1950s: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Clockwise, from left: United Nations Soldiers during the Korean War which was the first UN authorized conflict and would last from 1950 - 1953; Two atomic explosions from the RDS-37 and Upshot-Knothole (Soviet and American, respectively) nuclear weapons, of which both tests would escalate the Cold War relations between the two nations in the 50s; Israeli troops prepare to fight the Egyptians during the Suez Crisis of 1956; A replica of Sputnik I, the worlds first satellite, launched by the Soviet Union in 1957; Cuban Revolution; North Sea flood of 1953
Millennium: 2nd millennium
Centuries: 19th century20th century21st century
Decades: 1920s 1930s 1940s1950s1960s 1970s 1980s
Years: 1950 1951 1952 1953 1954 1955 1956 1957 1958 1959
Categories: BirthsDeathsArchitecture

The 1950s was the decade that started on January 1, 1950 and ended on December 31, 1959. The world was recovering from the Second World War. During the early 1950s in the United States manufacturing and home construction was on the rise as the American economy was on the upswing. The Korean War and the beginning of the Cold War created a politically conservative climate. The Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States played out through the entire decade. The Red Scare, fear of communism, caused public Congressional hearings by both houses in Congress and Anti-Communism was the prevailing sentiment in the United States throughout the decade(hence the need to intervene the Vietnamese War and the Korean War). Conformity and conservatism characterized the social mores of the time. The 1950s in the developed western world are generally considered both socially conservative and highly materialistic in nature.[citation needed] The beginning of decolonization in Africa and Asia occurred in this decade and accelerated in the following decade of the 1960s.


Wars and Conflicts

Israeli troops preparing for combat in the Sinai peninsula during the Suez Crisis.
  • Cold War wars involving the influence of the rival superpowers of the Soviet Union and the United States:
  • Korean War (1950 - 1953) - The war, which lasted from June 25, 1950 until a cease-fire on July 27, 1953 (as of 2010, there has been no peace treaty signed), started as a civil war between North Korea and the Republic of South Korea. When it began, North and South Korea existed as provisional governments competing for control over the Korean peninsula, due to the division of Korea by outside powers. While originally a civil war, it quickly escalated into a proxy war between the western powers led by the United States and its allies and the communist powers of the People's Republic of China and the Soviet Union. On September 15, General Douglas MacArthur conducted an amphibious landing at the city of Inchon (Song Do port). The North Korean army collapsed, and within a few days, MacArthur's army retook Seoul (South Korea's capital). He then pushed north, capturing Pyongyang in October. Chinese intervention the following month drove UN forces south again. MacArthur then planned for a full-scale invasion of China, but this was against the wishes of President Truman and others who wanted a limited war. He was dismissed and replaced by General Matthew Ridgeway. The war then became a bloody stalemate for the next two and a half years while peace negotiations dragged on. A cease-fire was finally agreed to by both sides on July 27, 1953. The war left 33,742 American soldiers dead, 92,134 wounded, and 80,000 MIA or POW. Estimates place Korean and Chinese casualties at 1,000,000–1,400,000 dead or wounded, and 140,000 MIA or POW.
  • The Vietnam War started in 1959.[1]
  • Suez Crisis (1956) - The Suez Crisis was a war fought on Egyptian territory in 1956. Following the nationalisation of the Suez Canal in 1956 by Gamal Abdel Nasser, the United Kingdom, France and Israel subsequently invaded. The operation was a military success, but after the United States and Soviet Union united in opposition to the invasion, the invaders were forced to withdraw. This was seen as a major humiliation, especially for the two Western European countries, and symbolizes the beginning of the end of colonialism and the weakening of European global importance, specifically the collapse of the British Empire.

Internal conflicts

Fidel Castro becomes the leader of Cuba as a result of the Cuban Revolution

Decolonization and Independence

Prominent political events

International issues

  • Establishment of the Non-aligned Movement, consisting of nations not formally aligned with or against any major power bloc.


  • Africa experienced the beginning of large-scale top-down economic interventions in the 1950s that failed to cause improvement and led to charitable exhaustion by the West as the century went on. The widespread corruption was not dealt with and war, disease, and famine continued to be constant problems in the region.
  • Egyptian general Gamel Abdel Nasser overthrows the Egyptian monarchy, establishing himself as President of Egypt. Nasser becomes an influential leader in the Middle East in the 1950s, leads Arab states into war with Israel, is a major leader of the Non-Aligned Movement and promotes pan-Arab unification.


  • In the 1950s Latin America was the center of covert and overt conflict between the Soviet Union and the United States. Their varying collusion with national, populist, and elitist interests destabilized the region. The United States CIA orchestrated the overthrow of the Guatemalan government in 1952. In 1957 the military dictatorship of Venezuela was overthrown. This continued a pattern of regional revolution and warfare making extensive use of ground forces.
  • In 1957, Dr. François Duvalier came to power in an election in Haiti. He later declared himself president for life, and ruled until his death in 1971.
  • In 1959 Fidel Castro overthrew the regime of Fulgencio Batista in Cuba, establishing a communist government in the country. Although Castro initially sought aid from the US, he was rebuffed and later turned to the Soviet Union.
  • NORAD signed in 1959 by Canada and the United States creating a unified North American aerial defense system.


  • Reconstruction continue in Japan in the 1950s, funded by the United States, which ended its occupation of the country in 1951. Social changes took place, including democratic elections and universal suffrage.
  • Within a year of its establishment, the People's Republic of China had invaded Tibet and intervened in the Korean War, causing years of hostility and estrangement from the United States. The Chinese allied with the Soviet Union, which then provided considerable technical and economic aid. Although relations between the two communist giants remained friendly throughout the 1950s, cracks were forming in their alliance by the end of the decade. The Great Leap Forward in 1958–1960 was an attempt by Mao Zedong to rush the country's economic development with the creation of huge rural communes. It failed ignominiously, and combined with a series of natural disasters triggered an enormous famine in which several million people died.
  • In 1953 the French colonial rulers of Indochina tried to contain a growing communist insurgency against their rule led by Ho Chi Minh. After their defeat at Dien Bien Phu in 1954 they were forced to cede independence to the nations of Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. The Geneva Conference of 1954 separated French supporters and communist nationalists for the purposes of the ceasefire, and mandated nationwide elections by 1956; Ngo Dinh Diem established a government in the south and refused to hold elections. Conflict then resumed between the communist north and American-supported south.


With the help of the Marshall Plan, post-war reconstruction succeeded, with some countries (including West Germany) preferring free market capitalism while others preferred Keynesian-policy welfare states. Europe continued to be divided into Western and Soviet bloc countries. The geographical point of this division came to be called the Iron Curtain. It divided Germany into East and West Germany. In 1955 West Germany joined.

The Soviet Union continued its domination of eastern Europe. In 1953 Joseph Stalin, the leader of the Soviet Union, died. This led to the rise of Nikita Khrushchev, who denounced Stalin and pursued a more liberal domestic and foreign policy, stressing peaceful competition with the West rather than overt hostility. There were anti-Soviet uprisings in East Germany in 1953.



Science and technology


Operation Castle became the highest-yield nuclear test series ever conducted by the United States.


Additional significant world-wide events

Popular Culture


Cary Grant as Roger O. Thornhill in "North by Northwest" (1959)

European cinema experienced a renaissance in the '50s following the deprivations of World War II. Italian director Federico Fellini won the first foreign language film Academy Award with La strada and garnered another Academy Award with Nights of Cabiria. In 1955, Swedish director Ingmar Bergman earned a Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival with Smiles of a Summer Night and followed the film with masterpieces The Seventh Seal and Wild Strawberries. Jean Cocteau's Orphée, a film central to his Orphic Trilogy, starred Jean Marais and was released in 1950. French director Claude Chabrol's Le Beau Serge is now widely considered the first film of the French New Wave. Notable European film stars of the period include Brigitte Bardot, Sophia Loren, Marcello Mastroianni, Max von Sydow, and Jean-Paul Belmondo. Japanese cinema reached its zenith with films from director Akira Kurosawa including Rashomon, Ikiru, Seven Samurai, Throne of Blood, and The Hidden Fortress. Other distinguished Japanese directors of the period were Yasujiro Ozu and Kenji Mizoguchi. Russian fantasy director Aleksandr Ptushko's mythological epics Sadko, Ilya Muromets, and Sampo were internationally acclaimed as was Ballad of a Soldier, a 1959 Soviet film directed by Grigori Chukhrai

The "Golden Era" of 3-D cinematography happened during the 1950s.


Art Movements

In the early 1950s Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning were enormously influential. However by the late 1950s Barnett Newman and Mark Rothko's paintings became more in focus to the next generation.

Pop Art used the iconography of television, photography, comics, cinema and advertising. With its roots in dadaism, it started to take form towards the end of the 1950s when some European artists started to make the symbols and products of the world of advertising and propaganda the main subject of their artistic work. This return of figurative art, in opposition to the abstract expressionism that dominated the aesthetic scene since the end of World War II was dominated by Great Britain until the early 1960s when Andy Warhol, the most known artist of this movement began to show Pop Art in galleries in the United States.



FIFA World Cups


World leaders



Elvis Presley in a publicity photo for Jailhouse Rock (1957)

Sports figures

See also


  1. ^ Diem instituted a policy of death penalty against any communist activity in 1956. The Vietcong began an assassination campaign in early 1957. An article by French scholar Bernard Fall published in July 1958 concluded that a new war had begun. The first official large unit military action was on September 26, 1959, when the Vietcong ambushed two ARVN companies.[1]
  2. ^ Stratton, J.M. (1969). Agricultural Records. John Baker. ISBN 0-212-97022-4. 

External links


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary





1950s (uncountable)

  1. The decade from 1950 to 1959. Also known as the 50s.

Simple English

Millennium: 2nd millennium
Centuries: 19th century20th century21st century
Decades: 1920s 1930s 1940s1950s1960s 1970s 1980s
Years: 1950 1951 1952 1953 1954 1955 1956 1957 1958 1959
Categories: BirthsDeathsArchitecture

The 1950s was the decade that started on January 1, 1950 and ended on December 31, 1959.


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