CIE Syllabus
Paper One: Section A

4. Who was to blame for the Cold War?

Focus Point

  • Why did the USA-USSR alliance breakdown in 1945?

This is a typical question (b) styled question. You need to be able to identify and explain the following explanations for the breakdown of the alliance; historical experience; ideological differences; personalities; removal of the common enemy; the atomic bomb.

Specified Content

  • The 1945 summit conferences and the breakdown of the USA-USSR alliance in 1945-46.

The first summit conference was at Yalta in 1945. The most likely questions on Yalta are question (a) styled questions. For example; What were the agreements at Yalta? What were the disagreements at Yalta? What did Stalin want to achieve at Yalta? What did Roosevelt want to achieve at Yalta? etc.

The second summit conference was at Potsdam in 1945. Again this is most likely a question (a) styled question, the questions are most likely to focus on agreements and disagreements but another possibility is a question asking "What changed between the Yalta and the Potsdam conference?"

Specific questions about what was agreed on Germany may be asked in a question (a) from Yalta and or Potsdam.

  • Soviet expansionism into Eastern Europe to 1948 and America's reactions to it.

In 1946 Churchill gave his famous iron curtain speech which expressed concern at the political division of Europe and Soviet control over Eastern Europe. The most likely question (a) styled questions on this topic are what was the iron curtain speech and what methods did Stalin use to expand into Eastern Europe.

Stalin's expansion was a major cause of the Cold War. The reasons why need to be clearly understood, this could be a question (b) styled question but the knowledge and understanding of this content is most likely to be used in a question (c) styled question. The key question is simply was Stalin aggressive and expansionist? Or was he simply being defensive? Did Stalin break agreements in his methods of expansionism? Did Stalin and Truman simply misunderstand each other? This is complex and requires knowledge and understanding of the content used to explain why the USA-USSR alliance broke down.