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Origins of the Cold War – Cartoon Analysis

In this article, we will be examining a series of illustrative cartoons that reflect the diverse interpretations of the Cold War. As the GCE A Level History examinations (both Paper 1 and Paper 2) feature visual- and text-based sources, we believe that this article will be useful in prepare students thoroughly.

Today, we will be focusing on the first part: The Emergence of Bipolarity (also known as the Origins of the Cold War).

Analyze Leslie Illingworth's cartoons to understand how the Cold War began. Join our JC History Tuition to get started.
By British cartoonist Leslie Illingworth [June 1947]
It depicts Stalin’s attempts to extend Soviet control beyond Eastern Europe, reflecting the concerns over the growing ideological threat that necessitates an urgent response by USA. Pay attention to the use of ‘question marks (?)’ , which hints at his intentions in Western Europe.
Learn more about the Iron Curtain speech to understand how the Cold War began. Join our JC History Tuition to get a head-start in your revision.
By British cartoonist Leslie Illingworth [6 Feb 1946]
The cartoon was published in the UK Daily Mail after Winston Churchill gave his historic ‘Iron Curtain’ speech. It depicts Churchill attempting to lift the ‘Iron Curtain’ to view what is taking place within the Eastern Europe.

Learn more about the Marshall Plan to comprehend its importance in explaining how the Cold War began. Sign up for our JC History Tuition and start learning effectively.
A cartoon published in Russia during the Cold War
It depicts USA (‘Uncle Sam’) holding a weapon that represents the Marshall Plan (dollar ‘$’ sign) that is pointed at the Greek communists. Following the US Congress’ approval of the Truman Doctrine.
Learn more about the 'rival buses' cartoon to understand how the superpower rivalry gave rise to the outbreak of the Cold War.
By English illustrator E. H. Shepard [18 June 1947]
The cartoon was published in a British magazine, focusing on the competition between the USA and Soviet Union in battle for global supremacy. Notice the gestures of Truman (bespectacled man on the left) and Stalin (a more aggressive man on the right).
Learn more about the cartoon depicting the start of the Cold War with our JC History Tuition.
By Roy Justus [1947]
The cartoon was published in an American journal, depicting Soviet communism (eagle) as a harbinger of chaos (baby). In contrast, the American Congress (doctor) is rushing to Western Europe to provide economic aid (Marshall Plan) to fight chaos (mentioned during George Marshall’s Harvard address in June 1947).
Learn more about the Marshall Aid to understand why this American response to the Soviet actions gave rise to the start of the Cold War.
By British Illustrator E H Shepard [1 October 1947]
Cartoon published in British magazine to portray USA (Uncle Sam) as a generous nation that offers economic aid (Marshall Plan) to the crumbling Western Europe
Find out what happened during the Berlin Blockade to comprehend its significance in causing the division of Europe. Learn more about the emergence of bipolarity or known as the start of the Cold War.
By British cartoonist Leslie Illingworth [9 September 1948]
The cartoon was published in UK Daily Mail during the Berlin Blockade. The key subject clearly is Stalin (cat), who is toying with the Berlin people (mouse in the top part). In contrast, the other three mice on the ground represents the Western Powers, which are in danger as well.

Are you familiar with these sources?
Preparation is vital. After examining these visual-based sources, it is imperative that you refer to practice questions, such as your school materials, to assess your knowledge competency. Reading alone is inadequate in preparing you for the rigours of the examinations as the factual information may lack the argumentative perspectives. During the JC History Tuition, we guide students through the process of source interpretation, comparison and evaluation to raise the quality of answers.

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