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Cold War Lesson for Kids: Facts & Timeline

Instructor: Michael Gott

Mike is a veteran of the New Hampshire public school system and has worked in grades 1-12. His role has varied from primary instructor to special needs support.

The Cold War was a conflict between the United States and the U.S.S.R., which is also known as the Soviet Union. After World War II, they stopped being allies and became enemies because they had different beliefs about how countries should be run.

Friends to Enemies

Have you ever worked on a project with someone you didn't like? This was like the relationship the USA and the U.S.S.R. (or the Soviet Union) had during World War II. Both countries agreed Germany and Japan were dangerous countries and needed to be stopped, but once they stopped them, the USA and U.S.S.R. could not agree how to work together anymore.

World War II Ends

During World War II, Germany and Japan were invading other countries. Once the war ended and they were defeated, the invaded countries, as well as Germany and Japan, were left in ruins and needed to be rebuilt. The United States wanted to create governments in these countries based on democracy. Democracy means that the people in these countries would be allowed to vote for their leaders. The U.S.S.R. wanted these countries to have dictatorships . A dictatorship means that one person or group is in control of the country and makes all the decisions.

A Cold War

This conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union is known as the Cold War because neither country ever directly attacked each other. This was because each country had nuclear weapons. Both the United States and the Soviet Union feared neither country would survive a war with nuclear weapons. During the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union competed to see which country could develop the most destructive weapons. This competition is known as the Arms Race. These weapons were used by the United States in countries such as Vietnam, to try to create democracies, and by the Soviets in Afghanistan, to try to create dictatorships. The Cold War lasted from 1945 until 1991.

The Space Race

The United States and the Soviet Union completed in many ways during the Cold War, and the Space Race was one of them. The Space Race was a scientific competition between the two countries. The Soviet Union launched the first successful satellite on October 4, 1957, causing the United States to re-focus on science and technology. This focus would pay off when the US landed astronaut Neil Armstrong on the moon on June 20, 1969.

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