Sources about the cold war

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On the following pages are sources, both primary and secondary (contemporary and more recent) written about a series of events which you have studied as part of your work on the Cold War. A really important part of your essay write up is about how well you are using sources – in this you must use sources that show both sides of an argument to help support the debate which you are discussing in your essay. The best answers will use these sources as EVIDENCE about how people feel now and how others felt at the time.

So do not use these just to copy out parts of what people have said but rather extract RELEVANT parts of the sources AND explain why this was said. The only way to do this with success is to discuss, as part of your essay, how trustworthy and reliable the source is. For example, if it is written by an American journalist during the Cold War, it is likely to have a positive American spin on it, whilst a Russian speech given by Stalin may be biased as it is trying to win people over. This DOES NOT MEAN that biased sources have no use. You just need to explain that whilst this is the evidence – it may or may not tell you the truth, though it does show why people might lie.

Make it clear in your writing WHY you think the source was produced and therefore WHY it is HELPFUL to you when explaining about different relations.

These are not the only sources you should use. Have a look on to find some alternative picture based sources, when using these you will find quoting from them more difficult, but you can still describe them in your essay.

William Leahy, chief of staff to the commander in chief of the United States, wrote about Yalta in his autobiography, I Was There (1950)

Stalin then brought up the question of reparations in kind and in manpower, but said he was not ready to discuss the manpower question. The latter, of course, referred to forced labour. Since the Russians were using many thousands of prisoners in what was reported to be virtual slave camps, they had little to gain by discussing the matter. Stalin then had Deputy Foreign Commissar Maisky elaborate on the Russian view of the reparations question.

The proposal in brief was: Reparations in kind should include factories, plants, communication equipment, investments abroad, etc., and should be made over a period of ten years, at the end of which time all reparations would have been paid. The total value of the reparations in kind asked by the Soviet was 10 billion dollars, to be spread over the ten-year period.

The German heavy industries should be cut down and 80 per cent. removed in a period of two years after the surrender.

Allied control should be established over German industry, and all German industry that could be used in the production of war material should be under international control for a long period.

Churchill objected to the 10 billion-dollar figure, and he and Roosevelt agreed that a reparations committee should be appointed to study the issue. Roosevelt made it clear that the United States would not make the financial mistakes that followed World War I. He added that America would not want any manpower, any factories, or any machinery. It might want to seize German property in the United States, which at that time was estimated not to exceed 200 million dollars. Reparations presented a very complicated problem, and the appointment of a special commission seemed to be the only possible way to arrive at any kind of recommendation that could be accepted.

 James F. Byrnes, as Secretary of State, attended the Yalta Conference on 4th February, 1945.

In the fall of 1944 the Soviet Union and the Provisional Government of France had entered into a treaty of friendship. It was immediately obvious at Yalta, however, that the treaty and the friendly words exchanged over it by the diplomats had not changed in any degree Marshal Stalin's opinion on the contribution of France to the war. He thought France should play little part in the control of Germany, and stated that Yugoslavia and Poland were more entitled to consideration than France.

When Roosevelt and Churchill proposed that France be allotted a zone of occupation, Stalin agreed. But it was clear he agreed only because the French zone was to be taken out of the territory allotted to the United States and the United Kingdom. And he especially opposed giving France a representative on the Allied Control Council for Germany. He undoubtedly concurred in the opinion expressed to the President by Mr. Molotov that this should be done "only as a kindness to France and not because she is entitled to it."

"I am in favor of France being given a zone," Stalin declared, "but I cannot forget that in this war France opened the gates to the enemy." He maintained it would create difficulties to give France a zone of

occupation and a representative on the Allied Control Council and refuse the same treatment to others who had fought more than France. He said France would soon demand that de Gaulle attend the Big
Three's Conferences.

Churchill argued strongly in favor of France's being represented on the Council. He said the British public would not understand if questions affecting France and the French zone were settled without her participation in the discussion. It did not follow, as Stalin had suggested, that France would' demand de Gaulle's participation in the conferences of the Big Three, he added. And, in his best humor, Mr. Churchill said the conference was "a very exclusive club, the entrance fee being at least five million soldiers or the equivalent."

Conversation between Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin at Yalta.

Winston Churchill: "The peace of the world depends upon the lasting friendship of the three great powers, but His Majesty's Government feel we should be putting ourselves in a false position if we put ourselves in the position of trying to rule the world when our desire is to serve the world and preserve it from a renewal of the frightful horrors which have fallen upon the mass of its inhabitants. We should make a broad submission to the opinion of the world within the limits stated. We should have the right to state our case against any case stated by the Chinese, for instance, in the case of Hongkong. There is no question that we could not be required to give back Hong Kong to the Chinese if we did not feel that was the right thing to do. On the other hand, I feel it would be wrong if China did not have an opportunity to state its case fully. In the same way, if Egypt raises a question against the British affecting the Suez Canal, as has been suggested, I would submit to all the procedure outlined in this statement. colleagues on the Security Council."

Joseph Stalin: "I would like to have this document to study because it is difficult on hearing it read to come to any conclusion. I think that the Dumbarton Oaks decisions have, as an objective, not only to secure to every nation the right to express its opinion, but if any nation should raise a question about some important matter, it raises the question in order to get a decision in the matter. I am sure none of those present would dispute the right of every member of the Assembly to express his opinion. "Mr. Churchill thinks that China, if it raised the question of Hong Kong, would be content only with expressing opinion here. He may be mistaken. China will demand a decision in the matter and so would Egypt. Egypt will not have much pleasure in expressing an opinion that the Suez Canal should be returned to Egypt, but would demand a decision on the matter. Therefore, the matter is much more serious than merely expressing an opinion. Also, I would like to ask Mr. Churchill to name the power which may intend to dominate the world. I am sure Great Britain does not want to dominate the world. So one is removed from suspicion. I am sure the United States does not wish to do so, so another is excluded from the powers having intentions to dominate the world."

Winston Churchill: "May I answer?"

Joseph Stalin: "In a minute. When will the great powers accept the provisions that would absolve them from the charge that they intend to dominate the world ? I will study the document. At this
time it is not very clear to me. I think it is a more serious question than the right of a power to express its intentions or the desire of some power to dominate the world."

Winston Churchill: "I know that under the leaders of the three powers as represented here we may feel safe. But these leaders may not live forever. In ten years' time we may disappear. A new generation will come which did not experience the horrors of war and may probably forget what we have gone through. We would like to secure the peace for at least fifty years. We have now to build up such a status, such a plan, that we can put as many obstacles as possible to the coming generation quarreling among themselves."

 Anthony Eden wrote about Yalta in his autobiography, Memoirs: The Reckoning (1965)

Roosevelt was, above all else, a consummate politician. Few men could see more clearly their immediate objective, or show greater artistry in obtaining it. As a price of these gifts, his long-range vision was not quite so sure. The President shared a widespread American suspicion of the British Empire as it had once been and, despite his knowledge of world affairs, he was always anxious to make it plain to Stalin that the United States was not 'ganging up' with Britain against Russia. The outcome of this was some confusion in Anglo-American relations which profited the Soviets.

Roosevelt did not confine his dislike of colonialism to the British Empire alone, for it was a principle with him, not the less cherished for its possible advantages. He hoped that former colonial territories, once free of their masters, would become politically and economically dependent upon the United States, and had no fear that other powers might fill that role.

Winston Churchill's strength lay in his vigorous sense of purpose and his courage, which carried him undismayed over obstacles daunting to lesser men. He was also generous and impulsive, but this could be a handicap at the conference table. Churchill liked to talk, he did not like to listen, and he found it difficult to wait for, and seldom let pass, his turn to speak. The spoils in the diplomatic game do not necessarily go to the man most eager to debate.

Marshal Stalin as a negotiator was the toughest proposition of all. Indeed, after something like thirty years' experience of international conferences of one kind and another, if I had to pick a team for going into a conference room, Stalin would be my first choice. Of course the man was ruthless and of course he knew his purpose. He never wasted a word. He never stormed, he was seldom even irritated. Hooded, calm, never raising his voice, he avoided the repeated negatives of Molotov which were so exasperating to listen to. By more subtle methods he got what he wanted without having seemed so obdurate.

There was a confidence, even an intimacy, between Stalin and Molotov such as I have never seen between any other two Soviet leaders, as if Stalin knew that he had a valuable henchman and Molotov was confident because he was so regarded. Stalin might tease Molotov occasionally, but he was careful to uphold his authority. Only once did I hear Stalin speak disparagingly of his judgment and that was not before witnesses.


General Dwight Eisenhower, the Supreme Allied Commander, told President Harry S. Truman that he was opposed to the dropping of the atom bomb on Japan.

I voiced to him my grave misgivings, first on the basis of my belief that Japan was already defeated and that dropping the bomb was completely unnecessary, and secondly because I thought that our country should avoid shocking world opinion by the use of a weapon whose employment was, I thought, no longer mandatory as a measure to save American lives. It was my belief that Japan was, at that very moment, seeking some way to surrender with a minimum loss of "face".

 Henry Stimson, Secretary of War, letter to President Harry S. Truman (11th September, 1945)

The chief lesson I have learned in a long life is that the only way you can make a man trustworthy is to trust him; and the surest way to make him untrustworthy is to distrust him. If the atomic bomb were merely another, though more devastating, military weapon to be assimilated into our pattern of international relations, it would be one thing. We would then follow the old custom of secrecy and nationalistic military superiority relying on international caution to prescribe the future use of the weapon as we did with gas. But I think the bomb instead constitutes merely a first step in a new control by man over the forces of nature too revolutionary and dangerous to fit into old concepts. My idea of an approach to the Soviets would be a direct proposal after discussion with the British that we would be prepared in effect to enter an agreement with the Russians, the general purpose of which would be to control and limit the use of the atomic bomb as an instrument of war.

Henry Wallace, letter to Harry S. Truman (24th September, 1945).

You have asked for the comment, in writing, of each cabinet officer on the proposal submitted by Secretary Stimson for the free and continuous exchange of scientific information (not industrial blueprints and engineering "know-how") concerning atomic energy between all of the United Nations. I agreed with Henry Stimson.

At the present time, with the publication of the Smyth report and other published information, there are no substantial scientific secrets that would serve as obstacles to the production of atomic bombs by other nations. Of this I am assured by the most competent scientists who know the facts. We have not only already made public much of the scientific information about the atomic bomb, but above all with the authorization of the War Department we have indicated the road others must travel in order to reach the results we have obtained.

With respect to future scientific developments I am confident that both the United States and the world will gain by the free interchange of scientific information. In fact, there is danger that in attempting to maintain secrecy about these scientific developments we will, in the long run, as a prominent scientist recently put it, be indulging "in the erroneous hope of being safe behind a scientific Maginot Line."

The nature of science and the present state of knowledge in other countries are such that there is no possible way of preventing other nations from repeating what we have done or surpassing it within five or six years. If the United States, England, and Canada act the part of the dog in the manger on this matter, the other nations will come to hate and fear all Anglo-Saxons without our having gained anything thereby. The world will be divided into two camps with the non- Anglo-Saxon world eventually superior in population, resources, and scientific knowledge.

We have no reason to fear loss of our present leadership through the free interchange of scientific information. On the other hand, we have every reason to avoid a shortsighted and unsound attitude which will invoke the hostility of the rest of the world.

In my opinion, the quicker we share our scientific knowledge the greater will be the chance that we can achieve genuine and durable world cooperation. Such action would be interpreted as a generous gesture on our part and lay the foundation for sound international agreements that would assure the control and development of atomic energy for peaceful use rather than destruction.


James Franck was against dropping the atom bomb on Japan. He sent his views to President Harry S. Truman on 11th June, 1945.

The military advantages and the saving of American lives achieved by the sudden use of atomic bombs against Japan may be outweighed by the ensuing loss of confidence and by a wave of horror and repulsion sweeping over the rest of the world and perhaps even dividing public opinion at home.

From this point of view, a demonstration of the new weapon might best be made, before the yes of representatives of all the United Nations, on the desert or a barren island. The best possible atmosphere for the achievement of an international agreement could be achieved if America could say to the world, "You see what sort of a weapon we had but did not use. We are ready to renounce its use in the future if other nations join us-in this renunciation and agree to the establishment of an efficient international control.

Freda Kirchwey, The Nation (18th August, 1945)

The bomb that hurried Russia into Far Eastern war a week ahead of schedule and drove Japan to surrender has accomplished the specific job for which it was created. From the point of view of military strategy, $2,000,000,000 (the cost of the bomb and the cost of nine days of war) was never better spent. The suffering, the wholesale slaughter it entailed, have been outweighed by its spectacular success; Allied leaders can rightly claim that the loss of life on both sides would have been many times greater if the atomic bomb had not been used and Japan had gone on fighting. There is no answer to this argument. The danger is that it will encourage those in power to assume that, once accepted as valid, the argument can be applied equally well in the future. If that assumption should be permitted, the chance of saving civilization - perhaps the world itself - from destruction is a remote one.

Official statement issued after the Potsdam Conference (2nd August, 1945)

In order to eliminate Germany's war potential the production of arms, ammunition and implements of war as well as all types of aircraft and sea-going ships shall be prohibited and prevented. Production of metals, chemicals, machinery and other items that are directly necessary to a war economy shall be rigidly controlled and restricted to Germany's approved post-war peacetime needs to meet the objectives stated in Paragraph 15. Productive capacity not needed for permitted production shall be removed in accordance with the reparations plan recommended by the Allied Commission on Reparations and approved by the Governments concerned or if not removed shall be destroyed.

At the earliest practicable date the German economy shall be decentralized for the purpose of eliminating the present excessive concentration of economic power as exemplified in particular by cartels, syndicates, trusts and other monopolistic arrangements.

In organizing the German economy primary emphasis shall be given to the development of agriculture and peaceful domestic industries.

During the period of occupation Germany shall be treated as a single economic unit.

 Walter Monckton, Britain's Solicitor-General, wrote about the Potsdam meeting on 3rd August, 1945.

He (Truman) would come prepared on each subject with a short, firm declaratory statement of US policy, and when he had said his little piece he did little in subsequent discussion except reaffirm it. Winston was good but patchy. He was perhaps too ready to indulge in long dissertations which were evidently not to President Truman's taste.

Stalin, on the other hand, spoke quietly, shortly, in little staccato sentences which Pavlov, his young interpreter, translated immediately into forceful English. In the discussions Stalin was often humorous, never offensive; direct and uncompromising. His hair was greyer than I expected, and was thinning. His eyes looked to me humorous, and often showed as mere slits, but he had a trick of looking up when he was thinking or speaking, to the ceiling to the right, and much of the time he would be pulling at a Russian cigarette.

Konrad Adenauer, Memoirs 1945-53 (12th July, 1952)

The Gradual Growth of Administration in the British Zone. The decision of the Potsdam Conference to treat Germany as a single economic unit proved impossible to carry out. The victorious powers had made an agreement that required unanimity by the Control Council for every decision. (The Allied Control Council was the four-power body set up to decide questions concerning Germany as a whole.) But the four powers were never agreed on their programme for Germany and the Soviet Union in particular pursued its own policy. At first even the three Western powers disagreed over policy towards Germany.

The four occupation zones were drifting further and further apart economically and the economic chaos grew from the spring of 1945 onwards. Germany's economic structure required an exchange of agricultural products from the East, and to a lesser extent the South of the country, with the industrial production of the Ruhr and of other industrial regions. This exchange was stopped by the division of the country into four zones. The zonal commanders acted on the directives of their respective governments and each pursued his own policy in his own zone. This could only further hinder an economy already largely paralysed by the ravages of war.


Henry Wallace, speech in New York City (12th September, 1946)

I plead for an America vigorously dedicated to peace - just as I plead for opportunities for the next generation throughout the world to enjoy the abundance which now, more than ever before, is the birthright of men.

To achieve lasting peace, we must study in detail just how the Russian character was formed - by invasions of Tarters, Mongols, Germans, Poles, Swedes, and French; by the intervention of the British, French and Americans in Russian affairs from 1919 to 1921. Add to all this the tremendous emotional power with Marxism and Leninism gives to the Russian leaders - and then we can realize that we are reckoning with a force which cannot be handled successfully by a "Get tough with Russia" policy. "Getting tough" never bought anything real and lasting - whether for schoolyard bullies or businessmen or world powers. The tougher we get, the tougher the Russians will get.

We must not let our Russian policy be guided or influenced by those inside or outside the United States who want war with Russia.

President Truman, speech to Congress (12th March, 1947)

At the present moment in world history nearly every nation must choose between alternative ways of life. The choice is often not a free one. One way of life is based upon the will of the majority, and is distinguished by free institutions, representative government, free elections, guarantees of individual liberty, freedom of speech and religion, and freedom from political oppression.

The second way of life is based upon the will of a minority forcibly imposed upon the majority. It relies upon terror and oppression, a controlled press and radio, fixed elections, and the suppression of personal freedom. I believe that it must be the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures.

Andrei Vyshinsky, Soviet Union spokesman at the United Nations, speech (18th September, 1947)

The so-called Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan are particularly glaring examples of the manner in which the principles of the United Nations are violated, of the way in which the organization is ignored. This is clearly proved by the measures taken by the United States Government with regard to Greece and Turkey which ignore and bypass the United States as well as the measures proposed under the so-called Marshall Plan in Europe.

This policy conflicts sharply with the principles expressed by the General Assembly in its resolution of 11th December, 1946, which declares that relief supplies to other countries "should at no time be used as a political weapon". It is becoming more and more evident to everyone that the implementation of the Marshall Plan will mean placing European countries under the economic and political control of the United States.

The so-called Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan are particularly glaring examples of the way in which the principles of the United Nations are violated, of the way in which the Organisation is ignored. As is now clear, the Marshall Plan constitutes in essence merely a variant of the Truman Doctrine adapted to the conditions of postwar Europe. In bringing forward this plan, the United States Government apparently counted on the cooperation of the Governments of the United Kingdom and France to confront the European countries in need of relief with the necessity of renouncing their inalienable right to dispose of their economic resources and to plan their national economy in their own way. The United States also counted on making all these countries directly dependent on the interests of American monopolies, which are striving to avert the approaching depression by an accelerated export of commodities and capital to Europe.

It is becoming more and more evident to everyone that the implementation of the Marshall Plan will mean placing European countries under the economic and political control of the United States and direct interference by the latter in the internal affairs of those countries. Moreover, this plan is an attempt to split Europe into two camps and, with the help of the United Kingdom and France, to complete the formation of a bloc of several European countries hostile to the interests of the democratic countries of Eastern Europe and most particularly to the interests of the Soviet Union. An important feature of this Plan is the attempt to confront the - countries of Eastern Europe with a bloc of Western European States including Western Germany. The intention is to make use of Western Germany and German heavy industry (the Ruhr) as one of the most important economic bases for American expansion in Europe, in disregard of the national interests of the countries which suffered from German aggression.

Izvestia, newspaper published in the Soviet Union (13th March, 1947)

Commenting on Truman's message to Congress, the New York Times proclaims the advent of the "age of American responsibility". Yet what is this responsibility but a smokescreen for expansion? The cry of saving Greece and Turkey from the expansion of the so-called "totalitarian states" is not new. Hitler used to refer to the Bolsheviks when he wanted to open the road for his own conquests. Now they want to take Greece and Turkey under their control, they raise a din about "totalitarian states".

 John Foster Dulles, speech (29th March, 1954)

The free nations want peace. However, peace is not had merely by wanting it. Peace has to be worked for and planned for. Sometimes it is necessary to take risks to win peace just as it necessary in war to take risks to win victory. The chances for peace are usually bettered by letting a potential aggressor know in advance where his aggression could lead him.

George Kennan, Foreign Affairs Journal (July, 1957)

It is clear that the main element of any United States policy towards the Soviet Union must be that of a long-term, patient but firm and vigilant containment of Russian expansive tendencies. It is clear that the United states cannot expect in the foreseeable future to enjoy political intimacy with the Soviet regime. It must continue to regard the Soviet Union as a rival, not a partner, in the political arena.

John Gates, The Story of an American Communist (1959)

Communists shared power with other parties. The Communists called these states "peoples' democracies" to distinguish them from the Soviet-model "dictatorship of the proletariat" and many Communist parties actually changed their name. Today when much attention is focused on the question of independent paths to socialism, as advocated by Tito in Yugoslavia and Gomulka in Poland, it is often overlooked that such ideas were officially condoned by Moscow between 1944 and 1947.

One year after Churchill's speech at Fulton, however, the lines became sharply drawn. The Truman Doctrine was launched for Greece and Turkey and to "contain Communism" everywhere; the Communists were ousted from the national unity governments of France and Italy (which they did not strongly resist, evidently preferring to go into opposition). In reply, the Communist Parties of the Soviet Union and of eight countries in Eastern and Western Europe set up the Communist Information Bureau, popularly called the Cominform. Coalition governments in Eastern Europe were broken up and the Communists proceeded to take over full power and establish "dictatorships of the proletariat." Against this background, American Communist Party policy became still more narrow and self-defeating. In opposing the cold war, we placed the entire blame on the Truman policy and we would not concede that any share in responsibility for the tensions could be attributed to the policies of Moscow and the Cominform. It is my opinion-which I know many readers will not share-that powerful, reactionary forces here at home were mainly respon¬sible for the cold war; they did not conceal their opposition to peaceful coexistence and their active hostility to socialism. What I could not bring myself to see in those days was the considerable responsibility on the part of Moscow as a result of wrong policies of Stalin (and if I ever saw it, I considered it my bounden duty not to say so).

As policy hardened in the international communist movement, the Foster group increased the pressure to make everyone toe the mark. The Daily Worker which reflected the coalition policies to which the Dennis group still tried to cling, was the target of attacks from Foster, Thompson and Davis.

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