Exploring the Cold War

The Cold War was a state of political and military tension between the United States and the Soviet Union that lasted from the end of World War II in 1945 until the early 1990s. It was called the ‘cold War’ because the two superpowers never engaged in direct military conflict, but rather engaged in a series of proxy wars and arms races. The Cold War was characterized by a global struggle for influence, with the United States promoting capitalism and democracy and the Soviet Union promoting communism and socialism. The end of the Cold War came with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.


At the end of World War II the four Allied countries partitioned Germany, and Berlin, into four zones. The French, British and American sectors set about programme of reconstruction and setting up a capitalist democracy in what was West Germany. The Soviets turned East Germany, and the rest of the Eastern Bloc, into a tightly controlled communist state. This division became even more absolute with the raising of the Berlin Wall in August 1961, which extended beyond the city to include all of Germany. Throughout the country there are still remnants of that physical barrier as well as the security apparatus that was set up on both side of the Wall to maintain power and control. Many of the Secret Service centres and prisons have been turned int museums and documentation centres.