intense rivalry and mistrust between the two camps led by the USSR
and the United States threatened repeatedly to engulf the world in a
new global conflagration. The world entered the era of the cold war
that was to last for nearly half a century (1946–91). At its core
was the intense military, economic, ideological, and political
competition between the two antagonistic camps: the system of
capitalism and the system of socialism.
Several previously united nations were split as a result of this
overwhelming rivalry. Thus, Germany was divided into two states
following the establishment of the Federal Republic of Germany (West
Germany) in 1948 and the German Democratic Republic (East Germany)
in 1949. Divided nations would become a tragic symbol of the world
torn between the two hostile camps for several decades, affecting
the peoples of Germany, Korea, Vietnam, and several others.
Finally, there were serious internal considerations that compelled
Stalin to put a chill on Soviet relations with the West. The regime
had grounds to fear that the wartime contacts with the Allies had
encouraged the spread of pro-Western attitudes in various sections
of Soviet society. The positive perceptions of the West put into
question the integrity of Soviet propaganda that had always
condemned capitalism and strove to instill animosity toward Western
political and cultural institutions and way of life.
the country began rebuilding its war-ravaged economy, the regime
proceeded to tighten its ideological screws. The wartime patriotic
rhetoric was again infused with themes of “class struggle.” A
massive ideological campaign was launched to combat apolitical
“cosmopolitism” and reprehensible “cringing to the West.” It was
directed against all those who hoped for some liberalization of the
country’s internal life, as well as for improved relations with the
West. Thus, the growth of repression inside the country was
intrinsically connected with the onset of the cold war and the
mounting confrontation with the West.