History Theme 2: Europe and the Cold War

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Chapter 1: The end of WW2 and Emergence of the Cold War, 1944-50

This chapter sheds light on the parallel and contradictory developments in the immediate post-war era: the desire to create a stable new world order at the same time as the breakdown of the Grand Alliance and emergence of superpower rivalry between the USA and the USSR which led to two competing spheres of influence and formed a new world order of tensions between East and West.

Overview PowerPoint for the period from the end of WWW2 to 1950 is here:

Cold War OIB

Resource Pack including Individual Student Enquiry here:

Emergence of Cold War Resource Packb

Hist Theme 2 Chp1 Activities

Churchill and Iron Curtain article here:

Churchill article Iron curtain speech

Key topics from World War Two for explaining the origins of the Cold War:

  1. i) The occupation and effective division of Europe (particularly Germany) by the two

emerging superpowers,

  1. ii) The Bretton Woods Agreement:


iii) Yalta and Potsdam

  1. iv) The opening of the UN
  2. v) The American use of the atomic bomb



Key topics for explaining the development of the Cold War between 1945 and 1950:

  1. i) The Iron Curtain speech, 1946
  2. ii) The Truman Doctrine, Marshall Plan and containment policy, 1947

The Sinews of Peace (‘Iron Curtain Speech’)



iii) The Berlin Blockade and Airlift, 1948/9


  1. iv) The Creation of NATO, 1949
  2. v) The outbreak of the Korean War, 1950



Reference Points


  • Truman Doctrine and Marshall Plan
  • Berlin Blockade and Airlift
  • 38th Parallel and outbreak of the Korean War

Further resources:

CNN The Cold War Series episode 1

CNN The Cold War episode 2: The Iron Curtain

Chapter 2: A New Geopolitical Order – Emergence of the Developing World (1948-1970s)

This chapter shows how geopolitics of the Cold War interfered with the decolonization process and led to the emergence of new actors as the newly independent countries asserted their international role, thereby challenging the bi-polar order.

Chapter 2 Reference Points

  • 1948- the birth of the State of Israel
  • French Indochina War and the start of the Vietnam War
  • 1962- Cuban Missile Crisis

Key Questions

  1. What were the international consequences of the emergence of newly independent countries in the two decades following the end of WWII?
  2. To what extent did newly independent countries challenge the bipolar world (1948 – 1970)?
  3. Analyze the impact of the Bandung Conference of 1955, with the appearance of the decolonizing Afro-Asian bloc.
  4. In what ways was the process of decolonization linked to the Cold War?
  5. Analyze the responses of the USA to each of the following:
  6. the creation of the state of Israel, 1948*
  7. the appearance of Mao’s China,1949*
  8. Castro’s seizure of power in Cuba, 1959*

Student Resource work booklet for all parts of this chapter:

Hist Th2 Chp2 Resource Work Booklet

Part One: Decolonization and the Cold War

Learning Objectives

  • Understand the significance of the Bandung Conference and the extent of Non-Alignment.
  • Analyze the impact of the Bandung Conference of 1955, with the appearance of the decolonizing Afro-Asian bloc.

PowerPoint about Part One:

Non alignment and Bandung



Pillar One: The Creation of Israel and the Arab response (Suez Crisis and Nasserism, 1956)

Focus of study:

– Emergence of Zionism & Arab nationalism

– Intervention of foreign powers (superpowers & former colonial powers)

– Arab-Israeli Conflicts/ Wars


  • Analyze how the Partition of Palestine came about and its consequences.

PowerPoints for the Partition of Palestine and Suez Crisis:

Partition of Palestine

Suez Crisis 1956


Site with lots of cartoons about the Middle East:



Pillar Two: Emergence of Mao’s China (1949 – 1972)

Focus of study:

  1. Cold War alliance with the USSR before Sino-Soviet Split, 1950-1962
  2. Securing borders & challenging US in the Cold War (Tibet annexation, 1950, intervention in Korean War & sabre-rattling in Taiwan Straits, 1954
  3. Testing nuclear weapon, 1964
  4.  Support of African anti-colonial independence movements in the 1960s to gain diplomatic allies in  the push for a seat in the United Nations Security Council.


Evaluate the extent to which Mao’s foreign Policy challenged Cold War bipolarization from 1949 to 1972.

PowerPoint for Pillar Two:

Mao’s China 1948 to 72

CNN Cold War Episode 15 China 1949-72:

Cold War China Qs Worksheet


Pillar Five: Castro’s Cuba (1959 – 1962)

Focus of Study

This pillar highlights the spread of the Cold War into the Western Hemisphere and analyzes the US response during the Cuban Missile Crisis.


Analyze the consequences of Castro coming to power in Cuba

CNN Cold War Episode 10 Cuba:

Cold War Cuba Qs worksheet

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