1. Prologue
  2. Introduction
  3. Second World War: Immediate Consequences
  4. Yalta Conference
  5. Birth of UNITED NATIONS
  6. The Potsdam Conference
  7. Europe after the Second World War
  8. GERMANY: partition
  9. GERMANY: Fall of Berlin Wall
  10. France and Italy: rise of communism
  11. Britain: Rise of Labour Party
  12. Eastern Europe
  13. Fall of USSR
  14. Retreat of Socialism
  15. Bosnia


So far, in the Old NCERT Class10, we’ve seen following


  1. Imperialism, Colonization of Asia, Africa and Americas
  2. WW1
  3. Russian Revolution
  4. Interwar years and WW2

Now 13th Chapter deals with World after Second World War, Cold War, NAM.

The UPSC GS Syllabus is silent about Cold war, while NAM is too clichéd and outdated topic for International relations(IR), still this 13th chapter remains relevant in context of following topics of GS Mains paper I syllabus:

  1. Decolonization
  2. Redrawal of national boundaries

The redrawal of national boundaries had begun with Chapter 9 itself: when Imperialist countries started colonizing Asia, Africa and Americas, recall the paper partition of Africa and how 30% of its national borders are straight lines.

Chapter 13 is the climax in terms of redrawls of National boundaries, we can see that:

Region Boundaries redrawn after WW2
Europe Germany=> East and West, later combined.
Eastern Europe Fall of USSR leads to 15 independent republics
From Czechoslovakia => Czech Republic + Slovak Republic.
Yugoslavia breaks into

  1. Serbia and Montenegro
  2. Croatia
  3. Macedonia
  4. Slovenia
  5. Bosnia-Herzegovina
Asia From British India to: India+Pakistan (+later Bangladesh)
Indochina => Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia
Vietnam=> North + South, later combined
Korea=> North + South, never combined.

Anyways, let’s start the chapter:

Chapter Introduction

THE world has been completely transformed during the years since the end of the Second World War in 1945. Its political map has also changed. The influence and the dominations which a few European imperialist powers exercised in the prewar years became things of the past. A large number of nations in Asia and Africa which had been suffering under colonial rule emerged as independent nations Together, they have become a major factor in the world. The United States had emerged as the biggest power after the First World War. The Soviet Union also emerged as a mighty power after the Second World War, in spite of the terrible devastation that she suffered during the war Before the Second World War, the Soviet Union was the only country. In the world which professed socialism. After the war, a number of other countries joined her.

The two world wars, fought within a brief period of about 30 years, resulted in the loss of millions of human lives. The danger of a new world war which would destroy human life altogether created a new awareness of the need for establishing lasting peace. Peoples and nations made efforts in this direction by promoting mutual relations based on friendship and cooperation. They also created many new institutions and agencies for the purpose.

However, in spite of these efforts the period after the Second World War has been full of stresses and strains. It has seen many conflicts and wars in which hundreds of thousands of people have been killed even though the world has escaped a large-scale conflagration.

Since the late 1980s, further changes have taken place m some parts of the world. Some of the consequences of the Second World War and, in some cases, even of the First World War have been undone during the past five years. During this period, some of the issues which dominated the world and some of the forces and factors which shaped the world for about four decades after the war have become irrelevant. The ‘threat of communism’ which had been a major factor in determining the policies of many countries since the Russian Revolution and, even more so, after the Second World War is no longer an issue. Communist regimes in the Soviet Union and in the countries of Eastern Europe have collapsed. The Soviet Union has broken up into 15 independent States. Many other changes have taken place the world over and it is possible to think of the period from the late 19805 as the one marking the beginning of a new phase in the history of the world after the Second World War.

Second World War: Immediate Consequences

During the war, the major Allied nations had held many conferences and had issued declarations stating the principles which would form the bases of peace. The first major declaration had been issued by Britain and USA in 1941. It stated that Britain and the United States would not seek any territory. It also supported the right of every people to have the form of government of their choice. Early in 1942 was issued, as mentioned before, the United Nations Declaration. This Declaration supported the one issued by Britain and USA earlier. Another declaration stated that all the Chinese territories taken by Japan would be restored to her. In 1943, Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin, leaders of Britain, USA and the Soviet Union, respectively, met at Teheran. They declared their resolve to “banish the scourge and terror of war and to create a world in which all peoples may live free lives untouched by tyranny and according to their varying desires and their own consciences“.

Yalta Conference

Early in 1945 when Germany was on the verge of defeat, the heads of the three big nations met at Yalta in the Soviet Union. Here they agreed on a number of issues such as how to deal with Germany and the non-German territories which had been liberated from Germany.

The Yalta Conference also took the decision to set up a new organisation to replace the League of Nations.


Subsequently, a conference was held at San Francisco, USA, from 25 April 1945. The conference was attended by 50 nations. On 26 June the conference adopted the United Nations Charter under which a new world organization was set up This was the United Nations Organization which was based on the principle of “the sovereign equality of all peace loving states” The purposes of the United Nations Organization were to maintain international peace and security, to develop friendly relations among nations and to achieve international cooperation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural or humanitarian character

To carry out these objectives, six principal organs of the United Nations Organization (now referred to as the United Nations or simply the UN) were created these were:

  1. the General Assembly composed of all the members of the UN;
  2. the Security Council composed of five permanent members, viz. the United States, the Soviet Union, Britain, France and China, and six others to be elected by the General Assembly for a period of two years The Security Council was made primarily responsible for the maintenance of peace and security (The number of nonpermanent members was subsequently raised from six to ten );
  3. the Economic and Social Council of 18 members to promote “respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all”
  4. the Trusteeship Council
  5. the International Court of Justice
  6. the Secretariat with a Secretary General appointed by the General Assembly as its head.

A number of specialized agencies of the UN were also created such as the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the World Health Organization (WHO), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Labour Organization (ILO) (this body had been created after the First World War), etc. It was realized that unless all the permanent members of the Security Council, who were at that time the biggest powers, were agreed, no course of action for the maintenance of peace and security could be effective. Hence it was provided that any decision of the Security Council must have the support of all five permanent members. The setting up of the United Nations was one of the most important consequences of the Second World War.

The Potsdam Conference

Another major conference of the heads of government of Britain, the United States and the Soviet Union was held at Potsdam (near Berlin) from 17 July to 2 August 1945. The declaration issued by this conference mentioned the main aims of the Allies with regard to Germany which had already surrendered Germany had been partitioned into four zones, each under the control of Britain, France, the United States and the Soviet Union. The declaration stated that the aim of the Allied occupation of Germany was to bring about the complete disarmament of Germany, to destroy the Nazi Party and to prepare conditions for the creation of a democratic Germany. It was also decided to set up an international tribunal to bring to trial persons who had committed crimes against humanity. Decisions were also taken regarding the border between Poland and Germany, and the transfer of the northern part of East Prussia to the Soviet Union and the southern part to Poland. The various conferences held during and after the war influenced the political developments after the war.

Europe after the Second World War

Many countries in Europe had been liberated from German occupation by the Soviet armies. These countries were Poland, Hungary, Rumania, Bulgaria and Czechoslovakia.

The Communist parties and other antifascist parties in these countries had played an important role in the struggle against German occupation of these countries. By the end of 1948, the governments of all these countries were dominated by the Communist parties. In Albania and Yugoslavia, the struggle against German occupation had, been led by the Communist parties of these countries. In these countries too Communist parties formed the governments. The establishment of the Communist parties’ rule in these countries was a significant development after the Second World War Up to the Second World War, the only country in Europe, and the world, ruled by a Communist party was the Soviet Union. Now a large number of European countries were ruled by Communist parties. In these countries, other political parties were either not allowed to exist or had only a nominal presence. The political power was exclusively in the hands of the Communist parties.

The presence of Soviet troops in these countries ensured the continuance of the Communist parties’ monopoly of power. Sometimes, the Soviet troops were used to suppress movements which opposed the domination of Communist parties. Within the Communist parties themselves, differences over policies were not allowed and the power within, the Communist parties became concentrated in a few hands. As in the Soviet Union, dissent even within the ruling parties was not tolerated and many veteran communists were shot or sentenced to long periods of imprisonment after fake trials. Sometimes these countries were branded as ‘satellites’ of the Soviet Union. The Communist party of Yugoslavia was the only ruling Communist Party which refused to be dominated by the Soviet Union. But at the same time, the government of Yugoslavia did not allow other political parties to function.

GERMANY: partition

Within a little more than four years after the end of the Second World War, certain developments took place which resulted in the division of Germany The four powers —Britain, France, the United States and the Soviet Union which were in occupation of four different zones of Germany followed different policies in dealing with the social, economic and political problems in their respective zones. In the British, French and American zones, the economic development continued on capitalist lines. The two major parties in these zone, were the Christian Democratic Party and the Social Democratic Party. In 1948, Brain, France and the United States decided to merge the three zones under their control which were in West Germany and form a separate government there. In September 1949 these zones were united and a separate state in West Germany called the Federal Republic of Germany with its capital at Bonn came into being.

In East Germany which was under Soviet occupation, the policies pursued were different from those that had been followed in the western zones. Lands were distributed among peasants and all the major industries were taken over from private hands and made the property of the state. In 1946 the Communist Party and the Social Democratic Party in the Soviet zone of Germany merged to form the Socialist Unity Party of Germany. In October 1949, the Soviet zone became a separate state called the German Democratic Republic. The Socialist Unity Party of Germany became the ruling party in the German Democratic Republic. Thus Germany came to be divided into two states, each following its own pattern of social, economic and political development. The division of Germany into two independent states, which lasted for over four decades, was a major consequence of the Second World War.

GERMANY: Fall of Berlin Wall

The division of Germany had been a source of tension in Europe and a major factor in the Cold War. East Berlin was the capital of East Germany (German Democratic Republic or GDR) while West Berlin which was located within the GDR territory was treated as a part of West Germany (Federal Republic of Germany or FRG).

In 1961, the GDR authorities built a wall between East and West Berlin to prevent East Germans from going away to West Berlin.

Berlin War

The building of the wall became a further source of tension in Europe. The process of ending communist rule in GDR and of the reunification of Germany began in 1989 when the Berlin Wall was opened and political parties which were outside the control of the communist party (called the Socialist Unity Party) were allowed to function. In early 1990 elections were held and a new government came to power. On 3 October 1990, the division of Germany was ended and a unified Germany again emerged.

France and Italy: rise of communism

In other parts of Europe also, important political changes took place. The Communist parties of France and Italy had played an important role in the resistance movements in these countries. They had emerged as powerful parties at the end of the war.


In the first government formed in France after the war, the Communist Party of France was represented. However, it quit the government in 1947 because of differences over economic policies and over the question of independence for the countries comprising IndoChina. The French government was trying to reestablish its rule over IndoChina which the Communist Party opposed.


In the Italian government, the Communist Party and the Socialist Party were an important force. In 1946, monarchy was abolished and Italy became a republic. In 1947 the Christian Democratic Party came to power and the Communist Party quit the government. However, even though the Communist and Socialist parties were out of the government in these two countries, they were together a powerful force in the politics of the two countries. For many years, in both these countries, the socialist parties became the ruling parties either alone or in alliance with other parties The Communist parties, however, were almost throughout the period after 1948 kept out of the government. In recent years, while the Italian Communist Party —it is now called the Democratic Party of the Left–has remained a powerful force, the influence of the French Communist Party has declined

Britain: Rise of Labour Party

In Britain, the elections were held in July 1945. The Conservative Party whose leader Winston Churchill had been the Prime Minister during the war lost and the Labour Party came to power. India won her independence during this period. During the Labour Party’s rule many significant changes took place in the economy of the country. Many important industries such as coal mines and railways were nationalized. Steps were taken to provide social security to the people, and to build a welfare state in Britain. In 1951, the Conservative Party was returned to power and the Labour Party became the ruling party in 1964. Thus, neither of these parties remained in power for long and both of the parties were more or less equally matched. Only in recent years, there seems to have been a decline in the influence of the Labour Party.

The political system in most countries of Western Europe was based on the parliamentary form of government. Their economies had suffered a serious setback, and it affected their international position. Gradually through their own efforts and with massive American aid, these countries were soon on the way to rebuild their economies However, the domination that these countries exercised over the world before the First World War and to a lesser extent after that had declined. The period after the Second World War saw the rapid decline of their empires.

Eastern Europe

map-eastern europe
Many changes of great historical importance have taken place in the Soviet Union and in countries of Eastern and Central Europe. The most significant of these has been the collapse of the Soviet Union and the ending of the communist regimes there and in other countries of Europe. In 1956, three years after the death of Stalin, the Communist Party of Soviet Union had denounced the excesses and crimes committed by Stalin. From 1985, many important reforms began to be introduced m the political system of the Soviet Union with a view to promoting political democracy. There was free and open discussion on every issue and curbs on the freedom of thought and expression were lifted.

Reforms in economy were also initiated to end the stagnation that had set in and to improve the living conditions of the people. The importance of these reforms was recognized the world over, Two Russian words were used to describe these reforms:

perestroika Restructuring
glasnost ‘openness’

The hold of the Communist Party over the political life of the country was loosened and other political parties were allowed to function.

Fall of USSR

In the meantime, there was a demand for greater autonomy by the republics which constituted the Soviet Union. Some republics wanted to become independent. Attempts were made to frame a new treaty which would provide greater autonomy to the republics and at the same time preserve the Union However, in August 1991, there was an attempt to stage a coup by some leaders of the Communist Party. Though the coup collapsed, the Soviet Union began to break up. Many republics declared their independence. On 25 December 1991, Mikhail Gorbachev, who was the President of the Soviet Union during this period and had initiated the reforms mentioned earlier, resigned and the Soviet Union formally ceased to exist. In place of the Soviet Union which had been a major influence on world historical development for about seven decades, there emerged 15 independent republics. Though the rule of the communist par ties has ended in all these republics, many of them are faced with serious political and economic problems. There are also many problems between the republics although 12 of them have formed a loose federation called the Commonwealth of Independent States. However, the names of republics have changed. The new names are

New Name Old Name
  1. Russian Federation
  1. Kazakhstan
Kazakh SSR
  1. Estonia
Estonian SSR
  1. Latvia
Latvian SSR
  1. Lithuania
Lithuanian SSR
  1. Ukraine
Ukrainian SSR
  1. Moldova
Moldavian SSR
  1. Armenia
Armenian SSR
  1. Georgia
Georgian SSR
  1. Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan SSR
  1. Turkmenistan
Turkmen SSR
  1. Uzbekistan
Uzbek SSR
  1. Tajikistan
Tajik SSR
  1. Belarus
Byelorussian SSR
  1. Kyrgyzstan
Krighiz SSR

Equally important changes have taken place m those countries of Europe which were ruled by communist parties. There had been outbursts of resentment in some of these countries against Soviet control and against the Soviet supported communist governments since the 1950s. There were occasions when Soviet troops were used to suppress the unrest in these countries. The changes in the Soviet Union affected these countries directly. There were mass upheavals in all these countries in the late 1980s. By 1989, Soviet control over them came to an end. The monopoly of political power enjoyed by the communist parties in these countries was ended. There were free elections and new governments were formed. It is notable that these far reaching changes took place in most countries without the use of violence. In some countries, leaders who had misused their position for personal gain and power were tried and jailed. Many communist parties — no longer ruling parties in their countries — expelled some of their former leaders who had committed excesses when they were in power. In one country, Rumania, the Communist Party leader who for about 15 years had been the virtual dictator was executed. The Warsaw Pact, the military alliance which was headed by the Soviet Union and of which the communist ruled states of Europe were members, was dissolved in 1991.

Retreat of Socialism

The collapse of the Soviet Union and of communist governments in Europe has been a major factor in ending the Cold War. It has also been seen as marking the retreat of socialism. It can, however, be said that the system which was built in these countries was only a distorted version of the socialist ideal and that social justice which was fundamental to that ideal has become a part of the consciousness of the people the world over.

The changes in Eastern and Central Europe, as in the former Soviet Union, have not been without problems, both economic and political.

  • Czechoslovakia  had emerged as a new state after the First World War has broken up into two independent states — the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic.
  • In unified Germany, there have been many instances of violence by neo Nazis against immigrants.


Developments of a tragic nature have taken place in Yugoslavia in recent years. Yugoslavia which had emerged as a state after the First World War was ruled by a communist party since the end of the Second World War. The communist government of Yugoslavia had kept itself free from the Soviet Union almost from the beginning. Yugoslavia was one of the founders of the Non-Aligned Movement. She was a federation of six republics. In four of these republics, the rule of the communist parties came to an end in 1990. By 1992, Yugoslavia broke up into five independent states —the new state of Yugoslavia comprising

  1. Serbia and Montenegro,
  2. Croatia,
  3. Macedonia,
  4. Slovenia
  5. Bosnia-Herzegovina

However, the problems of Yugoslavia did not end with its breakup. A large party of Bosnia-Herzegovina is under the control of Serbians and Croats. A bloody war has been going on between Bosnian Croats, Bosnian Serbs and Bosnian Muslims, particularly between the latter two, causing terrible sufferings to the people.

While these developments have taken place in one part of Europe, in another, Western, part (including Germany), there had been a move towards European unity It consists in creating a Europe without borders, with a common currency and unrestricted movement of goods and people and ultimately a political union with a common parliament. Some steps have already been taken in this direction. It may, however, be remembered that the concept of European unity at present excludes all East European countries and some others.

In the next parts, we’ll see

  1. cold war, formation of military blocs (NATO, CEATO etc) and NAM
  2. Independence of Asian countries after WW2 + Korean and Vietnam War.
  3. Independence of Africa

For archive of all World history related articles visit Mrunal.org/history