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The Cold War Begins: Soviet-American Conflict Over East Europe

The Cold War Begins: Soviet-American Conflict Over East Europe

Lynn Etheridge Davis
Copyright Date: 1974
Pages: 437
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    The Cold War Begins: Soviet-American Conflict Over East Europe
    Book Description:

    A critical issue in the origins of the Cold War-the development of Soviet-American conflict over Eastern Europe from 1941 to 1945-is the subject of Lynn Etheridge Davis's book. Disagreeing with those writers who argue that conflict arose from the determination of the United States to obtain economic markets in Europe or from imprecise assessments of Soviet security interests, the author describes how the United States made an initial commitment to the Atlantic Charter principles in 1941, then continued to promote the creation of representative governments in Eastern Europe without clearly identifying American interests or foreseeing the consequences of these actions.

    Using recently released documents of the Departments of State and War, Professor Davis explains how the views of U.S. officials on postwar peace precluded approval of Soviet efforts to establish a sphere of influence in Eastern Europe through the imposition of Communist regimes. She describes how American officials interpreted Soviet actions as intent to expand into Western Europe and how the subsequent undermining of Allied cooperation around the world led to the Cold War.

    Originally published in 1974.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-6802-5
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-2)
    (pp. 3-10)

    The origins of the Cold War were numerous and continue to be a matter of controversy. But all writers consider the development of Soviet-American conflict over the political future of Eastern Europe to have been a major cause. According to Robert Divine, for example, “Poland, more than any other issue, gave rise to the Cold War.”¹ Adam Ulam agrees: “The cold war began just as had World War II, with Poland providing the immediate cause of the conflict.”² Admiral Leahy records that United States nonrecognition of the governments of Rumania, Bulgaria, and Hungary at the Potsdam Conference resulted in a...

    (pp. 11-37)

    In the summer of 1941, even before the United States became a belligerent in the Second World War, the first critical step in the development of Soviet-American conflict over Eastern Europe occurred. During July rumors circulated in Washington about secret British and Soviet commitments for postwar territorial and political arrangements in Eastern Europe. Reports suggested that the Soviet Union intended to support the re-establishment of independent Polish, Czech, and Yugoslav states at the end of the war, to recognize National Committees to be composed of Polish, Czech, and Yugoslav prisoners in the Soviet Union, and thereby to establish predominant Russian...

  6. TWO POLAND 1941–1943
    (pp. 38-61)

    Efforts by the Soviet and British governments to settle territorial questions during 1941 and 1942 were not the only causes for concern about Eastern Europe among United States officials. Differences between the Polish government-in-exile in London and the Soviet government over the political and territorial future of Poland threatened to undermine the unity of the military alliance against Germany. Polish demands for a return to the frontier established by the Treaty of Riga conflicted with Soviet insistence upon recognition of its 1941 boundary.¹ Following the German invasion of Russia, the London Polish government became increasingly irritated by Soviet interference in...

    (pp. 62-88)

    The United States policy of seeking to uphold the Atlantic Charter principles during 1941–1943 in response to British and Soviet efforts to draw the territorial frontiers of Eastern Europe, and to Soviet and Polish initiatives to determine the political future of Poland, brought the United States into increasing conflict with the Soviet Union. Differences over individual questions in Eastern Europe threatened to undermine the Allied military effort against Germany and to impede the establishment of a peace based upon Soviet-American cooperation. During these early years of the war, what expectations did American officials have about postwar Soviet plans for...

    (pp. 89-139)

    Throughout 1944 the Polish-Soviet dispute continued to be the primary focus of United States policy toward Eastern Europe. Soviet demands for the Curzon Line frontier and attacks against the London Polish government mounted. British initiatives to compromise the differences failed to break the impasse. United States concern to uphold the principles of the Atlantic Charter by clinging to a policy of postponement of territorial settlements and non-involvement in the internal affairs of states served only to widen Allied differences. During 1944, what were the issues in dispute and how did the British and American governments seek to resolve them? Why...

    (pp. 140-171)

    The preoccupation of United States officials with Polish problems during 1944 did not mean that other Eastern European developments were ignored or that the political future of these countries aroused no interest. The potential conflict between British and Soviet policies throughout Eastern Europe, the possible division of this part of the world into Anglo-Soviet spheres of influence, and the internal political chaos erupting in all the Eastern European countries drew attention. The situations in these countries individually, however, did not provoke the same degree of concern as Poland and consideration of these problems remained on a very abstract level.


    (pp. 172-201)

    The serious military and political problems confronting the Allied governments around the world led President Roosevelt to travel to the meeting of the Heads of State at Yalta in February 1945 with the single-minded determination to achieve a settlement of the major outstanding differences.¹ With respect to Eastern Europe, Roosevelt sought to establish a recognized role for the United States in decisions affecting this part of the world. Here, the United States had a general interest in implementing the Atlantic Charter principles and in preventing the creation of spheres of influence. In Poland, the United States particularly hoped to see...

  11. SEVEN POLAND 1945
    (pp. 202-254)

    Following the Yalta Conference, the facade of Allied agreement on Poland shattered. The differences glossed over at Yalta came to haunt the Allied governments once again. The same conflict between the Soviet intention to exercise predominant political influence in Poland and the American and British desire to see a free, independent, and democratic Poland reappeared.

    A breakdown in the discussions of the Moscow Commission precipitated the Polish crisis in March 1945. Composed of Soviet Foreign Minister Molotov, United States Ambassador Harriman, and British Ambassador Clark-Kerr, the Commission was charged with the task of implementing the Yalta agreement on Poland. In...

    (pp. 255-287)

    At Yalta the United States, British, and Soviet governments defined a particular type of political future for Eastern Europe. In the Declaration on Liberated Europe, they agreed to promote jointly the formation of representative governments and the holding of free elections. However, in the weeks following the Conference, it became clear that implementation would be difficult in the ex-German satellite states of Rumania, Bulgaria, and Hungary. General political, economic, and social chaos enveloped the countries. Organized Communist parties were increasing their influence and dictatorial regimes were being established. Moreover, the Soviet Union was using the Allied Control Commissions and the...

    (pp. 288-334)

    For United States officials in July 1945, the political future of Rumania, Bulgaria, and Hungary seemed still to hang in the balance. At least they were not ready to renounce their desire to see representative governments established. They were determined to promote the holding of free elections despite Soviet efforts in these countries to achieve total political control. Conflict between United States goals and Soviet insistence upon the formation of friendly governments therefore continued. In an effort to resolve this conflict, a series of seemingly unending meetings of the Foreign Ministers of the United States, Britain, and the Soviet Union...

    (pp. 335-368)

    Chaos, political and economic instability, and social unrest continued to plague Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia during 1945. Political developments in these two countries, however, did not receive the same attention from American officials as those in Poland or the former German satellite states of Eastern Europe. Both Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia were Allies and therefore questions of representation on Allied Control Commissions or the conclusion of peace treaties were not raised. In contrast to Poland, the Tito government in Yugoslavia and the Benes government in Czechoslovakia carefully cultivated the friendship of the Soviet Union, so that no conflict developed over the composition...

    (pp. 369-396)

    From 1941 until 1945 conflict escalated between the United States and the Soviet Union over the political future of Eastern Europe. As noted in the “Introduction,” this conflict was perhaps the single most important cause of the beginning of the Cold War. Recognition of the critical importance of this Eastern European issue has not, however, been accompanied by agreement among historians about the role American policy played in the development of the conflict.

    One group of historians, while assuming that United States interest in the establishment of representative governments in Eastern Europe was prompted by the desire to insure postwar...

    (pp. 397-400)
    (pp. 401-412)
  18. INDEX
    (pp. 413-427)
  19. Back Matter
    (pp. 428-430)