Was the Cold War in Europe the direct and logical outcome of the Second World War?
In this essay I shall discuss the events that led to the political and economic polarisation of the Soviet Union and United States which became known as the Cold War. I shall look at the subsequent historical debate that has surrounded it in an attempt to decide whether the Cold War was solely borne out of the Second World War and if it was indeed the only outcome for the two super powers.
In May 1945, war in Europe ended with the unconditional surrender of the Germans. Europe had been liberated by the efforts of the Allies, chiefly the United States, the USSR and Britain. However, how the transition from war to peace would develop was unclear as tensions between the Allies were already evident. The ‘Grand Alliance’ that existed between the United States, the Soviet Union and Britain during World War II was to rapidly disintegrate after Germany’s defeat.
The intense rivalries and ideological differences of the US and USSR that had been continually building were to lead to another war, but this time it was a war were no arms were drawn or battles fought but one dominated by international relations; the Cold War. These hostilities were fuelled by fear and suspicion on both sides, the Soviets fear of a ‘capitalist encirclement’ and the American suspicion of an ‘international communist conspiracy’, with each viewing the other as aggressive and intransigent.
To determine if the Cold War was a direct and logical outcome of the Second World War we must examine the evidence of the tensions that were then evident and also those that existed on a larger scale.
Historians have agreed that it is the events of the Second World War that marked this dramatic turning point in the world political system, but there is much debate surrounding the actual origins of the Cold War and it would be foolish to interpret the Second World War as the exclusive cause of the split between the two powers....