This page tells kids the story of the Cold War. It’s designed for adults to use for classroom activities with middle school students, but some elements may also be thought-provoking or interesting for teens. There are even puzzles and coloring sheets at the bottom for younger kids. This is not a history of the Cold War, but instead an understandable, accurate and brief “story” for children curious about this chapter of American history, which in many cases was an important part of the lives of their parents and grandparents.
Kids can also help their eligible veteran parents and grandparents get the free Cold War Recognition Certificate from the U.S. Government. See the easy steps to get this honor here.
Teachers should review the page first to identify which content is suitable for their students’ age and state of development.
[Note for grown-up visitors: We’re told teachers of older students and also adult Web surfers find this page a useful source of Cold War facts and sort of Cold War for Dummies. We’re happy to have you visit as well; the basic concepts here are for all ages. Teachers may also be interested in our History of China for Kids page here.]
Why is this American Air Force Plane Dropping Candy
on Germany, a Country in Europe?
And Why Are These Children Separated by a Fence?
It’s All Part of the Cold War — You Can Learn About It Here
The Cold War started soon after the end of World War II, the most destructive conflict in the history of the planet. America and its allies, including Great Britain and the Soviet Union, defeated Japan and Germany. Many millions of people perished in the war and the conflict revealed the depths of human savagery, including the Holocaust in which Germany killed men, women and children because they were Jewish or belonged to some other disliked group.
At the end of World War II, America and the Soviet Union were the strongest countries left standing. There were major differences between them. The Soviet Union was a communist country, where the government controlled the economy, and was ruled by a brutal dictatorship. The United States was a democratic country with a free economy. But at first, they remained friends.
Americans were so happy the war was over.
Most just wanted to get back to normal life
But soon after the end of World War II, the Soviets began imposing communism on other countries. Their country had been devastated by the war and they felt they deserved to have control over enemy countries, as well as territories they had dominated before the conflict.
In 1947, U.S. President Harry Truman announced that America would help the countries of Greece and Turkey fight attempts to turn them into communist countries and allies of the Soviet Union.
This is often viewed as the beginning of the Cold War. It’s called the Cold War because even though the main struggle was between the Soviet Union and America, they never engaged in a direct, all-out “hot war” from the beginning until the end in 1991.
After World War II, Germany and its capital Berlin were divided. The Soviets controlled part of it and America, along with its allies Britain and France, the rest. In June 1948 the Soviets decided to make a move to control Germany, the most important country in Europe. They blocked all the roads and railroads into Berlin, making it impossible for those living in the American and allied parts of the city to get supplies. America responded with the “Berlin Airlift” to fly in everything a city needed to keep going. This totalled 2,325,510 tons of cargo, including coal for heating, food and milk, machinery, soap, medical supplies and newspapers. The U.S. Air Force even sent a baby camel for the children of Berlin. American pilots were known for dropping candy with little parachutes from their planes for the kids of Berlin.