We have begun to build biographies of the major figures of the Cold war in the various countries involved. Some of the individuals involved were also ikportant World War II figures. The srtruggle was essentially a continuation of Stalin's attempt begun with Hitler to seize control of Europe. Many of the individuals involved with Europeans, but as the Cold War progressed it spread around the world and included figures from many different countries, to a greater extent than World War II. The central figure in the Cold War was Josef Stalin. It was a struggle tht did not need to have been fought. Stalin set it in motion and it was continued by subsequent Soviet leaders as well as Communists in many other countries, both in Europe and the Third World.
Konrad was born in Cologne, Germany (1876). Konrad was raised in a middle-class Roman Catholic. His parents raised him to appreciate frugality, duty, and religion. He studied law and political science at universities (Freiburg, Munich, and Bonn). He was elected to the Cologne city council (1906). During World War I he became lord mayor (1917). He achieved a long list of prigressive accomplishments (a greenbelt, sports grounds, and exhibition sites). He promoted the the refounding of the University of Cologne (1919). He contunued as mayor until the NAZIs uncremoneouly through him out (1933). He was arrested by the NAZIs, but narrowly managed to survive. He became the first chancellor (prime-minister) of the post World War II Federal Republic of Germany (FRG), commonly referred to as West Germany. He helped found the Christian Democratic Party (CDU), what might be compared loosely to the British Conservative Party or the American Republican Party. Along with the socialist Social Democratic Party (SPD), it was one if the two major FRG political parties. Adenauer was a key figure presiding over Germany's post-World War II recovery--the German Economic Miracle. He was staunchly anti-Communist and commited to building an anti-NAZI democratic Germany. He was a major force working to reconcile Germany with the World War II Western Allies, especially France which had been unified Germany's primary antagonist. He supported Germany's entry into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization--NATO (1955) and European integration.
Lavrentiy Beria was director of the NKVD Soviet secret police which had conducted the purges of Stalin’s opponents. Stalin chose Beria to purge the latest NKVD leader who was overseeing the purges and instututing The Terror, but to continue The Terror. (Stalin had a habit of purgeing officials who knew of his complicity in mass murder.) Beria at the time of Stalin;s death was asfraid that he was about to be ourged. A Russian reader writes, "Somewhy western historians often think that Beria was a kind of monster, but Khruschev was white and fluffy angel. Yes, after Stalin's death Khruschev began to soften Soviet totalitarism. But Beria too planned to soften it - and even he succeed to make some important steps, for example, a 'great amnesty' of summer 1953 when more than 1.2 million prisoners of the Gulag were released. All Stalin's servants after 'the Master's' death made some steps to lesser their part in repressions and, well, 'to rebrand' themselves." Our Russian reader makes a good point. But it also had to be pointed out that one if the first things that the ranking Soviet leaders did after Stalin's death was to arrest Beria and have him shot. We suspectv that they certainly saw Beria as a monstrer. It is true that Westrern authors may have unfairly chracterized Beria, but it is likely that his colleagues had very accurate knowledge of his character.
John Birch was a U.S. Air Force pilot killed by Chinese Communists (1945). Businessman Robert Welch used his name for the society he founded--the John Birch Society. It became an important political force in the American debate over Communim during the 1960s.
Willie Brandt first became known internationally as mayor of West Berlin (1957). He initiated what he became best known for--his Ost Politik, openings to the East. Brandt by 1961 was the leading figure in the Social Democratic Party (SPD) which was the German Socialist party. As West Berlin mayor, he was disappointed that the Western Allies didn't respond more vigorously to the Wall the East Germans errected. He was with President Kennedy when the President gave the "Ich bin ein Berliner" speech and was concerned that the crowd reaction might result in an incident at the Wall. He was elected chancellor (1969) and he retained this office in the subsequent general election (1972). He worked toward relaxing the tension between Eastern and Western Europe. His policy led to the signing of non-aggression pacts between West Germany and both the Soviet Union (19??) and Poland (1970). He continued pushing for openings to the East--not matter how small and according to critics no matter the cost. Brandt resigned assuming responsibility for the infiltration of an East German secret agent who was working on his staff (1974). Brandt was awarded Nobel Peace Prize (1971) for his contribution to the relaxation of tension between Western and Eastern Europe (so-called d�tente or Entspannungspolitik). What Ost Politik did not do was to change the oppressive character of the DDR or questiion the right of the Soiviet Union to maintain the division of Germany or its empire in Eastern Europe. The Wall not only remained firmly in place, but DDR officials diligently worked to strengrhen it all throught the era of Ost Politik.
Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev was a child of the Revolution. He began workig in a steel mill with his father at age 15. As a result of the Revolution he was given a chance for an education and became a surveyor. He had a taste for politics. however, an joined the Communist Party. He rose to national prominance by attaching himself to Khrushchev. He emerged as General Secretary after playing a key role in Khrushchev's ouster. He presided over one of the most massive military buildups in history believing that America posed a threat to the Soviet Union. He failed to address the deep-rooted economic and social problems which would less han 10 years after his death destoy the Soviet Union. His rule is often referred to as the period of stagnation. In fairness to Brezhnev, as Gorbechov was later to learn, the economic problems of the Soviet Union were systemic and not amenable to reform.
Fidel described his schooling in a radio interview. Fidel went to a small boarding school, only about 30 boys, run by the La Salle brothers. He said that "They sometimes adopted a very censurable method. Some teachers or directors of the school had the habit of occasionally striking a student. My conflict there was because of that, due to a conflict with another student; a minor disagreement, as is normal among students of that age. I noted what today would be called poor teaching methods such as this one of using violence against a student. That was the first time that the brother inspector, in charge of students, struck me with great violence, slapping me roughly on both sides of the face. It was something unworthy and abusive. I must have been in the third grade in primary. That ate on me inside. Later on, when I was already in the fifth grade, on two different occasions they gave me a rap on the head. The last time, I was no longer willing to put up with it, and things wound up in a violent quarrel between the inspector and me. After that I decided not to return to school again." .... He goes on to say that he noted that the families with more wealth got greater attention from the teachers. He adds, "I was not against the discipline they imposed upon us, they had to do it. But when someone reaches a certain age, is in the fifth grade and has a sense of personal dignity, the use of violence, physical punishment, seems to be inconceivable." After leaving the La Salle school, he went to a Jesuit school, but had to board with a family as he was not accepted as a boarder. Interestingly, Fidel who does not seem to have taken to boarding schools has created in proportional terms perhaps the most extensive national boarding school education system in the world.
Famed British World War II prime-minister lost the 1945 General Election. Thus the Labour Party led by Clemet Attley led Britain durung the early years of the Cold War. There was considerabe symoasthy for the Siviet Union within the Labour Party because of its vital role in World War II. The Labour Party introduced Socialist reforms which to their surprise did not work and under Labour, Britain despite massive American support did not prosper after the War while European countries like Germany experienced impressive economic miracles. Labour Leader Clemet Attlee did, however, maintain the relationship with the United States and the British in occupied Germany experienced the same Cold war experience as the Americans did with the Soviets. Britain participated in the Berlin Air Lift. Churchill out of Governent delivered the eye-oppening Iron Curtain Speech at Fulton, Missouri. He was sharoply criticised at the time as a war monger. (Just as he had been by the Appeasers when he warned about the frise if the NAZIs). His soeech is now seen as a seminal point in the Cold War.) Churchill led yhe opposition and the Conservastives won the 1951 General election, making Churhill prime-minister sgain (1951). Britain was no longer a suoer power, but played an importasnt role in opposing Soviet aggression during the Cold War.
Many Americans have viewed DeGualle as not playing aositive role in the Cold War competition with the Soviet Union, especially pulling France out of the NATO structure. These actions are contriversial. What is not controversial is that DeGualle after D-Day and in the immdiate aftermth of World War II, prevented the Communisdts from seizing ciontrol of France. If thast had occurred, the United states wouklf have fiund it very difficult o sabee Western Europe from Soviet conmtrol.
Stainist Jacques Duclos was a major figure in the French Communist Party. Moscow trained Duclos was the leading figure in Party secturity. He participated in the Popular Front (1935) as well as became the Comintern Representative in Spain. The French Government after Hitler and Stalin agreed to the Non-Agression Pact banned the Communist Party (1939). French Communist leader Maurice Thorez sought refuge in Moscow. Duclos went into hiding and became the leader of underground French Communist Party. Many French Cimmunist were agast at the Non-gression Party. Stalinists like Duclos followed orders from Moscow and supported it. They also avpid overt actions gainst the NAZIs. This changed with NAZI invasion of the Soviet Union (1941). Duclos and Pierre Villon founded the Communist-based resistance group, Front National (FN). He also helped to direct the Frances-Tireurs Partisans, the military action wing of Party (May 1942). The FN reached an agreement ith non-Communist resistance groups (Combat, Comit� d'Action Socialiste, Liberation, Francs-Tireur and the Arm�e Secrete). The unified resistabce effort was he Conseil National de la Resistance. After the War, Duclos continued to lead the Party. France and Italy had large Communist Paries. The Communists had gained great prominance as the most effective resistnce groups. Duclos hoped to seize powet, but as outmnuered by De Gulle. Stalin was hopeful that the Communists could gain control through democratic elections, but fell short in post-War elections. An article attavcking tghe american Communist Party is seen a veiled Stalinist attack on democrtic ellents in the French and Italin Communist Party. After Stalin died, he joined Thorez's resistance to Khrushchev's de-Stalinization effort (1956). Hevnever fully recovered his prominnce in the Party. He was an importnt supporter of Georges Marchais. DuClos ran as th Communist presidential candidate in 1969 and against hopeless odds polled a creditable 22 percent. Most picture of French Communist leaders include Duclos. He project an avuncular looking Duclos. One source escribs him as 'in reality glacial, hard-line, and sarcastic, but an effective autodidact.' The Soviets awarded him the Order of Lenin (1971). Duclos involvement in Party security and cladestine operations and his close contacts with Moscow mean that the full story of his ctivities will never be known.
After the war Duclos was elected to the National Assembly and in 1959 joined the Senate. Jacques Duclos died in 1975.
President Eisenhower is surely the most underated of the key American Cold Warriors. The press and opublic began viewing him as an out of touch bumbling old man promoted to a station beyonf his means. In fact he was insightful, calculasting leader. He was fully aware of the dangers posed by the Soviet Union and the resources that the United states needed to marshal to meet them.
One author called Andrei Gromyko 'flinty face of postwar Soviet diplomacy'. [Whitney] He was born in Starye Gromyki, Mogilev Governorate, at the time part of the Tsarist Empire (1909). He married Lydia Dmitrievna Grinevich. Gromyko's political career began with his employment at the People's Commissariat for Foreign Affairs (Ministry of Foreign Affairs) (1939). He was part of sweeping changes in the Foreign Ministry as part of the appointment of Vyacheslav Molotov. Stalin was impressed with Groimyko. He was appointed ambassador to the United States during World War II (1943). After the War he became the Soviet Permanent Representative to the United Nations (1946). The American press began calling him Mr. Nyet and Grim Grom, because of he so commonly resorted to the Soviet veto in the United Nations Security Council. Returning to the Soviet Union he became a Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and later the First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs. He was appointed the Soviet ambassador to the United Kingdom (1952). With the death of Stalin and the demotion of Vyacheslav Molotov, Gromyko energed as the face of the Soviet Union to the West. He finally was appointed Foreign Minister. Nikita Khrushchev and later Leonid Brezhnev found him indispensable. As the Foreign Minister of the Soviet Union, Gromyko played an important role in defusing the Cuban Missile Crisis (1962). He helped negotiate arms limitations treaties such as the ABM Treaty, the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, and SALT I & II. Under Leonid Brezhnev premiership, Gromyko helped build the policy of d�tente. When Brezhnev's health began to decline, Gromyko formed a troika with KGB Chairman Yuri Andropov and Defense Minister Dmitriy Ustinov that basically ruled in Brezhnev's name. As a result, conservate and hardline attitudes towards the West continued to dominte Soviet thinking. And he served as Foreign Minister for 28 years. He played a role in turning away from elderly, sclerotic leadership, and supported Gorbachev's accession to the leadership of the Soviet Communist Party (March 1985). Finally Mikhail Gorbachev moving toward Glasnost and Perestroika finally found his hard;ine views an obstacle. He eased Gromyko into the ceremonial post of the presidency. He wrote his menoirs in retirement, revising them shortly before his death. He explained that he felt old and out of touch. Gorbachev dropped him from the all-important Politburo, part of a sweeping purge of the Soviet old guard. Gromyko had to watch the policies of the totalitarian state he so vigorously championed being swept aside. [Witney] He died in Moscow (1989).
Ernesto 'Che' Guevara became an icomic figure of Latin American Communism and violent armed struggle. He bcame known simply a 'Che'. He has been described in various ways, including Marxist revolutionary, physician, author, guerrilla leader, diplomat, and self-described military theorist. There seems to be no appreciation among the Left that dictatorship of the left or the right means societal failure and a source of poverty. Many idealize Che who has become a counter-cultural icon on posters and T-shirts. [Casey, p. 128.] There is, however a murderous legacy thant many seek to ignore or excuse for ideological reasons. [Vargas Llosa] He encoraged Castro's brutally crushing any and all dissent, and concentrating wealth in the hands of a Communist elite. Ernnesto was born in Rosario, Argenina (1928). He studied to be a doctor and as a young student he made motocycle (actually motorized bicycle) trips to other South American countries. Guevara claims that the povery and squalid conditions was the primary experience that radicalized him. There is no doubt the poverty he described in the 1950s was very real. I winessed the same in the 1960s. Cut Che went a step further. He concluded that capitalist exploitation of Latin America by the United States was the primary reason for that poverty. He became involved Guatemala's social reforms program under President Jacobo �rbenz. The CIA-assisted overthrow and the United Fruit Company's role only strengthened his evolving political ideology. [Guevara] Subswquently he met Ra�l and Fidel Castro in Mexico City and joined the 26th of July Movement. He was with them when they sailed to Cuna aboard the Granma to launch a eevolution against Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista. Guevara with Castro;s support rose to prominence among the insurgents. Castro to Comandante (commander) of a second army column, essentialy becoming Castro' second-in-command. It is not entirely clear what Castro saw in him, but his interest in fundamental chabge and lack of interest in a democratic system surrly must havebeen factors. Time Magazine sescrined him as as 'Castro's brain'. ["Castro's brain"] Guevara would play an imprtant role in the guerrilla campaign that deposed Batista. ith Castro's success, Guevara was given several key assigments in Cuba's new revolutionary government. Revolutionary Tribunls tried and convicted Batisa loyalists. Guevara oversaw the appeals and firing squads executing Batista loyalists. [Taibo, p. 267.] He then oversaw the rural agrarian land reform as Minister of Industries. He was put in chrge of a successful nationwide literacy campaign. He then served as the National Bank president and instructional director for Cuba's Armed Forces, Guevara was a the center of transformung the Batista dictatorship into the Castro dictarorship. In this he was very successful. A he helped buld a military capable of repelling the American-financed Bay of Pigs invsion. [Kellner, pp. 69�70.] He also played a key role in seizing private property and building a socialist planned economy. Only the result was economic chaos and turning Cuba from a country with some poor people into a country in which virtually everyone was poor. Castro and Guevara essentially eliminated social inequities by making everyone poor. Despite Revolutionary Cuba's economic failure, Guevara began traveling the globe the world as a diplomat for Communist Revolution. He also play a key role in convincing oviet Premier Nikta Khruschev to depluy nuclear-armed ballistic missiles to Cuba, precipitated the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. [Anderson, pp. 526�530.] Cementing his revolutionry credenbtials, Guevara was a prolific writer and diarist. He composed a seminal manual on guerrilla warfare as wekll as a best-selling memoir about his youthful continental motorcycle journey. His central belief was that Marxism�Leninism was the key to building a just society where workers and peasants lived comfortable lives. And that imperialism, colonialism, and monopoly capitalism were the cause of poverty. [Anderson, pp. 526�530.] The only problem with Guevara's asessment is that the economic reforms he orcestrated caused economic chaos and that production declind. Cuba went from a medium-income country to one of the poorest in the world, kept alive by massive Soviet assistance. Guvara also claimed that the United states exploited Cuba abd other countries. It was then difficult to explain after the United states cut economic ties that Cuba not only did not benefit, but got progresively more poor. Fidel's and Guevara's ideals as one historian explains simply "rehashed centralized power'. It meant creating a leftist caudillo, but with ultimately the same impact--pbverty nd hr upresion of baic human rights. [Vargas Llosa] Guevara had a huge public profile in Cuba. But then he precipitously left (1965). It is not exavtly clear why. There are several theories, all unproveable. It is widely believed that his relation with Castro were deteroriating. This can not be proved nor can the issues be known with any certainty. Castro may not have appreciated Guevara's emense popularity. Guevara wanted a more aggressuve effort to promote revolution. Castro seems to hve been desenchanted fowith the economic chaos and failure of Guevara's economic management. For weharever reason, Guevara embarked on new revolutionary adventures, first in Congo-Kinshasa and then Bolivia. Since the failure of his Boliviam guerrila campaign and execution, Guevara has become a legendary figure in the couter-culture world. Alberto Korda photograph which he titled 'Guerrillero Heroico' has been cited by the Maryland Institute College of Art as 'the most famous photograph in the world.
Stalin would have been astonished to know that Pope John Paul without any military divisions would play a central role in unraveling the Soviet Union that he had constructed with hundreds of division and the fearsome NKVD.
George Kennan was the most influebntual American diplomat during the Cold War.
He came from the Mid-West. In Princeton University he encountered individuals from the American northeastern establishment for the first time. [Gaddis]
The American policy throughout the nearly 50 years of the Cold War was one of "Containment". It was first enunciated by George Kennan in two documents. The first was the 'Long Telegram' The other he wrote as "X" in a celebrated article in Foreign Affairs. In the Nuclear Age, war between super powers was unthinkable. America sought to contain the expansion of the Soviet Empire while internal forces would weaken Soviet imposed Communist regimes from within. Kennan was also one of the leading architets of the Marshall Plan. President Truman appointed him to be the American Ambassador to the Siviet Union in the early phase of the Cold war. A biographer provides this insight, "'George F. Kennan, the State Deoartment's "Mr. X" is leaving forMosco this spring to take over a job for which he has been oreoparing for 25 years --and whivh he desn't want.' This is ho the journalist Louis Cassels introduced the new U.S. ambassafor to the Soviet Unionto the readers of Collier's in March 1952 .... He wiukld be the first [envoy] since the opening of relations with the U.S.S.R., to need no interpeter when meeting Stalin. He 'certainly ought to know his way around,' the president was said to have commented. Even Pravdahas honored the ambassador designate by awarding him 'its highest decorations for Western statesmen --'spy,' 'war monger, ' and 'tool of Wall Street.' "Why then did Knnan not want the job?" [Gaddis]
Kennan would eventually become a notable historian. And eventuallyhe became an outspoken critic of American diplomacy, politics, and culture during the Cold War era.
A power struggle followed Stalin's death i(1953). Former Ukranian Party boss Nikita Khrushchev emerged victorious in that struggle. Khrushchev was a true believer in Communism. Like many of his generation, the Revolution had provided opportunities thast were incoceivable under the Tsarist regime, He was convinced that the Communist system was a scientifically based system that if properly managed would out produce the West. He was perplexed when confronted with the Soviet Union's deep seated economic problems. Nowhere had Stalin's policies been more murderous than in the Ukraine. Khruschev was not a Ukranian. He was born in the Russian village of Kalinovka (1894), close to the Ukrainian border. .He was all to aware of what Stalin had done there and was in fact complicit himself. Stalin appointed him Ukranian Party boss (1939). He served in World War II as a political commisar. He participated in the Barrle of Stalingrad. Perhaps his single most important achievement as the new Soviet leader was launching the De-Stalinization process (1956). It was the closest the world would come to nuclear disaster. He once confided with Nassar that a Mideast crisis was like "playing chess in the dark". He was finally replaced by faceless party aparatcheks in 1964 for his "adventurism". [Taubman] While Stlalin was a mass murder, Khrushchev was even more dangerous. His behavior was often crude such as when he took his shoe off and banged his desk at the United Nations when a speaker displeased him. He told Americans, "We will bury you". He rarely listened to advisors, often making important decissions on whim. Also he actually believed in Communist ideology. This combined with his mercurial personality and willingness to gamble brought the world close to nuclear war over Cuba in 1962. He once confided with Nassar that aideast crisis was like "playing chess in the dark". He was finally replaed by faceless party aparatcheks in 1964 for "adventurism". [Taubman] Conservatives in the Party leadership were concerned about the de-Stalinization process as well as dangerous adventure in Cuba, but what seems to have caused his removal was Khrushchev's efforts to reform the beaureacracy, especially fixed terms in office--a convern to an aging leadership generation. Khrushchev had essentially made Soviet officials safe from purges through his de-Stalinization program. These very same officials replaced him (October 1964).
The ultimate victory of the West in the Cold War is commonly credited to American President Ronald Reagan, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, and Pope John Paul II. This is for good reason, but there is one very important person who is often left out of these major movers who help destroy the Evil Empire--German Chancellor Helmut Kohl. Germany located strategically at the center of Europe grom the beginning was the key to the struggle. Kohl became Chancellor of the Federal Republic (West Germany) (1982). At the time the Soviet Union looked invincble. And it was involved in a high-stakes effort to break up the Western alliance, most notably by separating West Germany from the rest of the West. Willy Brandt's Ost-Politik had attracted considerable support in West Germany, especially among German Socialists. The Soviets had upped the arms race by deploying ugradded Intermediate Range Balistic Missles (IRBMs). And the primary target was West Germany. It was nuclear blackmail pure and simple. Germany ha no way of protecting itself from Soviet missles. The United States policy was to retaliate against the Soviet Union, but even if it did and that was not guaranteed, Germany would be left a nuclear waistland. The Soviet goal was a neutral West Germany, the Finlandization of Germany which would leave Wesrern Europe defensless. President Reagan offered the obvious solution, to upgrade German defenses by positioning upgraded IRBS in West Germany that could reach the Soviet Union--the Pershing IIs. Many West Germans opposed this. The Ban the Bomb movement grew in importance, stoked by Soviet propagands and Soviet cash to groups opposing Pershing II deployment. Massive protests escalated throughout Europe, especially in West Germany. (Notice the Ban the Bomb Movement was only to ban the bomb in the West, the Soviets did not allow a similar movement in the Soviet Union or their Eastern European satellites.) It proved to be the decisive confrontation of the Cold War. Despite the masive politicl pressure, Kohl was defiant. There was non of the equiviocation of his predecesor. He would have the American missk=les on German soil. There was no backing down. The confrontation was vital. It demonstrated to the Soviets that the West coild not be shattered and that America would march any military esclation tit for tat. It had the economic power to do so while the moribound Soviet economy was cracking under the pressure of massive military spending. All their IRBB escalation hhad gained them was the deployment of modern IRBMs on the perifery of the Iron Curtain caoanle of reaching the Soviet Union. And the result for Kohl an Germany was the fall of the Berlin Wall (1989) leading to the peaceful reunification of Germany.
Vyacheslav Mikhailovich Molotov was involved in the early phase of the Cold War which began with while World War II was still in priocess by actions taken against the Polish Government-in-Exile, at the time an ally fighting the NAZIs. Molotov was at Stalin's side at the World War II coferences: Teheran (1943), Yalta (1945), and Potsdam (1945). The last two conferences were shiufting over to Cold War issues, especially as President Truman begn to take a harder line with Stalin, although few in the West were aware that Stalin had even launced the Cold War. Conflict ws inevitable. Stalin expected the United states to withdraw from Europe after the War as it had done after World War I. President Roosevelt had even told him that this would occur. This would have meant the Soviets could dominate Europe. Resistance to Soviet domination meant a four decade struggle. Molotov represented the Soviet Union at the United Nations Conference in San Francisco (April-June 1945). Even during the period of wartime alliance, Molotov as with the NAZIs was a tough negotiator and a determined defender of Soviet interests through the Communist prism. President Truman made it clear when the two met that he would be no push over. Molotov complained that he jad never been talked to like that. The President responded, than keep your coimmitments. Molotov lost his prestgious place as First Deputy Chairman (March 1946) when the Council of People's Commissars was reformed as the Council of Ministers. From 1945 to 1947, Molotov as Foreign Minister led the Soviet Delegation at all four conferences of foreign ministers of the victorious World War II powers. His basic stance was an uncooperative attitude towards the Western powers. Molotov condemned the American Marshall Plan as imperialistic plot and charged it was spliting Europe into antagoinistic capitalist and communist camps. This was not what Stalin and Molotov wanted. They wanted an all Communidt Europe. Actually the Soviet could have participated in the Marshall Plan, but not if they cintinued to insit on installing suplicant Communist police states in Eastern Europe. Stalin ordered all the subject states in his Eastern European empire to reject the Marshall Plan. Instead, the Soviets responded with the Molotov Plan. It was the Soviet program to promote economic recovery and the introduction od socialist, plnned economices. It which would become the forerunner for the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (COMECON, 1949-91). [Roberts, pp. 284�85.] What would be a shock to Stalin, Molotov, and the Eastern European Commnunists were shovked to watch capitalism ignitec economic miracles in the West, but their Eastern European empire would recover so slowly and never even approach the prosperity of the West. Molotov was a key figure in those first few years of the Cold War. But then something happened and it is not at all clear what it was that truggerd that chage. Stalin for some reason ended his close associarion with Molotov (1948). He did not have Molotov arrested, but Stalin began slowly distancing himself from Molotov and begin to remove him from leadership positions. As a result, Molotov did not play a major role in the Cold War as he had played in establishing the Stalinist system and World War II.
Wilhelm Pieck was a German Communist who spent much of the NAZI era in the Soviet Union. Some of the foreign Communists who sought refuge in the Soviet Union disappeared into the Gulag. Pieck was, however, a Stalin facorite. After the War, Stalin gave him the task of uniting the pre-NAZI Communist (KPD) and Socialist (SPD) parties. The result was the ruling DDR party--the Sococilist Unity Party (SED). This of course meant turning socialists into Communirs and purging the unconverted. Stalin saw tonit that he was the first president of the DDR. We see his portait going up in DDR schools in 1949.
The most famous spy trial was that of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. At the time the degree to which the Soviets had penetrated the Manhattan Project was not known. Only later were the Verona Intercepts lead to a fuller understanding of the Soviet spy network. Later evem Robert Oppenheimer came under suspision. The Rosenbergs were not the most hamrful spys. There were others, including Klaus Fuchs who provided much more useful information to the Soviets. There is no doubt, however, Julius Rossenberg was a Soviet spy and was guilty of passing atomic secrets to the Soviets. The Rosenbergs and Greenglasses grew up in New York City's Lower Easr Side. Conditions there turned many to radical politics. Both Julius and Ethel became committed Communists. The Rossenbergs like many American Jews had also become despondent in the 1930s over the rise of the NAZIs and persecution of Jews. Many American Communists in the 1950s still viewed the Soviet Union as an utopian state. The Soviet role in World War II had gained them great prestige. The chilling horrors of the Gulag were not yet well known. Most Communists ignored the extent to which the Soviets cooperated with Hitler after the NAZI-Soviet Non-Agression Pact and the Soviet aggressions in 1939-41. Ethel had little to do with the spying, but she almost certainly knew about it. The Government hoped to force Julus to talk by threatening to execute her as well. The trial was held in 1951. Concerned that they had no real evidence on Ethel, the Government induced of all people her brother, David Greenglass, to testify falsely against her in exchange for lenient treatment for him and his wife. Greenglass had actually stole the material that Julius passed on to the Soviets. The Government believed incorrectly that Julius headed a major spy ring. [Roberts] While this was not true, he could have led the FBI to Rudolf Abel who did run a major spy ring. In the end, neither Julius or Ethel talked and they were executed, leaving their two boys orphans.
Presidenr Roosevelt played a key role in World War II. He and Adilf Hitler rose ton power at the same time (1933). He was opponent of Hitler and the NAZIs from the day he became president, bu was limited by the American political milleu opposed to another war to take action. He did what he could to preoare for the War and brilliantly led America through the War. An essential part of that war effort was cooperation not only with Britain, but also the Soviet Union. The heart of the German military was tirn ouut by the Red Army on the Eastern Front. (Too often the impact of the War in the West led by President Roosevelt is not fully appreciated.) It is not known what the President's assessment of Stalin was. What is known that to defeat the NAZIs, close cooperation with the Soviets was necessary. The simple basis for Roosevelt's strategy was that the NAZIs could not be defeated without the active participation of the Soviet Red Army. And that he was concerned about a NAZI-Soviet rapprochement and a sepatrate peace. This mean that unlike Brutain, Rooseveklt put no conditions on Lend-Lease support to the Soviet Union. He also sought to defuse potential issues like the NKVD mirder of Polish officers at Kstyn. He is often criticised for the deal struck at the Yalta Conference (February 1945). Too often, however, it is not mention that the the Soviet Union was no given control territiry that was not seized by the Red Army. Poland had been the major issue at Yalta, by it has to be understood that the Red Army gave Stalin control of Poland and the rest of Eastern Europe. The oresident suffered a massive celrebral hemorage (April 12, 1945), shortly before Hitler shot himself and the NAZIs surrendered. It is true thasnthat President Roosevelt was gone before American and Britain began the Cold War--at least from the American perspective. Stalin had, however, already launched the Cold War. Notably he had chosen Hitler and the NAZIs as a partner (1939), primarily because he saw Britain and ultimately the Americans as his primary enemy. Roosevelt can be sharply criticized for running for a fourth term knowing that he was a sick man. And then afrer his reelection not bringing Vice President Truman into his confidence concerning the Soviet Union and his post-War plans. President Truman would have to formulate America's Cold war response to the Soviet Union on his own.
The father of the Soviet Union's hydrogen bomb grew up after the Revolution. He was born into a Moscow family of cultured and liberal philosophy--a background which was to prove dangerous in the 1930s. "From childhood, I lived in an atmosphere of decency, mutual help and tact, respect for work, and for the mastery of one's profession," he later wrote. This was the environment that shaped Sakharov's life. As a younger boy, his parents kept him out of Soviet schools. Andrei was quite a charming little boy. I have seen a picture of him as a little nipper with bangs and dressed in a sailor suit. At Moscow University where he studied physics, he was quickly recognized as one of the most brilliant students. He was exempted from military service during the war with Nazi Germany and completed his studies in 1942. For several years he worked as an engineer at an armament factory and patented several inventions. Soon after the war was over he was recruited into the top-secret nuclear weapons project. He is now universally known as the father of the Soviet hydrogen bomb. He later wrote about the dangers of nuclear war and the resulting environmental and human damage. He heroically became a symbol for human rights in the Soviet Union, earning the admiration of the world and a Nobel prize.
Natan Saransky was born Anatoly Shcharansky in Stalino (renamed Donrtsk), a grim Ukranian coal mine town (1948). Sharansky had a brilliant mind and was a child chess prodigy. He was also a mathg genius. He earned a degree in applied mathematics. Both aptitudes were ways to live a decent life in the Soviet Union as neither were plagued by ideology which could hsve kept him out of trouble with the KGB. He took the exact opposite path and became of all things a Soviet human rights activist and the most famous of the Refusniks. Soviet authorities refused to let him emigrate and make aliyah to Israel (1973). Sharansky openlyh criticized the Soviet leadership for nullifying the 'universal human rights its constitution professed'. A bkack humor joke in the Soviet Union was, "What do you call a man oi integrity in the Soviet Union?" The answer was -- "An inmate." Non one better illustrates that than Saransky. Authorities responded to his outbursts by charging him with treason and of course espionage (1977). He was sentenced to 13 years in a gulag labor camp (1978). he used chess to preserve his sanity during prolonged periods of solitary confinement. This was untended to enduce insanity. Many Soviet critics were held in menbtal institutions. Saransky resisted by played chess matches in his head. He had no idea that he had become a world-wide symbol of freedom. His wife, Avital, tirelessly campaigned for his release. Sharansky became a symbol of the plight of the Soviet refuseniks who yearned to escape repression and anti-Semitism. Jews in the United States and Western Europe rallied to their causeThere ewere nearly 3 million Jews living in the Soviet Union. The Refusnik effort had convinced many that they needed to emigrate. After 8 years in captivity, the pressure combined with the new openness (Glasnost) brought by Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev made Sharansky's release possible (1986).
The East Germans began building the Berlin Wall (August 13, 1961). The initial wall was a very simple massonry structure that went up very quickly. There were, however, some complications as the border of Western Berlin was not a series of straight lines. There were some jigs and jags that made wall building completed. One such complication was Eiskeller where 12-year old Erwin Schabe lived . Here we see Erwin on August 26 being escorted by the British Welsh Guards in an armored car (Ferrets) along the corridor between Eiskeller and his school in West Berlin. The soldier in the armored car is Pte. David Jeffrey Davies. We are not sure about their orders and rules of engagement. We do know that they had live amunition. The press caption read, "Young boy gets an armored car escort: Berlin. Twelve-year old Erwin Schaba [Note the correct spelling is Erwin Schabe] is accompanied by a British armored car as he rides his bicycle to school in West Berlin Aug. 26th. Erwin lives in Eiskeller, a piece of West Berlin territory located about 400 yards from the West Berlin border. To reach school, the youngster must travel a narrow dirt road that connects Eiskeller to West Berlin. On either side is East German territory. The British Army provided the boy with an escort after he was prevented from reaching school by a Communist East German policeman who stepped out of the bushes near the road." You know that Erwin was really pleased with himself when he rode by the East German policeman with armored cars backing him up.
Both Russian Tsars and Soviet dictators attemptd to absorb the Ukranian Uniate Church into the Russian Orthodox Church. The Soviets upped the ante with its atheism campaign. After World War II the Ukranian Uniate Church ceased to exist officially in the Soviet Union (1946). The remaining bushops and priests disappered intio the Gulag. Few survived. One that did was Archbishop Josyf Slipyj. He was arrested immediately on the arrival of the Soviet Army in Lvov (1945) and sentenced to 8 years' imprisonment. He served his term in various Siberian and Far Eastern camps and was condemned to indefinite exile in Siberia when his sentence was up. Persecution continued even after Destalinization. The prelate was retried and resentenced in 1957 and again in 1962. He spent a total of 18 years in Sioviet prison camps. Josyf Cardinal Slipyj, the Major Archbishop of the Ukrainians who spent 18 years in Soviet prison. The Vatican obtained his release from the Soviets (1963). He was brought to Rome and elevting to cardinal. The Cardinal was the last survivor of five leading churchmen imprisoned by Communist Governments under Stalin's persecution of the Roman Catholic Church in the aftermath of World War II. The others were Cardinals Stefan Wyszynski of Poland, Joz sef Mindszenty of Hungary, Josef Beran of Czechoslovakia, and Aloysius Stepinac of Yugoslavia. The stridently anti-Communist Cardinal Slipyj was disturbed by restruictions placed on him as part of a preceived deal with the Soviets for his freedom. The Ukranian Uniate Church while supressed in the Soviet Union continued to function among Ukranian emigre ciommunities. Here the cardinal is greeted by children in their colorful Ukraian national dress at Turnhouse Auirport in Edinburgh (1970).
Soviet dictator Josef Stalin was the only individual to play a central role in both World War II and the Cold War, in fact launching both. The first he did with Germabn F�hrer Adolf Hitler. The secind he did by himself. Joseph Stalin is undeniably one of the most important figures of the 20th century. His impact on the devolopment of the Soviet state and society and the international Communist movement was immense. He is also one of the most evil figures in world history and was directly and indirectly responsible for the deaths of millions in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, a death toll even exceeding that of Adolf Hitler. He is hated throughout Estern Europe. And despite killing many of Soviet citizens, the Russian people are deeply conflicted about his legacy. Many despise him him. Others honor him as a strong leader. Perhaps his greatest legacy is the continuing reluctance of the Russian people to adopt Europen standards of civil rights abd the ruke of law. Some Russians lear for democracy abnd a strng civil society. Others see democracy as a dangerous threat to national security ad year for Siviet days in which neigbioring countries could be controlled. Russia today is a strange blend. It is country with an educated, capable peopleyet the economy is that of a Third World country based on the export of raw materials. After seven decades of soviet rule, Stalin abd his successors signicantly affectedcthe mentality of the Russian people, fostering not only a fear and dustrust of foreigners, but also undermining conditions thtwoukd enable free market capitlish to flourish. Under President Putin, Rusian attitudes toward have generally become increasingly favorable.
Henry Wallace was President Roosevelt's New Deal Secretary of Agriculture. Agriculture was a priority for the New Deal with a range of programs to deal with both natural disasters and economic crises. President Roosevet chose Wallace for his second vice president because of his important role in administering New Deal programs. What Vice President Wallace did not understand was the nature of the Soviet regime which is rather surprising given the barbarity of Stalin's collectivization program as well as the inefficency of the agricultural system. It is perhaps too much to expect Wallace to have a thorough understabding of the Soviet Union. But why did he not understand the Soviet agricultural system. Surely that is not too much to expect. This speaks to Soviet skill in preventing negative information about Soviet developments from reaching the West. Another factor was the unwillingness of many liberal Americans to believe the accounts that did reach the West. Concerns within the Democratic Party over Wallace's foreign policy positions, prevented his remomination for vice president. Insead the Party turned to Senator GHarry Truman (1944). Wallace would take on Presidentv Truman and his Cold War policies in the next election (1948).
Gaddis, John Lewis. George F. Kennan: An American Life (2012), 800p.
Whitney, Craig R. "Andrei A. Gromyko: Flinty face of postwar Soviet diplomacy," New York Times (July 5, 1989).
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