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Ch 4: The Cold War (1945-1991)

About This Chapter

Watch online video lessons to find out about causes and events of the Cold War. Each lesson is accompanied by a short multiple-choice quiz you can use to check your understanding of these history topics.

The Cold War (1945-1991) - Chapter Summary and Learning Objectives

Learn about the actions of two world superpowers after World War II and how the Cold War got started in this chapter on world conflicts since 1900. The instructors who lead these lessons will teach you about developments in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union after the Second World War and about major events that took place during the Cold War. This chapter also covers the end of Communism and the fall of the Soviet Union and provides a timeline of events leading to the end of the Cold War. You'll know about the following topics when you've finished the lessons in this chapter:

  • Division of Germany
  • The Marshall Plan
  • Impact of the Nuclear Arms Race on the Cold War
  • The Berlin Wall
  • Bay of Pigs and Cuban Missile Crisis
  • Vietnam War
  • Gorbachev's Policies in mid-1980s Soviet Union
  • Reunification of East and West Germany

Video Objective
Two Super Powers: The United States and the Soviet Union Describes how the U.S. and the Soviet Union emerged from World War II as super powers. Details the tension between the two countries that resulted from their different views of global reconstruction and economic integration.
The Cold War: Definition, Causes & Early Events Introduces the world leaders involved in the Cold War and takes a look at how the war originated. Summarizes the containment policy and some of the events that took place in the Cold War's early period.
Meta-Disciplines: Traditionalists, Revisionism, and Post-Revisionists Assesses these three schools of thought and how they are used to interpret the historical events surrounding the Cold War.
Post-War Soviet Union & Eastern Europe: The Descent of the Iron Curtain Examines events that took place after World War II that caused the formation of the Eastern Bloc states, known as the Iron Curtain. Looks at the Berlin Wall and the fall of the Iron Curtain.
Post-war Germany: Politics, Developments & Partitioning Details how the rebuilding of Germany after World War II was set in place by the Allies. Explains how tensions between the U.S. and the Soviet Union led to the creation of two Germanys. Discusses reunification efforts in the 80s and 90s.
Post-War Europe: the Berlin Airlift & the Marshall Plan Examines how the Marshall Plan was set up to provide aid to European countries and to limit Communist expansion. Looks at the Berlin Blockade that led to the Berlin Airlift and how these events influenced the politics of the Cold War.
The Theory of Containment & the Birth of NATO Illustrates the U.S.'s policy of containment and how that policy influenced American strategies throughout the Cold War. Describes how NATO was formed and what role it plays in global relations.
The Effects of the Nuclear Arms Race on Cold War Politics Highlights developments in the Nuclear Arms Race and how the atomic bomb and thermonuclear weapons helped shape Cold War politics.
Conflicts During the Cold War: Examples, Causes & Quiz Introduces wars and conflicts that resulted from such policies as the Domino Theory and the Brezhnev Doctrine. Discusses the Korean and Vietnam Wars and the Soviet-Afghan War.
The Korean War: Causes and Effects Relates events taking place in this proxy war between the U.S. and a Soviet-supported country. Details why it was called the Forgotten War and how it influenced American policy.
Building and Tearing Down the Berlin Wall: History and Timeline Summarizes the history of this wall from its beginnings as a barrier between East and West Berlin. Relates how the wall was torn down when communism in Eastern Europe ended.
Communism and the Cuban Revolution: Castro, the Bay of Pigs & the Cuban Missile Crisis Looks at critical events surrounding the Cuban Revolution and how communism played a role. Depicts President Kennedy's role in the Bay of Pigs and the Cuban Missile Crisis.
The Cold War in America: Effects on Everyday Life Discusses key American figures who were a part of the Cold War. Examines how suspected communists were treated and what life was like during this tense period of American history.
Decolonization and Nationalism in Israel, Egypt, Africa & Algeria Identifies factors that encouraged decolonization after World War II. Explains how newly independent countries faced pressure from the U.S. and Soviet Union.
Decolonization and Nationalism in Indonesia, Vietnam, India & Pakistan Looks at how decolonization took place in South and Southeast Asia. Depicts the conflicts and non-violent protests that typified the various independence fights in this area.
The Vietnam War: Causes, Conflicts & Effects Reviews the events that led to this war and why it was considered a proxy war. Details the efforts by Kennedy and Johnson to win the war and how it ended.
The Soviet War in Afghanistan: Causes & Timeline Examines the factors that led to this war and some of the highlights of the war. Assesses the impact that this war had on the world.
Gorbachev's Policies of Glasnost and Perestroika: Explanation and Significance Describes Gorbachev's policies of openness and restructuring that he introduced in the mid-1980s. Summarizes how these policies affected the Soviet Union.
The End of Communism in Eastern Europe: Events and Timeline Surveys events in the immediate aftermath of the fall of the Soviet Union. Looks at the Eastern European countries that declared their independence after the fall. Discusses post-Soviet era economies and European integration.
Fall of the Soviet Union and End of the Cold War: Causes & Timeline Sets forth a timeline of events leading to the end of the Cold War. Examines Gorbachev's efforts to save the Soviet Union and how the end of communism impacted its residents.
The Reunification of East and West Germany in 1990 Explains how the fall of communism led to the reunification of these two countries. Explores the economic and cultural differences that still exist today.

21 Lessons in Chapter 4: The Cold War (1945-1991)
Test your knowledge with a 30-question chapter practice test
Two Super Powers: The United States and the Soviet Union

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.

The Cold War: Definition, Causes & Early Events

2. The Cold War: Definition, Causes & Early Events

The period of distrust between the Soviet Union and United States was known as the Cold War. Learn about the origins of the era, essential events and the shaping of the national security state.

Approaches Toward the Cold War: Traditionalism, Revisionism & Post-Revisionism

3. 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.

Post-War Soviet Union & Eastern Europe: The Descent of the Iron Curtain

4. 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.

Post-war Germany: Politics, Developments & Partitioning

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.

Post-War Europe: the Berlin Airlift & the Marshall Plan

6. 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.

The Theory of Containment & the Birth of NATO

7. 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.

The Effects of the Nuclear Arms Race on Cold War Politics

8. 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.

Conflicts During the Cold War: Examples & Causes

9. Conflicts During the Cold War: Examples & Causes

In this lesson, we explore several of the world's conflicts in the second half of the 20th century that ended up becoming proxy wars between the United States and the Soviet Union in their Cold War standoff.

The Korean War: Causes, Effects and The United Nations

10. The Korean War: Causes, Effects and The United Nations

In this lesson, we will examine the Korean War. We will explore the events leading up to the war, some of its most important battles, and also highlight the key themes associated with it.

Building and Tearing Down the Berlin Wall: History and Timeline

11. 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.

Communism and the Cuban Revolution: Castro, the Bay of Pigs & the Cuban Missile Crisis

12. Communism and the Cuban Revolution: Castro, the Bay of Pigs & the Cuban Missile Crisis

In this lesson, we will examine the relationship between communism and the country of Cuba. We will focus specifically on the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro's rise to power, the Bay of Pigs Invasion, and the Cuban Missile Crisis.

The Cold War in America: Effects on Everyday Life

13. The Cold War in America: Effects on Everyday Life

Fear of communism and nuclear annihilation spread throughout the United States during the Cold War. Learn about the effects of the Cold War on everyday life and the determination of Americans to prepare for and combat the communist menace.

Decolonization and Nationalism in Israel, Egypt, Africa & Algeria

14. Decolonization and Nationalism in Israel, Egypt, Africa & Algeria

In this lesson, we explore the concepts of nationalism and national self-determination and how they affected the decolonization of the Middle East and Africa in the second half of the 20th century.

Decolonization and Nationalism in Indonesia, Vietnam, India & Pakistan

15. Decolonization and Nationalism in Indonesia, Vietnam, India & Pakistan

In this lesson, we explore the nature of nationalism in the colonial world and its various manifestations in South and Southeast Asia during the second half of the 20th century.

The Vietnam War: Causes, Conflicts & Effects

16. The Vietnam War: Causes, Conflicts & Effects

The Vietnam War was the longest and most polarizing conflict in the history of the United States. Learn about the causes of the war as well as its effects on the United States.

The Soviet War in Afghanistan: Causes & Timeline

17. The Soviet War in Afghanistan: Causes & Timeline

The Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979 and sparked a ten-year conflict lasting until 1989. Learn more about the background of the conflict, the belligerents, the military strategy, and the overall results in this lesson.

Gorbachev's Policies of Glasnost and Perestroika: Explanation and Significance

18. 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.

The End of Communism in Eastern Europe: Events and Timeline

19. 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.

Fall of the Soviet Union and End of the Cold War: Causes & Timeline

20. 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.

The Reunification of East and West Germany in 1990

21. 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.

Chapter Practice Exam
Test your knowledge of this chapter with a 30 question practice chapter exam.
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Practice Final Exam
Test your knowledge of the entire course with a 50 question practice final exam.
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