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Digital Archive International History Declassified

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Cold War Origins

This collection of primary source documents discusses international relations during World War II and the years shortly after. It begins with the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact signed in 1939 and ends with documents from the 1950’s. The collection contains a wide variety of documents including agreements, memorandums, meeting minutes, cables, letters, diary entries, and military reports from WWII. The documents mainly come from Russian and Bulgarian archives. See also the End of the Cold War. (Image, Clement Attlee, Harry Truman, and Joseph Stalin at the Potsdam Conference, July 1945, NARA, Army Signal Corps Collection, USA C-186)

  • January 25, 1946

    Notes on the discussion between I.V. Kurchatov, lead scientist for the Soviet nuclear effort, and Stalin

    Kurchatov's notes on his meeting with Stalin, Molotov and Beria. Stalin promises the all necessary help to the soviet effort to build an atomic bomb. He suggests that the project should be build on "a Russian scale," without concerns for cost saving.

  • February 09, 1946

    Speech Delivered by Stalin at a Meeting of Voters of the Stalin Electoral District, Moscow

    English translation of Stalin's 1946 "election" speech.

  • February 22, 1946

    George Kennan's 'Long Telegram'

    Ambassador George F. Kennan writes to the Secretary of State with a lengthy analysis of Soviet policy in an attempt to explain their recent uncooperative behavior. This message would later become famous as the "long telegram."

  • March 05, 1946

    Churchhill's "Iron Curtain" Speech, "Sinews of Peace"

    Text of speech given by Churchill at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri in which he first used the phrase "iron curtain."

  • May 17, 1946

    Speech by Mátyás Rákosi, General Secretary of the Hungarian Communist Party at the Meeting of the Central Committee, 17 May 1946

    Speech by Mátyás Rákosi, General Secretary of the Hungarian Communist Party at the Meeting of the Central Committee, 17 May 1946.

  • May 25, 1946

    Memorandum from M. Litvinov to Stalin, 25 May 1946

    Memorandum from M. Litvinov to Stalin, 25 May 1946. Memorandum discusses comments on the American “Draft Treaties” and the provisions set up for Japan and Germany post-Potsdam.

  • July 04, 1946

    Report from DS Chief in Sliven Region on Disclosed Military Conspiracy

    A report on the investigation of a political conspiracy, said to be organized by Metodiy Chavdarov, a colonel at the Sliven garrison. The arrested colonel and his accomplices allegedly conspired to overthrow the Fatherland Front government, once the Soviet troops leave the country.

  • August 22, 1946

    Report from DS Chief in Stara Zagora Region on Arrests of Military

    A memo to the head of the People’s ''Militsiya'' with information on the on-going purges in the Bulgarian military. Purportedly pro-fascist officers have established a broad network of conspirators committed to overthrowing the Fatherland Front government.

  • September 27, 1946

    Telegram from Nikolai Novikov, Soviet Ambassador to the US, to the Soviet Leadership

    Soviet Ambassador to the US, Nikolai Novikov, describes the advent of a more assertive US foreign policy. Novikov cautions the Soviet leadership that the Truman administration is bent on imposing US political, military and economic domination around the world. This telegram has, since its discovery in the Russian archives, been labelled the Soviet equivalent of US Ambassador to the Soviet Union George Kennan's "Long telegram."

  • September 29, 1946

    Letter from Igor V. Kurchatov to Lavrenti Beria requesting additional support for the project on buiding an atomic bomb.

    Igor Kurchatov, the scientific director of the Soviet nuclear project writes secret police chief Lavrenti Beria, whom Stalin had given principal responsibility for the atomic effort, asking for additional resources to solve uranium shortages faced by the project. (excerpts)

  • October 31, 1946

    Report from Bulgarian Intelligence on the Situation in Austria, Switzerland, Italy, and France

    A report on the political climate in Western Europe and the activities of the Bulgarian communities abroad. The author concludes that since a new war seems imminent, the diplomatic and intelligence apparatus needs to be overhauled and old cadres dissmissed.

  • March 12, 1947

    Truman Doctrine, 'Recommendations for Assistance to Greece and Turkey'

    Truman's speech to Congress in which he laid the foundations of the Truman Doctrine by stating that the United States would support Greece and Turkey in order to prevent them from under the sway of the Soviet Union. This speech is often cited as the beginning of the Cold War, and US containment policy.

  • June 05, 1947

    The Marshall Plan, Speech by US Secretary of State George C. Marshall

    Speech in which George C. Marshall lays out the "Marshall Plan" for US aid to assist in the re-building of post-war Europe.

  • July 01, 1947

    Cipher Telegram from G. Dimitrov to J. Stalin on Damyan Velchev’s Behavior in Switzerland

    Report on the activities of the former Defense Minister and Chief of the Bulgarian mission in Bern, Damyan Velchev, against the new Bulgarian regime.

  • November 15, 1947

    Letter from Assen Georgiev to Bulgarian Foreign Minister K. Georgiev on Bulgarian Intelligence Activity in France

    The head of the Bulgarian legation in Paris blames the lack of funds and the shortage of personnel for the scarce intelligence information sent back to Sofia.

  • January 26, 1948

    Letter from Assen Georgiev to Bulgarian Foreign Minister V. Kolarov on Bulgarian Intelligence Activity in France

    The head of the Bulgarian legation in Paris Asen Georgiev shares his observations for the inefficiencies in the Bulgarian intelligence apparatus. He recommends a number of measures that will potentially improve the intelligence operations abroad. As a first step he suggests sweeping personnel changes.

  • June 14, 1948

    Central Intelligence Agency Report, "Effects of Soviet Restrictions on the US Position in Berlin"

    Describes effect of Soviet restrictive measures in Berlin on US intelligence and propaganda activities and on operations of the joint military government.

  • July 26, 1948

    Cipher Message from G. Dimitrov to I. Stalin and V. Molotov

    The Bulgarian government is disturbed by the recent dislocations of Yugoslav armed forces along the Bulgarian-Yugoslav border in the Macedonia region. Officials in Sofia fear a Yugoslav attempt to annex Pirin region to Macedonia.

  • September 17, 1948

    Bi-Monthly Report from Bulgarian Intelligence on the Civil War in Greece

    An intelligence report on the on-going Greek Civil War. Among other things, the report emphasizes the American support for the Greek government and the low morale in the National Army.

  • September 28, 1948

    Central Intelligence Agency Report, "Consequences of a Breakdown in Four-Power Negotiations on Germany"

    Summarizes Soviet objectives and strategies in entering into Four-Power discussions about Berlin and Germany.