Korea, Khrushchev and Hungary 1950-1956

Key learning aims:

  • To be able to explain:
    • the key developments in the Cold War in the 1950s especially the Korean War and the causes, events and results of the Hungarian Uprising.
    • the changes in Soviet policy under Khrushchev.

Key developments:

  • 1949
    • September: Creation of Bizone as US and British unite sectors in Germany
    • September: Soviets test 1st Atomic weapon; US Atomic monopoly over
    • October: Chinese Revolution – 800 million new communist citizens in the world
  • 1950
    • January: in a speech to the National Press Club, US secretary of state Donald Acheson omits Korea from US strategic perimeter
    • February: Sino-Soviet Treaty signed
    • April: NSC 68 makes containment official policy; the emergence of Domino theory and the possibility of ‘rollback’
    • June 25th: Kim Il Sung, leader of North Korea, leads invasion of the South
    • Syngman Rhee, leader of South Korea asks NATO for help
    • September 15th: Gordon McCarthur orchestrates amphibious landings at Inchon
    • October 14th: 300,000 Chinese volunteers cross the Yalu river
  • 1951
    • April: General McCarthur dismissed and replaced by General Ridgeway
  • 1952
    • US Air Strikes in North Korea
    • Kim il Sung accuses US of war crimes
    • November: US tests first Hydrogen bomb
  • 1953
    • January: Eisenhower inaugurated as President
    • January 21st: US launches first Nuclear Submarine – SLBMs will follow in late 1950s
    • March: Stalin dead
    • July 27th: Armistice in Korea
    • August: Soviets test first Hydrogen bomb
  • 1954
    • March: Soviets request to join NATO
    • December 17th: NATO adopts first strike policy
  • 1955
    • May 9th: West Germany joins NATO
    • May 14th: The Warsaw Pact.
    • May 15th: Treaty of Austria
    • July 18th: Geneva Summit
  • 1956
    • January Nikita Khrushchev makes Secret Speech at the 20th Party Congress
    • Anti-Soviet movements in Poland and Hungary
    • The Hungarian revolution
      • Matyas Rakosi, Communist leader
      • Imre Nagy, anti-Soviet revolutionary
      • Janos Kadar, Communist puppet leader after Nagy
  1. The Korean War



    1. Create mind map of the Mnemonic for five causes of the Korean War: DUCKS (Domino theory; undermine communism; Cold War; Kim Il Sung; Syngman Rhee and explain how each of these caused the Korean war
    2. Complete the ‘D’ question on p. 85 of the Edexcel textbook. N.b. what is required to collect full marks from a 10 mark D question?
    3. Create a cartoon of the key causes, events and consequences of the Korean war
    4. List the weapons you see in this video.


    6. Watch the film answer thesequestions about the Korean War



  3. Khrushchev, the Speech and Peaceful Coexistence

    • Even before Khrushchev’s 1956 speech there were signs of ‘peaceful coexistence’ beginning to emerge:
      • Austrian independence agreed: in May 1955, the USA, France, Britain and USSR signed the Austrian State Treaty on May 15th 1955. In return for pledging neutrality, the occupying powers left Austria which received diplomatic recognition as an independent nation
      • Geneva Summit: Eisenhower met with Soviet Premier Nicolai Bulganin, British Prime Minister Anthony Eden, and French Premier Edgar Faure at a summit in Geneva in July 1955. Eisenhower offered an “Open Skies” proposal, calling for a U.S.-Soviet exchange of military blueprints and mutual aerial inspection of one another’s military installations. The participants also discussed disarmament, German reunification through free elections, European security, and the need for East-West cultural and scientific exchange.
    • A good summary of the causes, content and consequences of Khrushchev’s 1956 ‘secret speech’ delivered to a closed session of the Soviet leadership at the close of the 20th Party Congress on 25th February 1956 can be found here
    • John D. Clare’s pages on Kruschev and Peaceful co-existence and How peaceful was co-existence?



    • Write out and learn the Mnemonic De-Stalinisation:
      • Destroyed the cult of Stalin and the perception that he was a legend starting with the secret speech of 25 February 1956
      • Stalin’s statues and portraits were removed from public places
      • The secret police were given less power
      • Abolition of the death penalty
      • Laws of censorship were relaxed so there was more freedom in the media and the arts
      • Increased freedom was given to writers and artists
      • No elimination of his rivals, as Stalin had done, they were just given unimportant jobs instead
      • Indication of a less brutal control of the party
      • Stalingrad was renamed to Volvograd
      • Also erased Stalin from history by taking his body from the Red Square mausoleum where it was displayed alongside Lenin and burying it in a grave alongside other Soviet leaders.
      • Thousands of political prisoners were released from Gulags which were closed.
      • Improved Khrushchev’s image – portraying him as good and Stalin as bad and disassociated himself from Stalin’s crimes even though he had been responsible for thousands of deaths himself
      • Other places and buildings named after Stalin were renamed
      • Nevertheless, the basic elements of the Soviet system, including the dominance of the Communist Party, remained intact.
    • Why did ‘Peaceful Coexistence’ cause more tensions?

  5. The Hungarian uprising



    There were FIVE reasons why Khrushchev acted harshly in Hungary:

    1. Nagy’s decision to leave the Warsaw Pact – Russia was determined to keep its ‘buffer’ of states.
    2. China asked Russia to act to stop Communism being damaged.
    3. Nagy had obviously lost control; Hungary was not destalinising – it was turning capitalist.
    4. Hard-liners in Russia forced Khrushchev to act.
    5. Khrushchev thought, correctly, that the West would not help Hungary.

    TWO reasons why the West did not help Hungary:

    1. Britain and France were involved in the Suez crisis in Egypt.
    2. Eisenhower did not think  Hungary worth a world war.
      When the UN suggested an investigation, Russia used its veto to stop



      • Summarise the key causes of the Hungarian uprising (J.D.Clare above).
      • Create a story board or cartoon of the key developments of the Hungarian uprising – in its causes, main events and consequences in this period
      • Summarise the key consequences of the Hungarian uprising and its destruction by Kurschev
      • Complete the tasks on p. 87 of the Edexcel textbook
      • Complete the picture exercise on p. 88
      • Complete the activities on p. 89
      • Why was the Hungarian uprising so much more bloody than the uprising in Poland?
      • Class Debate: THBT The West, rather than the Russians, responsible for the deaths in Hungary?


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