Find out more about the Cold War, such as how it began and how it ended.

JC History Tuition Online - What is Ronald Reagan's Tear Down This Wall speech about

What is Ronald Reagan’s Tear Down This Wall speech about?

Topic of Study [For H2 and H1 History Students]: 
Paper 1: Understanding the Cold War (1945-1991)
Section A: Source-based Case Study
Theme I Chapter 3: End of Bipolarity

Find out more about Reagan’s speech in Berlin affected the end of the Cold War [Video by the Reagan Foundation]

Historical context
During the US President Ronald Reagan’s second term, he sought reconciliation with the Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to end the Cold War. Apart from a series of historic summits that led to successful arms control and the end of superpower rivalry, Reagan delivered a speech that would later signify the end of a divided Germany in the 20th century.

Berlin was a hotly contested part of Germany between the USA and Soviet Union. This contestation began in the post-WWII time when the Allied Control Council fell apart due to conflicting interpretations on the management of the German zones. After the Berlin Blockade in 1948, West Germany was formed under the Federal Republic of Germany in May 1949 and East Germany under the German Democratic Republic in October 1949. Then, the Berlin Crisis in 1961 ended with the construction of the Berlin Wall that physically prevented citizens in the East from crossing to the West.

The Wall: What’s the fuss?
Then US President John Kennedy was puzzled by Khrushchev’s decision to construct a wall. Later, the Berlin Crisis had influenced his foreign policy stance towards the Soviet Union.

Speaking with aide Kenny O’Donnell, Kennedy asked, “Why would Khrushchev put up a wall if he really intended to seize West Berlin?” … Though Kennedy was correct in his short-term analysis of the wall, his 1961 actions did raise long-term concerns about the wall’s construction. Could have the wall been avoided?

An excerpt from “1963:The Year of Hope and Hostility” by Bryon Williams.

On 12 June 1987, Reagan challenged Gorbachev to ‘tear down this wall’ so as to usher in an era of peace and freedom. Behind the scenes, the White House speechwriter Peter Robinson was responsible for the legendary speech that left a lasting impression on the Berliners that day. Before the speech was made, Robinson discussed with other members of the White House to decide on whether to keep or modify that particular phrase.

Secretary of State George Shultz now objected to the speech. “He said, ‘I really think that line about tearing down the wall is going to be an affront to Mr. Gorbachev,'” Griscom recalls.

… Yet in the limousine on the way to the Berlin Wall, the President told Duberstein he was determined to deliver the controversial line. Reagan smiled. “The boys at State are going to kill me,” he said, “but it’s the right thing to do.”

… Why was there only one Great Communicator?

Because Ronald Reagan’s writers were never attempting to fabricate an image, just to produce work that measured up to the standard Reagan himself had already established. His policies were plain. He had been articulating them for decades—until he became President he wrote most of his material himself.

An excerpt from “Tear Down This Wall: How top advisers opposed Reagan’s challenge to Gorbachev – but lost” by Peter Robinson, 2007.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– How important was Reagan’s role in explaining the fall of Soviet Communism in Eastern Europe?

Join our JC History Tuition to analyse contributing factors that led to the end of the Cold War. The H2 and H1 History Tuition feature online discussion and writing practices to enhance your knowledge application skills. Get useful study notes and clarify your doubts on the subject with the tutor. You can also follow our Telegram Channel to get useful updates.

We have other JC tuition classes, such as GP TuitionEconomics TuitionJC Chemistry TuitionJC Math Tuition and China Studies in English Tuition. For Secondary Tuition, we provide Lower Secondary English Tuition, Secondary English Tuition, Secondary Math tuition, Secondary Chemistry Tuition and Secondary Economics Tuition. For Primary Tuition, we have Primary English Tuition. Call 9689 0510 to learn more.

JC History Tuition Online - What was the end result of the Cuban Missile Crisis

What was the end result of the Cuban Missile Crisis?

Topic of Study [For H2 and H1 History Students]: 
Paper 1: Understanding the Cold War (1945-1991)
Section A: Source-based Case Study
Theme I Chapter 2: A World Divided by the Cold War – Manifestations of the global Cold War: Cuban Missile Crisis (1962) 

Find out more about the resolution of the October Crisis [Video by The Life Guide]

The Détente: Relaxation of strained relations
Following the disastrous Cuban Missile Crisis, both superpowers have realised how their actions have brought the world to the brink of a nuclear holocaust. The notion that a ‘Mutually Assured Destruction’ would be possible had alarmed them so much that both parties were more willing to take a step back on their military build-up.

On 5 August 1963, the Limited Test Ban Treaty was signed by the USA and Soviet Union at Moscow to prohibit any nuclear weapons test.

Article I

1. Each of the Parties to this Treaty undertakes to prohibit, to prevent, and not to carry out any nuclear weapon test explosion, or any other nuclear explosion, at any place under its jurisdiction or control:

(a) in the atmosphere; beyond its limits, including outer space; or under water, including territorial waters or high seas; or

An excerpt from the Limited Test Ban Treaty, 5 August 1963.

Although the superpowers had agreed on arms control as seen by subsequent attempts such as the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT) and the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty, critics questioned the genuine intentions of their leaders.

A perpetual arms race?
By the mid-1970s, the Soviet Union deployed newly-developed ballistic missiles in Eastern Europe, such as the SS-20 land-based missiles that could hit targets within Western Europe. In response, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) declared its intention to deploy Pershing-II missiles in Western Europe.

The development of Cruise missiles stemmed from the same technology, though initially conceived as a strategic rather than as a theatre nuclear weapon. After the signature of the SALT I accords the US Government proceeded with the development of Cruise as a bargaining chip for future negotiations with the Russians. Initially unenthusiastic about the weapon, the Pentagon before long became so attached to it that estrangement became unthinkable. The Russians were concerned about the missile for the very reasons that the Pentagon was so enamoured with it.

An excerpt from “The Soviet Union and the Politics of Nuclear Weapons in Europe, 1969-87: The Problem of the SS-20” by Jonathan Haslam.

Piercing the veil: Third World proxies
The consequences of the Cuban Missile Crisis can be observed by the outbreak and intensification of proxy wars in the Third World. Two years since the October Crisis, the USA was engulfed in the Vietnam War that dragged out till 1975. In the mid-1970s, proxy wars also took place in Africa, such as the Angolan Civil War (1975-1991).

On one hand, the Soviet Union and Cuba aided the People’s movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA). On the other, the United States supported the anti-Communist National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA).

The report is explicit, declaring that from 1982 to 1986, the Soviet Union delivered military equipment valued at US34.9 billion, ‘which represented more than 90 percent of Angola’s arms imports and one-fourth of all Soviet arms deliveries to Africa.’

… The report goes on: ‘Beyond material deliveries, Moscow and its allies continued to provide extensive technical aid. Soviet military, security, as well as intelligence personnel and advisors who helped establish the defense and security forces and served as advisors at all levels, from ministries in Luanda to major field commands.’

An excerpt from “Battle For Angola: The End of the Cold War in Africa c 1975-89” by AL J. Venter.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– How far do you agree that the USA had won the Cuban Missile Crisis?

Join our JC History Tuition to analyse the consequences of the Cold War event. The H2 and H1 History Tuition feature online discussion and writing practices to enhance your knowledge application skills. Get useful study notes and clarify your doubts on the subject with the tutor. You can also follow our Telegram Channel to get useful updates.

We have other JC tuition classes, such as GP TuitionEconomics TuitionJC Chemistry TuitionJC Math Tuition and China Studies in English Tuition. For Secondary Tuition, we provide Lower Secondary English Tuition, Secondary English Tuition, Secondary Math tuition, Secondary Chemistry Tuition and Secondary Economics Tuition. For Primary Tuition, we have Primary English Tuition. Call 9689 0510 to find out more.

JC History Tuition Online - Did the Korean War end in a stalemate

Did the Korean War end in a stalemate?

Topic of Study [For H2 and H1 History Students]: 
Paper 1: Understanding the Cold War (1945-1991)
Section A: Source-based Case Study
Theme I Chapter 2: A World Divided by the Cold War – Manifestations of the global Cold War: The Korean War (1950)

Recount how a truce was made between two opposing forces led by external powers in the Korean War [Video by British Pathé]

Historical context: A two-year stalemate
Following the North Korean invasion on 25 June 1950, the South Korean forces fought back with the support of the Americans. With the overwhelming military might of the USA, General MacArthur led the coalition force across the 38th parallel, entering North Korean territory on 7 October.

“You tell the boys that when they get to the Yalu (River) they are going home. I want to make good on my statement that they are going to eat Christmas dinner at home.”

An excerpt from the “Home by Christmas” statement by General MacArthur, 28 November 1950.

Instead, MacArthur had miscalculated as the Chinese troops entered the fray on 25 November, numbering nearly 200,000. Likewise, the opposing force had the backing of a superpower – the Soviet Union. As both sides suffered heavy casualties, MacArthur managed to repel the Chinese forces back to the 38th parallel in March 1951.

Notably, the hawkish general suggested to Truman the use of atomic bombs to defeat the Chinese forces. The terrifying notion of a nuclear holocaust had convinced Truman to pursue a ‘limited war’, such that his clashes with MacArthur ended with the general’s dismissal. Subsequently, General Matthew Ridgeway replaced MacArthur’s role.

In the simplest of terms, what we are doing in Korea is this: We are trying to prevent a third world war.

… So far, by fighting a limited war in Korea, we have prevented aggression from succeeding, and bringing on a general war. And the ability of the whole free world to resist Communist aggression has been greatly improved.

An excerpt from a radio report to the American people on Korea and on U.S. Policy in the Far East, 11 April 1951.

Rise of Ike: A push to end the war
After the US Presidential election in 1952, Dwight D. Eisenhower took a more aggressive stance than Truman, hinting the use of nuclear weapons to end the military stalemate in Korea. Meanwhile, People’s Republic of China (PRC) and North Korea were facing economic problems as the war dragged on, thus increasing their desires to sign a ceasefire agreement with the South.

What influenced China more was the devastating impact of the war. By summer 1952, the PRC faced huge domestic economic problems and likely decided to make peace once Truman left office. Major food shortages and physical devastation persuaded Pyongyang to favor an armistice even earlier.

… Also, by early 1953, both Washington and Beijing clearly wanted an armistice, having tired of the economic burdens, military losses, political and military constraints, worries about an expanded war, and pressure from allies and the world community to end the stalemated conflict.

An excerpt from “The Korean War 101: Causes, Course, and Conclusion of the Conflict” by James I. Matray, Education About Asia, Winter 2012.

On 27 July 1953, an armistice was signed, bringing the Korean War conflict to an end. In a radio and television broadcast to the American population, President Eisenhower expressed sorrow towards the tragedies that befell on the Korean people. He highlighted the brave acts of the Republic of Korea (South). As Korea remained divided, Eisenhower declared the the USA and the rest of the United Nations would pay close attention to any possible threats in the region.

In this struggle we have seen the United Nations meet the challenge of aggression–not with pathetic words of protest, but with deeds of decisive purpose. It is proper that we salute particularly the valorous armies of the Republic of Korea, for they have done even more than prove their right to freedom. Inspired by President Syngman Rhee, they have given an example of courage and patriotism which again demonstrates that men of the West and men of the East can fight and work and live together side by side in pursuit of a just and noble cause.

An excerpt from the radio and television address to the American people announcing the signing of the Korean Armistice, 26 July 1953.

Notably, US military involvement increased a year later after the First Taiwan Strait Crisis in August 1954, as evidenced by the signing of the Mutual Defense Treaty in December 1954.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– Assess the view that the USA had achieved victory in the Korean War.

Join our JC History Tuition to analyse the consequences of the Korean War. The H2 and H1 History Tuition feature online discussion and writing practices to enhance your knowledge application skills. Get useful study notes and clarify your doubts on the subject with the tutor. You can also follow our Telegram Channel to get useful updates.

We have other JC tuition classes, such as GP TuitionEconomics TuitionJC Chemistry TuitionJC Math Tuition and China Studies in English Tuition. For Secondary Tuition, we provide Lower Secondary English Tuition, Secondary English Tuition, Secondary Math tuition, Secondary Chemistry Tuition and Secondary Economics Tuition. For Primary Tuition, we have Primary English Tuition. Call 9689 0510 to find out more.

JC History Tuition Online - How did Margaret Thatcher influence the end of the Cold War

How did Margaret Thatcher influence the end of the Cold War?

Topic of Study [For H2 and H1 History Students]: 
Paper 1: Understanding the Cold War (1945-1991)
Section A: Source-based Case Study
Theme I Chapter 3: End of Bipolarity

Learn more former British Prime Minister contributed to the end of the Cold War [Video by ieaLondon]

Historical context
Margaret Hilda Thatcher was the former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1979 to 1990. Described by the Soviet propagandist Krasnaya Zvezda as the ‘Iron Lady‘, she was known for her firm anti-Communist stance after rising to power in 1979.

A cold war warrior, an amazon philistine, even a Peking plotter. Well, am I any of these things? (No!) Well yes, if that’s how they … . (Laughter) … . Yes I am an iron lady, after all it wasn’t a bad thing to be an iron duke, yes if that’s how they wish to interpret my defence of values and freedoms fundamental to our way of life.

An excerpt from a speech by Margaret Thatcher, 6 February 1976.

A show of strength
Two years later, Ronald Reagan became the US President. Thatcher and Reagan then made joint efforts to counter the Soviet threats through military build-up.

In spite of anti-nuclear demonstrations such as the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, Thatcher agreed to deploy 160 cruise missiles as a form of nuclear deterrent against Soviet missile threats in Europe. Likewise, other NATO members like Helmut Schmidt of West Germany accepted the deployment of Pershing-II and cruise missiles.

Cards on the table: Negotiations with Gorbachev
In 1984, Thatcher met Gorbachev in London. Notably, she held the belief that Gorbachev was “a man with whom I could do business”. During the meeting, the two discussed arms control, which was a point of contention following Reagan’s announced plans for a Strategic Defence Initiative (SDI).

The other point which emerged was the Soviets’ distrust of the Reagan Administration’s intentions in general and of their plans for a Strategic Defence Initiative (SDI) in particular. I emphasised on more than one occasion that President Reagan could be trusted and that the last thing he would ever want was war.

… As the discussion wore on it was clear that the Soviets were indeed very concerned about SDI. They wanted it stopped at almost any price. I knew that to some degree I was being used as a stalking horse for President Reagan. I was also aware that I was dealing with a wily opponent who would ruthlessly exploit any divisions between me and the Americans.

An excerpt from a book titled “The Downing Street Years” by Margaret Thatcher.

Subsequently, Thatcher informed Reagan that Gorbachev was a Soviet leader that could be reasoned with. She believed that with the support of Gorbachev, it was possible for an improvement in East-West relations.

Interestingly, Gorbachev expressed similar sentiments towards Thatcher, following her passing on 8 April 2013. He described Thatcher as a “woman of character“, whose contributions had enabled him to work with Reagan in ending the Cold War. During the 1984 meeting, Gorbachev was already contemplating arms control, but his attempts were stopped short by the continuation of the military build-up by the West.

I then unfolded in front of Margaret a diagram divided into 1,000 squares. I said that if all nuclear weapons stockpiled primarily by the US and the Soviet Union were divided into 1,000 parts, then even one of them would be enough to cause irreparable damage to all life on Earth. The question was, why continue the race, what is the point of this insane competition?

Margaret argued the western viewpoint – and she was fully committed to it. In fact, she was the ideologue for the view that nuclear weapons were a necessary deterrent to the USSR. … I have to say that even later, and even after my meeting with Reagan at Reykjavik and the signing of the treaty eliminating all INF missiles, she continued to uphold her view of nuclear weapons. In one of our conversations, when we had already come to know each other well and were talking amicably, though as always, earnestly, I asked her why she felt so comfortable sitting on a nuclear powder keg.

An excerpt from an article titled “Mikhail Gorbachev: the Margaret Thatcher I knew” written by Mikhail Gorbachev and published in The Guardian, 8 April 2013.

Thatcher: A principal cheerleader
Although Thatcher had supported Reagan’s foreign policies to fight Communism, she had expressed her anger at the US invasion of Grenada in 1983 to topple the Marxist regime in a Commonwealth state. Later, a recorded conversation between the two had revealed that Reagan was apologetic over the Grenada invasion.

Nevertheless, the British Prime Minister was known to be a key supporter of Reagan even though they had contrasting personalities. Reagan had considered Thatcher’s advice and comments during his terms as President of the USA.

Reagan’s most stalwart partner abroad, however, was British prime minister Margaret Thatcher. Their philosophies on the role of government, the economy, and the approach to Cold War issues were nearly identical, even though Thatcher did not share Reagan’s dream of eliminating nuclear weapons or his enthusiasm for missile defense. Unlike some of her colleagues on the European continent, she seemed to understand Reagan’s qualities as a leader. She became, in her words, “his principal cheerleader in NATO.”

An excerpt from “Reagan and Gorbachev: How the Cold War Ended” by Jack Matlock.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– How far do you agree that political leadership was key in explaining the end of the Cold War?

Join our JC History Tuition to analyse contributing factors that led to the end of Bipolarity. The H2 and H1 History Tuition feature online discussion and writing practices to enhance your knowledge application skills. Get useful study notes and clarify your doubts on the subject with the tutor. You can also follow our Telegram Channel to get useful updates.

We have other JC tuition classes, such as GP TuitionEconomics TuitionJC Chemistry TuitionJC Math Tuition and China Studies in English Tuition. For Secondary Tuition, we provide Lower Secondary English Tuition, Secondary English Tuition, Secondary Math tuition, Secondary Chemistry Tuition and Secondary Economics Tuition. For Primary Tuition, we have Primary English Tuition. Call 9689 0510 to learn more.

JC History Tuition Online - Why was the Solidarity movement important - End of the Cold War

Why was the Solidarity movement important?

Topic of Study [For H2 and H1 History Students]: 
Paper 1: Understanding the Cold War (1945-1991)
Section A: Source-based Case Study
Theme I Chapter 3: End of Bipolarity

Learn more about the role of Lech Walesa, leader of the Solidarnosc in contributing to the end of the Cold War in Europe [Video by Deutsche Welle News]

Historical context: Protests in the mid-1970s
In the 1970s, the Polish government had increased food prices, raising the cost of living even though wages remained stagnant. Labour unions such as the Workers’ Defense Committee (KOR) was formed to challenge the government’s policies. Yet, dissent was swiftly crushed by the government during the 1976 protests.

The Polish government and police worked against KOR, harassing its members, and in one extreme example, were likely responsible for the murder of Stanisław Pyjas, a student who was affiliated with KOR.

Nevertheless, KOR’s pressure on the Polish government was influential in securing the 1977 general amnesty of workers. The group then shifted its focus and name to become Social Self-Defense Committee KOR (KSS-KOR) in September 1977. KOR also reached out to dissident groups in Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and the Soviet Union, meeting with Charter 77 activists on the Polish-Czechoslovakian border twice and issuing a joint statement on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia.

An excerpt from “Human Rights Activism and the End of the Cold War: A Transnational History of the Helsinki Network” by Sarah B. Snyder.

As the dissident movements formed in Poland, similar instances were observed in Czechoslovakia. “Charter 77” was developed as a advocacy group for human rights. Following the arrest of a Czech psychedelic rock band in 1976, a group of musicians, artists and writers came up with Charter 77. Although the Czech Communist government had imprisoned and tried some of the signatories, the Charter had left its mark in rousing public opinions to gave rise to the popular movement in 1989, known as the Velvet Revolution.

Formation of the Solidarność and Martial law
In August 1980, workers at the Lenin Shipyard in Gdańsk, Poland, organised a trade union called the Solidarność. The shipyard was a production facility for the global market, bringing in substantial foreign currency into Poland.

A year before, the Polish-born Karol Wojtyla (Pope John Paul II) delivered a speech, mentioning a phrase that inspired millions of Poles to challenge the oppressive government – “Do not be afraid”. Although the membership swelled to nearly 10 million, the Polish military led by General Wojciech Jaruzelski imposed martial law on 13 December 1981. Many Solidarity leaders were caught, such that the opposition was brought underground.

Then John Paul took an initiative. He wrote directly to Leonid Brezhnev in French, in his own hand… He also pointed out that an invasion would break the Helsinki Final Act of 1975, which had ratified the post-Yalta arrangements confirming the status quo of Soviet domination of Eastern Europe.

An excerpt from “The Pope in Winter: The Dark Face of John Paul II’s Papacy” by John Cornwell.

Martial law was lifted in 1983. However, by that stage, nearly 10,000 dissidents were rounded up. The Solidarity was not permitted to register again until 1989.

The resurgence of the Solidarity during the Gorbachev era
After Mikhail Gorbachev rose to power, a fresh wave of strikes occurred in Poland 1988, as the Poles demanded improvements in economic conditions and greater political participation. General Jaruzelski facilitated the round-table talks that lasted till April 1989. Eventually, the Solidarity was allowed to take part in free elections, securing a democratic victory.

Notably, Gorbachev’s hint that Soviet military intervention in Poland was an opportunity for the Poles to rise up, as exemplified by his speech at the United Nations on 7 December 1988 shown in the excerpt below:

“It is obvious,” he said, “that force and the threat of force cannot be and should not be an instrument of foreign policy… Freedom of choice is [mandatory,] a universal principle, and it should know no exceptions… The growing variety of options for the social development of different countries is becoming an increasingly tangible hallmark of these processes. This applies to both the capitalist and the socialist systems.”

An excerpt from “The Walls Came Tumbling Down: The Collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe” by Gale Stokes.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– Assess the view that popular movements were the main cause of the End of the Cold War in 1989.

Join our JC History Tuition to analyse contributing factors that led to the end of Bipolarity. The H2 and H1 History Tuition feature online discussion and practices to improve your essay writing and source based case study answering techniques. Get useful summary notes and tutor feedback.

We have other JC tuition classes, such as GP TuitionEconomics TuitionJC Chemistry TuitionJC Math Tuition and China Studies in English Tuition. For Secondary Tuition, we provide Lower Secondary English Tuition, Secondary English Tuition, Secondary Math tuition, Secondary Chemistry Tuition and Secondary Economics Tuition. For Primary Tuition, we have Primary English Tuition. Call 9689 0510 to learn more.

JC History Tuition Online - When did Castro visit the United States - Cuban Missile Crisis

When did Castro visit the United States?

Topic of Study [For H2 and H1 History Students]: 
Paper 1: Understanding the Cold War (1945-1991)
Section A: Source-based Case Study
Theme I Chapter 2: A World Divided by the Cold War – Manifestations of the global Cold War: Cuban Missile Crisis (1962)

Explore the historical significance of Fidel Castro’s visit to the United States [Video by Public Broadcasting Service]

The rise of Fidel Castro
Following the Cuban leader’s revolution that toppled the Batista regime, Fidel Castro assumed the role as Prime Minister on 1 January 1959. A year later, he nationalised all American-owned businesses, such as oil refineries and factories. The loss of economic revenues proved infuriating for the Eisenhower administration, which severed diplomatic relations and imposed a trade embargo.

The first major expropriations occurred in late June, when 2.4 million acres of cattle land were nationalized in Camagüey province, as well as the sugar acreage owned by companies operating processing mills (centrales). For Camagüey, this represented two-thirds of the entire province, or an area about the size of Rhode Island and Delaware combined, and much of it was owned by U.S.-based corporations, including 40,000 acres held by the family corporation that also owned the largest single piece of private property in the United States, the King Ranch of Texas.

An excerpt from “That Infernal Little Cuban Republic: The United States and the Cuban Revolution” by Lars Schoultz

Before the serious deterioration of Cuban-US relations that brought about confrontations like the Bay of Pigs invasion, it is important to examine what happened during Castro’s visit to the United States.

The Visit
On 18 September 1960, Castro arrived in New York City to lead the Cuban delegation to the United Nations. His presence had stirred the emotions of many in the American society. US officials expressed concerns, including possible suspicions towards the new leader.

As U.S. officials wondered what Castro would do next, traditional hegemonic assumptions guided their wary observations. The new Cuban leaders “had to be treated more or less like children,” CIA Director Allen Dulles told the National Security Council. “They had to be led rather than rebuffed. If they were rebuffed, like children, they were capable of almost anything.” U.S. diplomats found Castro restless, headstrong, opportunistic, and driven by an “undeviating urge for fame and political power.” He was prone to violence and independent actions, but he was not a Communist.

An excerpt from “Contesting Castro: The United States and the Triumph of the Cuban Revolution” by Thomas G. Paterson.

Notably, Castro did not declare his political alignment with Communism until late 1961. Nevertheless, the Eisenhower administration had set in motion a plan that would become the core of the Cuban leader’s security paranoia during the October Crisis of 1962. In March 1960, Eisenhower instructed the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to commence training Cuban exiles to topple Castro’s regime.

Before Castro made his speech at the United Nations, Vice President Richard Nixon met Castro privately. It turned out that Eisenhower was not keen to face Castro. After the meeting, Nixon made a note that revealed his thoughts and opinions on the Cuban leader.

My own appraisal of him as a man is somewhat mixed. The one fact we can be sure of is that he has those indefinable qualities which make him a leader of men. Whatever we may think of him he is going to be a great factor in the development of Cuba and very possibly in Latin American affairs generally. He seems to be sincere. He is either incredibly naïve about Communism or under Communist discipline—my guess is the former, and as I have already implied his ideas as to how to run a government or an economy are less developed than those of almost any world figure I have met in fifty countries.

An excerpt from the editorial note by American Vice President Richard Nixon during Fidel Castro’s visit to Washington, 19 April 1960.

The UN speech: Castro lambastes the United States
On 26 September 1960, Castro delivered a speech at the 872nd plenary meeting of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. [An interesting point to note that Castro’s speech was known as the ‘longest ever UN speech’ that lasted for four and a half hours.] He criticised the United States as “aggressive” and “imperialist”, claiming that the United States had monopolised many essential utilities that rightfully belonged to the Cuban people.

The first unfriendly act perpetrated by the Government of the United States was to throw open its doors to a gang of murders who had left our country covered with blood. Men who had murdered hundreds of defenseless peasants, who for many years never tired of torturing prisoners, who killed right and left — were received in this country with open arms.

… The Revolutionary Government of Cuba has repeatedly expressed its concern over the fact that the imperialist government of the United States may use that base, located in the heart of our national territory, as an excuse to promote a self-aggression, in order to justify an attack on our country.

An excerpt from Fidel Castro’s speech at the United Nations General Assembly, 26 September 1960.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– Assess the view that US-Cuban relations had soured due to ideological differences.

Join our JC History Tuition to find out more about the source based case study topic on the Cuban Missile Crisis. The H2 and H1 History Tuition feature online learning classes that expand your thematic knowledge and enhance your writing skills.

We have other JC tuition classes, such as GP TuitionEconomics TuitionJC Chemistry TuitionJC Math Tuition and China Studies in English Tuition. For Secondary Tuition, we provide Secondary English Tuition, Secondary Math tuition, Secondary Chemistry Tuition and Secondary Economics Tuition. For Primary Tuition, we have Primary English Tuition. Call 9689 0510 to find out more.

JC History Tuition Online - Why was NATO formed - Cold War SBCS

Why was NATO formed?

Topic of Study [For H2 and H1 History Students]: 
Paper 1: Understanding the Cold War (1945-1991)
Section A: Source-based Case Study
Theme I Chapter 1: Emergence of Bipolarity after the Second World War II

Learn more about the origins of NATO to understand its impact on the start of the Cold War [Video by NATO]

Aftermath: The Crisis of 1948
From 21 to 25 February 1948, a coup d’état in Czechoslovakia had signaled the fall of the last pro-Democratic government in Eastern Europe. In the eyes of the United States, it was a profound and alarming development largely orchestrated by the Soviet Union. Four months later, the Berlin Blockade began, escalating tensions between the two Big Powers.

Although the Western Powers were successful in mobilising their air forces to deliver essential aid to the Berliners, the conclusion of the blockade on 12 May 1949 meant the division of Germany. In order to protect its allies from any potential security threat posed by the Soviet Union, the United States supported the creation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO).

Article V: Collective Security
On 4 April 1949, the USA and eleven other countries (Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal and the United Kingdom) signed the North Atlantic Treaty. Between 1952 and 1989, four countries admitted NATO, namely Greece and Turkey, West Germany and Spain.

The purpose of NATO was to “unite their efforts for collective defence and for the preservation of peace and security”. In particular, Article 5 outlines the concept of collective security, in the member countries are obligated to defend any member(s) is/are threatened by acts of aggression.

The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence recognised by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area.

Any such armed attack and all measures taken as a result thereof shall immediately be reported to the Security Council. Such measures shall be terminated when the Security Council has taken the measures necessary to restore and maintain international peace and security .

An excerpt from Article 5 of “The North Atlantic Treaty“, 4 April 1949.

From a broader perspective, NATO was founded to fulfil three key aims:

  1. Prevent Soviet expansionism
  2. Prohibit the revival of national militarism in Europe
  3. Promote European political integration

However, Soviet distrust towards the US-led NATO had festered even before its inception. Explicit references made to the United Nations Charter were interpreted by the Soviets as convenient attempts to conceal the ‘true’ Western intentions to use military aggression to consolidate their power and influence.

The Soviet press made a point of printing the full text of the treaty on 29 March to expose the hollowness of its claim of its harmony with the charter. And on 31 March, just five days before the official signing, the Soviets issued a formal protest, asserting that Article 5 would unleash aggressive armies “without any authority whatsoever of the Security Council.” Nor could the treaty be justified under Article 51, which was designed to be used only in the case of an armed attack upon a UN member, not as a cover for aggressive aims.

An excerpt from “NATO 1948: The Birth of the Transatlantic Alliance” by Lawrence S. Kaplan.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– Assess the significance of NATO in shaping the outbreak of the Cold War in 1949.

Join our JC History Tuition to grasp the key concepts and historical developments in the Cold War. The H2 and H1 History Tuition includes online lessons to recap on various topics like Superpower Relations with China, the United Nations and Approaches to Governance. Get useful study notes and attempt guided written practices to improve your knowledge application skills.

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JC History Tuition Online - What is George Kennan known for - Cold War SBCS

What is George Kennan known for?

Topic of Study [For H2 and H1 History Students]: 
Paper 1: Understanding the Cold War (1945-1991)
Section A: Source-based Case Study
Theme I Chapter 1: Emergence of Bipolarity after the Second World War II

Find out more about the significance of the American diplomat’s ‘Long Telegram’ [Video by Woodrow Wilson Center]

The document
George Frost Kennan was an American diplomat known for his ‘containment policy’. During World War Two, Kennan assumed diplomatic posts in Libson and Moscow. On 22 February 1946, Kennan sent a five-thousand word document labelled ‘511’. Given its unusually long length of writing, it was called the ‘Long Telegram’.

It was no coincidence that Marxism, which had smoldered ineffectively for half a century in Western Europe, caught hold and blazed for first time in Russia. Only in this land which had never known a friendly neighbor or indeed any tolerant equilibrium of separate powers, either internal or international, could a doctrine thrive which viewed economic conflicts of society as insoluble by peaceful means.

An excerpt from the ‘Long Telegram‘ by George F. Kennan to the Secretary of State, 22 February 1946.

Notably, Kennan’s had alarmed Washington as there were growing suspicions towards the Soviet Union over matters in post-war Europe. Kennan’s ‘telegram’ was delivered after Stalin gave a rousing speech at the Bolshoi Theatre on 9 February. Subsequently, Kennan assumed the role as director of the State Department’s planning-policy staff in 1947.

In July 1947, another article was written by Kennan, known as ‘X Article’. It was formally titled ‘The Sources of Soviet Conduct’. The article was considered an expansion of what Kennan had written in ‘511’.

In these circumstances it is clear that the mean element of any United States policy toward the Soviet Union must be that of a long-term, patient but firm and vigilant containment of Russian expansive tendencies. It is important to note, however, that such a policy has nothing to do with outward histrionics: with threats or blustering or superfluous gestures of outward “toughness.”

An excerpt from ‘The sources of Soviet conduct‘ published in the Foreign Affairs journal, July 1947.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– How far do you agree the outbreak of the Cold War was the result of Soviet expansionist policies?

Join our JC History Tuition and learn to analyse and answer source based case study questions on the Cold War. The H2 and H1 History Tuition programmes feature thematic content enrichment, essay writing and source based case study skills development. Get useful study notes and outlines to enhance your revision efforts to ace the GCE A Level History examinations.

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JC H1 H2 History Tuition - When was the Berlin Wall built and why - Cold War Essay Notes

When was the Berlin Wall built and why?

Topic of Study [For H2 and H1 History Students]: 
Paper 1: Understanding the Cold War (1945-1991)
Section A: Source-based Case Study
Theme I Chapter 2: A World Divided by the Cold War – Manifestations of the global Cold War: Cuban Missile Crisis (1962) 

Learn more about the ‘Iron Curtain’ divided Europe [Video by Ted-Ed]

What is the Berlin Wall?
The German Berliner Mauer is a man-made barrier that surrounded West Berlin. It was established to built by the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) on 13 August 1961 to prevent defections from East to West.

Why did the Germans flee from East to West Germany?
Following the end of World War Two, the signing of the Yalta and Potsdam Agreements led to the division of Germany into four occupation zones. The Soviet Union controlled the eastern zones, while the United States, Great Britain and France occupied the western part. Due to the deteriorating living conditions, most people moved from East to West Germany.

As difficult as life was in Berlin, refugees came to the city from Eastern Europe and other parts of Germany. Conditions were even worse in their hometowns, and they hoped they might have better luck surviving in Berlin.

Food was scarce across the city – a condition made worse by the Soviets. Before leaving the other sectors of Berlin, the Soviets had stolen 7,000 cows along with machinery and pipes from buildings. The Soviets also limited access to farms in the Soviet zone outside Berlin. The Soviets wanted the food for their troops in Germany. Still some Berliners managed to reach farms in the countryside.

An excerpt from “The Berlin Airlift: Breaking the Soviet Blockade” by Michael Burgan.

To prevent the departure of Berliners in the East, Stalin ordered the imposition of a Soviet blockade of West Berlin in 1948. In response, the Allies launched the Berlin Airlift that demonstrated their resolve to oversee the post-war recovery of the Western zones. More than 2.3 million tons of fuel and food were sent to West Berlin. A year later, the Berlin Blockade was lifted.

The Berlin Crisis
After the Berlin Wall was built, none could move from East to West Berlin, except through three checkpoints. “Checkpoint Charlie” (at Friedrichstrasse) was a site of flashpoint in October 1961.

On 22 October, a senior US diplomat in West Berlin was stopped by the East German border guards. General Lucius D. Clay ordered the deployment of American tanks to Checkpoint Charlie.

Moscow interpreted the move as an alarming threat. In retaliation, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev sent Russian tanks to the checkpoint as well. Both parties had military forces facing each other for nearly sixteen hours.

Fortunately, American President Kennedy opened communications with the Soviet government to de-escalate tensions. Eventually, both forces withdrew.

[Khrushchev] believed the peak of confrontation with the United States had passed, a perception that did not change during the October 26-27 tank stand-off in Berlin at Checkpoint Charlie. Khrushchev, tipped off by erroneous Soviet intelligence, believed that Lucius Clay, a commander of the U.S. forces in West Berlin, was ready to storm the Wall by force. Persuaded that Kennedy was not personally behind the ploy, the Soviet leader contacted him and the confrontation was quickly resolved.

An excerpt from “Khrushchev and the Berlin Crisis (1958-1962)” by Vladislav Martinovich Zubok.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– How far do you agree that the Soviet Union was responsible for the Berlin Crisis of 1961?

Join our JC History Tuition and learn more about the Cold War and other topics. We conduct H2 and H1 History tuition for JC1 and JC2 students to get ready for the GCE A Level examination. Learn how to organise your content awareness and writing for essay and source based case study questions.

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JC H1 H2 History Tuition - What was the main purpose of the Potsdam Conference - Cold War Essay Notes

What was the main purpose of the Potsdam Conference?

Topic of Study [For H2 and H1 History Students]: 
Paper 1: Understanding the Cold War (1945-1991)
Section A: Source-based Case Study
Theme I Chapter 1: Emergence of Bipolarity after the Second World War [Manifestations of emerging tensions: Yalta and Potsdam conferences]

Examine the developments of the Potsdam Conference in 1945. [Video by British Movietone]

Historical context: The Percentages Agreement
Before the Yalta Conference, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Soviet leader Joseph Stalin had an informal meeting to discuss the division of post-war Europe. The two leaders meet during the Fourth Moscow Conference in October 1944. Churchill proposed to Stalin on the percentage division of control over Eastern European countries like Hungary, Romania and Yugoslavia.

Churchill’s retrospective view was that the percentages deal saved Greece from communism. Stalin, however, had no intention of communising the country or of involving himself in a political project to that end. As he told Churchill at their meeting on 14 October 1944, the ‘Soviet Union did not intended to organise a Bolshevik Revolution in Europe’.

An excerpt from “Stalin’s Wars: From World War to Cold War, 1939-1953” by Geoffrey Roberts.

The Potsdam Conference
Five months after the Yalta Conference, another meeting was held, also known as the Potsdam Conference. The leaders gathered at the Cecilienhof Palace (refer to featured article image), which was situated in Brandenburg, Germany. During the talks, several matters were addressed, notably the treatment of Germany and the revision of the German-Soviet-Polish borders.

The administration of a divided Germany
During the meeting, the leaders deliberated on the management of the German zones under the Allied Control Council. All were in favour of the complete disarmament and demilitarisation of Germany. Additionally, reparations were to be made in accordance to the zones that the USSR, USA and the UK had occupied.

II. The principles to govern the treatment of Germany in the initial control period

A. Political Principles

1. In accordance with the Agreement on Control Machinery in Germany, supreme authority in Germany is exercised, on instructions from their respective Governments, by the Commanders-in-Chief of the armed forces of the United States of America, the United Kingdom, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, and the French Republic, each in his own zone of occupation, and also jointly, in matters affecting Germany as a whole, in their capacity as members of the Control Council.

III. Reparations from Germany

1. Reparation claims of the U.S.S.R. shall be met by removals from the zone of Germany occupied by the U.S.S.R., and from appropriate German external assets.

2. The U.S.S.R. undertakes to settle the reparation claims of Poland from its own share of reparations.

3. The reparation claims of the United States, the United Kingdom and other countries entitled to reparations shall be met from the Western Zones and from appropriate German external assets.

An excerpt from the Potsdam Agreement, 2 August 1945.

The Polish Issue
However, growing suspicions skewed the perceptions of the Western Allies towards the Soviet Union. Their suspicions were further shaped by the developments in Poland. During parliamentary elections in Poland in January 1947, the pro-Communist political parties secured the majority vote. Although Stalin agreed to oversee “free and unfettered” elections in Poland, the elections were rigged in favour of the Communists.

The Potsdam Conference of July and August 1945 opened on a dissonant note when the chief executives of the United States and Great Britain were faced with a number of unilateral Soviet actions in violation of the Yalta Agreements.

… After this Conference, the rift between the East and West widened gradually as the Western Allies became more aware of the expansion of Soviet power into the vacuum left by the collapse of Germany.

An excerpt from “Dividing and Uniting Germany by  Jürgen Thomaneck, William John Niven and Bill Niven.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– How far do you agree that political differences between the ‘Big Powers’ led to the outbreak of the Cold War?

Join our JC History Tuition and learn more about fascinating topics like the Cold War and United Nations. We conduct online learning programmes for JC1 and JC2 students taking either H1 or H2 History. In preparation for the GCE A Level History examination, we conduct topical revision, provide concise summary notes and hold class practices. With our comprehensive study programme, you will develop the thinking and writing skills to ace the assessments.

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