Cold War Timeline
September 1, 1939 Germany invades Poland, beginning World War II.
June 30, 1941 Germany invades the Soviet Union, drawing the Soviets into World War II.
December 7, 1941 Japan launches a surprise air attack on U.S. military installations at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, drawing the United States into World War II.
November 1943 U.S. president Franklin D. Roosevelt, British prime minister Winston Churchill, and Soviet premier Joseph Stalin meet in Tehran, Iran, to discuss war strategies against Germany and Italy.
August-October 1944 An international conference held at Dumbarton Oaks in Washington, D.C., creates the beginning of the United Nations.
February 1945 The Yalta Conference is held in the Crimean region of the Soviet Union among the three key allied leaders, U.S. president Franklin D. Roosevelt, British prime minister Winston Churchill, and Soviet premier Joseph Stalin to discuss German surrender terms, a Soviet attack against Japanese forces, and the future of Eastern Europe.
April-June 1945 Fifty nations meet in San Francisco to write the UN charter.
May 7, 1945 Germany surrenders to allied forces, leaving Germany and its capital of Berlin divided into four military occupation zones with American,...
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Words to Know
Alliance for Progress: A program designed to block the spread of communism by improving the overall quality of life for Latin Americans. The Alliance attempted to reduce disease, increase literacy, and ease poverty throughout Latin America.
Allied Control Council: An organization of military governors from each of the four zones of Germany.
Allies: Alliances of countries in military opposition to another group of nations. In World War II, the Allied powers included Great Britain, the United States, and the Soviet Union.
Annihilation: Complete destruction.
Armistice: A temporary agreement to end fighting in a war; a cease-fire.
Arms race: A key aspect of superpower rivalry in which one superpower amasses weapons, particularly nuclear weapons, to keep up with another superpower or to gain an edge.
Asymmetrical response: The potentially much harsher retaliation of a nation already attacked.
Atomic bomb: An explosive device that releases nuclear energy (energy that comes from an atom's core). All previous explosive devices were powered by rapid burning or decomposition of a chemical compound; they only released energy from the outermost electrons of an atom. Nuclear...
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People to Know
Jacobo Arbenz Guzmán (1913–1971): Guatemalan president, 1950–54.
Clement R. Attlee (1883–1967): British prime minister, 1945–51.
Fulgencio Batista y Zaldívar (1901–1973): Cuban dictatorial leader, 1933–44, 1952–59.
Lavrenty Beria (1899–1953): Leader of the Soviet secret police (KGB) and manager of the Soviet bomb project.
Anthony F. Blunt (1907–1983): One of the KGB's famed Cambridge Spies.
Willy Brandt (1913–1992): West German chancellor, 1969–74.
Leonid Brezhnev (1906–1982): Leader of the Soviet Union Communist Party, 1964–82.
Zbigniew Brzezinski (1928–): U.S. national security advisor, 1977–81.
Guy Burgess (1910–1963): One of the KGB's famed Cambridge Spies.
George Bush (1924–): Forty-first U.S. president, 1989–93.
James F. Byrnes (1879–1972): U.S. secretary of state, 1945–47.
Jimmy Carter (1924–): Thirty-ninth U.S. president, 1977–81.
Carlos Castillo Armas (1914–1957): Guatemalan president, 1954–57....
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Research and Activity Ideas
The following research and activity ideas are intended to offer suggestions for complementing social studies and history curricula, to trigger additional ideas for enhancing learning, and to provide cross-disciplinary projects for library and classroom use.
- Newspaper search: Old issues of local newspapers are likely available at your public library, a nearby college or university library, or from the local newspaper office itself. Locate and review newspapers for the following events using the approximate dates given. Assess if reporters grasped the major points of the crisis. Choose interesting accounts to read to the class. The events are: Cuban Missile Crisis (October 23, 1962, through the end of October 1962); Berlin, Germany, Airlift (mid-July 1948 to mid-May 1949); Building the Berlin Wall (August 14, 1961, through the end of August 1961); and Tearing Down the Berlin Wall (November 10, 1989, through the end of November 1989).
- The bomb scare: At the height of the Cold War (1945–91), many individuals attempting to protect family members considered building bomb shelters in case of nuclear attack. At your local library, secure an old copy of the September 15, 1961, issue of Life magazine. Look for an article titled "Fallout Shelters." Also note the preceding letter to the American public from President...
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