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Why had the wartime alliance between the USA and the Soviet Union broken down by the end of 1946?

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The Soviet Union and the United States had always been uneasy allies, because they were ideological opposites. The United States was a capitalist power with a democratic government, and the Soviet Union under Stalin was a communist dictatorship. Their alliance broke down over disagreements about postwar Europe.

The Soviets had accepted Franklin Roosevelt's insistence that free elections be held in Poland, occupied at the end of the war by Soviet forces. After Roosevelt's death, with the war at an end, the Soviets did not allow these elections, installing instead a Stalinist-style regime. This caused fierce disagreement at the Potsdam Conference in the summer of 1945.

In August, the United States ended the war with Japan by dropping two atomic bombs, launching the atomic race that would...

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