Disagreements of the Yalta Conference

At a meeting in the City of Yalta in Russian Crimea from February 4 to 11, Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin each arrived with their own conference agendas. For Stalin, the main objectives were post-war economic aid to Russia and the recognition of a Soviet sphere of influence in Eastern Europe by the United States and Britain. Churchill had the protection of the British Empire in the first place, but also wanted to clarify Germany`s post-war status. Roosevelt`s goals included a consensus on the creation of the United Nations and Soviet approval to go to war with Japan after Hitler`s defeat. None of them left Yalta completely satisfied. There was no final determination of financial assistance to Russia. Many questions concerning Germany have been postponed for further discussion. As for the United Nations, Stalin wanted the 16 Soviet republics to be represented in the General Assembly, but settled for three (the Soviet Union as a whole, Belarus and Ukraine). However, the Soviets agreed to participate in the war against Japan 90 days after the defeat of Hitler`s Germany. The Potsdam Conference took place after the Yalta Conference.

The Potsdam took place in August 1945. Very little was agreed in Potsdam. The three leaders of the time had many differences of opinion: until the Potsdam Conference, the war alliance between the United States and the USSR had broken apart. There were a number of reasons for this: when the Cold War became a reality in the years following the Yalta Conference, many critics of Roosevelt`s foreign policy accused him of “selling” himself at the meeting and naively letting Stalin`s will go. However, it seems doubtful that Roosevelt had a wide choice. He was able to obtain Russian participation in the war against Japan (Russia declared war on Japan on August 8, 1945), established the basic principles of the United Nations, and did everything possible to resolve the Polish question. When World War II was still raging, his main interest was to maintain the Grand Alliance. He believed that boring political problems could be postponed and solved after the war.

Unfortunately, Roosevelt never had that chance — almost exactly two months after the conference ended, Roosevelt suffered a stroke and died. Despite many differences of opinion, the Allied leaders managed to reach some agreements in Potsdam. For example, negotiators confirmed the status of a demilitarized and disarmed Germany under four zones of Allied occupation. According to the minutes of the conference, there should be “complete disarmament and demilitarization of Germany”; all aspects of German industry that could be used for military purposes had to be dismantled; all German military and paramilitary forces should be eliminated; and the manufacture of all military equipment in Germany was banned. In addition, German society was to be democratically reshaped by the repeal of all discriminatory laws of the Nazi era and the arrest and sentencing of Germans as “war criminals.” The German education and justice system should be cleansed of authoritarian influences and democratic political parties should be encouraged to participate in the administration of Germany at the local and state level. However, the reconstitution of a German national government was postponed indefinitely, and the Allied Control Commission (composed of four occupying powers, the United States, Great Britain, France and the Soviet Union) was to govern the country during the interregnum. The big three – Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill (replaced by Prime Minister Clement Attlee on July 26) and US President Harry Truman – met in Potsdam from July 17 to August 2, 1945 to negotiate the terms for the end of World War II. After the Yalta Conference in February 1945, Stalin, Churchill and US President Franklin D. Roosevelt had agreed to meet after Germany`s surrender to define the post-war borders in Europe. Germany capitulated on 8 September. In May 1945, the Allied leaders agreed to meet in Potsdam in the summer to continue the discussions begun at Yalta. Although the Allies remained determined to wage a common war in the Pacific, the absence of a common enemy in Europe led to difficulties in reaching a consensus on post-war reconstruction on the European continent.

Allied leaders came to Yalta knowing that an Allied victory in Europe was virtually inevitable, but less convinced that the Pacific War was coming to an end. Recognizing that victory over Japan might require a protracted struggle, the United States and Britain saw a great strategic advantage for Soviet involvement in the Pacific theater of war. At Yalta, Roosevelt and Churchill discussed with Stalin the conditions under which the Soviet Union would go to war with Japan, and all three agreed that the Soviets would be granted a sphere of influence in Manchuria in exchange for potentially decisive Soviet participation in the Pacific theater of war after Japan`s surrender. These included the southern part of Sakhalin, a lease at Port Arthur (now Lüshunkou), the operation of the Manchu Railways and the Kuril Islands. This agreement was the most important concrete achievement of the Yalta Conference. The Yalta Conference was held during World War II from February 4 to 11, 1945 in a Russian resort in Crimea. In Yalta, US President Franklin D. Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Soviet Prime Minister Joseph Stalin made important decisions about the future course of the war and the post-war world. One of the most controversial topics of the Potsdam Conference concerned the revision of the German-Soviet-Polish borders and the expulsion of several million Germans from the disputed territories. In exchange for the territory it lost after the readjustment of the Soviet-Polish border with the Soviet Union, Poland received much of the German territory and began deporting German inhabitants from the areas in question, as well as other nations that were home to large German minorities.

The Potsdam negotiators were well aware of the situation, and although the British and Americans feared that a mass exodus of Germans to the Western occupation zones would destabilize them, they only declared that “all transfers that take place should be carried out in an orderly and humane manner” and called on the Poles to temporarily suspend the new deportations from Czechoslovakia and Hungary. In Potsdam, the main question was how to deal with Germany. At Yalta, the Soviets had lobbied for Germany to receive heavy reparations after the war, half of which would go to the Soviet Union. While Roosevelt had complied with these demands, Truman and his Secretary of State, James Byrnes, were determined to lessen Germany`s treatment by allowing occupying nations to demand reparations only from their own zone of occupation. Truman and Byrnes promoted this position because they wanted to avoid a repeat of the situation created by the Treaty of Versailles, which had demanded high reparations from Germany after World War I. Many experts agreed that the harsh reparations imposed by the Treaty of Versailles had hampered the German economy and fueled the rise of the Nazis. In addition to settling issues relating to Germany and Poland, the Potsdam negotiators agreed to the formation of a Council of Foreign Ministers to draft peace treaties with Germany`s former allies on behalf of the United States, Britain, the Soviet Union and China. Conference participants also agreed to revise the 1936 Montreux Convention, which gave Turkey exclusive control of the Strait of Turkey.

In addition, the United States, Britain, and China issued the “Potsdam Declaration,” which threatened Japan with “immediate and total destruction” if it did not surrender immediately (the Soviet Union did not sign the declaration because it had not yet declared war on Japan). On the question of Poland`s status after the war, however, the hostility and mistrust between the United States and the Soviet Union that would characterize the Cold War was most evident. Soviet troops already controlled Poland, a pro-communist provisional government had already been installed, and Stalin insisted that Russia`s interests be recognized in that nation. The United States and Britain believed that the London-based non-communist Polish government-in-exile was the most representative of the Polish people. .

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