4.4: The end of the Cold War

AGE 10. The Time of Television and Computers
4.4 The End of the Cold War

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AGE 10. The Time of Television and Computers
4.4 The End of the Cold War

Slide 1 - Tekstslide

What is this lesson about?
The Cold War was extremely expensive for the two superpowers. The Soviet Union, with its centrally planned economy, came on the brink of an economic disaster. 
Simply said: they could no longer pay for an expensive arms race.

New Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev undertook reforms. 
What changes did he bring? And what were the consequences for the Cold War?

Slide 2 - Tekstslide

people in this lesson
Mikhail Gorbachev
Ronald Reagan
Helmut Kohl
West Germany

Erich Honecker
East Germany

Slide 3 - Tekstslide

Word Duty

perestroika: policy from 1985 of Soviet leader Gorbachev to change the communist planned economy into a free market economy

glasnost: policy in 1985 initiated by Soviet leader Gorbachev to give Soviet people more freedom of speech

Peaceful Revolution: the process of change that transformed communist East Germany to a parliamentary democracy, bringing the reunification of Germany

Fall of the Wall: when on 9th November 1989, East Berliners could freely visit West Berlin again

German Reunification: the process in 1990 when East Germany joined West Germany to 
form the reunited nation of Germany


Slide 4 - Tekstslide

Important dates in this lesson:

1985: Gorbachev becomes the leader of the Soviet Union
1988: Massive strikes in Poland: new non-communist government set up.
1989: January: non-communist government in Hungary set up.
          9th November: Fall of the Berlin Wall
1990: 3rd october: German Reunification.
1991: 25th December: Gorbachev resignes
          26th December: End of the Soviet Union.

Slide 5 - Tekstslide

The need for change

When Gorbachev rose to power in 1985, he recognised that the Soviet Union needed to change its policies. The Soviet Union was in economic crisis; people were starving while at the same time much money was spent to keep pace in the Cold War arms race. The costs associated with the space race were also excessive. So Gorbachev introduced two new reform policies. The first was called perestroika (‘rebuilding’ in Russian language) which turned the communist economy into a free market economy. To make this change possible, Gorbachev introduced glasnost (Russian for ‘openness’), his second new policy: this gave Russians greater freedom of speech. With these two policies, Gorbachev wanted to improve the economy of the Soviet Union and so improve the living conditions of its people.

Perestroika postage stamp, 1988

Slide 6 - Tekstslide

1. Which option shows the Soviet leaders
in the correct order?
Stalin, Khrushchev, Gorbachev, Lenin
Lenin, Stalin, Khrushchev, Gorbachev
Stalin, Lenin, Khrushchev, Gorbachev,
Khrushchev, Stalin, Gorbachev, Lenin

Slide 7 - Quizvraag

2. Explain how Gorbachev tried to improve Soviet Union policies.

Slide 8 - Open vraag

3. What was the main reason for Gorbachev's reforms?
The USSR could no longer afford the arms race
Gorbachev was an American spy and wanted to sabotage the USSR
The USSR no longer wanted to control the Eastern Block countries
Gorbachev wanted better relations with the USA

Slide 9 - Quizvraag

But by allowing people to have freedom of expression, Gorbachev unleashed emotions and political feelings that had been restrained for decades. Moreover, the economic reforms did not have the results Gorbachev had hoped for. The new freedom of speech meant that Gorbachev was consequently criticized for his failure to improve the economy. This started a process that in a couple of years would lead to the end of the Soviet Union.

Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and East German President Erich Honecker (front row, center) celebrate the 40th anniversary of the German Democratic Republic in East Berlin. Gorbachev's wife, Raisa, is at right behind the military officer

Slide 10 - Tekstslide

4. Why did Gorbachev’s new policies backfire on him?

Slide 11 - Open vraag

Revolts in Eastern Bloc countries

Gorbachev also made changes internationally: he wanted a better relationship with the USA, so he met the American president Reagan a couple of times trying to ease strained superpower relations. He also announced that the Soviet army would no longer interfere if anti-Communist revolt broke out in Eastern Bloc countries.
So when in 1988, massive strikes broke out in Poland, there was no Soviet intervention and a new non-Communist government was promptly set-up. Also in Hungary, revolutionaries demanded a new non-Communist government, which was established in January 1989. In the year after, other Eastern European countries followed this path and installed democratic governments.

Time Magazine covered the Geneva Summit in 1985, where US president, Ronald Reagan, and the leader of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, Mikhail Gorbachev met for the first time, during the " Cold War ".
When Gorbachev announced that the the Red Army would not crush demonstrations in Eastern Block countries, people in Poland, Eastern Germany, Czechoslovakia and Hungary went out into the streets to demonstrate fro more freedom.
in 1986 Reagan and Gorbachev met in Reykjavik. The two leaders developed a good relationship that would help end the Cold War.

Slide 12 - Tekstslide

5. Why could many Eastern European countries easily form new non-communist governments after Gorbachev rose to power? Choose your answer.

Because of the end of the Truman Doctrine.
Because Gorbachev was afraid of NATO interference.
Because the Soviet army no longer interfered in Eastern Bloc countries
Because Gorbachev had to focus on internal politics.

Slide 13 - Quizvraag

Slide 14 - Video

6. In your own words, briefly describe president Reagan's message to Gorbachev

Slide 15 - Open vraag

Germany reunites

The new Hungarian government opened its border with Austria and now there was a gap in the Iron Curtain. Within a few months, more than 70,000 East Germans fled to West Germany through this open Hungarian border. At the same time, the Peaceful Revolution in East Germany started. The East German people, knowing that the Soviet Union would not intervene, defied their government in mass protests and demanded to be allowed to go to West Germany.

On June 27, 1989 Hungary opened up its border with Austria, forever lifting the Iron Curtain. 
East-Germans were allowed to travel freely to Hungary (also communist). But now they cross the opened Iron Curtain and escape into Austria. From there they travelled to West-Germany.

Slide 16 - Tekstslide

7. Explain how the policy of Gorbachev led to more than 70,000 people fleeing from East Germany.

Slide 17 - Open vraag

8. What influence did the Peaceful Revolution have on the fall of the Berlin Wall?

Slide 18 - Open vraag

download, print and use for question 9

Slide 19 - Tekstslide

9. Download the map of Eastern Europe from the link in the previous slide.
In the map draw the possible route that East Germans could take to reach West Germany, by means of the Hungarian hole in the Iron Curtain. Make a picture of your map and use it as your answer.

Slide 20 - Open vraag

On 9th November 1989, the DDR- leaders decided that all East Germans could cross the Berlin Wall to visit West Berlin. They only needed an exit visa. However, due to miscommunication on the television, people thought that the opening of the Berlin Wall was effective immediately. So that evening, tens of thousands of East Berliners gathered at the Berlin Wall. The guards were unprepared for this number of people and in the end, the commander decided to open the wall. The people could now enter West Berlin, where they were warmly welcomed by West Berliners with flowers and champagne, to celebrate their new freedom.

The three Allied leaders at the Yalta Conference. From left to right: Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin. 9th February 1945.

Slide 21 - Tekstslide

10. Look at the pictures. Which famous border in Berlin was used to travel from East Berlin to West Berlin?

Slide 22 - Open vraag

source A
This photo was placed with the article ‘Accidental freedom- The Fall of the Berlin Wall’.

Slide 23 - Tekstslide

11. Study source A
Explain the title of the article

Slide 24 - Open vraag

After the so-called Fall of the Wall, talks began about a reunification of East and West Germany. 
Although reluctant at first, Gorbachev dropped his objections for a reunited Germany in return for financial aid from West Germany for the Soviet Union. Already on 3rd October 1990, the German Reunification was a fact and Berlin was restored as Germany’s capital. West German chancellor Helmut Kohl became the first chancellor of a reunited Germany.
East German president Erich Honecker was arrested but he did no go to jail because he was very ill. He died in 1994.

Celebrations in front of the Reichstag building. People celebrate the reunification of Germany on Oct. 3rd, 1990

Slide 25 - Tekstslide

12. Can you think of a reason why other European countries and also the Soviet Union might have problems with a German Reunification?

Slide 26 - Open vraag

Slide 27 - Video

The end of the Soviet Union

According to a poll held in 2014, 57% of elderly Russians regretted that the Soviet Union had collapsed.
Six years after Gorbachev came to power, his new policies had not had the desired effect; they had led to shortages, rationing and endless queuing for scarce goods. 
The Soviet Union was a federation, a union of states, but its government and economy were highly centralised. Frustrated with the economy and with the politics of Gorbachev, one by one the individual Soviet Republics declared independence. In four months, all states except for Georgia had seceded from the Soviet Union.

Lenin's statue is torn down as the Ukraine declares independence from the USSR.

Slide 28 - Tekstslide

13a. Gorbachev’s new policies improved Soviet people’s lives.

Slide 29 - Quizvraag

13b. The Soviet Union was ruled from one place.

Slide 30 - Quizvraag

13c. Gorbachev resigned on Christmas Day 1991.

Slide 31 - Quizvraag

13d. The end of the Soviet Union also ended the Cold War.

Slide 32 - Quizvraag

Gorbachev resigned on 25th December 1991. 
The next day, a treaty was signed acknowledging the independence of all former Soviet Republics. 
The largest of the fifteen Soviet republics of the Soviet Union got back its old name: Russia. The once-mighty Soviet Union had finally fallen. The fall of the Soviet Union also meant the end of the Cold War because the USA was now the only superpower left.

Cartoon about the end of the Soviet Union
The breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991. 

Slide 33 - Tekstslide

14a Look at source B

Who is the bearded man in the clouds?
Karl Marx

Slide 34 - Quizvraag

14b. The bearded man has a staff in his hand. What does that mean and why is he in the top of the cartoon?

Slide 35 - Open vraag

14c. Who are the 2 people below the bearded man in the clouds?

Lenin and Stalin
Stalin and Khrushchev
Gorbachev and Reagan
Tsar Nicolas and Wilhelm II

Slide 36 - Quizvraag

14d. Who is walking in front of the coffin?

Tsar Nicolas

Slide 37 - Quizvraag

14e. Who / what is being buried?

East Germany
The Soviet Union

Slide 38 - Quizvraag

14f. Now explain the artist's message. Include the text "I can't believe my eyes" in your answer.

Slide 39 - Open vraag

When Gorbachev came to power, he changed the politics of the Soviet Union to create a better economy. However, his changes backfired: the economy did not improve but deteriorated. In 1989, peaceful revolutions broke out in Eastern Europe and most Eastern Bloc countries established a democratic government. In November 1989, the Berlin Wall fell and in 1990 the German reunification took place. One by one, the Soviet Republics declared their independence from the central communist government, which led to the collapse of the Soviet Union. This was the end of the Cold War.

You can use this to make your own summary if you want to...

Slide 40 - Tekstslide

That's it. All clear?

Write down one question about something in this lesson that you still don't fully understand.

Slide 41 - Open vraag


Slide 42 - Tekstslide

Slide 43 - Video