Show Menu

Cold War 1956 - 1984 Cheat Sheet by

OCR, History A level, 2022, My Revision Notes textbook

Space Race

USSR got to space first with Sputnik 1957. This showed the West they weren't as capita­listic superior as they thought and seemed threat­ening. This started the race. USSR put Leika in space Nov 1957, USA's satellite failed Dec, but succeeded March. Formed NASA and launched SCORE satellite Dec. But USSR orbited the sun and put the first man in space, as well as first women 1963 and first spacewalk 1965. First USA in space was Feb 1962. USA decided to go all out and go to the moon, putting huge resources into Apollo, and were successful July 1969. USSR achieved an orbiting space station 1971. The resources taken by Space Race plus efforts to control Arms Race lead to greater cooper­ation - joint space mission 1975.
Space Race also contri­buted econom­ically to USSR's downfall and was a source of propaganda for both countries.

The New Cold War 1979 - 85 - Afghan­istan

When Afghan communists overthrew their monarch April 1978, an opposition formed by countr­yside Islamic forces. The USSR, which couldn't afford more instab­ility, sent forces into the country Dec 1979, killing the leader and replacing him with their own. But the Islamic revolt couldn't be contained, leaving 50,000 Soviets to confront 200,000 Mujahe­deen. This invasion reawakened western memories of buffer states suppre­ssion and made Détente seem pointless, with fears of USSR expanding towards Persian Gulf (oil). The US began to supply the Muj with arms through Pakistan. Changes in leadership saw two western anti-c­omm­unist leaders, Reagan and Thatcher, and Afghan became a new proxy war.
Ending the new Cold War was difficult for USSR due to the Afghan War, Arms Race and hostility to communism from the West. Meanwhile, USA had the economic and techno­logical advantage, and so had little interest in ending.

The 2nd Arms Race, c.1955 - 84

Centred on missiles - more dangerous. Little warning or chance of stopping an attack. USSR caught up to USA superi­ority 1957 - tested ICBM August. This started the race MAD caused a focus on defence, improving missiles destru­cti­veness, accuracy and developing systems to intercept them and allow missiles to evade interc­eption. SALT happened in 70s to try and calm this down. However, in the 80s Reagan began it again by announcing Star Wars, a space laser defence programme that was entirely fictional and went against SALT but panicked the USSR.
Arms Race continued Cold War but also prevented direct conflict. However, it also made world politics more dangerous and increased tensions between the two. Money spent on it helped end the war by contri­buting to USSR's economic problems, esp Star Wars.

Détente and Arms Limita­tions

USSR faced worsening relations with Chine, with border clashes 1969, and needed to reduce its enemies. When Nixon visited China 1972 this made USSR more desperate for good relations with USA. USSR also had worsening economic problems with slow growth and food production issues. Reducing arms spending would be useful.
USA also wanted to reduce arms spending. The proxy Vietnam War was costly and oil prices had risen due to Middle East war.
Changes in leadership also had an effect. USSR's old guard had given way to more flexible leaders, as had USA's anti-c­omm­unist ones been replaced with Nixon and Kissinger.
Détente created more diplomatic contracts, with Helsinki 1975 agreeing to increase East/West commun­ica­tion, SALT establ­ishing freezes on ICBMs, submarine missiles and long-range bombers and restri­cting defences to keep countries vulner­able, and SALT 2 further reducing missile launchers and MIRVs.

Brezhnev Doctrine

Reaction to 1968 Czech invasion. Stated that USSR and allies would invade any buffer state that deviated from its 'duty'.
Ended any hope of change, links with West, arms agreem­ents, and extended Cold War until abandoned 1989.


Pursued by West German leader Brandt from 1969. There were many barriers to better relations between West and East Germany: Hallstein Doctrine stated WG would break off diplomatic relations with anyone who recognised EG, Berlin Wall, French fears of reunif­ication from past invasions, potential NATO opposition and loss of US support. But Brandt knew Germany couldn't stay so divided and so his policy contained more moves to Détente.
He signed Nuclear Non-Pr­oli­fer­ation Treaty 1969 and began a series of complex treaties with West and East. Moscow Treaty August 1970 agreed neither had any territ­orial claims against the other state, recognised western frontier, abandoned Hallstein and agreeing both Gs to join UN. This was dependent on agreeing over Berlin, talks on which began March 1970. In Sept 1971 it was agreed that there would be no travel restri­ctions between WG and WB and that West Berliners could visit East Berlin. Treaty was signed with Poland December saying the frontier was non-vi­able, ethnic Germans could emigrate west and there to be more trade. A treaty with Czech 1973 revoked the Munich treaty which gave G the Sudete­nland. Basic Treaty Dec 1972 between WG and EG, agreeing WG would recognise EG and that both would be UN members.
EG gained recogn­ition and prevented WB being officially part of WG. Brandt had ended possible Hallstein diplomatic problems, had gained conces­sions for WB without weakening its western ties. The (unlikely) possib­ility of reunif­ication was still there.


No comments yet. Add yours below!

Add a Comment

Your Comment

Please enter your name.

    Please enter your email address

      Please enter your Comment.

          Related Cheat Sheets

          Writing essays in French Cheat Sheet
          A-Level Physics Key Terms Cheat Sheet
          Memory Cheat Sheet