The Cuban Missile Crisis was the closest that America and the Soviet state came to nuclear warfare. This photograph show sites of Soviet missiles in Cuba in 1962.
Credit: John Fitzgerald Kennedy Library.
Whereas in World War II the English, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand and their American Allies had liberated Western Europe from German occupation, the Russians, having defeated the Germans in Eastern Europe, remained as conquerors. Hence Europe became divided into two. In the East, including Poland, Romania and Eastern Germany, the Russians ruled an enlarged Russian communist empire. Here the state under Stalin and his secret police ruled. The economy was centrally planned under Marxist rules (equality for all, education for all and jobs for life) but where religion was banned along with freedom of speech and the press.
In the west, which included France, Spain, West Germany, Italy, Holland and Scandinavia, the liberators were capitalists and returned each country to self governance as free societies. Governments were elected by the people who had freedom of speech, action and religion. Many in the East would have moved to the free west if the Russians had not closed all the borders, creating what Churchill described as an Iron Curtain.
Not long after the end of World War II, the Soviet empire had obtained nuclear weapons, joining the West (America, England and France) as part of a small (in terms of nations) nuclear club. Each also developed ballistic missile capability to deliver nuclear warheads to all parts of the world. Because of the different political and cultural ideals of the East and West, there commenced a 40-year military stand off between Russia, which had annexed half of Europe and Islamic Asia. The West was headed, and indeed now dominated, not by England and its Empire but the USA. The two sides each had the capability to annihilate the other.
Thus began the Cold War.
Credit: US Dept. of State
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