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Unit 8

8.1 Context of the Cold War

3 min readjune 11, 2020

Katie Moore


AP World History 🌍

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Results of WWI

A ton of empires broke apart or started to fall after losses in WWI, such as Austria-Hungary, which fractured into two nations, Germany, who experienced economic devastation, and the Ottoman Empire, who dissolved entirely.
Like I said above, a lot of colonies of imperialist empires began to think of independence. Fighting in WWI helped them develop a sense of nationalism as a separate entity from their imperialist controllers. Some of this began really early, such as the Irish and Korean Declarations of Independence. Instead of continuing to submit to often-cruel imperial authority, these countries sought self-determination.
This would lead to… you guessed it, decolonization! 

Results of WWII

All that stuff above? Yeah, it totally still applies. If colonies felt nationalist before, they definitely do now, especially after they’d often been refused independence once after WWI (India, anyone?) 
In respect to the Cold War, as I said, WWII hit Western Europe the hardest. Now economically and physically devastated from the war, Europe had to pretty much build from scratch-- and since that region used to be the world superpower, there was a vacuum to fill. The U.S. and USSR (Russia) filled that gap. 
Since the U.S. was overseas, and Russia was super cold, both of them managed to avoid the worst of the fighting. Not to mention, to fight the wars, both had built up their military, so when the fighting ended and they emerged victoriously, they had an enormous army-- not to mention a booming economy.
Also, remember all those fractured empires, like Nazi Germany? Yeah, now the U.S. and USSR got to influence them. This would only lead to good things.
Just kidding!

WWII Results

WWII Event
Effect
Colonies fought on the side of their imperial rulers
Increased nationalism in the colonies 
Western Europe destroyed by fighting 
Power vacuum (that U.S. and USSR would fill)
U.S. and USSR far away from W. Europe & had a strong military from fighting the war 
Able to fill W. Europe power vacuum and battle for control; beginning of Cold War 
Losing empires destroyed 
U.S. and USSR fought for control over land 

REVIEW GAME

How did the World Wars lead to the Cold War and Decolonization? (True or False)
  • When the losing countries saw they were going to lose, they became part of the U.S. or USSR, which led to the Cold War.
    • (F-- losing countries did not join either, but were rather split up into spheres of influences after the war)
  • When the war was over, the U.S. and USSR were deeply impoverished and started fighting over the last resources, leading to the Cold War.
    • (F-- the U.S. and USSR became superpowers after the Cold War)
  • The U.S. and USSR had strong economies and militaries, which let them fill the gap of powers (T)
  • Western Europe was destroyed, which left room for the U.S. and USSR to become superpowers (T)
  • Colonies that were part of empires who lost the war, got mad about their loss and demanded independence 
    • (F-- many colonies, regardless of whether the country lost or not, demanded independence after the war due to rising nationalism in the colony) 
  • Winning countries like France got to encourage the U.S./USSR rivalry because they were still in power 
    • (F-- Western Europe was largely no longer in power, leaving room for the U.S./USSR to take place as a superpower)
  • Fighting in the wars helped colonies develop a sense of nationalism and demand independence (T)
  • The empires that lost had to be divvied up, which led to the U.S. and USSR exerting influence over large parts of the world (T)

Additional Resources: 

🎥Watch: WHAP - The Cold War
🎥Watch: WHAP - Decolonization
🎥Watch: WHAP - Newly Independent States
🏆Trivia: WHAP - Cold War Review
🏆Trivia: WHAP - Decolonization Review

Resources:

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