Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum

Cold War Origins in Europe and the Truman Doctrine Speech
Kevin G Jehl
US History
Time Frame:
One 90 minute class period or Two 45 minute class periods
Marshall Plan
Cold War

Grade Levels:
9, 10, 11, 12

Classroom/Homework Activity to be performed:

Through small group work and an individual assignment, students will use a background description, various maps and the Truman Doctrine speech to analyze European postwar events and reactions by the Soviet Union and the United States which led to heightened Cold War tension.


The events of 1946 and 1947 as well as the Truman Doctrine Speech serve as a great point of origin to study the Cold War.  Students can see cause and effect relationships and  the development of hard lines by both Soviet Union and the US.  Students will not only be able to explain “What is the Cold War?”, but also “How did it develop?”

District, state, or national performance and knowledge standards/goals/skills met:

  • State of Indiana United States History  Core Standard Seven (7)  Containment and Cold War

Students will define containment and provide examples of US implementation of containment strategies when faced with international events and conflicts. Students will explain outcomes and consequences of these events.  (Standard Indicators USH 6.1 USH 7.5 USH 7.6 USH 7.7 USH 8.2)


  • State of Indiana United States History Core Standard Eleven (11)   Interpret, synthesize, and use  primary and secondary sources to study historical trends and relationships between and among issues and events. (Standard Indicators   USH  9.1  9.2  9.3  9.4)

Kansas Standards

Benchmark 3: The student uses a working knowledge and understanding of individuals, groups, ideas, developments, and turning points in the era of the Cold War (1945-1990).
2. analyzes the origins of the Cold War (e.g., establishment of the Soviet Bloc, Mao’s victory in China, Marshall Plan, Berlin Blockade, Iron Curtain).
3. (A) evaluates the foreign policies of Truman and Eisenhower during the Cold War (e.g., establishment of the United Nations, containment, NATO, Truman Doctrine, Berlin Blockade, Korean War, Iron Curtain, U-2 incident).

Benchmark 5: The student engages in historical thinking skills. 3.(A) uses primary and secondary sources about an event in U.S. history to develop a credible interpretation of the event, evaluating on its meaning (e.g., uses provided primary and secondary sources to interpret a historical-based conclusion).

Missouri Standards

3aW:  Describe and evaluate the evolution of United States domestic and foreign policies including the Cold War.
7A:  Distinguish between and analyze primary and secondary sources.
7C:  Distinguish between fact and opinion and analyze sources to recognize bias and points of view.


Secondary materials (book, article, video documentary, etc.) needed:
  • Teacher created slide show—ten slides—photos of key persons and  European maps  
  • European maps which illustrate liberation from Axis Control and postwar occupation and conflict
  • Primary document analysis sheet for Truman Doctrine Speech 

Primary materials (book, article, video documentary, etc.) needed:

Full description of activity or assignment.
  • Teacher will give an introduction to Cold War Origins in Europe and the Truman Doctrine Speech by using slides with (1) World War Two Axis Agression Map,(2) Liberation of Europe Map and (3) Iron Curtain Europe post War Map.


  • Teacher will use slides to review Yalta Conference and Potsdam Conference agreements as well as key players:  Franklin Roosevelt, Harry S Truman, Winston Churchill, Josef Stalin.


  • Students will read a background page with brief descriptions of the situation in Eastern Europe and Greece in 1946.


  • Students will hear and read transcript of Truman Doctrine Speech and complete primary document analysis page. (attached below)


  • Students will work in groups of three to discuss and review their work on the  primary document analysis page.  With group members, students will select key statements and expressions from the Truman Doctrine Speech which illustrate the level of tension and conflict as well as the statements by Truman of US policy belief and action.


  • As large group, teacher will lead discussion of speech and instruction about US policy decisions toward Greece and Turkey.  Teacher will use slide with New York Times Headline: TRUMAN ACTS TO SAVE NATIONS FROM RED RULE


  • Student Assignment Part One —Choose Either:   (1)Create a “Wordle” word cloud which selects words that show tension and conflict as well as US policy beliefs  or  (2)Choose a quote from the Truman Doctrine Speech and create an illustration which reflects the quote and its relationship to Cold War events.


  • Student Assignment----Part Two--      Answer both questions:  How did President Truman and the United States react to events in Eastern and Southern Europe during the years immediately following World War Two?   How did these events effect the relationship between the US and Soviet Union?

Full explanation of the assessment method and/or scoring guide:
  • Student assessment will take the form of a homework grade for each part of the assignment.


 Primary Document Analysis Questions


Student Name____________________                         Truman Doctrine Speech

Read and follow along with audio –then answer the following


1)    According to President Truman, (paragraph 12) what is threatening the “very existence of the Greek State”?


2)    Why is it the responsibility (paragraphs 15-17) of the US to deal with crisis in Greece and Turkey?



3)    President Truman gave a Credo or statement of US belief in paragraphs 37 and 38,  What is the statement of belief?


4)    President Truman is asking Congress to take action.  What is he asking Congress to do?



5)    If the US fails to act, there will be consequences. (paragraphs 54-58) What are consequences of inaction?


6)    Choose some key words from the speech that demonstrate the level of crisis, tension and conflict.



7)    Choose a phrase or expression used by President Truman that you feel is very persuasive and convincing.


8)    What is your favorite quote from this speech?