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28 Iconic Pictures That Defined The Cold War

Following the end of World War II, democracy in the West found itself at odds with the rise of communism in the East — and a new war for the future of civilization began.

Posted on July 13, 2017, at 5:55 p.m. ET

February 1945: Allied leaders at the Yalta Conference during World War II.

A group portrait of Allied leaders at the Yalta Conference, which was held at the Livadia Palace in Livadiya, Soviet Union (later Ukraine), in February 1945. From left: British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, US President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Soviet leader Joseph Stalin. The conference was called to discuss Europe's postwar reorganization in the years to come.
Photoquest / Getty Images

A group portrait of Allied leaders at the Yalta Conference, which was held at the Livadia Palace in Livadiya, Soviet Union (later Ukraine), in February 1945. From left: British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, US President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Soviet leader Joseph Stalin. The conference was called to discuss Europe's postwar reorganization in the years to come.

April 26, 1945: US and Soviet troops meet in Germany at the end of WWII.

US troops of the 69th Infantry Division shake hands with Soviet troops in a staged photo on the wrecked bridge over the Elbe in Torgau, Germany, to mark the previous day's linkup between US and Soviet forces on April 26, 1945.
Allan Jackson / Getty Images

US troops of the 69th Infantry Division shake hands with Soviet troops in a staged photo on the wrecked bridge over the Elbe in Torgau, Germany, to mark the previous day's linkup between US and Soviet forces on April 26, 1945.

March 5, 1946: British Prime Minister Winston Churchill delivers his famous "Iron Curtain" speech.

President Harry S. Truman (to the left of the podium) listens on as British Prime Minister Winston Churchill makes a speech about the Communist threat, in which he said his famous line: “From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an Iron Curtain has descended across the continent.”
George Skadding / Getty Images

President Harry S. Truman (to the left of the podium) listens on as British Prime Minister Winston Churchill makes a speech about the Communist threat, in which he said his famous line: “From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an Iron Curtain has descended across the continent.”

1947: Customs officers patrol the checkpoints between the US and Soviet sectors of Berlin.

A West Berlin customs officer inspects a vehicle before allowing it to enter the US sector of the city in 1947.
Ullstein Bild / Getty Images

A West Berlin customs officer inspects a vehicle before allowing it to enter the US sector of the city in 1947.

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1948: Provisions are loaded and airdropped into East Berlin during the Berlin Airlift.

Sacks of coal are loaded onto an aircraft (left) at the Fassberg Air Base in Germany for transport to Berlin during the Berlin Airlift in 1948. The airlift was necessitated by the Berlin Blockade, when the Soviet Union blocked Allied access to West Berlin. A C-47 cargo plane (right) flies over locals standing amid ruins on its approach to Tempelhof Airport, where it was taking food and other relief supplies.
Getty Images

Sacks of coal are loaded onto an aircraft (left) at the Fassberg Air Base in Germany for transport to Berlin during the Berlin Airlift in 1948. The airlift was necessitated by the Berlin Blockade, when the Soviet Union blocked Allied access to West Berlin. A C-47 cargo plane (right) flies over locals standing amid ruins on its approach to Tempelhof Airport, where it was taking food and other relief supplies.

Aug. 29, 1949: President Truman signs the North Atlantic Treaty, marking the beginning of NATO.

President Truman signs the North Atlantic Treaty on Aug. 29, 1949.
Mpi / Getty Images

President Truman signs the North Atlantic Treaty on Aug. 29, 1949.

March 1953: Americans react to the death of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin.

A waitress (left) puts up a sign outside her restaurant inviting everyone to enjoy "free borsht" in celebration of Stalin's death. In New York (right), Commissioner George Monaghan, Mayor Vincent Impellitteri, and a number of other city officials look over the media's coverage of Stalin's death, while attending a boxing match at Madison Square Garden.
Getty Images

A waitress (left) puts up a sign outside her restaurant inviting everyone to enjoy "free borsht" in celebration of Stalin's death. In New York (right), Commissioner George Monaghan, Mayor Vincent Impellitteri, and a number of other city officials look over the media's coverage of Stalin's death, while attending a boxing match at Madison Square Garden.

May 14, 1955: The signing of the Warsaw Pact between the Soviet Union and seven Soviet satellite nations.

The Soviet delegation arrives at Warsaw Airport on May 13, 1955, to attend the Communist Bloc Conclave, which brought together eight Eastern European countries prior to the signing of the Warsaw Pact on May 14. The treaty was signed in response to West Germany joining NATO the same year.
Afp / AFP / Getty Images

The Soviet delegation arrives at Warsaw Airport on May 13, 1955, to attend the Communist Bloc Conclave, which brought together eight Eastern European countries prior to the signing of the Warsaw Pact on May 14. The treaty was signed in response to West Germany joining NATO the same year.

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1957: A Soviet scientist works on Sputnik 1, the first satellite to enter Earth's orbit.

On Oct. 4, 1957, Sputnik 1 entered Earth's orbit and set off a space race between the US and the Soviet Union.
Sovfoto / Getty Images

On Oct. 4, 1957, Sputnik 1 entered Earth's orbit and set off a space race between the US and the Soviet Union.

1957: Soviet dogs are used as test subjects during early experiments in space travel.

Malyshka, a Soviet space dog (left), poses with a snug-fitting space suit while training for space flight. Romanian postage stamps (right) feature Laika, one of the first living organisms to enter space, and the first animal to orbit the planet.
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Malyshka, a Soviet space dog (left), poses with a snug-fitting space suit while training for space flight. Romanian postage stamps (right) feature Laika, one of the first living organisms to enter space, and the first animal to orbit the planet.

1960: US pilot Gary Powers inspects his gear after being shot down over the Soviet Union in a U-2 CIA spy plane.

Sovfoto / Getty Images

April 12, 1961: Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin in the capsule of Vostok 1, moments before he became the first human in space.

Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space as he completed a full orbit around the Earth in 1961. Gagarin was killed seven years later during a test flight for the MiG-15.
Images Gro / Images Gro/REX/Shutterstock

Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space as he completed a full orbit around the Earth in 1961. Gagarin was killed seven years later during a test flight for the MiG-15.

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Aug. 22, 1961: East German workers build the Berlin Wall.

Two East German workers secure pieces of broken glass on top of the newly built Berlin Wall, to prevent East Berliners from escaping.
Kreusch / AP / REX

Two East German workers secure pieces of broken glass on top of the newly built Berlin Wall, to prevent East Berliners from escaping.

1961: East Berlin residents live in both fear and disobedience under the shadow of the Berlin Wall.

West Berliners (left) wave to relatives in East Berlin from across the Berlin Wall. A refugee from East Berlin (right) attempts to escape by climbing over it.
Getty Images

West Berliners (left) wave to relatives in East Berlin from across the Berlin Wall. A refugee from East Berlin (right) attempts to escape by climbing over it.

March 1960: Fidel Castro and Che Guevara parade through the streets of Havana.

Castro (far left) and Guevara (center) march arm-in-arm with Osvaldo Dorticós Torrado, the president of Cuba from 1959 to 1976.
Universal History Archive / Getty Images

Castro (far left) and Guevara (center) march arm-in-arm with Osvaldo Dorticós Torrado, the president of Cuba from 1959 to 1976.

Oct. 22, 1962: President John F. Kennedy addresses the nation on the Cuban missile crisis.

A large group of customers in California gathers in an electronics department to watch as President Kennedy delivers a televised address to the nation on the the Cuban missile crisis.
Ralph Crane / Getty Images

A large group of customers in California gathers in an electronics department to watch as President Kennedy delivers a televised address to the nation on the the Cuban missile crisis.

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Nov. 7, 1967: Surface-to-air missiles on display during a military parade in Moscow's Red Square.

Motorized launchers loaded with Lyulev 2K11 Krug surface-to-air missiles are paraded through Moscow's Red Square, marking the 50th anniversary of the Soviet Union.
Images Gro / Images Gro/REX/Shutterstock

Motorized launchers loaded with Lyulev 2K11 Krug surface-to-air missiles are paraded through Moscow's Red Square, marking the 50th anniversary of the Soviet Union.

Dec. 21, 1968: Apollo 8 lifts off from Cape Kennedy (aka Cape Canaveral) in Florida, carrying the first humans into the moon's orbit.

Astronauts Frank Borman, James Lovell, and William Anders were onboard.
Ralph Morse / Getty Images

Astronauts Frank Borman, James Lovell, and William Anders were onboard.

July 20, 1969: Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin become the first two humans to walk on the surface of the moon.

Astronaut Buzz Aldrin stands for a portrait on the surface of the moon. It was taken by his fellow astronaut Neil Armstrong, whose reflection is visible in Aldrin's visor.
Ullstein Bild / Getty Images

Astronaut Buzz Aldrin stands for a portrait on the surface of the moon. It was taken by his fellow astronaut Neil Armstrong, whose reflection is visible in Aldrin's visor.

June 18, 1973: President Richard Nixon meets with Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev at the White House in Washington, DC.

President Nixon and visiting Soviet leader Brezhnev appear on a platform together during an official welcoming ceremony on the White House lawn.
Bettmann / Bettmann Archive

President Nixon and visiting Soviet leader Brezhnev appear on a platform together during an official welcoming ceremony on the White House lawn.

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July 1975: US astronauts and Soviet cosmonauts join forces during the historic Apollo–Soyuz linkup in space.

Cosmonaut Alexey Leonov (left) and astronaut Deke Slayton (right) frolic during the joint Apollo–Soyuz linkup in July 1975.
Nasa / Getty Images

Cosmonaut Alexey Leonov (left) and astronaut Deke Slayton (right) frolic during the joint Apollo–Soyuz linkup in July 1975.

Nov. 21, 1985: President Ronald Reagan meets with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev at the Geneva Summit.

Soviet leader Gorbachev and President Reagan smile during the summit's concluding ceremony.
Bettmann / Bettmann Archive

Soviet leader Gorbachev and President Reagan smile during the summit's concluding ceremony.

Nov. 11 1989: Crowds gather as East German border guards demolish a section of the Berlin Wall.

West Berliners crowd in front of the Berlin Wall as they watch East German border guards demolish a section to open a new crossing point between East and West Berlin. Two days beforehand, Günter Schabowski, the East Berlin Communist Party boss, declared that East Germans would be free to leave the country without permission.
Gerard Malie / AFP / Getty Images

West Berliners crowd in front of the Berlin Wall as they watch East German border guards demolish a section to open a new crossing point between East and West Berlin. Two days beforehand, Günter Schabowski, the East Berlin Communist Party boss, declared that East Germans would be free to leave the country without permission.

November 1990: Discarded communist symbols from the Soviet Union are left vandalized in the streets of Moscow.

A woman fixes her belongings atop a vandalized hammer and sickle on a Moscow street. The hammer and sickle was a communist symbol conceived during the Russian Revolution.
Alexander Nemenov / AFP / Getty Images

A woman fixes her belongings atop a vandalized hammer and sickle on a Moscow street. The hammer and sickle was a communist symbol conceived during the Russian Revolution.


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