Cold War – Timeline

1945
7 May: World War Two: Germany surrenders

14 August: World War Two: Japan surrenders

1946
5 March: Britain’s former prime minister, Winston Churchill, delivers his ‘Iron Curtain’ speech.

1947
12 March: US president, Harry S. Truman, proposes the ‘Truman Doctrine’.

5 June: Announcement by US secretary for state, George C Marshall (pictured), of the European Recovery Program, commonly called the Marshall Plan

1948
25 February: Communist takeover in Czechoslovakia

24 June: Start of the Berlin Blockade

1949
4 April: NATO established

12 May: End of the Berlin Blockade

23 May: Formal division into East and West Germany

29 August: Soviet Union detonate their first atomic bomb

1 October: People’s Republic of China founded

1950
February: Start of the McCarthy era

25 June: Start of the Korean War

19 October: China enters Korean War

1952
1 November: USA detonate world’s first hydrogen bomb

1953
5 March: Death of Stalin

16 June: Uprising in East Germany

27 July: End of Korean War

1954
21 July: Vietnam divided at the 17th parallel between North and South Vietnam

1955
14 May: Formation of the Warsaw Pact in Eastern Europe

1956
25 February: I his ‘Secret Speech‘, Soviet premier, Nikita Khrushchev, denounces Stalin’s method of rule

June: Polish Uprising

23 October: Start of Hungarian Uprising

November: Suez Crisis

10 November: End of the Hungarian Uprising

1957
4 October: Soviet Union launches the first satellite, or Sputnik, into space

1958
January: Chairman Mao launches the Great Leap Forward

1959
1 January: Fidel Castro takes power in Cuba

September: Khrushchev visits USA

26 September: Start of Vietnam War

1960
May: US U-2 spyplane shot down over Moscow

1961
12 April: Soviet astronaut, Yuri Gagarin, becomes the first man in space

17 April: US-backed Bay of Pigs invasion

12-13 August: Berlin Wall erected

1962
October: Cuban Missile Crisis

1963
June: US president, John F. Kennedy, visits West Berlin

22 November: Assassination of John F.Kennedy

1964
2 August: Gulf of Tonkin incident escalates Vietnam War

1966
16 May: Chairman Mao (pictured) launches the Cultural Revolution

1967
5-10 June: Arab-Israeli Six-Day War

1968
4 April: Assassination of Martin Luther King

20-21 August: Soviet tanks crush Czechoslovakian ‘Prague Spring

1969
20 July: USA lands first man on the moon

1972
February: Richard Nixon visits China

26 May: SALT I signed

1973
15 January: Nixon halts US bombing of North Vietnam

30 April: North Vietnamese tanks enter Saigon

6-25 October: Arab-Israeli ‘Yom Kippur’ War

1974
8 August: Nixon resigns following Watergate scandal

1975
30 April: South Vietnam surrenders marking the end of the Vietnam War

1 August: Helsinki Accords signed

1978
16 October: Karol Wojtyla is appointed Pope John Paul II

1979
1 April: Islamic republic proclaimed in Iran with the Ayatollah Khomeini (pictured) at its head

24 December: Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan

1981
13 December: Martial law imposed in Poland and Solidarity banned

1983
1 September: Soviet fighter plane shoots down a Korean civilian airliner

1986
26 April: Explosion at nuclear power plant at Chernobyl

1987
12 June: Ronald Reagan visits West Berlin

1989
15 February: Completion of Soviet Union’s withdrawal from Afghanistan

16 June: Reburial and state funeral of Hungarian leader, Imre Nagy, killed shortly after the Hungarian Uprising of 1956

June: Student uprising in Beijing

24 August: First post-war, non-communist eastern European government comes to power in Poland

7 October: East Germany celebrates fortieth anniversary

9 November: Fall of the Berlin Wall (pictured)

17 November: Start of the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia

25 December: Execution of Nicolae and Elena Ceausescu in Romania

1990
11 March-4 May: Baltic States declare independence from the Soviet Union

3 October: Germany re-unified

1991
12 June: Boris Yeltsin elected president of the Russian Federation

1 July: Warsaw Pact dissolved

June: Last Soviet tanks leave Eastern Europe

19 August: Failed communist coup in Russia

8 December: Founding of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS)

25 December: Soviet premier, Mikhail Gorbachev, resigns

31 December: The USSR is formally dissolved

Read about the Cold War in The Cold War: History In An Hour by Rupert Colley, published by Harper Press and available in digital formats and audio.

If you would like to amend or add to this timeline, please contact us with your suggestions.