Lesson video

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How successful was the policy of peaceful co-existence? So we have the USA and the Western Europe, and we have the USSR, and we know that they have very different ideologies, but we're going to this step about whether it was possible, through this period from sort of 1945 onwards, was it possible for them to peacefully coexist, to have different ideas, but for that not to result in violence.

We're going to see if that was possible.

So our lesson will look like this.

We're going to learn about one of the first wars after the Second World War, one of the first proxy wars between communism and capitalism, the Korean War.

Then the death of the leader of the SSR, Stalin.

The building of the Berlin Wall, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the Vietnam War.

So as last Tuesday, we're giving a brief survey as ever.

It'd be great going to each of these in lots and lots of depth, but I want to make sure you've got a really good sort of map in your head of history over the last 50 years.

And so it just touching on each of them.

So let's start with the Korean War.

So here's a map of the world.

See if you can pick out some of the key areas.

So can you point to Russia? How about pointing to Russia? Yep, well done if you pick this one here, known as the USSR then, Great Britain where we live, point to that.

Awesome, this island here.

The USA, one of the two superpowers, USA over here, excellent.

So this whole continent of North America, USA, this bay is Canada and this is Alaska, which is also part of the USA.

But we're going to focus, so these are the two superpowers, what's not here is the Pacific Ocean.

What's not on this map is the Pacific Ocean, which is almost half of the other side of the globe.

So there's a huge ocean between this bay and this bay.

And we're going to focus on East Asia here.

So we're going to focus, this is China, but we're going to focus on this area here.

So let's zoom into that.

And you can see that little island there that you saw here, this island sort of pinky colour, that's Japan.

The end of the war, Japan had had these two nuclear bombs dropped on them by the USA.

And near to Japan there are these two nations and they're still two nations today, North Korea and South Korea.

And you'll see that they actually border onto China and Russia.

Now China became a communist state, still a communist state today.

And the Korean War was one of the first wars.

So Japan used to control North and South Korea, up until the Second World War Japan controlled that whole area.

But after the Second World War and Japan had lost, that country got divided.

So the North was given to the Soviet, to the USSR, and the South was given to the United Nations and to America, and they sent soldiers, and were there for about five years.

But after those troops all left, there were elections in the North and the North chose to be communists.

And there were elections in the South and they chose to be capitalist.

So similar to the USA and the USSR, you can see this why it's a proxy war because the USSR is getting their ideas into the North and America is getting their ideas into the South, and then they fight each other.

So communism is fighting capitalism, but the two super powers aren't directly fighting each other.

So this took place between 1950 and 1953.

I think that they still actually haven't signed a peace amnesty.

So South Korea and North Korea tensions are still very high today.

You might sometimes see that in the news.

And they still are very, very distrustful of each other.

And so one thing that happened was after the soldiers left in 1950, after the United Nations and American soldiers left in 1950, the North with the communists invaded the South.

And so the after that had happened because the North invaded the South and the communists had started taking over.

They wanted to take over the whole country, America and the newly formed United Nations sent lots and lots of soldiers into the South to help fight against the North.

Now that meant that China who were also communists, they sent soldiers to support the North Koreans to fight against the South.

And so we had this war between North Korea and South Korea.

Now America and the United Nations were very, very key for the whole country not to become communist.

So they didn't want all of this to be communist.

Look at the geography here.

Think about this difference in ideology.

And the US president at the time is somebody called Harry Truman.

So why do you think that he wanted South Korea to fight the North Koreans? Why did he send troops to help South Korea fight communism from the North Koreans? Write down an answer to that question and see if you can refer to the map when you answer that question, the actual geography of the area.

Super, hopefully you got an answer there.

Here's something else for you to consider, the fighting happened over three years.

It was really prolonged in China, lots and lots of soldiers that they could keep sending in.

And so it looked a little bit like an unwinnable war.

Looked very difficult for the United nations, they didn't want to lose the area.

And one of Harry Truman, the president of the United States, one of his advisors said, "Well why don't we just drop another nuclear bomb? "We did it in Japan.

"We dropped two nuclear bombs "and they surrendered straight away.

"So we could drop two nuclear bombs on North Korea "and they would give up "and then all of Korea can be capitalist "which is what we want." But president Truman refused.

He said, "No we're not using a nuclear bomb "against North Korea." So I'd like you to have a think, really think hard about this, and then write down your beliefs, your thoughts, do you think that Truman did the right thing? Countries still split today with communists in the North, and North Korea has one of the worst human rights records in the world.

There lots of people starving.

They're a very totalitarian regime where people don't get to choose their leader and the fundamental human rights are very restricted.

They don't get information from the outside world.

But Truman said "We shouldn't drop a nuclear bomb "and take North Korea back." Do you think that he did the right thing? Think hard about it, 'cause I know that you already thought premature and write down what your beliefs are 'cause I'd be interested to hear them.

So the Korean War had taken place between 1950 and 1953.

At the time, Joseph Stalin, who is the leader of the USSR attended those conferences that we learned about Yalta and Potsdam.

He was the leader and helped Russia to develop nuclear bombs.

They first got nuclear bombs in 1949, but in 1953, eight years after the war, Stalin died and a new leader took over called Khrushchev.

So in 1953, Khrushchev took over.

And through this period Stalin had been putting in place lots and lots of reforms, and lots of people had died in this country, they died of starvation.

They didn't have enough food.

They were spending lots of money on nuclear bombs that were very expensive and they were going into lots of wars and supporting lots of other countries to try and be communist and really expand.

And Khrushchev said, this is a bad idea.

Although he was still communist and still believed in communism, he said secretly we need some destalinization, destalin, get rid of some of these Stalin reforms and try to modernise a little bit and have a modern communism.

So that was Khrushchev's idea.

And partially this was because he thought that there were only two ways, peaceful coexistence with the United States, or the most destructive war in history.

He said, "There's no third way." There's one of two things that are going to happen here, either we peacefully live alongside each other, or we're going to have a war and it will be so destructive because we have loads of nuclear bombs and you have loads of nuclear bombs.

There's no third option here.

And we can see here with this graph, the number of nuclear warheads that were accumulated by each side.

So this red side is the USSR or Russia.

And you can see they start a bit later than the Americans because they didn't have the nuclear bomb at the same time as them.

They discovered it later.

And as we get into the 1960s and the 1970s, the number of warheads increases hugely, exponentially.

It goes from in 1950, just a few hundred to in 1960 a few thousand in the USSR and 20,000 in the United States.

And by 1980, both nations having about 25,000 nuclear bombs, enough to destroy the entire world and everybody on it many times over.

And this was in the context of this peaceful coexistence.

And partially, this is because of this idea of mutually assured destruction.

We get this arms race.

There was a belief amongst both sides that the safest thing that you can do is have lots and lots and lots of nuclear bombs.

The more nuclear bombs you have, the less likely war is, because the other side isn't going to attack, 'cause they know how many nuclear bombs you've got.

The problem is, well, one side has nuclear bombs, the other side needs nuclear bombs as well.

So I've written a sentence here, between 1950 and 1990 the United States and the USSR hugely increased or dramatically reduced their stockpiles of nuclear weapons.

One of the bets here is wrong.

Hugely increased or dramatically reduced.

Write out that sentence with just the correct phrase in it.

Okay, hopefully you had a chance to do that.

I'm going to put up the correct answer now, so you can mark it if you've got it correct.

Between 1950 and 1990, the United States and the USSR hugely increased their stockpiles of nuclear weapons.

So it's this period of peaceful coexistence, but that doesn't mean that there's no weapons and it doesn't mean that there's no fighting.

It means that the USSR and USA aren't directly attacking each other.

In the last lesson, we learned a bit about Berlin and how Germany was split up between those different nations of the Western powers.

And they combined their zones into Western Germany, the USA, France, and Great Britain, and the Soviet Union which had East Germany.

And Berlin, the capital city in the USSR zone was also split up and divided.

Now, as time went on, the conditions in Western Germany were much, much better than the conditions in Eastern Germany.

People had lots more money partially because the Americans were giving lots and lots of money to Western Europe through the Marshall Plan.

They were giving billions of dollars to Western European countries to say look capitalism is great.

You get all of this money.

You should be on our side.

And people in Eastern Germany we're seeing Western Germans having this quality of life that they don't have.

And lots of them were crossing over to Western Germany.

And the same was happening in Berlin, even though that was in the Soviet zone, a lot of people who were in Eastern Berlin in the Soviet zone, they were crossing over to be part of the American zone and the Western power zone, 'cause they said, we want this great quality of life.

It's right over there I can see it.

It's just a short walkway.

So I'll go and live on that side of the city so that I can have the good quality of life.

Now, this was unacceptable to Khrushchev.

This was unacceptable to the Soviet Union, because it was showing the world that Western powers had the better system, that people preferred the Western system.

And so overnight, they built a huge wall and you can see it here.

They built a huge wall right across the city and they did it in their zone.

So the Western powers couldn't object 'cause it was in their zone, and they built this huge wall to physically stop people going to the other side of the city.

Now, there was a president called John F.

Kennedy at the time, that wall was nearly a 100 miles long.

It was built in 1961 when JFK first became president and it had 186 Soviet observation guard towers and they had machine guns.

And if somebody tried to jump over the wall, or climb over the wall to get to West Berlin then they would shoot them.

JFK didn't do anything about the wall.

He didn't try to tear it down.

He didn't actually do anything about the wall.

He said, "Look we're just going to have "to leave the wall there.

"And the people in East Berlin "are going to have to stay in East Berlin." So let's see if you can recap a quick question for you here to see if you can remember some key facts about the Berlin Wall.

Was it 10 miles long with 18 observation towers? Was it 100 miles long with 186 observation towers? Was it 1000 miles long with 1,860 observation towers, or 186 miles long with 100 observation towers? What do you think is the correct answer there? Well done if you said B.

Well done if you're pointing to B or if you wrote down B.

The Berlin Wall about a 100 miles long.

Now JFK did not want to risk an all out war.

The Soviet Union and the Western powers are right next to each other here.

So already it's on the USSR doorstep.

They didn't want to either try and destroy the wall, or use soldiers to stop the Soviet Union from being in those observation towers.

And so JFK chose not to do anything.

The next conflict though, JFK did act.

So the next hot flash, the next point in the Cold War was the Cuban Missile Crisis and here JFK did act.

So Cuba is this island here, and you can see it's near to the United States.

So this big island here is near the United States.

And in 1959, somebody called Fidel Castro led a communist revolution in Cuba.

So Cuba became a communist country.

Now the United States didn't like that obviously, because that was ideologically against what they thought.

And so they said to Cuba, we're going to stop trading with you.

And you can see it's really close to the USA.

And they used to trade loads with each other.

They would buy things from Cuba.

They would buy some of their products especially Cuban cigars, for example.

And they said, we're not buying any of that stuff from you anymore.

And we also won't give you the things that you need.

And so Cuba, we were a bit stuck, 'cause they were reliant on the USA for their trade.

So who could Cuba trade with? That's right, the USSR, they were a communist country.

Now they could be friends with the USSR.

And so Cuba started trading with the USSR.

And over the years, they continued to trade.

The Americans really didn't want the communist countries down.

JFK led an invasion called the Bay of Pigs Invasion, where he tried to send troops in secretly to overthrow the communist government there.

It wasn't successful.

And it meant that Cuba didn't feel safe having America so close by.

And so as well as trading with the USSR, they also asked for weapons, and the USSR was happy to send them, because this would give them a base close to America.

And so the USSR started sending missiles.

Now, this is a big problem, because now there are missiles on Cuba and the first missiles could reach America.

So for the first time the USSR was close enough to directly attack America.

There weren't any nuclear warheads on the missiles at first got sent, but if they did send nuclear warheads they would be able to send a nuclear warhead directly there.

In fact, they had longer range missiles they were sending that could hit always all of America including their capital city, or their major cities like Chicago, or New York, or Dallas.

So the Soviet Union was sending lots and lots of ships.

And there were suspicions that some of these might have these long range missiles, also nuclear warheads.

And so JFK didn't directly want to sink those ships.

So the ships were coming from Russia and they were trying to get to Cuba.

He didn't want to sink them, 'cause that would be an act of war, but he also wanted to stop them.

And so he sent his boats out to block them.

He led a naval blockade and there was a period where, it called the Cuban Missile Crisis, where everybody was very terrified.

And if you've got parents or perhaps grandparents speak to them, 'cause they may well remember this.

Everybody was very scared that the world was about to have a nuclear war, that the USSR was going to attack America, or America was going to attack the USSR and a big nuclear war would happen.

It didn't happen in the end, but many historians argue that the Cuban Missile Crisis, that was the closest the world has come to total destruction.

Did you agree with that assessment? From what you've just heard, do you think the Cuban Missile Crisis is the closest the world's come to complete destruction? Do you agree, and why do you agree with that? Make sure you justify your answer.

Pause the video and answer that question now.

Super work, remember you can ask your parents or carers take a photo, I'd love to read it, 'cause I want to find out your ideas, I'm very interested in what you think about this topics, fascinating period of history.

The last war we're going to look very, very quickly at was a huge and prolonged war, the Vietnam War and you might've heard of this.

It's still culturally very relevant.

People living in America that maybe served in the Vietnam War.

The Vietnam War it took place over many years, beginning really in 1955.

And again, we get a situation where the North side of Vietnam was supported by the communist regimes of China and the USSR.

And the South side, more capitalist side, supported by the USA.

And at one point the North Korean side attacked the US base.

And that meant the Americans went into Vietnam.

They used that as an excuse to send troops into Vietnam to try and fight the North side, the communist side.

And it lasted a long time, partly because of the geography, which meant that the Northern Vietnam soldiers had tunnels and they had rain forests and lots of places to sort of hide and retreat to which made direct fighting very, very difficult.

Now, this meant that the USA took some tactics like using napalm.

Napalm is a kind of chemical which burns things.

And because the rain forest, they couldn't find the enemy in the rain forest, they sent planes and helicopters and they dropped napalm which burned through all of the rain forest, but it also burnt people as well.

And it's illegal now napalm, nobody is allowed to use it even in war, 'cause it's such a horrible weapon, but it was a weapon they used.

And one of the differences with Vietnam is, there were television cameras now and people were sending television cameras and they were showing just how horrible this was and how many millions of innocent civilian Vietnamese were being affected by this war and the American presence.

And it seemed like this is an unwinnable war.

It's impossible to defeat the enemy, 'cause they retreat, they hide away.

And then they sort of popped back once the USA have sort of retreated a little bit.

So this became a very unpopular war in America.

And people were really protesting it in America.

They were seeing those pictures on their TV.

They didn't feel like it was a just war.

They didn't feel like they should go in and dropping that napalm and causing so much death and destruction.

And so there was all of these protests across America that eventually led to the withdraw of America, is often known as the war that America lost, because it wasn't a successful war.

And Marshall McLuhan had this lovely phrase here where he says "Vietnam was lost in the living rooms "of America - not on the battlefields of Vietnam." What do you think that means? It's an interesting saying, it's an interesting quote.

What does he mean by that when he says Vietnam was lost in the living rooms of America- not on the battlefields of Vietnam? Write your answer to that.

That's the end of our lesson.

So we've looked at four different hot flashes throughout the 1950s and '60s and '70s.

When we're supposed to have this period of peaceful coexistence, now, maybe you argue, well, it was successful.

There was peaceful co-existence because the USSR and the United States didn't directly attack each other.

There is no nuclear war, but we have to bear in mind that countries across the world, especially less developed countries were used as battlefields by the USA and the USSR to fight their ideas.

So it wasn't necessarily their soldiers, or their people that were going to fight them, they were using people by sending money and sending weapons to get them to fight each other.

So you may argue that it wasn't peaceful co-existence.

There was no peace about it.

There were wars across the world.