The years from the end of World War II to the end of the 1950s were dominated by four powerful changes in American life. The first was the birth of the Cold War, and the great fears that it created. The second was the dramatic growth of affluence, which transformed the...
Fearing the restoration of German power, the Soviets insisted on the repression of the German people, while the United States hoped to include West Germany in Western European recovery plans. As American and Soviet forces occupying Germany clashed over punishment and rehabilitation plans for the country, the Soviets cut off access to Berlin.
President Kennedy met Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev at a summit in Vienna. Khrushchev threatened to give East Germany control of access routes to Berlin, and Kennedy responded with a pledge to defend West Berlin.
The Soviet Union collapses with Gorbachev’s resignation in December 1991. The Commonwealth of Independent States, a weak confederation of former Soviet republics, takes its place. Led by Boris Yeltsin, the Commonwealth allows for independence and autonomy of its member countries.