Under the impression of a growing threat to their state model from the communist one-party rule supported by the Soviet army, the western states founded NATO under the leadership of the USA (1949). As a consequence of the intensifying antagonisms between “East” and “West”, a common German policy of the victorious powers of the Second World War also failed because of this fault line. With the division of Berlin (1948/49 Berlin blockade) and the establishment of two German states (1949), the division of Europe was sealed for four decades. This first major phase of the East-West conflict ended in 1955 with the acceptance of the Federal Republic of Germany into NATO and the GDR into the newly established Warsaw Pact away. Outside Europe, the Cold War turned into a “hot” military conflict with the Korean War (1950–53). In its final phase, the Indochina War (1946–54) was increasingly determined by the ideological East-West conflict.
After Stalin’s death (1953), his successors N. S. Khrushchev (First Secretary of the Central Committee of the CPSU) and N. Bulganin (Prime Minister), inter alia. with the approval of the Austrian State Treaty (May 15, 1955), to a partial relaxation between their country and the Western powers. At the Geneva Summit Conference (July 1955; Geneva Conferences) the leading statesmen of the USA, the USSR, France and Great Britain sought negotiations on the German question and general disarmament to relax East-West relations. In November 1955, the foreign ministers of the four victorious powers failed in Geneva with their intention to translate the first détente into practical politics. With the suppression of the popular uprising in Hungary by Soviet troops (November 1956) and Khrushchev’s massive threats in the Suez crisis (October / November 1956), the relaxation-oriented “spirit of Geneva” gradually evaporated.
In the second half of the 1950s, increasing mistrust shaped international disarmament and détente. Later realized plans of NATO to deter nuclear weapons on the soil of the Federal Republic of Germany, i. H. at the politico-military interface of the East-West conflict, prompted the eastern side to consider moving the power blocs v. a. to be submitted in Central Europe. From 1957 onwards, the Polish Foreign Minister A. Rapacki stood out in particular (Rapacki Plan). In view of the consequences of a nuclear war for both sides, Khrushchev interpreted the Leninian formula of peaceful coexistence by moving away from the Marxist-Leninist thesis, which had been officially held up until then, of the inevitability of wars.
Second main phase
The brief, ultimately just atmospheric relaxation phase ended in 1958 with the second crisis surrounding Berlin (Berlin question), which culminated in August 1961 with the construction of the Berlin Wall and which ushered in the second main phase of the Cold War. When the USSR in Cuba, i. H. wanted to build a military and missile base in the immediate vicinity of the USA in 1962, the East-West conflict came to the brink of a military conflict including the use of nuclear weapons (Cuban Missile Crisis). The American President J. F. Kennedy succeeded through skillful diplomacy to persuade the Soviet leadership to dismantle the missile bases and return the missiles to the USSR. One reason for the crisis that both sides ultimately ended without losing face was the American willingness to withdraw nuclear missiles that threatened the USSR from Turkey in return. From then on, the two world powers endeavored to come to international arrangements in order to prevent direct confrontations.
With the first nuclear test ban agreement between the USA and Great Britain and the USSR and with the US-Soviet agreement on the establishment of a hot wire, a long period of relaxation began in 1963. In 1968 the USA and the USSR signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty with British participation. In 1969, American-Soviet negotiations began on the limitation of the strategic nuclear arsenals (SALT), which in 1972 led to the first agreement (SALT I) between the two world powers. However, part of Southeast Asia was through the – inter alia. based on domino theory – military intervention by the USA (until 1973) in the Vietnam War a scene of military clashes in the context of the East-West conflict.
According to SMBER,the second main phase is also due to problems between the communist states and a z. T. different degrees of integration of the individual Eastern Bloc countries in the alliance system. Tensions arose between China, where the Communist People’s Republic was proclaimed on the mainland in 1949, and the USSR from 1961 onwards, which in 1969 even led to a military border conflict on the Ussuri. Yugoslavia z. B. never had the Warsaw Pact, but had the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (Comecon). Albania, which was strongly oriented towards China at an early stage, had in fact already withdrawn from the Warsaw Pact in 1961 and formally withdrew in 1968 after the invasion of Czechoslovakia (ČSSR) by the Warsaw Pact states. This invasion, directed against the reform communist movement under A. Dubček (Prague Spring), reflected the view of the Soviet leadership of the limited sovereignty of the socialist states (Brezhnev doctrine), according to which all members of the socialist camp should be socio-politically, economically and militarily connected to the USSR. All Eastern European allies of the USSR took part in the intervention in the Czechoslovakia, with the exception of Romania, which wanted to demonstrate an independent foreign policy course, although N. Ceaușescu, as Secretary General of the CP and chairman of the State Council, continued the communist party rule with all social restrictions. The GDR (even if only kept on standby with its combat troops) was fully integrated into the preparation and planning of the action.