The History Place - World War II in Europe Timeline: February - The 'Big Three' meet at Yalta
"People imagine that Churchill, Roosevelt, and Stalin arrived at Yalta with a blank sheet of paper to decide the fate of Europe. Nothing could be. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, along with U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt and Soviet Leader Josef Stalin, attend the conference at Yalta. February. The Yalta Conference, also known as the Crimea Conference and code-named the Argonaut The meeting was intended mainly to discuss the re-establishment of the nations of war-torn Europe. .. But at Yalta, Roosevelt and Churchill largely acceded to Stalin's demands to annex the territory which in the Nazi-Soviet Pact.
Junior minister George Strauss resigned in protest against the government's policy on Poland. In the late s, Churchill and Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden also came in for criticism when it became widely known that they had made a concession to Stalin that all former Soviet prisoners of war, including thousands who for whatever reason had changed sides and fought in German uniform, be forcibly repatriated.
But again there were fears that if this was not agreed upon, then the Russians might prove highly obstructive when it came to repatriating Western prisoners of war the Red Army had liberated. Churchill's effectiveness at Yalta was robustly defended by others, with Admiral William Leahy, Roosevelt's Chief of Staff, later writing that 'Churchill, I thought was at his best at Yalta', in fighting not only for Britain's interests, but also for those of France, Poland and other small powers.
Positive results At the time, and despite some disappointments not immediately made public, the results of the conference were generally seen as positive.
A verdict on which, at the time, James Byrnes agreed: There is no doubt that the tide of Anglo-Soviet-American friendship had reached a new high'.
Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin in Yalta (4 to 11 February 1945)
At Yalta Stalin agreed to collaborate in the establishment of the United Nations Organization, a project very dear to Roosevelt's heart. Reluctantly, and after a great deal of effort on the part of both Churchill and Eden, Stalin also agreed to France having an occupation zone in defeated Germany.
With the atom bomb still untried and the prospect of heavy American, British and Australian casualties in an invasion of the Japanese home islands, the promise of Russian participation in the Far Eastern war was seen as a great coup. Months later, on 8 AugustRussia did declare war on Japan as promised at Yalta, three months after the end of the war in Europe, on the day before the atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. Later, during the Cold War, Soviet intervention in the war against Japan was almost invariably overlooked by Western historians, but it is now considered as one of the key factors in the Japanese decision to surrender, along with the dropping of the atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The problem of Poland and Soviet relations The problem of Poland's future was a special focus of the Yalta conference. The Russian frontier with Poland would be moved westwards to the Curzon Line, a boundary previously suggested in the aftermath of the First World War.
Stalin agreed that free elections should be held in Poland as soon as possible.
Milestones: – - Office of the Historian
He also accepted Churchill's pleas that members of the Polish and Yugoslav governments-in-exile should be included in the new administrations of those countries. Russia also adhered to a 'Declaration on Liberated Europe' in which the 'Big Three' registered their desire for the establishment of democratic institutions in the countries that their forces had or were about to liberate from Nazi rule.
Charles 'Chip' Bohlen of the US State Department, who acted as FDR's Russian interpreter, believed that each of the 'Big Three' had achieved their major goals at Yalta, while recognising that, 'there was a sense of frustration and some bitterness in regard to Poland'. To American and British professional diplomats like Bohlen, the agreements reached at Yalta seemed on the surface to be 'realistic compromises between the various positions of each country'.
Stalin had made a genuine concession in finally agreeing to a French zone in Germany, while Churchill and Roosevelt had given in a great deal on Poland. But even then, Bohlen thought, the plan as finally agreed upon might well have resulted in a genuinely democratic Polish government if it had been carried out. Bohlen's State Department friend George Kennan was not so optimistic.
In a memorandum written just before Yalta, Kennan had given a gloomy and prescient assessment of future Soviet relations with the West.
In it he saw no hope of co-operation with Stalin in a post-war Europe, rather an 'unavoidable conflict arising between the Allied need for stable, independent nations in Europe and a Soviet push to the west'. Within a very short time Stalin was refusing to carry out his part of the bargain on Poland, disregarding the Declaration on Liberated Europe. Anthony Eden wrote later that, 'at Yalta the Russians seemed relaxed and, so far as we could judge, friendly'.
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- Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin meet at Yalta
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There were banquets at which innumerable toasts of vodka were drunk. Contrasting with his prior statement, Stalin promised free elections in Poland despite the Soviet sponsored provisional government recently installed by him in Polish territories occupied by the Red Army.
One Soviet precondition for a declaration of war against Japan was an American official recognition of Mongolian independence from China the Mongolian People's Republic had already been the Soviet satellite state from its own beginnings inthrough World War IIand a recognition of Soviet interests in the Manchurian railways and Port Arthur but not asking the Chinese to leaseas well as deprivation of Japanese soil such as Sakhalin and Kuril Islands to return to Russian custody since the Treaty of Portsmouth ; these were agreed without Chinese representation, consultation or consent, with the American desire to end war early thereby reducing American casualties.
Stalin agreed that the Soviet Union would enter the Pacific War three months after the defeat of Germany. Stalin pledged to Truman to keep the nationality of the Korean Peninsula intact as Soviet Union entered the war against Japan. A Big Three meeting room Furthermore, the Soviets had agreed to join the United Nations, given the secret understanding of a voting formula with a veto power for permanent members of the Security Councilthus ensuring that each country could block unwanted decisions.
At the time, the Red Army had occupied Poland completely and held much of Eastern Europe with a military power three times greater than Allied forces in the West[ citation needed ]. The Declaration of Liberated Europe did little to dispel the sphere of influence agreements that had been incorporated into armistice agreements. All three leaders ratified the agreement of the European Advisory Commission setting the boundaries of post-war occupation zones for Germany: They also agreed to give France a zone of occupation, carved out of the U.
Stalin resisted this, until eventually Roosevelt backed Churchill's position; but Stalin still remained adamant that the French should not be admitted to full membership of the Allied Reparations Commission to be established in Moscow, only relenting at the Potsdam Conference. Also, the Big Three agreed that all original governments would be restored to the invaded countries with the exceptions of Romania and Bulgaria, where the Soviets had already liquidated most of the governments;[ clarification needed ] and Poland whose government-in-exile was also excluded by Stalin and that all civilians would be repatriated.
Roosevelt, and Joseph Stalin during the Yalta Conference. It was a promise that allowed the people of Europe "to create democratic institutions of their own choice". The declaration pledged, "the earliest possible establishment through free elections governments responsive to the will of the people. The countries later became known as Stalin's Satellite Nations.