At the end of World War II,the two victorious most powerful nations left were the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. A global rivalry ensued between the two for the next forty years. Although the two never actually went to war with each other the arms race, atomic weapons, and frequent regional clashes led it to be known as the Cold War.
After the United States and the Soviet Union had defeated Germany they took over millitary occupation of the country, with the United States and its allies controling half, and the Soviet Union controlling half. The capitol city of Berlin was also divided into similar zones of occupation, even though it was located deep into the Soviet territory. Gemany’s borders were also trimmed down much more than they originally were before the war. Alsace and Lorraine were returned to France, East Prussia was divided in half with the upper half being annexed by Russia and the lower half being annexed by Poland. Germany’s eastern frontier was also moved way westward to a line defined by the Oder and Neisse Rivers, with all that land also being annexed by Poland.
The U.S.S.R. was able to take advantage of Germany’s defeat on the eastern front to seize most of eastern Europe. As Germany retreated all of the eastern land they had conquered was now seized by the Russians, and unlike territory conquered by Americans, the Russians would not be giving the native people independence and their own democratic government. So at the end of World War II eastern Europeans were never liberated, only reconquered. The Soviet Union took the opportunity to annex Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, “White Russia” from Poland, Bessarabia from Romania, part of Czechoslovakia, and part of Finland. The also set up Communist satallite protectorate regimes in Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, and Albania.