1(a) Which of the following had the greater impact on the breakdown of relations between East and West? [10 marks]
(i)The Potsdam Agreement 1945
(ii)The Marshall Plan of 1947
One reason that the Potsdam agreement of 1945 was significant was because this was the first flashpoint for disagreement and breakdown between the Allies and a turning point for international relations. They couldn’t agree on the Polish borders or how much control the ACC would have on the whole of Germany. At the conference Truman also threatened Stalin with his ‘new weapon’ that Stalin was already aware of. This meant that Stalin’s disagreements with the Western Allies were only enhanced by Truman’s threat and consequently increased Stalin’s distrust over the West. Another point is that Potsdam caused other events such as the US ‘Containment’ policy of Soviet’s sphere of influence and the Truman Doctrine outlining the two sides, East and West. However, Potsdam might not be as significant because it can be argued that although it was a turning point for relations between the allies, there was no action that concurred from this disagreement alone. This is because the US policies towards the Soviet Union had more deep-rooted suspicions that the USSR was following a policy of ‘expansionism’ of communism and the Truman Doctrine was in response to that. This means that the impact of the Potsdam agreement was limited because of no real action taken in response to the Potsdam agreement and did not change the situation in the long term.
A reason that the Marshall plan of 1947 was important in the breakdown of the grand alliance was that it isolated the Soviet Union from the West, and recognised the split of East and West, dividing Europe. This is because Marshall aid was given to countries west of Asia, even though the Soviets were invited to conferences, they were sceptical about the Western influence in the East and instead set up their own rival Cominform to coordinate Soviet policies in…