Cold War Chronology

First World: Capitalist Democracies; “developed” nations
Second World: Communist/Socialist/Soviet states; industrializing but non-capitalist

Third World: non-Communist “developing” or “undeveloped” economies

1945 Yalta Conference divides Europe into spheres of influence. WWII ends.
UN Founded
1946 Churchill’s “Iron Curtain” speech in Fulton, MO
1947 Truman Doctrine (for Greece and Turkey) affirms US support against Communist-sponsored subversion, “Containment”
Marshall Plan announced; USSR, fearing loss of control, keeps Czech, Fin, Polish and Hungarian governments from participating.
1948 Communist takeover in Czechoslovakia
Berlin blockade begins, reaction to Western revival of German currency and industry.
US House Un-American Activities Committee opens hearings.
1949 USSR explodes a-bomb
Communist forces unite Mainland China, establish People’s Republic of China; Guomindang Nationalists establish Republic of China on Taiwan.
COMECON begins coordination of Communist economies.
April NATO founded. Members: Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxemborg, France, UK, Italy, Denmark, Norway, Portugal, Iceland, Canada, US.
May Berlin blockade ends after months of airlifted supplies
Sept West German state (German Federal Republic, FRG) declared
Oct East German state (German Democratic Republic, GDR) declared
1950 North Korea invades South Korea, prompting US/UN intervention
1953 USSR develops thermonuclear weapons
Korean War ends with 38th parallel armistice.
Joseph McCarthy chairs US Senate committee hearings targeting Soviet agents in Departments of State and Army
Stalin dies
1954 Eisenhower accepts “domino theory”: intervention to prevent new communist regimes.
France withdraws from Vietnam; US begins support of non-Communist South Vietnam
1955 NATO admits West Germany as member.
Warsaw Pact defense bloc founded. Members: USSR, Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary, Poland, Romania
Austria established, after USSR withdrawal, as independent, neutral state
Geneva Summit (US, USSR, France, UK) produces good feelings, but no agreements
1956 Khrushchev’s Secret Speech denouncing Stalin, signals slight opening of intellectual and political rigidity; removal of Stalin’s supporters.
Polish Crisis: disagreement between Polish and Soviet CP over PM; compromise inspires Hungary.
Suez Crisis: After Nasser’s nationalization in July, war breaks out between Egypt and Israel; UK, France intervene to protect Canal and access to Persian Gulf; US and USSR fail to support action and Egypt regains control.
Hungarian Uprising: Hungarian CP selects Nagy, who favors USSR withdrawal; USSR invades Hungary, executes Nagy, installs Janos Kadar.
1957 Sputnik I launched by USSR, Earth’s first artificial satellite.
1958 Dr. Zhivago author Boris Pasternak wins Literature Nobel; not permitted to accept
1959 Nixon visits USSR (Kitchen talks); Krushchev visits US
1959 Cuban Revolution installs Fidel Castro
U-2 spy plane shot down over Russia
1960 Paris Summit cancelled in retaliation for U-2.
1961 Berlin Wall rises to stop flow of Eastern refugees. Failure of US to force removal raises concerns about committment and influence.
Bay of Pigs invasion fails to topple Castro’s Cuban regime.
1962 Cuban Missle Crisis ends “in a triumph of common sense” (Khruschev)
1963 US-USSR Nuclear Test Ban Treaty
1963 Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn permitted to publish One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
1964 Krushchev falls from power; replaced by Leonid Brezhnev
Sino-Soviet rift
Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove released.
1965 US ground troops sent to Vietnam, and US begins bombing raids.
1968 Prague Spring led by Alexander Dubcek; USSR invades Czechoslovakia.
Brezhnev’s “Doctrine of Limited Sovereignty” claims Soviet right to interfere in the affairs of other Communist countries
Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty signed
1969 Apollo XI spacecraft successfully visits Earth’s moon, returns.
1972 Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty
Nixon visits Beijing
1973 US withdraws from Vietnam
CIA aids overthrow of Chilean socialist Salvadore Allende
1974 Solzhenitsyn expelled from USSR; harassment of Soviet Jewry begins in earnest
1975 Helsinki accords “recognize the Soviet sphere of influence in eastern Europe and the obligation of both nations to safeguard human rights.
Vietnam united by North Vietnamese (Communist) forces
Jiang Jieshi dies, succeeded by his son.
1976 Mao Zedong dies, succeeded eventually by Deng Xiaoping
1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan
1980 Moscow Olympics boycott by US; US grain shipments to Russia suspended
1981 Poland suppresses Solidarity movement with Martial Law
1982 Brezhnev dies. Reagan deploys new missiles in Europe, proposes missile defense system.
1985 Mikhail Gorbachev takes control in USSR; initiates perestroika (“restructuring”) and glasnost (“openness”) reforms
1989 Gorbachev repudiates Brezhnev Doctrine, initiating collapse of Second World, withdraws from Afghanistan
Romanian demonstrations remove Ceau┼čescu from power;
Bulgarian communist leadership falls.
Berlin Wall falls
China’s Tiananmen Square protests result in crackdown, massacre.
1990 Germany reunites
Free elections in Poland, Hungary; Czechoslovakian “Velvet Revolution”
Gorbachev wins Nobel Peace Prize
1991 Soviet Union dissolves; Boris Yeltsin president of Russian Republic
1993 Czech Republic and Slovakia separate.

“Nations, organizations, institutions, bodies, or single human beings are never as powerful, intelligent, far-seeing, efficient, and dangerous as they seem to their enemies.” — “Barzini’s Law” / Luigi Barzini

One comment to Cold War Chronology

  1. Anne Zook says:

    This is a very interesting way to look at these events. (I love a timeline.)

    Thanks for sharing the link.

Comments are closed.