When Did The Cold War End?

October 9, 2019 | Samantha Henman

When Did The Cold War End?

By the time of the end of the Cold War, tensions between Western and Eastern forces had simmered for almost five long decades. This prolonged conflict took its toll on both the Soviet Union and the US. By 1985, the Soviet Union’s economy was stagnant. Soon, a new leader by the name of Mikhail Gorbachev would make sweeping changes that would spell the end of the USSR and the Cold War itself. Still, it would take years for the Cold War to actually come to an end.

when did the cold war start editorialShutterstock

When Did The Cold War End?

Mister Gorbachev If You’re Nasty

In 1985, Mikhail Gorbachev became the General Secretary of the Soviet Union, a position which made him the de facto leader of the Soviet Union. Whereas previous leaders focused on continuing the tension with the West, which led to costly military spending, Gorbachev saw his homeland straining under the weight of a sluggish economy. Gorbachev knew that changes had to be made. These changes would come in the form of the perestroika, economic reforms that would ensure the survival of the Soviet Union and its citizens.

when did the cold war end editorialGetty

Another important reform came with Gorbachev’s glasnost, a policy that encouraged transparency within government (especially within the notoriously corrupt Communist Party) and freedom of the press. Glasnost means openness, and the commitment to that concept also meant more communication between Soviet citizens and the rest of the world. In a way, it was a tearing down of the infamous “Iron Curtain” that previously separated the nations.

iron curtain facts factinate news

Getting Warm

Gorbachev’s actions during the first few years of his leadership led to the US extending a diplomatic olive branch. They arranged a series of summits between the Soviet leader and President Reagan. While there were some bumps along the way, both nations took steps to to reduce each force’s cache of nuclear weapons. The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty was signed in 1987.

King John factsThe Blue Diamond Gallery

While a transition in American leadership from Roosevelt to Truman was one of the factors that led to the start of the Cold War, the transition of leadership between Reagan and George H.W. Bush in 1989 had the opposite effect. Bush signed an arms control treaty with Gorbachev that very year.

Twin Peaks Factsobskura

The Wall

As tensions thawed between the US and the Soviet Union, a division remained from the post-WWII years: the Berlin Wall. In the late 80s, under pressure as the Peaceful Revolution protests happened in East Germany, Gorbachev finally acquiesced to demands for German reunification. The Berlin Wall, once such a strong visual and symbolic presence, finally came down on November 9, 1989.

when did the cold war end editorialWikimedia

The fall of the Berlin Wall was symbolic for a multitude of reasons. It inspired the ongoing political protests and attempts at secession in Eastern European countries that were, at the time, still Soviet Socialist Republics. At the same time, glasnost led the USSR to the brink of destruction. On December 3, 1989, Gorbachev and Bush declared the Cold War officially over. Just two years later, the USSR would officially dissolve, putting an end to a long and tumultuous period in 20th century history.


More from Factinate

Featured Article

My mom never told me how her best friend died. Years later, I was using her phone when I made an utterly chilling discovery.

Dark Family Secrets

Dark Family Secrets Exposed

Nothing stays hidden forever—and these dark family secrets are proof that when the truth comes out, it can range from devastating to utterly chilling.
April 8, 2020 Samantha Henman

Featured Article

Madame de Pompadour was the alluring chief mistress of King Louis XV, but few people know her dark history—or the chilling secret shared by her and Louis.

Madame de Pompadour Facts

Entrancing Facts About Madame de Pompadour, France's Most Powerful Mistress

Madame de Pompadour was the alluring chief mistress of King Louis XV, but few people know her dark history—or the chilling secret shared by her and Louis.
December 7, 2018 Kyle Climans

More from Factinate

Featured Article

I tried to get my ex-wife served with divorce papers. I knew that she was going to take it badly, but I had no idea about the insane lengths she would go to just to get revenge and mess with my life.

These People Got Genius Revenges

When someone really pushes our buttons, we'd like to think that we'd hold our head high and turn the other cheek, but revenge is so, so sweet.
April 22, 2020 Scott Mazza

Featured Article

Catherine of Aragon is now infamous as King Henry VIII’s rejected queen—but few people know her even darker history.

Catherine of Aragon Facts

Tragic Facts About Catherine of Aragon, Henry VIII’s First Wife

Catherine of Aragon is now infamous as King Henry VIII’s rejected queen—but very few people know her even darker history.
June 7, 2018 Christine Tran

Dear reader,

Want to tell us to write facts on a topic? We’re always looking for your input! Please reach out to us to let us know what you’re interested in reading. Your suggestions can be as general or specific as you like, from “Life” to “Compact Cars and Trucks” to “A Subspecies of Capybara Called Hydrochoerus Isthmius.” We’ll get our writers on it because we want to create articles on the topics you’re interested in. Please submit feedback to contribute@factinate.com. Thanks for your time!

Do you question the accuracy of a fact you just read? At Factinate, we’re dedicated to getting things right. Our credibility is the turbo-charged engine of our success. We want our readers to trust us. Our editors are instructed to fact check thoroughly, including finding at least three references for each fact. However, despite our best efforts, we sometimes miss the mark. When we do, we depend on our loyal, helpful readers to point out how we can do better. Please let us know if a fact we’ve published is inaccurate (or even if you just suspect it’s inaccurate) by reaching out to us at contribute@factinate.com. Thanks for your help!

Warmest regards,

The Factinate team

Want to learn something new every day?

Join thousands of others and start your morning with our Fact Of The Day newsletter.

Thank you!

Error, please try again.