After the fall of the Nazi party in 1945, the forces at the frontlines belonging to the United States of America and the Soviet Union met in Berlin. The two powers had covered half of Europe each. They both held temporary dominion over the territory they had conquered (Leffler & Westad, 2010). The United States and its allies held the western sphere while the Soviet Union held the eastern sphere. A conflict of ideology ensued since the Soviet Union, led by Josef Stalin’s dictatorship, had a communist ideology as the basis of their economy and politics, whereas the United States and its allies had a capitalist ideology. Both sides were now determined to influence the post war Europe to adopt their ideologies. This made Europe the war zone for the cold war (Leffler & Westad, 2010).
Germany, which was in the middle of the conflict, experienced considerable impacts when Stalin, the leader of the Soviet Union, imposed a blockade to prevent the western allies from relaying any supplies to Berlin. America and its allies resulted to air transport to relay their supplies to Berlin. According to some experts, the Americans anticipated that the Soviets would shoot down their planes to spark off a war that they could not win since they were still recovering from the ravages of the World War II. However, the Soviet Union did not take any radical military action to aggravate the western powers. It lifted the blockade on the persistence of the allies’ airlifts (Wettig, 2008). In the same year, the allies formed the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to defend the member countries against any attack from the communist Soviet Union. The communists did not form a military alliance immediately since they held direct dominion over much of the Eastern Europe. In 1955, it became evident that a military alliance was necessary to counter the momentum that the United States was gaining in the cold war. In this regard, the communist nations signed the Warsaw Pact. They took this course of action after the supposedly neutral West Germany was integrated into the NATO military structure (Phillips, 2001).
Winston church hill, the immediate prime minister of the post war United Kingdom, christened the ideological divide in Europe the “iron curtain” alluding to the impermeability of the ideologies. Moreover, the western powers were determined to contain the spread of communism into Europe while the Soviet Union was determined to spread its ideology to Europe, which traditionally comprised of capitalist democracies. The opposing powers significantly attempted to end the conflict, but the shooting down of a United States spy plane within the Soviet Union territory nullified the talks. In this regard, the Berlin wall was built to effectively divide the city of Berlin into distinct halves of East Berlin and West Berlin. A sequence of negotiations in Europe in the decade between 1960 and 1970 suppressed the buildup of lethal weaponry in Europe by the two opposing ideological blocks. Furthermore, the apprehension of the tremendous destruction of each other contributed to the alleviation of armed conflicts and the reduction of nuclear arsenals by the two major antagonists (Phillips, 2001).
When Mikhail Gorbachev rose to power in the Soviet Union, he decided to end the cold war, the arms race, and dissolve the Soviet Union into independent states in order to ensure the stability of the original Russia, which was the basis on which the Soviet Union was built. In 1988, liberated European countries such as Poland and Hungary formed successful democratic governments, while the government of the communist East Germany collapsed. In addition, later, the Berlin Wall fell, and Germany united under a democratic government. The communist Soviet Union remained operational, and it still influenced Europe’s matters for an additional three years during which the soviet leadership slowly suppressed the efforts to spread communism. A failed coup in 1991 installed a new revolutionary leadership in the Soviet Union, which summarily dissolved the Soviet Union and completely disengaged from the cold war activities in Europe marking the official end of the cold war (Phillips, 2001).