Cold War refers to the conflict that existed between nations that had institutionalized communism in their governance structures led by the Soviet Union and those that had put in place democratic institutions in their governance structures led by the United States. Cold war was fought using very many mechanisms including propaganda, economic sabotage, and diplomatic schemes. Military means was also used occasionally.
The war was fought in countries that had just gained independence in the African continent, countries that considered themselves neutral and even in Asian continent. The war was also fought in outer space. Historians have not concurred on the exact date when the cold war begun (Zürcher, 1993), however, some have alluded to the cold war having begun when President Truman of the United States came up with the anti-communist policy.
Some of the reasons that have been advanced to be the causes of the cold war include ideological differences characterized by different systems of governance; economic differences fuelled by American favoritism for free trade and the Soviet Union’s desire to shield off her sphere from international influence; power rivalry; Russia’s influence in Europe immediately after the Second World War; American policy of strong resistance against Russia after second world war; and the deteriorating foreign ties between Russia and the United States.
This essay intends to illuminate the divisions that existed between the communist bloc nations during the cold war.
Some of the notable divisions that were witnessed during cold war era epitomized at a time when Khrushchev openly criticized Stalin. In a way, this move destabilized the Soviet bloc’s government that had been set up by Stalin in Eastern Europe. Riots were witnessed in Poland in 1956. This prompted Khrushchev to send Russian troops to help the Polish government put down Stalin’s influence in Eastern Europe. In Hungary, students burnt down the statue of Stalin in 1956.
After this incident, Imre Nagy became the Prime Minister of Hungary. Imre’s government put in place democratic institutions. There was freedom of speech and people were at liberty to practice any religion. After being encouraged by the Americans, Hungarians threatened to leave the Warsaw pact.
Khrushchev was not prepared to allow for freedom in Soviet bloc countries despite the fact that he believed in peaceful coexistence. In November 1956, Russian tanks invaded Budapest and established a Soviet rule. Many people died. This invasion horrified Western Europe and in a way strengthened the western leaders’ resolve to stamp out communism. The period between 1953 and 1963 was a time of great tension in the history of the cold war.
Divisions in the communist bloc states were also caused by perceived liberalization of Czechoslovakia that marked the end of censorship and political surveillance by the secret police. This irked President Leonid Brezhnev or Russia and his government because they appeared to be an impediment to their interests. Russia feared that Czechoslovakia would leave the communist bloc, a move they considered harm Soviet Union’s war with NATO.
The Soviet Union feared that they might lose the industrial prowess of Czechoslovakia which was very crucial for her war efforts. These fears were however baseless as Czechoslovakia had shown no intention of breaching the dictates of the Warsaw pact. Other divisions in the communist bloc were fuelled by fear of spread of liberal communism.
Zürcher, E. J. (1993). Turkey – A Modern History. London- New York: I. B. Tauris & Co Ltd.