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When did the Cold War begin?

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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It is very difficult to pin down the exact year in which the Cold War started.  You will notice that the link below says only that the Cold War began “after World War II.”  The most common date given for the beginning of the Cold War is 1947, but it is easy to argue that the Cold War started even before that.  Since it is hard to identify an exact date, different texts may give different answers.  You should check your own text and/or your class notes to see what answer your instructor prefers.

1947 is commonly used as the start date for the Cold War because that is the year in which the Truman Doctrine was announced.  In March of that year, President Harry Truman announced that the US would give aid to non-communist forces in both Greece and Turkey.  This would be part of a more general strategy of containing communism.  The Truman Doctrine said that the US would give aid to any country whose stability was being threatened by communism.  In putting forth this theory, the US explicitly committed itself to opposing communism.  This is why this year is typically given as the start date for the Cold War.

However, we should be aware that tensions had been building since before the end of WWII.  For example, when the allies sat down at the Potsdam Conference, it became clear that they had very different views of how Europe should be run after the war.  The allies clearly did not trust one another.  This helped lead to a situation where the Soviet Union (for example) wanted a part in running post-war Japan but the US refused to give it one.  After the war, but before 1947, tensions continued to rise. In March of 1946, Winston Churchill gave his famous “Iron Curtain” speech, urging the US to take a stronger line against communism.  In February of that year, US diplomat George Kennan sent his “Long Telegram” urging much the same thing.  Clearly, important people in the US and USSR had already been considering one another as adversaries even before 1947.

Thus, while a commonly-given date for the start of the Cold War is 1947, people often simply say that it began after WWII.

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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write35,413 answers

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Since the Cold War was not truly a war, it has no "official" beginning date.  There was no battle that started the Cold War on a given date.

You could argue that the Cold War started while WWII was still going on or you could argue that it started right after the war ended.  You could say that it started during the last days of WWII as the USSR rushed to grab what it could (like northern Korea) so that it would hold more territory after the war.  This caused worries in the West that the Soviets were going to be expansionist.  Even before this, Winston Churchill had created a plan to try to push Soviet forces back in Europe so that they could not threaten Western Europe.

You could argue that the Cold War started soon after WWII.  In February of 1946, for example, George Kennan sent his famous "Long Telegram" recommending a hard line against the Soviets.  This idea became further solidified with the Truman Doctrine in 1947.

It is not possible to exactly pinpoint the beginning of the Cold War.  It is best to say that the Cold War began gradually late in WWII and just after that war ended.  It then ran until the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.

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malkaam | Student

The Cold War began after World War II in 1947 and lasted till the separation of USSR in 1991.

The Cold War was between the allies that emerged victorious after World War II, i.e America and Soviet Union. The main reason for the war was that since both the countries were 2 major powers at the time and since both had powerful military and expansive ideologies, they both highly mistrusted each other. Also another reason came to light recently that Soviet Premier Josef Stalin who had a malevolent history must bear the greatest responsibility for the start of the Cold War.

You can find more information on the website mentioned below.

ssarfraz | Student

The Cold War (1945–1963)

The Cold War was a state of political and military tension after World War II between powers in the Western Bloc and powers in the Eastern Bloc. Historians have not fully agreed on the dates, but 1947–1991 is common.

From Allies to Adversaries: Origins of the Cold War

Allies Before the Cold War
The Cold War began in 1945, as the United States and Soviet Union turned to face one another after defeating Hitler's Germany and Japan.
While fighting the war, each side portrayed the other as an ally again fascism. America provided substantial assistance to the Soviet Union, whose people and military bore a great deal of the fighting and dying. Washington and Moscow negotiated key agreements at Yalta and Potsdam to structure the post-war world. But as soon as Hitler was gone, the Soviets began breaking their promises. They established puppet regimes in Eastern Europe, alarming and angering the US and "free" European countries.
Suddenly the Soviet leader sometimes called "Uncle Joe" (Stalin) during the war came into focus again as a brutal dictator with an expansionist agenda.
How did the Cold War begin? Some argue it was incubating for years after the Bolshevik Revolution -- and World War II was a "time out" in an inevitable clash between the communist Soviet Union and capitalist United States. From this perspective, the origins of the Cold War are simple: World War II left two major powers standing, both with visions of spreading their incompatible ideological systems. To paraphrase an old saying, when there are only two tough guys on the block, there's a good chance of a fight.
Political and diplomatic disputes started even before the official end of the World War, including air and ground skirmishes. By 1950, US and Soviet pilots would be killing one another as part of the superpower proxy war in Korea, the first major armed conflict of the Cold War.
icefur | Student

Cold war doesn't have an exact date but has said to have slowly developed after world war 2 (1945), when the wartime friendship between the Allies had broken down and had been replaced by a widening gulf of suspicion and accusation. 

The early stages of cold war was when US president Harry TRuman came into power. He played a part in the development of a tougher American policy.

A major step towards Cold War was seen when Truman met with MOlotov- the Russian foreign minister.

The basis of cold war was laid on April 23rd 1945.