The end of World War II did not bring the peace that most Americans expected but rather the outbreak of the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union. Trouble fi rst began in Germany when the Russians moved to communize their zone of military occupation. In December of 1946 the Americans, British, and French consolidated their zones into an economic union, and two years later they established a new currency system. The Russians thereupon withdrew from the Allied Control Council and began a blockade of the Allied sectors of Berlin. The Allies then blockaded the Russian zone and moved to establish home rule in their zones under the German Federal Republic in Bonn. The Russians countered by setting up the German Democratic Republic with its capital in East Berlin. Soviet regimes were also set up in Eastern Europe in countries occupied by the Red Army. The bitter clash of interests rapidly developed into a global confrontation between the superpowers in some ways more dangerous than the shooting wars of the past. The stakes were higher than in the past because the nuclear weapons possessed by both sides posed the distinct threat of world annihilation.