The act of the unconditional capitulation of Germany was signed in a suburb of Berlin on May 8, 1945. The Second World War ended. The Third Reich collapsed under the onslaught of the Soviet Army and Anglo-American troops that were advancing from both the East and the West. Italians, French, Germans, Poles and Belgians were celebrating the victory over fascism.
Most Europeans had very little idea of what the post-war world will look like. The Second World War, which lasted for six years, became the most destructive war in the history of mankind. More than 60 countries with a population of 1.7 billion people were involved in that war. About 100 million people were struggling against fascism. During the war years, Germany, England, the United States and the Soviet Union produced about 653,000 planes, 287,000 tanks and 1,041 million guns.
The United States played a certain role in military operations against Nazi Germany on the Western Front. Washington was preparing to take on a leadership role in the creation of the new Europe. Owing to military supplies and loans, the U.S. received high profits and made many countries dependent on its economic aid.
Two months after the defeat of Nazi Germany, a special event took place in the world that radically changed the entire system of international relations. On August 6 and 9, 1945, U.S. heavy bombers dropped atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The use of nuclear weapons was brutal retaliation for Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor and a stern warning to potential U.S. adversaries.
A response from the Soviet Union did not take long to follow. Soviet scientists accelerated the work on the atomic bomb. The world saw the beginning of a massive arms race. In the event of a direct military conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union with the use of atomic weapons, consequences for all forms of life on Earth could be catastrophic. The USA and the USSR were struggling for world domination.
The confrontation between the two systems led to the break-up of Germany into two states - East Germany (German Democratic Republic) and West Germany (Federal Republic of Germany). West Germany turned into a huge military base for the U.S. and its allies for decades. The USSR was controlling domestic and foreign policy of the GDR, providing the country with considerable economic support without expecting anything else in return. In fact, neither America nor the Soviet Union were ever focused on the complete destruction of each other. The creation of the new world order was based on the well-known principle "divide and conquer."
As is well known, the Truman Doctrine marked the beginning of the new foreign policy of the United States. On March 12, 1947, U.S. President Harry Truman delivered his famous speech to the joint session of the Senate and the House of Representatives. It happened shortly after Stalin's refusal to join the Bretton Woods Agreement, under which the dollar would become the world's reserve currency, replacing gold and securing global economic dictate of the United States.
The main points put forward by Truman were as follows: "The United States should support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures. ... I believe that our help should be primarily through economic and financial aid, which is essential to economic stability and orderly political processes."
In essence, the Truman Doctrine was relevant to U.S. foreign policy in the XXI century as well.
In the postwar years, Washington skillfully used economic leverage over Europe with a goal to strengthen its military and political influence on the continent. On June 5, 1947, U.S. Secretary of State George C. Marshall during his speech at Harvard University suggested European countries should follow a new program of reconstruction and development after World War II, with the help of American money. France, UK, Italy, Belgium and several other countries agreed to take part in the "Marshall Plan."
The agreements signed in April 1948, included such conditions as encouraging U.S. private investment, cooperation in the reduction of customs tariffs and shipments of scarce goods to the United States. In three years, the U.S. spent about $ 17 billion on the "Marshall Plan," with the bulk of funds delivered to the United Kingdom, France, Italy and FRG. England and France, weakened by the war, could not challenge the leadership of the United States in the capitalist world. By 1948, the share of industrial production of the U.S. accounted for 55 percent of the West.
The end of World War II marked the beginning of a new era. The West began to realize how great the military power of the Soviet Union was. Washington was not going to give up its positions on the European continent. In the new bipolar world, the UK and France had to play the role of U.S. allies. The Second World War ended, and the collapse of the once powerful colonial empires was a foregone conclusion. During the 1940s and the 1950s, the United States strengthened its military and political influence in Europe and in the Asia-Pacific region, consolidating the status as a leading world power. The "cold war" between the East and the West dragged on for decades. The Soviet Union was showing resistance to the US-European expansion, until, by definition of Western experts, a new organizational weapon was used against it, targeting vulnerabilities in the Soviet system.