. Czechoslovakia came under communist rule in 1948.
- Germany was next to experience the superpower rivalry. Potsdam resolution was held in 1945, after which tensions escalated and led to the Berlin Blockade and Airlift.
- NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) was formed in 1949, the race of nuclear weapons began creating more strain. With Stalin’s death and changes in the United States regime, Cold War came to a halt.
2. Second Phase (1949-1953)
- During the Moscow Conference in 1949, the Soviet Union, the US, and the UK wanted to bring stability to Korea. Koreans wanted complete independence.
- In 1950, before United Nations could reach a decision, North Korea declared war against South Korea by taking armaments help from Russia and military personnel from China.
- The US took legitimate sanctions from the United Nations and sent military aid to South Korea.
- North and South Korea signed a peace treaty in 1953 and ended the war.
3. Third Phase (1953-1957)
- The US formed the South-East Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) in the South East region with its supporters in 1954.
- In 1955, the Middle East Defense Organization (MEDO) was formed in the Middle East.
- The US surrounded the Soviet Union by restricting its expansion and continued providing military support to 43 countries in a short time.
- Russia signed the WARSAW PACT to curb American power, a Defense pact with 12 Countries in 1955.
- The US tried to free Hungary from the communist rule but failed.
- The superpowers continued to increase their military strength and tested the hydrogen bomb, changing the political equation.
- The United States and Russia signed an agreement in 1956 about the Suez Crisis to moderate international relations.
- The United States and Russia agreed not to help its allies and the opposing parties.
- Vietnam War started in 1955 and brought both superpowers against each other.
- The peace talk summit in Geneva in 1955 subsided, and a new treaty was signed between America, Australia, and New Zealand in September 1957, known as ANZUS, to boost military and economic relations.
4. Fourth Phase (1957-1962)
- In 1959 Russian President, Khrushchev visited America to spread the message of cooperation between the two countries.
- The Berlin crisis happened with the Russian President insisting on the withdrawal of American forces from West Berlin. However, America rejected it.
- East Germany was undergoing a significant economic crisis, making people’s lives miserable, which led to thousands of people escaping to West Germany.
- Russia erected the 25 km Berlin wall in 1961 to curb the immigration of people towards West Berlin.
- 1962 witnessed the biggest nuclear war through the Cuban Missile Crisis. It refueled the Cold War.
- Russia decided to set up nuclear missile launches in Cuba aiming at the USA, which could destroy all major cities of the USA.
- The US President Kennedy acted in restraint and got into a conversation with his Russian counterpart President Khrushchev under the guidance of the United Nations President.
- It was decided that America would not attack Cuba, and in turn, Russia would withdraw missile stations from Cuba.
5. Fifth Phase (1962-1969)
- The world wanted a ban on nuclear weapons due to the Cuban Missile Crisis.
- Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) was signed in 1968.
- The Hotline established between Kremlin and the White House compelled both the countries to refrain from nuclear war.
- Cold War continued to thrive due to ongoing tensions caused by the Vietnam War and the issue in Germany.
6. Sixth Phase (1969-1978)
- American President Nixon and Russian President Brezhnev played essential roles in ending the Cold War.
- Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT) of 1972, the Helsinki Summit Conference on Security of 1975, and the Belgrade Conference of 1978 brought both countries closer.
- Both countries extended support to opposite sides, in the 1971 Bangladesh crisis and 1973’s Egypt-Israel War of 1973, as a result being opposite to each other again.
7. Last Phase (1979-1987)
- American President Carter and Russian President Brezhnev signed the SALT-II treaty in 1979 to reduce arms.
- New issues emerged which limited the mitigation of the Cold War.
- Interventions by both superpowers in Afghanistan led to a confrontation between both countries as they supported and created their allies, impacting geopolitical scenarios in the region.
- By 1985, the situation deteriorated in Afghanistan, bringing a lot of embarrassment to the USSR. After that, new agreements were signed where both countries decided to pull off from Afghanistan.
Other Interesting Cold War Facts for Children
The cold war created an atmosphere of disbelief between various countries. It disturbed world peace in a big way, with many adverse effects of the Cold War observed across multiple facets of life. Here are some interesting facts about how the war affected the world:
- The cold war was an unarmed conflict.
- The cold war came to an end with the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.
- The US and its NATO allies fought with the Soviet Union (Warsaw Pact).
- The US and its NATO allies won the cold war.
- More than 11 million people were killed during the Cold War through different proxy wars fought by both countries.
- 3.5 million people were killed during the Vietnam war, one of the deadliest proxy wars ever fought during the cold war.
- The Cuban Missile Crisis was the most dangerous period of the Cold war.
- The United States Air Force created a plan to detonate a nuclear weapon on the moon to demonstrate its military strength.
- In the 1960s, bomber airplanes armed with nuclear weapons were flown worldwide by the United States Airforce.
- The CIA of the United States and Committee for State Security, KGB of the Soviet Union, used extensive spying techniques against each other.
With the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the absence of communist rule, the Soviet Union broke into smaller countries like Russia, Ukraine, and Lithuania. Eastern European nations returned to capitalism, thus collapsing the Soviet Union and ending the Cold War in December 1991. The information here provides kids with an insight into the Cold war and important events that took place.