Section 4 Overview

Section 4: World War II and the Cold War

In August 1939, Soviets and Nazis met in Moscow to divide the continent between them. In the presence of Stalin, the foreign ministers of Communist Russia and Nazi Germany signed the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, partitioning Eastern Europe into two spheres of influence. One week later, Hitler’s armies invaded Poland from the north, south, and west; two weeks after that, Stalin’s forces attacked from the east, and World War II had begun. After Hitler’s violation of the pact in 1941, Eastern Europe became the bloody battleground for opposing totalitarian ideologies. After the war, the Soviet Red Army remained in almost every country it “liberated” from Nazi Germany. Soviet-occupation established an iron bloc of communist governments from the Soviet border to the border of what had become West Germany. In so doing, the Soviets extinguished the freedoms and lives of millions across Central and Eastern Europe.

Section 4 will introduce students to the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, the Spanish Civil War, WWII, the Iron Curtain, the Cold War, and the eventual collapse of communism in Europe. Further, it will provide a history of the European countries affected by the ideology of communism: Poland, the Baltic States, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Albania, Romania, and the Balkan States.

Learning Objectives

•Identify the terms and effects of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact 

•Describe how the countries in Central and Eastern Europe were affected by the spread of communist ideologies 

•Understand the consequences of communism, both in individual countries and Europe as a whole, before, during and after WWII and the Cold War 

•Explain the new tensions between the Soviet Union and the West following the Allied Powers’ victory in WWII 

•Compare the ideologies of western democracy and communism, and understand how the differences between the two became the catalyst for the Cold War • Describe the impact of the Cold War 

•Describe how the various independence movements in Central and Eastern Europe, as well as within the Soviet Union, led to the collapse of communism in Europe

Content Standards

NCHS World History 8.4A, 8.4B, 8.4C 

NCHS World History 9.1B, 9.2D, 9.3A 

NGSS SS.912.CG.3.1, SS.912.CG.4 

NGSS SS.912.A.6.1, NGSS SS.912.A.6.10 

NGSS SS.912.W.7.6, SS.912.W.7.6, SS.912.W.8.2

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