The Cold War

Once the Axis Powers were defeated, the differences between the United States and the Soviet Union became clear. Stalin still feared the capitalist West, and U.S. (and other Western) leaders continued to fear communism. Because of its need to feel secure on its western border, the Soviet government was not prepared to give up its control of Eastern Europe after Germany’s defeat. American leaders were not willing to give up the power and prestige the United States had gained throughout the world. Suspicious of each other’s motives, the United States and the Soviet Union soon became rivals. Between 1945 and 1949, a number of events led the two superpowers (countries whose military power is combined with political influence) to oppose each other.


Rivalry in Europe

Eastern Europe was the first area of disagreement. The United States and Great Britain believed that the liberated nations of Eastern Europe should freely determine their own governments. Stalin, fearful that the Eastern European nations would be anti-Soviet if they were permitted free elections, opposed the West’s plans. Having freed Eastern Europe from the Nazis, the Soviet army stayed in the conquered areas.

A civil war in Greece created another area of conflict between the superpowers. The Communist People’s Liberation Army and anticommunist forces supported by Great Britain were fighting each other for control of Greece in 1946. However, Britain had its own economic problems, which caused it to with- draw its aid from Greece.




  • Spielvogel, Jackson. Glencoe World History. E.U.A: National Geographic, 2008. P.979.

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