📚

All Subjects

 > 

🇪🇺 

AP Euro

 > 

🥶

Unit 9

9.0 Unit 9 Overview: Cold War and Contemporary Europe

5 min readaugust 24, 2021

eric515101

Eric Beckman


AP European History 🇪🇺

Bookmarked 3.4k • 317 resources
See Units

Unit 9: Cold War and Contemporary Europe

Welcome to the final Unit of AP Euro 🤗!!! Unit 9 covers European History since World War Two. Look for connections to that war and links to developments from the first half of the 20th Century.
📄 Study AP European History, Unit 8: 20th Century Global Conflicts

Resources:

International Relations

Despite their World War II alliance, the USSR became fierce rivals to the US and Britain following the war. This conflict was initially “cold” because the adversaries did not directly fight each other 🥶. 

Resources:

Post-War Recovery 

The horrendous human catastrophe of World War II left Europe in need of extensive reconstruction. The United States financed much of this (but only for its capitalist allies) through the Marshall Plan. Within a decade, Western countries rebuilt 👷 and experienced tremendous economic growth.
https://firebasestorage.googleapis.com/v0/b/fiveable-92889.appspot.com/o/images%2F-JKOCJtukT3Ol.png?alt=media&token=c066830a-bc75-41e4-b686-f126afb06f6a

Image from Wikipedia

Construction in West Berlin financed by the Marshall Plan, 1948

Cold War Tensions

The Cold War divided Europe into Eastern (Communist, Soviet-allied) and Western (capitalist, American-allied) blocs, or groups of countries. Westerners called this division the Iron Curtain–imagine a curtain coming down at the end of a play 🎭, dividing audience and stage. Geopolitically, the Western bloc, plus Greece and Turkey, organized for common defense through the NATO alliance. The USSR and its six Eastern satellites countered with the Warsaw Pact.
https://firebasestorage.googleapis.com/v0/b/fiveable-92889.appspot.com/o/images%2F-s79rF7aUkRTN.png?alt=media&token=54f19a74-d8b6-495c-85d3-57a99401523b

Image from Wikipedia

Cold War Military Alliances

Globally, the Cold War involved competition for influence. Both sides promoted their ideas and interests through propaganda, secret operations, and large nuclear arsenals. The Cold War also included shooting, or “hot,” wars such as the Korean and Vietnam Wars 🥵.
📄 Study AP European History, Unit 9.4: The Two Superpowers Emerge

Resources:

Decolonization

During the 20th Century, people in most overseas European colonies created independent states as part of decolonization. Resistance always accompanied European imperialism, and nationalist movements created many new states after World War II. European responses to decolonization varied. The process was sometimes violent, especially when European settlers (e.g., Algeria 🇩🇿) or Cold War dynamics (e.g., Vietnam 🇻🇳) were involved.
https://firebasestorage.googleapis.com/v0/b/fiveable-92889.appspot.com/o/images%2F-Dl5wtpPF5otH.png?alt=media&token=e2c7ef47-0fbf-47de-843b-d1e49d2aa925

Image from Wikipedia

French troops captured by Vietnamese nationalists, 1954

Political and Economic Systems 

Western

Western countries participated in the US-led global capitalist trade system. Many experienced an “economic miracle” of extended growth 📈 in the decades following World War II. These countries used more government economic planning than the US, but much less than the USSR. Post-war democratic Western Europe governments expanded the welfare state (government programs providing economic benefits to citizens) but later limited these programs.
Economic integration (merging) after World War II contributed to this growth. Beginning with six countries focused on coal ⛏ and steel (map below), European economic integration increased over time, including more countries and more products.
https://firebasestorage.googleapis.com/v0/b/fiveable-92889.appspot.com/o/images%2F-6D8ntnyQOBdb.png?alt=media&token=ec17dce4-7e64-4531-8574-c525144e0a89

Image from Wikipedia

Note Algeria was a French colony at the time of the map, 1952

This cooperative process culminated with the creation of the European Union, 1993. Today the EU includes more than twenty states and has a common currency, the Euro 💶.

Eastern  

In its bloc, the USSR imposed its economic and political model. This meant centrally planned economies, social welfare programs, and harsh limits on individual rights. Nikita Khrushchev emerged as the Soviet leader after the death of Joseph Stalin in 1953. He allowed some reforms, but Khrushchev and later leaders crushed Eastern Europeans who pushed for limited independence.
https://firebasestorage.googleapis.com/v0/b/fiveable-92889.appspot.com/o/images%2F-ZUuVe1LRx3ZO.png?alt=media&token=f4888b61-9510-4d70-a039-fca1a9a7d8e1

Image from Wikipedia

Soviet tanks in Hungary, 1956

The Soviet economic and political system collapsed in the late 1980s. Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the USSR, attempted to reform the system in order to save it. This failed, and the Union of Soviet Social Republics dissolved, becoming fifteen independent states in 1991. Formerly communist states became capitalist, and many joined the European Union. The Cold War was over 🙏!
📄 Study AP European History, Unit 9.7: The Fall of Communism

Resources:

New Nationalism

As the Cold War ended, nationalism again became powerful and prominent 💪. Nationalists in Central and Eastern Europe successfully overthrew communist rule from 1988-1991. But, like earlier nationalisms, these movements along with separatist groups across Europe sometimes contributed to terrorism, war, and (in the Balkans) genocide. On the other hand, Nationalism peacefully ☮️ transformed post-communist Germany (two countries → one) and Czechoslovakia (one country → two). Nationalists also sometimes opposed the membership of their states in international organizations, especially the European Union.
https://firebasestorage.googleapis.com/v0/b/fiveable-92889.appspot.com/o/images%2F-nsgqIuaEIYjH.png?alt=media&token=55e5bf5a-e90f-4e95-9be2-46f517fcf9be

Resources:

Image from Wikipedia

Nationalist demonstration in Hungary, 1989

Experiences of Everyday Life

While family and work responsibilities continued to shape roles for European women and men, economic changes and feminism brought significant changes to gender roles. Women gained political rights, especially voting and holding office 👩‍⚖️, and access to careers and education, although forms of social inequality persisted. Control over reproduction and more flexible family arrangements increased women's autonomy (personal independence). Similarly, in the late 20th and early 21st Centuries, civil rights groups produced greater freedom and equality for LGBTQ people 🏳️‍🌈, including same-sex marriage, in many European countries.
https://firebasestorage.googleapis.com/v0/b/fiveable-92889.appspot.com/o/images%2F-QnsJWWByPEcv.png?alt=media&token=b5f0075d-5f53-46c6-a2a1-28c510f069f7

Image from Wikipedia

Margaret Thatcher, the first woman to become Prime Minister of the UK, 1982

New technologies also reshaped European society. Medical advances increased life expectancy while sometimes posing new ethical issues. More advanced modes of communication, transport, and transportation brought Europeans more in contact with each other and the world, a process called globalization 🌎.

Culture 

Arts and philosophy

Continuing pre-war trends, European thinkers questioned the rationality of human society. Existentialist philosophers argued that humans must create their own meaning from life 👽 while post-modernism in arts, literature, and architecture (below) emphasized experimentation and self-expression 🎨.
https://firebasestorage.googleapis.com/v0/b/fiveable-92889.appspot.com/o/images%2F-VlZUD9uayGk4.png?alt=media&token=1a2ffecc-b3c8-4e73-8b23-abc228de1e09

Image from Wikipedia

Dancing House in Prague, designed by Vlado Miluni (Croatian-Czech) and Frank Gehry (Canadian-American) 

Religion

Questioning science and rationality did not necessarily lead to an embrace of organized religion. Christian churches ⛪️, like other institutions, struggled under fascist and communist repression. The Catholic Church instituted significant reforms through the Second Vatican Council (1962). Decolonization and post-war economic growth encouraged immigration ✈️ into Europe from Asia and Africa. This made Europe more religiously diverse, as many Muslims migrated to Europe.  This, in turn, produced political conflicts over immigration and the role of religion in public life. 

Popular Culture 

Mass production, economic growth in capitalist societies, and globalization all supported a consumer culture 🛍 that emphasized spending for comfort and identity. In the years immediately following the Second World War, birth rates rose for time. This “baby boom” was the basis of an emphasis on youth and young people in the popular culture of the 1960s and 1970s. American technology 💻 and culture became increasingly prominent in European cultures, youth or otherwise. However, not everyone was a fan of this aspect of globalization, and recognizable national traditions persisted.
🎥 Watch: AP European History - European Integration

Resources:

Was this guide helpful?

Join us on Discord
Thousands of students are studying with us for the AP European History exam.
join now
Hours Logo
Studying with Hours = the ultimate focus mode
Start a free study session
🔍 Are you ready for college apps?
Take this quiz and find out!
Start Quiz
Browse Study Guides By Unit
📆Big Reviews: Finals & Exam Prep
📝Long Essay Questions (LEQ)
🚀Thematic Guides
🎨Unit 1: Renaissance and Exploration
⛪️Unit 2: Age of Reformation
👑Unit 3: Absolutism and Constitutionalism
🤔Unit 4: Scientific, Philosophical, and Political Developments
🥖Unit 5: Conflict, Crisis, and Reaction in the Late 18th Century
🚂Unit 6: Industrialization and Its Effects
Unit 7: 19th-Century Perspectives and Political Developments
💣Unit 8: 20th-Century Global Conflicts
🥶Unit 9: Cold War and Contemporary Europe
FREE AP euro Survival Pack + Cram Chart PDF
Sign up now for instant access to 2 amazing downloads to help you get a 5
Join us on Discord
Thousands of students are studying with us for the AP European History exam.
join now
💪🏽 Are you ready for the AP Euro exam?
Take this quiz for a progress check on what you’ve learned this year and get a personalized study plan to grab that 5!
START QUIZ