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Rupert Colley

The Cold War: History in an Hour

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    But about 130 people lost their lives in trying to escape to freedom.
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    border dispute at the wall on 27 October resulted in Soviet and US tanks facing each other ‘nose to nose’ at Checkpoint Charlie. With instructions coming in from Washington and Moscow, the tanks waited on high alert, ready to open fire if necessary. Finally, after a sixteen-hour stand-off, the first Soviet tank withdrew five yards
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    Every Soviet citizen lived under the cloud of possible arrest and subsequent deportation or execution.
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    The superpowers knew that these bombs could not be used against each other – to do so would destroy each other and would make the world uninhabitable. To the end of the Cold War the very existence of humanity lay in this fragile balance of deterrence, known as Mutually Assured Destruction or, rather aptly, MAD. The time had come to discuss how to slow down the arms race, and the first of many, rather meaningless, agreements came in 1963 with the signing of the Limited Test Ban Treaty.
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    Armed with information gleaned from spies working for the US atomic industry and with the use of forced labour, the Soviet Union had broken the US’s monopol
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    n 29 August 1949, in the Kazakhstan desert, Soviet scientists, under the leadership of Lavrenti Beria, Stalin’s chief of secret police, successfully detonated their first atomic bomb, four years after the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
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    response, came the proclamation of East Germany with its somewhat misleading title, the ‘German Democratic Republic’.
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    The political division of Germany became official on 23 May 1949 with the formal proclamation in Bonn of the ‘Federal Republic of Germany’ (West Germany). Five months later, in re
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    potatoes. On 12 May, 1949, Stalin, knowing he couldn’t risk shooting down the planes, and realizing the PR disaster he’d caused, lifted the blockade.
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    During the 323 days of the Berlin Airlift (pictured below),
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    This immediately caused economic chaos in the Soviet sector as people clambered to exchange their old money for the new currency. The Soviets responded on 24 June by cutting off all road, rail and canal links between West Germany and West Berlin. The Berlin Blockade had begun. ‘People of this world,’ said the mayor of West Berlin, ‘look upon this city and see that you should not and cannot abandon this city and this people.’
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    The Marshall Plan also contributed to the unravelling of the fragile co-existence between East and West Berlin. In June 1948, the US and Britain announced proposals for establishing the new country of West Germany, and on 23 June introduced a new currency, the Deutschmark, into West Berlin
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    West Germany joined in 1955, the same year that the Soviet Union and her seven satellites, as a direct counterbalance to NATO, formed the Warsaw Pact.
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    Sixteen countries finally accepted aid, which by 1952, had amounted to $13 billion. For those who chose the west, Italy and Denmark for instance, economic assistance came hand in hand with military protection with, in April 1949, the formation of NATO (the North Atlantic Treaty Organization), initially signed by twelve countries.
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    . Known as the Truman Doctrine, the president said that communism had to be contained, and that the USA could not, as it did after the First World War
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    The seeds of totalitarian regimes,’ said US president, Harry S. Truman, on 12 March 1947, ‘are nurtured by misery and want.’
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    The free elections in eastern Europe that Stalin had promised during the Big Three talks never materialized, except in East Berlin where, in October 1946, the communists polled only 20 per cent of the vote
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    The Big Three talks, the last taking place in Potsdam, west of Berlin in July 1945, had agreed to split the responsibility for Germany between the Western allies (Britain, the US and France) in western Germany and the Soviet Union in the east. Berlin, one hundred miles within the Soviet hemisphere, would also be split into four zones, one for each of the Allied powers, with a line of communication through eastern Germany to link the western zones of Berlin to western Germany.
    It was the attitude of how to treat post-war Germany that illustrated the real differences. The Soviet Union had, both in terms of actual numbers and also proportionately, shed the greatest amount of blood in defeating the Nazis. Therefore Stalin wanted heavy reparations from Germany and for it to be kept economically poor to prevent it rising again as a threat. France, who had been invaded three times by Germany during the previous hundred years, was sympathetic to this view. The Americans, however, felt that an economically strong Germany was vital to the future of Europe, where both capitalism and democracy could flourish and so the country would not descend again into a breeding ground for extremism
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    herefore Stalin wanted heavy reparations from Germany and for it to be kept economically poor to prevent it rising again as a threat
    b8265502873har citeretsidste år
    The Big Three talks, the last taking place in Potsdam, west of Berlin in July 1945, had agreed to split the responsibility for Germany between the Western allies (Britain, the US and France) in western Germany and the Soviet Union in the east
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