About This Chapter
U.S., Soviet Union & European Relations (1945-1991) - Chapter Summary
The relationship between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, sometimes referred to as the Cold War, is reviewed in depth in these lessons. The chapter will examine the origins of the conflict, the involvement of NATO, the role of other European countries, and major political figures. The lessons are taught by history instructors well-versed in this era, who can be approached with any questions concerning the material. With the ability to watch these short lessons at any time, and to come back to issues you want to revisit, you will be sure to make quick progress on understanding this part of history. Once you've reviewed all the lessons in this chapter, you'll be able to:
- Analyze the emergence of the U.S. and Russia as the two superpowers in post-WWII Europe
- Discuss the events and historical interpretations of the Cold War
- Identify the American policy of containment and the Marshall Plan
- Explain the role of Germany in Cold War politics, including the division of Germany and the building and tearing down of the Berlin Wall.
- Describe the effects of the nuclear arms race on Cold War policies
- Examine the descent of the Iron Curtain
- Provide examples of how the Cold War effected everyday life in America
- Tell about Gorbachev's policies and the fall of Communism
- List the events leading to the reunification of Germany and the end of the Cold War
1. Two Super Powers: The United States and the Soviet Union
In this lesson we will look at the role the United States and the Soviet Union played in post-1945 Europe. We will focus specifically on the influence of each super power and see how each state impacted developments in Europe.
2. Approaches Toward the Cold War: Traditionalism, Revisionism & Post-Revisionism
The study of the Cold War has produced a voluminous amount of interpretation. In this lesson, you will learn about the various schools of thought, including realism, traditionalism, revisionism and post-revisionism.
3. The Theory of Containment & the Birth of NATO
In this lesson, we explore the foreign policy of the U.S. and Western Europe directly after WWII. We will look at its theory of containment regarding communism, and the birth of NATO.
4. Post-War Europe: the Berlin Airlift & the Marshall Plan
In this lesson, we will learn about the Marshall Plan and the Berlin Airlift. We will examine the conditions in postwar Europe that resulted in these events, and we will understand why they are important.
5. Post-war Germany: Politics, Developments & Partitioning
In this lesson, we explore Germany after the end of World War II, from its partitioning due to its part on the front line of the Cold War to its eventual reunification in 1990.
6. Post-War Soviet Union & Eastern Europe: The Descent of the Iron Curtain
In this lesson, we will learn about some of the dynamic events that followed World War II in Eastern Europe. We will explore the descent of the Iron Curtain, and learn about the formation of the Eastern Bloc states.
7. The Effects of the Nuclear Arms Race on Cold War Politics
In this lesson, we will examine the nuclear arms race between the United States and the Soviet Union that took place throughout the post-war era. We will learn why this arms race took place, and we will highlight key developments associated with it.
8. Building and Tearing Down the Berlin Wall: History and Timeline
In this lesson, we explore the history of the Berlin Wall, from its beginnings as a makeshift barrier between East and West Berlin, to its final demise as communism fell across Eastern Europe in the late 1980s.
9. Gorbachev's Policies of Glasnost and Perestroika: Explanation and Significance
In this lesson, we will examine Mikhail Gorbachev's reform policies of glasnost and perestroika. We will learn what led to these developments and see how they impacted the Soviet Union.
10. The End of Communism in Eastern Europe: Events and Timeline
In this lesson, we explore the immediate aftermath of the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the fall of communism in Eastern Europe, where both political structures and economic models were left in limbo.
11. The Reunification of East and West Germany in 1990
In this lesson we explore the unique history of East and West Germany after Germany's defeat in WWII and the conditions surrounding its eventual reunification in 1990.
12. Fall of the Soviet Union and End of the Cold War: Causes & Timeline
In this lesson, we chart the reforms made by Russian premier Mikhail Gorbachev attempting to save the Soviet Union and the communist federation's eventual dissolution in 1991.
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