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The Conservative Tide, 1980-1992 • The End of the Cold War
Classroom Activities

Objective: Create a comic strip that identifies and explains the factors that led to the end of the Cold War.

Key Questions:

  • Which factor do you think was the most responsible for ending the Cold War, Gorbachev's policy changes within the USSR or Reagan's foreign policy? Explain.
  • What happened in 1989 that led to the end of the USSR?

Notes on Implementation:

  • Provide additional support by giving students a comic strip template to help them storyboard their ideas or offer access to online comic creation software.

Student Activity: Students can access the below activity in The Conservative Tide Topic Center within the American History database.

At the end of World War II, the United States and the Soviet Union were engaged in what was called the Cold War: each nation tried to gain supremacy in the world—one for communism and one for capitalism. By the end of the 1980s, it seemed very clear that the Soviet Union and the nations that were involved in its empire began to collapse.

In this activity, you will create a comic strip depicting the factors and events that led to the collapse of the Soviet Union. To complete this activity, review the resources and see the Apply section for what to include in your comic strip.



  • Read the Overview and review the visual for the following information:
    • President Reagan's Brandenburg Gate Speech
    • U.S. and USSR arms treaty negotiations
    • Soviet policy towards Eastern Europe
    • Gorbachev resignation
  • Use your notes to create a comic strip that illustrates the dissolution of the USSR.
  • For each square, provide an image and caption that explains the factor.


Key Understandings:

  • A nation's foreign policy actions have legacies that impact future foreign policy.

Possible Answers for Activity:

Examples of what students might provide in their comic strip:

1985–1988: 4 arms reduction treaties

  • Met in Geneva, Reykjavik, Washington, D.C., Moscow
  • Goal: consensus on reduction of nuclear arms

1987: Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty

  • Eliminated ground-launched ballistic, cruise missiles
  • Opened door to other treaties to step down military build-up

Brandenburg Gate speech (1987)

  • Reagan challenged Gorbachev: "tear down this wall"
  • Given 2–3 years before collapse of Soviet Union

Factors in Soviet collapse

  • Political: Gorbachev implemented reforms, promised not to intervene in Eastern Europe
  • Financial crisis: enormous military spending bankrupt Soviet Union
  • Disastrous war in Afghanistan

Tearing down of Berlin Wall

  • Iconic moment of fall of communism in Eastern Europe
  • November 9, 1989: Germans on both sides tore it down
  • End of Soviet control

MLA Citation

"The End of the Cold War." History Hub, ABC-CLIO, 2019, historyhub.abc-clio.com/Topics/Display/2010?cid=71. Accessed 16 Feb. 2019.

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Entry ID: 2042991

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