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A European Dimension to the Cold War? (Part 3)

A European Dimension to the Cold War? (Part 3)

Whilst Eastern Europe may have had less freedom politically to prove its independence there is one key example in Yugoslavian leader Tito and his partisans, brutally massacring thousands of people with the intention of creating his own sense of Communism in resistance to the USSR through violence and fear. Western Europe showboated its own dimension in the 1940s through this medium of ideological thinking whilst the East took a different stance, reflective of the atrocities endured there post war, yet both show that Europe did indeed have its own dimension in the Cold War. Furthermore, NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization [sic]) which was largely instigated by the US, is based and run from Brussels, Belgium and is a European centric organisation despite its intercontinental spectrum. In fact the US began to withdraw from Europe after the Second World War and Roosevelt told the State Department in 1944 that he felt the US had no need of the burden of caring for Europe and rather that it could do so itself with Britain aiding France and Belgium already at that point. Terry Anderson even argues that Britain was the Soviet Union’s main opponent in the immediate aftermath of the war and that the US did not realise its potential for power over Europe until the impact of the Marshall Plan in 1947. This is a fair conclusion as Britain’s Prime Minister Churchill was a more hard-line and aggressive figure than the US President Roosevelt. Indeed Churchill’s famous Iron Curtain Speech in Fulton, Missouri, in 1946 condemned the USSR and Communism more so than the US Government had to that point. Although Kennan’s ‘Long Telegram’ initiated the concept of ‘containment’ it was not perhaps realised and enforced as much by the US until after 1947. Ergo, from a political stance there is certainly a strong European Dimension to the Cold War, largely from a Western perspective though somewhat in the East also, (namely Tito in Yugoslavia) as numerous European nations proved that the influence of the ‘two dogs’ may have been intimidating but that the bone would not easily be broken.


From an economic perspective it is largely true that because of devastation post war, Europe was heavily dependent on Marshall Aid from the US, and without this aid the East fell behind the booming West. That being said, Europe still had a dimension of its own in the Cold War from an economic perspective and in fact the Marshall Plan itself was only created as a result of Britain choosing to withdraw financial aid from Greece. The US felt forced to intervene thereafter to prevent the country falling to Communism and hence two European nations had forced the hand of the great western superpower, proving themselves not powerless lackeys of the US. In fact Cox and Kennedy- Pipe argue that the British and French foreign ministers placed more pressure on the Soviet Union not to partake in the plan than the US did. Perhaps then one might argue reasonably that Eastern Europe’s fate economically was sealed by Britain and France and not the US. Furthermore, Germany was the key to Europe but the decision to split it into 4 zones of occupation weakened the power of the rival blocs and showed the influence of Britain and France in particular within Europe. Indeed France in particular, having suffered German occupation and endured much of the fighting needed Germany’s resources and were resultantly rewarded with the Rhineland which they initially stripped of resources to aid their recovery effort and boost their economy. The French then continued to run administration in their zone of Germany themselves and did not hold free elections within the region for almost a year.This contradicted the US’ approach to Germany and certainly of democracy and this is a key example of just how much power and arguably entitlement many European nations had to power post war.


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