On May 8, 1945, Germany unconditionally surrendered to the Allied forces. Germany was split east and west with the Soviet Union exerting their communist control over East Germany and East Berlin. Shortly afterward they also exerted their communist control over Bulgaria and efforts were being made to take over Romania, Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Turkey, Greece and who knows how many other countries the Soviet Union set their sights on.
Great Britain provided support to Greece and Turkey to help them stave off the efforts of communists, believed to be backed by the Joseph Stalin and the Soviet Union, from taking over. On March 5, 1946, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill delivered a historic speech at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri. His speech gave rise to the term Iron Curtain, when he said:
“From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the continent.”
Churchill went on to say that the Soviet Union had to be stopped. Stalin responded by saying that Churchill’s speech amounted to a declaration of war. By the beginning of 1947, Churchill said that Great Britain could longer afford to continue to provide military and economic support for the two European nations’ fight against communism.
With the British announcement, US-Soviet relations rapidly heating up and believing that the Soviet Union was involved with the attempts of communists to take over Greece and Turkey, President Truman addressed both houses of Congress on this day, March 12, 1947.
Truman spelled out the importance of stopping the expansion of Soviet communism and that the United States could no longer stand by as an idle observer. He spoke about the conditions and destruction left behind by the Germans and the new hardships being faced by the people under the threats of communism.
He then asked Congress for $400 million in aid for both Greece and Turkey. He also asked Congress for the approval to send civilian and military equipment and personnel to the region.
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Truman’s speech to Congress quickly became known as the Truman Doctrine and the official start of the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union. The Cold War lasted from 1947 until the fall of the Soviet Union in December 1991.
Sources for the above includes: Truman Doctrine is announced; The Truman Doctrine, 1947; Harry Truman and the Truman Doctrine; The Truman Doctrine; The Truman Doctrine and Marshall Plan; Truman Doctrine; The Legacy of the Truman Doctrine; Soviet power in Eastern Europe; Churchill delivers Iron Curtain speech, Truman Doctrine.