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

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.

We have other JC tuition classes, such as GP TuitionEconomics Tuition, JC Chemistry Tuition, JC 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. Call 9689 0510 to learn more.

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.

We have other JC tuition classes, such as GP TuitionEconomics Tuition, JC Chemistry Tuition, JC 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. Call 9689 0510 to learn more.

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

What was the purpose of the Yalta 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]

Re-look at the historic meeting at Yalta that shaped the post-WWII political landscape. [Video by British Pathé]

Historical context
The Yalta Conference (codenamed Argonaut) was a meeting of the United States (US), United Kingdom (UK) and Soviet Union from 4 to 11 February 1945 to deliberate on the post-war developments of Europe. Before the Yalta, the Tehran Conference (codenamed Eureka) was held from 28 November to 1 December 1943 that involved the discussion of a Western Front to repel the forces of Nazi Germany.

By February 1945, the Allied forces were certain that victory was within their grasp after liberating France and Belgium from Nazi occupation. The Yalta was conducted at the Black Sea resort in Crimea, hosting by the American President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

The Division of Germany
During the meeting, the participants agreed to divide Germany into four post-war occupation zones that were managed by the US, UK and Soviet Union. Additionally, there was consensus in ensuring the demilitarisation of Germany and the payment of post-war reparations to the affected parties like Soviet Union.

Under the agreed plan, the forces of the Three Powers will each occupy a separate zone of Germany. Co-ordinated administration and control has been provided for under the plan through a central Control Commission consisting of the Supreme Commanders of the Three Powers with headquarters in Berlin.

… It is our inflexible purpose to destroy German militarism and Nazism and to ensure that Germany will never again be able to disturb the peace of the world.

An excerpt from “Roosevelt and the Russians: The Yalta Conference“, by Edward R. Stettinius Jr.

From the above excerpt, it referred to the creation of an Allied Control Council that form the legal authority for post-war Germany. The Council was helmed by four members: General Dwight Eisenhower (United States), Marshall Georgy Zhukov (Soviet Union), Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery (United Kingdom) and General Jean de Lattre de Tassigny (France).

The Declaration of Liberated Europe
The British Prime Minister Winston Churchill proposed the conduct of free and fair elections in Eastern and Central Europe. Along the same vein, Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin agreed to oversee free elections in Poland and other Eastern European territories, but insisted in retaining the Polish territories annexed in 1939. Stalin’s stance was built on the basis that Germany had invaded Russia through Poland twice.

II. DECLARATION OF LIBERATED EUROPE

The following declaration has been approved:

… The establishment of order in Europe and the rebuilding of national economic life must be achieved by processes which will enable the liberated peoples to destroy the last vestiges of nazism and fascism and to create democratic institutions of their own choice. This is a principle of the Atlantic Charter – the right of all people to choose the form of government under which they will live – the restoration of sovereign rights and self-government to those peoples who have been forcibly deprived to them by the aggressor nations.

VII. POLAND

The following declaration on Poland was agreed by the conference:

A new situation has been created in Poland as a result of her complete liberation by the Red Army. This calls for the establishment of a Polish Provisional Government which can be more broadly based than was possible before the recent liberation of the western part of Poland. The Provisional Government which is now functioning in Poland should therefore be reorganized on a broader democratic basis with the inclusion of democratic leaders from Poland itself and from Poles abroad. This new Government should then be called the Polish Provisional Government of National Unity.

An excerpt from the Yalta Agreement, 11 February 1945.

Conceptualisation of the United Nations
During the Yalta, the ‘Big Three’ discussed the formal establishment of the United Nations and participation by the Soviet Union. The Agreement outlined the voting procedures within the Security Council that were eventually enshrined in the United Nations Charter.

A looming threat
However, the possibility of post-war peace among the ‘Big Three’ had dissolved when the Soviets supported the formation of the pro-Communist Lublin Committee (also known as the Polish Committee of National Liberation) that opposed the Western-backed Polish government-in-exile. During Conference, Roosevelt wrote a letter to Stalin, hoping that the Soviet leader would cooperate amicably.

In so far as the Polish Government is concerned, I am greatly disturbed that the three great powers do not have a meeting of minds about the political setup in Poland. It seems to me that it puts all of us in a bad light throughout the world to have you recognizing one government while we and the British are recognizing another in London. I am sure this state of affairs should not continue and that if it does it can only lead our people to think there is a breach between us, which is not the case. I am determined that there shall be no breach between ourselves and the Soviet Union. Surely there is a way to reconcile our differences.

… I have had to make it clear to you that we cannot recognize the Lublin Government as now composed, and the world would regard it as a lamentable outcome of our work here if we parted with an open and obvious divergence between us on this issue.

An excerpt from US President Roosevelt’s letter to Stalin on “Acceptable compromise regarding the composition of the postwar Polish Government”, 6 February 1945.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– How far do you agree that the breakdown of the Grand Alliance was the main reason for the outbreak of the Cold War?

Join our JC History Tuition and learn more about the Cold War. We conduct online learning programmes for JC 1 and JC 2 students taking either H1 or H2 History. You will receive study notes, essay outlines and source based case study practices to be ready for the GCE A Level History examination.

We have other JC tuition classes, such as GP TuitionEconomics Tuition, JC Chemistry Tuition, JC 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. Call 9689 0510 to find out more.

JC History Tuition - Cold War Notes - Why was North Korea involved in the Korean War

Why was North Korea involved in the Korean 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 2: A World Divided by the Cold War – Manifestations of the global Cold War: The Korean War (1950)

Find out how the Korean War began and its impact on a divided nation. [Video by South China Morning Post]

Prelude to the War
Before the North Korean forces crossed the 38th parallel and invaded South Korea, the North Korean leader Kim Il Sung made several visits to meet Stalin in person. Kim bore the political ambition to reunify the Korean peninsula under Communism. In March 1949, Kim made his way to Moscow and discussed with the Soviet leader the prospect of an invasion.

Stalin: Are they penetrating into the South Korean army? Do they have their own people there?

Pak Heon-yeong: They are penetrating, but so far they are not revealing themselves there.

Stalin: This is correct. It is not necessary to reveal themselves now. The southerners also, apparently, are sending their people into the army of the north. They need [to exercise] caution.

An excerpt from Kim Il Sung’s conversation with Stalin during his Moscow visit on 5 March 1949. Pak Heon-yeong was the Minister of Foreign Affairs in North Korea from 1948 to 1953.

Evidently, Stalin was cautious not to cause alarm and alert the USA. As such, he rejected Kim’s request to start an invasion. In May 1949, Kim then visited the Chinese leader Mao Zedong in Beijing. He hoped that China would provide military support to advance his reunification efforts.

In May 1949, Kim Il-sung sent Kim Il, Head of the General Political Department of the Korean People’s Army to visit Beijing. The main purpose of Kim Il’s visit was to ask China to transfer the several divisions made up by soldiers of Korean nationality to North Korea…

In their meeting, Mao Zedong said: “Kim Il-sung should make all necessary preparations at all times for a guerrilla warfare or a protracted warfare.” Mao predicted that Japan might help South Korea in the war and he expressed that “China can send its troops to help North Korea if necessary.” However, Mao Zedong did not agree to Kim Il-sung’s plan for an immediate reunification of Korea by force.

An excerpt from “China and the United States: A New Cold War History” by Xiaobing Li and Hongshan Li.

From these two interactions, it can be observed that Mao Zedong shared similar sentiments as Stalin, in which North Korea should attack only in retaliation to aggression by South Korea. The Chinese leader was concerned with increased American intervention as he was also preoccupied with the ongoing Chinese Civil War.

Final preparations
In April 1950, Kim Il-Sung met with Stalin in Moscow again. Kim sought to reassure the Soviet leader that his proposed invasion would result in a swift and decisive victory, such that the USA would not be able to step in. This time, Stalin finally approved Kim’s request but with the condition that both China and North Korea must achieve a consensus in the invasion.

In a conversation with the Korean comrades, Filippov [Stalin] and his friends expressed the opinion, that, in light of the changed international situation, they agree with the proposal of the Koreans to move toward reunification. In this regard, a qualification was made that the question should be decided finally by the Chinese and Korean comrades together, and, in case of disagreement by the Chinese comrades, the decision on the question should be postponed until a new discussion.

An excerpt from Stalin’s reply for Mao Zedong on 14 May 1950.

This “changed international situation” could be better understood by Stalin’s consideration of a speech by the US Secretary of State Dean Acheson, which was commonly referred to as the “Perimeter Speech” that outlined US foreign policy in Asia. Stalin was certain that the speech’s exclusion of Korea would give Kim Il-sung ample time to complete his reunification efforts.

This defensive perimeter runs along the Aleutians to Japan and then goes to the Ryukyus. We hold important defense positions in the Ryukyu Islands, and those we will continue to hold. In the interest of the population of the Ryukyu Islands, we will at an appropriate time offer to hold these islands under trusteeship of the United Nations. But they are essential parts of the defensive perimeter of the Pacific, and they must and will be held.

… Should such an attack occur, one hesitates to say where such an armed attack could come from, the initial reliance must be on the people attacked to resist it and then upon the commitments of the entire civilized world under the Charter of the United Nations…

An excerpt from Dean Acheson’s speech to the National Press Club on 12 January 1950.

Following Stalin’s arrangements with North Korea and China, the North Korean invasion began on 25 June 1950, thus signalling the start of the conflict.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– Assess the view that ideological motivations shaped the involvement of Soviet Union in the Korean War.

Join our JC History Tuition and learn more about the Korean War. We conduct online learning programmes to impart students with the writing skills to answer essay and source based case study questions effectively.

We have other JC tuition classes, such as GP TuitionEconomics Tuition, JC Chemistry Tuition, JC 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. Call 9689 0510 to learn more.

JC History Tuition - Cold War Notes - Why did the superpowers get involved in the Korean War

Why did the superpowers get involved in the Korean 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 2: A World Divided by the Cold War – Manifestations of the global Cold War: The Korean War (1950)

Learn more about the political motivations that shaped US involvement in the Korean War. [Video by PragerU]

Historical context
The Korean War began as a civil war between North Korea and South Korea. Local leaders Kim II-sung and Sygnman Rhee pursued the aim of reunifying the Korean peninsula under diametrically-opposite ideologies. Notably, both governments turned to the superpowers for military support. Yet, it is myopic to claim that the conflict remained localised as the USA and Soviet Union were also influenced by their strategic motivations to aid the two Koreas, thus escalating the event to a proxy war.

1. Stalin’s tactical gambit
From the Soviet perspective, Stalin aided Kim II-sung to divert the attention of his Cold War rival from the European theatre of war. Distinguished historians Donggil Kim and William Stueck arrived at this conclusion after analysing Joseph Stalin’s telegram to the Czechoslovak President Klement Gottawald.

The reason we eventually allowed the war in Korea is because: let us suppose that the U.S. continues to be tied down in the Far East and also pulls China into the struggle. What might come out of this? It follows that America would over-extend itself in this struggle. It is clear that the United States of America is presently distracted from Europe in the Far East. Does it not give us an advantage in the global balance of power, especially back in Europe? It undoubtedly does, allowing us to use this war to our advantage.

An excerpt from Stalin’s telegram to Czech President Klement Gottwald, 27 August 1950.

The telegram was delivered on 27 August 1950, nearly two months after North Korean forces crossed the 38th Parallel and entered the South Korean territory. Interestingly, Stalin reassured his Cold War ally that Soviet Union’s absence in the Security Council was a calculated risk.

2. A litmus test for American commitment
As for the Truman administration, increased US involvement in the Korean War was largely influenced by the fear of ideological expansion in East Asia as well as domestic political pressure.

Chinese Communist leader Mao Zedong formed the People’s Republic of China (PRC) on 1 October 1949 after his victory against Chiang Kai-shek’s nationalists in the Chinese Civil War. Soon, Stalin forged diplomatic ties with Mao Zedong by signing the Treat of Friendship, Alliance and Mutual Assistance on 14 February 1950. These developments had alarmed the US government as the Soviet Union gained a new ally.

The “loss of China” became a partisan issue. Leading Republicans, especially Senator Robert A. Taft of Ohio and former President Herbert C. Hoover, assailed Truman, Acheson, and “treacherous Communists” in the State Department for Chiang’s defeat. MacArthur, considered the China Lobby’s ally, said that allowing the Communists to grow in power in China was “the greatest political mistake we made in a hundred years in the Pacific.”

An excerpt from “Truman, MacArthur, and the Korean War” by Dennis D. Wainstock.

Additionally, Truman also faced mounting pressure domestically to fight the Communists. Republican Senator Joseph McCarthy criticised Truman for being “soft” on Communism. As such, the American government became more determined to defend South Korea. These actions were also meant to demonstrate to its allies that the USA was ready to protect them from external aggression, as described by Dean Acheson at the National Press Club on 12 January 1950.

Although post-World War II anti-communism and the makings of the Second Red Scare can be traced all the way back to 1946, not until after the outbreak of hostilities in Korea and the Chinese intervention did McCarthy reach full fury, hurling wild accusations and contriving a political atmosphere so poisonous that it has since come to bear his name: McCarthyism.

…however, the overall political atmosphere he created certainly affected the parameters within which Truman and his advisers had to operate.

An excerpt from “Truman and Korea: The Political Culture of the Early Cold War” by by Paul G. Pierpaoli.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– How far do you agree that ideological concerns were the main motivation that shaped superpower involvement in the Korean War?

Join our JC History Tuition and learn more about the Korean War. We provide concise study notes and conduct writing workshops to improve your reading and writing skills to ace the GCE A Level History examinations. Be proficient in essay writing and the analysis of Source Based Case Study questions.

We have other JC tuition classes, such as GP TuitionEconomics Tuition, JC Chemistry Tuition, JC 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. Call 9689 0510 to find out more.

JC History Tuition - Cold War Notes - Cuban Missile Crisis Revisited

Cuban Missile Crisis: Revisited

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 developments of the October Crisis [Video by Ted-Ed]

Vienna Summit of 1961
After the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion, Khrushchev and Kennedy met during the Vienna Summit on 4 June 1961. Earlier in February, Kennedy expressed his desire to meet the Soviet leader even though his advisors disagreed, given his lack of experience. Khrushchev perceived Kennedy as a young and inept American leader, given the latter’s failure in the Bay of Pigs fiasco.

Operation Anadyr
Also in June 1961, Turkey and the USA agreed to deploy fifteen nuclear-tipped Jupiter missiles in Turkey. Soviet Minister of Defence Rodion Malinovsky had a conversation with Khrushchev, discussing the capabilities of the Soviet and American missiles.

Malinovsky drew Khrushchev’s attention to the installation of American missiles just over the horizon of the Black Sea in Turkey. He told Khrushchev that the American missiles in Turkey could strike the Soviet Union in ten minutes, whereas Soviet missiles needed twenty-five minutes to hit the United States. Khrushchev then mused on whether the Soviet Union shouldn’t do the same thing in Cuba, just over the horizon from the United States.

Excerpt from “Reflections on the Cuban Missile Crisis” by Raymond L. Garthoff.

In 1962, the Soviets launched Operation ANADYR which involved the delivery of medium-range and intermediate-range missiles and nuclear missiles to Cuba. Interestingly, “Anadyr” refers to the name of a river flowing into the Bering Sea. On the surface, the operation was described as a strategic exercise conducted in the north of the U.S.S.R.

now they would know just what it feels like to have enemy missiles pointing at you, we’d be doing nothing more than giving them a little taste of their own medicine. And it was high time… America has never had to fight a war on her own soil, at least not in the past fifty years. She’s sent troops abroad to fight in two World Wars – and made a fortune as a result.

Excerpt by Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev from “Kennedy” by Hugh Brogan

A Naval Quarantine
After the U-2 spy plane discovered the missile bases in Cuba that were identified as Soviet-operated, Kennedy made a public address to the American citizens on 22 October 1962. It was intentionally described as a “quarantine” so as to avoid provocations to the Soviets.

…I have directed that the following initial steps be taken immediately:

First: To halt this offensive buildup, a strict quarantine on all offensive military equipment under shipment to Cuba is being initiated. All ships of any kind bound for Cuba from whatever nation or port will, if found to contain cargoes of offensive weapons, be turned back.

An excerpt by American President John F. Kennedy’s Address on the Naval Quarantine, 22 October 1962.

De-escalation: Bilateral exchanges
After the Soviet vessel turned back, Khrushchev wrote a letter on 26 October, offering to remove the missile bases in Cuba only if Kennedy agreed not to invade Cuba. On the same day, Castro sent a letter to the Soviet leader, proposing an attack on the USA.

Given the analysis of the situation and the reports which have reached us, [I] consider an attack to be almost imminent–within the next 24 to 72 hours…

If the second variant takes place and the imperialists invade Cuba with the aim of occupying it, the dangers of their aggressive policy are so great that after such an invasion the Soviet Union must never allow circumstances in which the imperialists could carry out a nuclear first strike against it.

An excerpt from Cuban leader Fidel Castro’s letter to Khrushchev, 26 October 1962.

On 28 October, Radio Moscow announced that the Soviet Union agreed to remove the missiles in Cuba in exchange for the US government’s pledge not to invade Cuba. As such, the Cuban Missile Crisis had finally come to an end.

Evidently, the private arrangements had angered the Cuban leader as he wrote to Khrushchev with much dismay.

I do not see how you can state that we were consulted in the decision you took

The imperialists are talking once again of invading our country, which is proof of how ephemeral and untrustworthy their promises are. Our people, however, maintain their indestructible will to resist the aggressors and perhaps more than ever need to trust in themselves and in that will to struggle.

An excerpt from Cuban leader Fidel Castro’s letter to Khrushchev, 31 October 1962.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– How far do you agree that the Cuban Missile Crisis was a superpower conflict?

Join our JC History Tuition and learn more about the Cuban Missile Crisis. We also cover other Cold War topics, such as the Korean War and Vietnam War, to prepare students for the GCE A Level History examination. Online learning programmes include thematic discussion and class practices to refine writing techniques for source based case study questions and essay questions.

We have other JC tuition classes, such as GP TuitionEconomics Tuition, JC Chemistry Tuition, JC 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. Call 9689 0510 to learn more.

JC History Tuition - Cold War Notes - Cuban Missile Crisis - What happened during the Bay of Pigs invasion

What happened during the Bay of Pigs invasion?

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 Bay of Pigs invasion [Video by Weird History]

Historical Context: Castro’s Rise
After Castro’s successful victory against the US-backed military dictator Fulgencio Bastista on 1 January 1959, he became the Prime Minister of Cuba on 16 February. Two months later, the new Cuban leader received an invitation from the American Society of Newspaper Editors to visit the United States. Although American President Dwight Eisenhower refused to meet Castro, Vice President Richard Nixon had a short discussion with him.

He seems to be sincere. He is either incredibly naive 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.

But because he has the power to lead to which I have referred, we have no choice but at least to try to orient him in the right direction.

An excerpt by Vice President Richard Nixon on Castro, during Castro’s visit to Washington, 19 April 1960.

A diplomatic relationship gone sour: Nationalization
In view of the previous administration’s cooperation with the US that led to the perceived economic exploitation of Cuban resources, Castro’s government embarked on a series of nationalization policies to restore domestic control.

Public utilities, electricity and telephone services all belonged to the United States monopolies. A major portion of the banking business, of the importing business and the oil refineries, the greater part of the sugar production, the best land in Cuba, and the most important industries in all fields belonged to American companies. The balance of payments in the last ten years, from 1950 to 1960, had been favorable to the United States with regard to Cuba to the extent of one thousand million dollars.

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

As observed from his speech at the United Nations General Assembly (Interestingly, Castro’s speech is recognised as the longest ever made at the United Nations – 269 minutes) revealed his motives to pursue nationalization.

An anti-Castro rhetoric: The Bay of Pigs invasion
In retaliation, the Eisenhower administration severed diplomatic relations with Cuba on 3 January 1961. The Americans feared that Communism had taken root in the Latin American region. Subsequently, the US government planned to remove Castro from power, starting with Eisenhower’s allocation of $13 million to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to support Cuban counter-revolutionary forces (known as Brigade 2506). Before John F. Kennedy’s inauguration on 20 January 1961, he was made aware of the anti-Castro CIA plans.

However, the invasion was a disaster. On 17 April 1961, Brigade 2506 arrived at the Bay of Pigs and came under heavy fire. Castro commanded nearly 20,000 troops to storm the beach. Over the next 24 hours, nearly 1200 members surrendered and more than 100 were killed.

Deterioration of Cuban-U.S. relations
Following the humiliating defeat at the Bay of Pigs, Kennedy remained steadfast and launched Operation Mongoose. The main aim of the operation was to destablize the Cuban government. However, these acts of aggression convinced Castro that Soviet military support was necessary, thus bringing the world closer to the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962.

Still the strategies used under Operation Mongoose were the brainchild of two men, Air Force General Edward Lansdale , representing the Department of Defense, and William King Harvey of the CIA.

…Some of these plans were in the psychological operations realm, such as propaganda campaigns, and other plans were designed to denigrate the image of Castro among the Cuban people. Some involved acts designed to either disrupt or sabotage the Cuban government and economy, such as the destruction of Cuba’s sugar crop and mining of Cuba habors.

An excerpt taken from “Encyclopedia of U.S. – Latin American Relations” by Thomas Leonard, Jurgen Buchenau, Kyle Longley, Graeme Mount

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– How far do you agree that the Bay of Pigs invasion was the result of Castro’s nationalist policies?

Join our JC History Tuition and learn more about the Cuban Missile Crisis as well as other Cold War topics. We provide summary notes and practices to ensure that you are ready to ace the GCE A Level History examinations. Our online classes are available for those taking either H1 History or H2 History.

We have other JC tuition classes, such as GP TuitionEconomics Tuition, JC Chemistry Tuition, JC 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. Call 9689 0510 to find out more.

JC History Tuition - What is the Second Cold War - JC History Essay Notes

What is the Second 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

Context: How it all began
Before the Second Cold War, there was a momentary period of much-desired peace in the 1970s. Also known as the Détente, both the American and Soviet governments held talks to limit the arms race. However, the myth was shattered when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan in December 1979. Additionally, the entry of the incoming American President Ronald Reagan had set the stage for the renewed tensions and superpower confrontation in the early 1980s.

1. Renewed Confrontation: The “Afghanistan problem”
Following the 1978 Saur Revolution, in which a Soviet-backed People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan launched a coup against the Afghan President Mohammed Daoud Khan, there was growing dissent in the nation. USSR justified its intervention by invoking the Brezhnev Doctrine, which was meant to preserve the Soviet bloc through military responses.

Subsequently, the Carter administration perceived the increased Soviet presence in the Gulf as an “arc of crisis”, thus declaring their intent to counter the Soviet invasion via proxies. The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) aided the Mujahideen rebels who fought against the Soviet troops and the Afghan army.

Furthermore, the Afghan invasion swayed the perceptions of the Americans and its politicians, such that the potential Presidential candidates in America were more supportive of renewing Cold War antagonisms towards the Soviets.

2. Reagan’s Cold War Rhetoric: The Strategic Defense Initiative
Reagan’s anti-communist stance had paid off, as evidenced by his remarkable victory in the US Presidential elections in November 1980. The former Hollywood actor assumed a more hostile stance towards the Soviets. In March 1983, his “Evil Empire” speech showed his resolve in denouncing and defeating the Cold War rival.

The truth is that a freeze now would be a very dangerous fraud, for that is merely the illusion of peace. The reality is that we must find peace through strength…

So, in your discussions of the nuclear freeze proposals, I urge you to beware the temptation of pride—the temptation of blithely declaring yourselves above it all and label both sides equally at fault, to ignore the facts of history and the aggressive impulses of an evil empire, to simply call the arms race a giant misunderstanding and thereby remove yourself from the struggle between right and wrong and good and evil….

Speech by the US President Ronald Reagan, Annual Convention of the National Association of Evangelicals in Orlando, Florida; 8 March 1983.

In this speech, Reagan tried to dissuade the American public from supporting the anti-nuclear demonstrations (“freeze”) as the military build-up was an effective form of deterrence to prevent Soviet aggression. Also, Reagan justified the continuation of the arms race as the only viable option to manage this “evil empire” and save the world from potential catastrophe.

A few days later, Reagan proved his point by announcing the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), which was an ambitious project to protect the United States from Soviet nuclear attacks.

The defense policy of the United States is based on a simple premise: The United States does not start fights. We will never be an aggressor. We maintain our strength in order to deter and defend against aggression — to preserve freedom and peace

It is that we embark on a program to counter the awesome Soviet missile threat with measures that are defensive. Let us turn to the very strengths in technology that spawned our great industrial base and that have given us the quality of life we enjoy today…

What if free people could live secure in the knowledge that their security did not rest upon the threat of instant U.S. retaliation to deter a Soviet attack, that we could intercept and destroy strategic ballistic missiles before they reached our own soil or that of our allies?

Address by US President Ronald Reagan, Address to the Nation on Defense and National Security; 23 March 1983.

In his public address to the Americans, Reagan introduced the SDI and declared its creation as a defensive measure against potential Soviet attacks. By doing so, peace can be assured.

Yet, the SDI alarmed Moscow as the renewed arms race clearly violated the terms of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABTM) that was signed in 1972 by former leaders of the two superpowers. In fact, Soviet leader Yuri Andropov announced that the Soviets took the matter seriously and vowed to respond accordingly given that the SDI would render Soviet missiles obsolete.

Changing landscapes: For the better?
Fortunately, the “Second Cold War” did not persist due to a series of events. First, the rise of Soviet leader Gorbachev marked a significant change. His “New Political Thinking” was a pivotal factor in influencing the withdrawal of Soviet forces from the Third World as well as Afghanistan, which ended the Cold War divide in Europe. Second, Reagan’s second term was characterised as being more accommodating. Therefore, tensions simmered when both leaders agreed to hold talks, as seen by the summits held in Geneva (1985), Reykjavik (1986), Washington (1987) and Malta (1989).


What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– How far do you agree that the political leaders were most responsible for the Second Cold War? [to be discussed in class]

After you have covered the topic on the Second Cold War, it is important that you attempt source-based case study practices to review your understanding. Join our JC History Tuition and we will guide you through the entire study process. Besides, students who join our programme will receive summary and timeline notes as well as outlines to derive a clear understanding of the Cold War.

You can also sign up for other JC tuition programmes, such as GP TuitionEconomics Tuition, JC Chemistry Tuition, JC Math Tuition and China Studies in English Tuition. For Secondary Tuition, we offer Secondary English Tuition, Secondary Math tuition, Secondary Chemistry Tuition and Secondary Economics Tuition. Call 9689 0510 to find out more.

JC History Tuition - Cold War - What was Détente - JC History Essay Notes

What was Détente?

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

The Détente
Détente refers to the easing of strained relations between USA and the Soviet Union. Following the disastrous October Crisis of 1962, US President Richard Nixon assumed a more diplomatic stance to avert a potential nuclear catastrophe. The Nixon administration offered to promote greater dialogue with the Soviet government.

1. Moscow Summit of 1972
Following the unexpected trip to Beijing in February, President Nixon met the Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev in Moscow in May 1972. The Summit led to several milestone achievements.

First, both parties agreed to cooperate on the Apollo–Soyuz Test Project, which signaled the end of the “Space Race”. Additionally, the two leaders signed two nuclear arms control agreements: The Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT I) treaty and the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABMT).

The SALT I treaty was significant as it froze the number of strategic ballistic missile launchers to halt further arms build-up. On the other hand, the ABMT limited each of the two parties to 100 anti-ballistic missiles.

2. Washington Summit of 1973
A year later, Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev and Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Soviet Union Alexei Kosygin made a trip to Washington for another summit in June 1973. Similar to the previous meeting, it was hailed as a turning point in superpower relations, given that both parties agreed to sign the Agreement on the Prevention of Nuclear War.

In essence, this agreement signified both superpowers’ willingness to exercise restraint and prevent the threat of a nuclear war.

Guided by the objectives of strengthening world peace and international security, Conscious that nuclear war would have devastating consequences for mankind,

Proceeding from the desire to bring about conditions in which the danger of an outbreak of nuclear war anywhere in the world would be reduced and ultimately eliminated, Proceeding from their obligations under the Charter of the United Nations regarding the maintenance of peace, refraining from the threat or use of force, and the avoidance of war, and in conformity with the agreements to which either Party has subscribed,

Agreement on the Prevention of Nuclear War, 22 June 1973

3. Vladivostok Summit of 1974
The third meeting was known as the Vladivostok Summit, which took place in November 1974. The summit was conducted as an extension of arms control provisions between the superpowers. The American President Gerald Ford traveled to Vladivostok to sign the agreement, which restricted the number of inter-continental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs).

4. Helsinki Accords (1975)
Lastly, the Helsinki Accords were introduced during the Conference on Security and Co-Operation in Europe in July 1975. Also, known as the Helsinki Final Act, it was a diplomatic agreement that revealed mutual efforts to ease tensions between the Soviet and Western blocs.

Soviet Union was in favour of the Accords as it sought recognition of its post-war hegemony in eastern Europe. For example, the Soviet government insisted on the rightful existence of East Germany as well as Poland’s western border. Through this, USSR would then be recognised as a Great Power.

In return, USA requested USSR to recognise the respect for human rights, freedom of information across borders and the expansion of contacts between the eastern and western parts of Europe.

Was Détente sustainable?
Although the above-mentioned agreements made it appear as if the superpower tensions were no longer present, tensions resurfaced in the late 1970s. Following the signing of the SALT II treaty in 1979, Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in December 1979.

This unexpected move resulted in open and harsh criticisms by the West. In response, US President Jimmy Carter requested the increase in the defense budget and financed the anti-Soviet Mujahideen fighters to counter the Soviet occupation.

Eventually, the electoral victory of the Presidential candidate Ronald Reagan accelerated the end of the Détente, ushering the age known as the “Second Cold War”.


What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– How far do you agree that the end of the Détente was inevitable? [to be discussed in class]

Now that you have covered the major events that shaped the superpower relations in the 1970s, you should attempt some source-based case study questions to apply what you have learnt. Why not join our JC History Tuition as we provide you with bite-sized and exam-friendly study notes, additional essay and SBCS practice questions as well as outline references.

You can also join other JC tuition classes, such as GP TuitionEconomics Tuition, JC Chemistry Tuition, JC Math Tuition and China Studies in English Tuition. For Secondary Tuition, we offer Secondary English Tuition, Secondary Math tuition, Secondary Chemistry Tuition and Secondary Economics Tuition. Call 9689 0510 to learn more.

JC History Tuition Bishan Singapore - What were the consequences of the Vietnam War - JC History Essay Notes

What were the consequences of the Vietnam War?

Topic of Study [For H2 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: Vietnam War (1955-75)

Topic of Study [For H1 History Students]:
Essay Questions
Theme II Chapter 2: The Cold War and Southeast Asia (1945-1991): The Second Indochina War (1964-1975)

Contextual Analysis
In the previous article, we have examined the historical developments of the first and second Indochina Wars. Next, it is imperative to consider the political impacts of the Vietnam War on the superpowers – USA and Soviet Union.

1. Impacts on the USA: ‘Vietnam Syndrome’
Notably, the withdrawal of USA from Vietnam was largely influenced by anti-war sentiments. Many young Americans were against the drafting process. Also, the growing disillusionment and exposed war atrocities (especially the ‘My Lai massacre’) created the impetus for citizens to demand the immediate withdrawal.

Furthermore, critics questioned the necessity of US involvement in the politics of other countries even though many still supported the notion of ‘defending democracy’. As these doubts surfaced, some argued that US Presidents should not be given extensive powers to wage wars without Congress approval.

1.1. The War Powers Act
In November 1973, the War Powers Act (also known as the ‘War Powers Resolution’) was passed as a congressional resolution to curtail the US President’s ability to conduct foreign military campaigns. Its main purpose was to prevent US from being trapped in costly and protracted wars, like the conflict in Vietnam.

This Act required the president to seek congressional approval before American troops can be deployed overseas. For instance, the President has to inform the Congress within 48 hours.

Although President Nixon vetoed the law by claiming that it was ‘unconstitutional and dangerous’, the Congress overrode his action.

However, the congressional resolution proved futile as future US Presidents found ways and means to circumvent it. For example, President Ronald Reagan deployed troops in El Salvador in the 1981, during the renewed confrontation with the Soviets.

1.2. The Detente
As the world was on the brink of nuclear confrontation in the late 1960s due to the Sino-Soviet split, USA changed its diplomatic stance towards China. Additionally, in the early 1970s, the Nixon administration extended an ‘olive branch’ to Soviet Union in the form of diplomatic visits.

On 22 May 1972, Nixon visited his Cold War rival, Leonid Brezhnev in Moscow. It marked the first-ever visit by an American president to Soviet Union. The key takeaway from these visits was the increased mutual cooperation.

For example, the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT I) Agreement was signed on 26 May 1972. The Agreement signified the mutual decisions of the superpowers to halt the build-up of strategic ballistic missile launchers. The SALT II Treaty was signed later in the 1970s that banned the development of new ballistic missiles for both countries.

Also, this phase of the Cold War led to the push for space exploration. In July 1975, both USA and USSR conducted a joint-space flight and encouraged collaboration.

However, the thawing of superpower relations halted when Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in December 1979. Tensions resurfaced as USA boycotted the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow.

2. Impacts on the USSR: Race in the Third World
On the other hand, the Second Indochina War prompted the Soviet government to intensify its efforts to support the Communist regime. Ho Chi Minh’s victory in Indochina was hailed as a significant victory against the Americans.

As such, Soviet Union raised its military expenditures to support its Cold War allies. As stated earlier, its campaign in the Third World regions began with the invasion in Afghanistan. This conflict was a turning point as observers noted that Soviet Union invaded a country outside the Eastern Bloc, such that its actions drew international criticisms.

The Soviet occupation of Afghanistan was carried out with the intention to reinforce the Brezhnev Doctrine, in which the government seems to secure its political influence in these socialist countries.

However, the campaign in Afghanistan proved disastrous for Soviet Union. The protracted conflict was perceived by some historians as “Soviet Union’s Vietnam War”, particularly due to the mounting economic costs.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– Assess the political significance of the Second Indochina War on the USA [to be discussed in class].

Besides the topical review of this Cold War event, it is important that you attempt source-based case study questions or essay questions to determine whether you have fully understood these historical developments. Join our JC History Tuition and get additional support as we provide numerous practice questions and answer outlines. By doing so, we ensure that you can study productively and effectively to perform well for the GCE A Level History examinations.

Also, you can join our JC tuition programmes, such as GP TuitionEconomics Tuition, JC Chemistry Tuition, JC 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. Call 9689 0510 to learn more!