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HIST202: History of Europe, 1800 to the Present

Unit 9: Cold War Conflicts and Social Transformations, 1945-1985   By 1945, a second world war and European global domination were over.  This created a power vacuum, and the United States and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) moved from reluctant wartime allies to deadly adversaries.  In this East versus West contest, Communist USSR and Soviet-controlled eastern Europe were pitted against the democratic United States and western Europe.  Although these two factions never clashed on the battlefield, the conflict was evident in military coalitions, a nuclear arms race, espionage, proxy wars, propaganda, and technological competition, such as the Space Race.  For these reasons, the forty year period following World War II is known as the “Cold War.”

The Cold War continued to dominate global politics for decades and was a direct cause of the Korean War (1950-1953), the Vietnam War (1959-1975), the Cuban Missile Crisis (1962), and the Soviet War in Afghanistan (1979-1989).  But in the late 1980s, the United States increased diplomatic, economic, and military pressures on the USSR, resulting in Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev’s introduction of the liberal reforms of perestroika (“reconstruction”) and glasnost (“openness”).  However, these Communist reforms weakened the bonds that held the Soviet Union together.  In 1989, revolutions staged in Hungary, East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, and Romania successfully overthrew Communism, leading to the collapse of the Soviet Union.

In this unit, we will study the clash between democracy and Communism between 1945 and 1985, and we will examine the lasting social, economic, and political consequences of the Cold War conflict.

Unit 9 Time Advisory
This unit will take you 11 hours to complete.

☐    Subunit 9.1: 3.5 hours

☐    Subunit 9.2: 2 hours

☐    Subunit 9.3: 1.5 hours

☐    Subunit 9.4: 4 hours

Unit9 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, the student will be able to:

  • Assess the meaning of the term “Cold War.”
  • Identify THE causes and major events that contributed to the Cold War AND discuss important related issues, such as inevitability of the war and the connection between interventionism and security.
  • Assess the global political, social, and cultural legacies of the decades-long confrontation between the United Sates and the Soviet Union.

9.1 The Cold War   - Reading: HistoryDoctor.net: Dr. Larry E. Gates, Jr.’s “The Cold War” Link: HistoryDoctor.net: Dr. Larry E. Gates, Jr.’s “The Cold War” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read the entire webpage in order to get a good overview of origins and characteristics of the Cold War.
 
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9.1.1 Origins of the Cold War   - Reading: Suffolk Community College: History Department’s “The Cold War” and Dr. Steven Kreis’s The History Guide: Lectures on Twentieth Century Europe: “Lecture 14: The Origins of the Cold War” Links: Suffolk Community College: History Department’s “The Cold War” (HTML) and Dr. Steven Kreis’s The History Guide: Lectures on Twentieth Century Europe: “Lecture 14: The Origins of the Cold War” (HTML)
 
Instructions: First, please read Suffolk Community Colleges's entire article to get a good overview of the Cold War.  Then, read the entire lecture by Dr. Kreis to get sense of the causes of the conflict between the Soviet Union and the United States and its allies.  Please note that these readings cover subunit 9.1.2.
 
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  • Reading: Fordham University's Modern History Sourcebook: Paul Halsall’s versions of Winston Churchill's “Iron Curtain Speech” and Josef Stalin's “Reply to Churchill” Links: Fordham University's Modern History Sourcebook:Paul Halsall’s versions of Winston Churchill's “Iron Curtain Speech” (HTML)and Josef Stalin's “Reply to Churchill” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Please read the excerpts from Churchill's speech and Stalin's reply to Churchill linked above.  In the 1946 excerpt from an interview with Josef Stalin, Stalin defends and legitimizes the expansion of Communism in postwar eastern Europe as a response to Churchill's speech.  Stalin argues that the proliferation of Communism will enhance security and protect peoples.
     
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9.1.2 Western Economic Recovery   9.1.3 The Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc   - Reading: Library of Congress Country Studies: “The Prague Spring, 1968” Link: Library of Congress Country Studies: “The Prague Spring, 1968” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read this text in its entirety for an overview of the turbulent relationship between the Soviet Union and its satellite states in Eastern Europe.
 
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9.1.4 Communism in the Far East   - Reading: Wheeling Jesuit University: Classroom of the Future Project’s “The Korean War” Link: Wheeling Jesuit University: Classroom of the Future Project’s “The Korean War” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read the entire article to get a good overview of the Korean War, the first military clash of the Cold War.
 
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9.2 Postwar Social Transformations   - Reading: HistoryDoctor.net: Dr. Larry E. Gates, Jr.’s “Social Transformation in Europe after World War II” and Dr. Steven Kreis’s The History Guide: Lectures on Twentieth Century Europe: “Lecture 15: 1968: The Year of the Barricades” Links: HistoryDoctor.net: Dr. Larry E. Gates, Jr.’s “Social Transformation in Europe after World War II (HTML)and Dr. Steven Kreis’s The History Guide:Lectures on Twentieth Century Europe: “Lecture 15: 1968: The Year of the Barricades” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read both resources linked here in their entirety.  The first reading presents innovations in science and technology, a changing social structure, and new roles for youth and women in the postwar era.  Dr. Kreis's lecture 15 will give you a sense of transformation of European society in the 1950s and 1960s.
Please note these readings will cover topics in sections 9.2.1-9.2.3. 
 
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9.2.1 Science and Technology   9.2.2 Class Structure   9.2.3 New Roles for Youth and Women   - Reading: College of Staten Island: Professor Catherine Lavender’s “The New Woman” and Marxist.org’s version of Simone de Beauvoir's The Second Sex: “Introduction: Woman as Other” Links: College of Staten Island: Professor Catherine Lavender’s “The New Woman” (HTML) and Marxist.org’s version of Simone de Beauvoir's The Second Sex: “Introduction: Woman as Other” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read both texts linked above in their entirety.  By reading Professor Lavender’s article, you will learn a broad overview about the twentieth century feminist movement.  Written in 1949, de Beauvoir's text was the definitive declaration of women’s independence.  De Beauvoir, a French philosopher, argues that women throughout history have been defined as the “other” sex.  She insists on the reality of sexual difference, but she also argues that it is immoral to use that difference to exploit women. Her well-known phrase, “one is not born but becomes a woman,” introduces what is now known as the sex-gender distinction.
 
 
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9.3 The Cold War and Decolonization   - Lecture: Library of Congress: Dr. Dane Kennedy’s “Decolonization and Disorder” Link: Library of Congress: Dr. Dane Kennedy’s “Decolonization and Disorder” (RealPlayer)
 
Instructions: Please watch the entire 77-minute video lecture.  To open the file, click on “Launch video in a new player.”  This will open the file in RealPlayer. This lecture will help you to understand the complex factors that caused the collapse of the European empires in Africa and Asia, from the 18th century through the 20th century.
 
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9.4 The Collapse of Communism   - Reading: HistoryDoctor.net: Dr. Larry E. Gates, Jr.’s “The Collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe” and Dr. Steven Kreis’s The History Guide: Lectures on Twentieth Century Europe: “Lecture 16: 1989: The Walls Came Tumbling Down” Links: HistoryDoctor.net: Dr. Larry E. Gates, Jr.’s “The Collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe” (HTML) and Dr. Steven Kreis’s The History Guide:Lectures on Twentieth Century Europe: “Lecture 16: 1989: The Walls Came Tumbling Down” (HTML)
 
Instructions:  Please read the both webpages in their entirety.  The first reading, “The Collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe, discusses the collapse of Communist in Eastern Europe and the downfall of the Soviet Union.  The second reading, Dr. Kreis's lecture 16, examines the Khrushchev and Gorbachev eras as well as the eventual collapse of the Soviet Union.
Please note these readings cover topics for all of subunit 9.4.
 
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9.4.1 The Gorbachev Era   - Reading: Library of Congress Country Studies: “The Gorbachev Era,” “Gorbachev’s First Year and New Thinking: Foreign Policy under Gorbachev,” “Gorbachev’s Reform Dilemma,” “Nationality Ferment,” and “The August Coup and Its Aftermath” Link: Library of Congress Country Studies: “The Gorbachev Era,” “Gorbachev’s First Year and New Thinking: Foreign Policy under Gorbachev,” “Gorbachev’s Reform Dilemma,” “Nationality Ferment,” and “The August Coup and Its Aftermath” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read the entire webpage to get a good overview of the policies and rule of Mikhail Gorbachev.
 
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9.4.2 Revolutions of 1989   - Reading: George Mason University: Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media’s “1989 Revolutions of Eastern Europe” Link: George Mason University: Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media’s “1989 Revolutions of Eastern Europe” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read the entire webpage for a brief overview of the outbreak of revolutions in the Soviet bloc countries in 1989.
 
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9.4.3. Collapse of the Soviet Union   - Lecture: Yale University: Dr. John Merriman's “Lecture 24: The Collapse of Communism and Global Challenges” Link: Yale University: Dr. John Merriman's “Lecture 24: The Collapse of Communism and Global Challenges” (YouTube)
 
Also available in:
HTML, Adobe Flash, Mp3 or QuickTime
iTunes U

 
Instructions: Please watch the entire 50-minute video lecture.  This lecture will help you to understand the complex factors that caused the collapse of the Soviet Union: nationalism in Eastern bloc countries, economic depression, and democratic opposition movements.
 
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9.4.4 The Legacy of the Cold War   - Reading: FORA.TV: Dr. Melvyn Leffler's “Cold War Legacies and Contemporary Dilemmas” Lecture Link:  FORA.TV: Dr. Melvyn Leffler's “Cold War Legacies and Contemporary Dilemmas” Lecture (Adobe Flash)
 
Instructions: Please watch Chapters 2 through 26 of this lecture (approximately 70 minutes).  You may click on the hyperlink for each chapter listed under “Watch the full program,” or you may click on “Watch the full program,” fast-forwarding through the first 2 minutes and 11 seconds of the Chatauqua Institution's introduction for Dr. Leffler.
This lecture, held at a conference hosted by Chautauqua Institution, will give you an excellent overview of Cold War policies in the 1970s and 1980s, and it will help you to understand the legacy of the conflict in a post-Soviet world.  
 
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  • Lecture: iTunes U: George Mason University: Professor T. Mills Kelly’s “History 312: Breakup of Yugoslavia” Link: iTunes U: George Mason University: Professor T. Mills Kelly’s “History 312: Breakup of Yugoslavia” (iTunes U audio)
     
    Instructions: Listen to this audio lecture, in which Professor T. Mills Kelly of George Mason University discusses the breakup of Yugoslavia in the 1990s.  He focuses on mass dissatisfaction with the Communist and post-Communist political regimes in Yugoslavia and efforts by ethnic nationalists to resolve centuries of political and cultural tension in the region through military force.  Kelly goes into great detail about the breakup of Yugoslavia and explains the motivations of different ethnic groups involved in the decade-long conflict.
     
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  • Reading: U.S. Department of State, Bureau of International Information Programs’ The Berlin Wall 20 Years Later: Professor Robert J. Leiber’s “A Contested Future” Link: U.S. Department of State, Bureau of International Information Programs’ The Berlin Wall 20 Years Later: Professor Robert J. Leiber’s “A Contested Future”(PDF)
     
    Instructions: Click on the “Link to Resources” link at the bottom of the page to open the PDF file.  Read pages 13 through 20 in the PDF file.
     
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