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In February, 1945, Joseph Stalin, Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt met to discuss what would happen after the Second World War. The conference was held in Yalta on the north coast of the Black Sea in the Crimean peninsula. With Soviet troops in most of Eastern Europe, Stalin was in a strong negotiating position. Roosevelt and Churchill tried hard to restrict post-war influence in this area but the only concession they could obtain was a promise that free elections would be held in these countries. Poland was the main debating point. Stalin explained that throughout history Poland had either attacked Russia or had been used as a corridor through which other hostile countries invaded her. Only a strong, pro-Communist government in Poland would be able to guarantee the security of the Soviet Union.
The historian, Christopher Andrew, who has made a close study of the KGB archive, has argued that Stalin was determined to discover what Allied leaders were thinking: "Yalta was to prove an even bigger success for Soviet intelligence than Tehran. This time both the British and the American delegations, housed respectively in the ornate Vorontsov and Livadia palaces, were successfully bugged. The mostly female personnel used to record and transcribe their private conversations were selected and transported to the Crimea in great secrecy. Not till they arrived at Yalta did they discover the jobs that had been assigned to them. The NKGB sought, with some success, to distract both delegations from its surveillance of them by lavish and attentive hospitality, personally supervised by a massive NKGB general, Sergei Nikiforovich Kruglov."
Alger Hiss, an American official at the Yalta Conference, pointed out in his autobiography, Recollections of a Life (1988): "As I look back on the Yalta Conference after more than forty years, what stand out strikingly are the surprising geniality as host and the conciliatory attitude as negotiator of Joseph Stalin, a man we know to have been a vicious dictator. I am also reminded that in almost all of the analyses and criticism of the Yalta accords that I have read, I have not seen adequate recognition of the fact that it was we, the Americans, who sought commitments on the part of the Russians. Except for the Russian demand for reparations, coolly received by the United States, all the requests were ours."
William Leahy, Roosevelt's chief of staff, later pointed out: "Stalin then brought up the question of reparations in kind and in manpower, but said he was not ready to discuss the manpower question. The latter, of course, referred to forced labour. Since the Russians were using many thousands of prisoners in what was reported to be virtual slave camps, they had little to gain by discussing the matter.... The proposal in brief was: Reparations in kind should include factories, plants, communication equipment, investments abroad, etc., and should be made over a period of ten years, at the end of which time all reparations would have been paid. The total value of the reparations in kind asked by the Soviet was 10 billion dollars, to be spread over the ten-year period... Churchill objected to the 10 billion-dollar figure, and he and Roosevelt agreed that a reparations committee should be appointed to study the issue."
Winston Churchill stated: "The peace of the world depends upon the lasting friendship of the three great powers, but His Majesty's Government feel we should be putting ourselves in a false position if we put ourselves in the position of trying to rule the world when our desire is to serve the world and preserve it from a renewal of the frightful horrors which have fallen upon the mass of its inhabitants." Joseph Stalin and Franklin D. Roosevelt agreed and at Yalta, the decision at Teheran to form a United Nations organization was confirmed. It was only on this issue that all three leaders were enthusiastically in agreement.
Anthony Eden, the British foreign minister, pointed out: "Roosevelt was, above all else, a consummate politician. Few men could see more clearly their immediate objective, or show greater artistry in obtaining it. As a price of these gifts, his long-range vision was not quite so sure. The President shared a widespread American suspicion of the British Empire as it had once been and, despite his knowledge of world affairs, he was always anxious to make it plain to Stalin that the United States was not 'ganging up' with Britain against Russia. The outcome of this was some confusion in Anglo-American relations which profited the Soviets. Roosevelt did not confine his dislike of colonialism to the British Empire alone, for it was a principle with him, not the less cherished for its possible advantages. He hoped that former colonial territories, once free of their masters, would become politically and economically dependent upon the United States, and had no fear that other powers might fill that role."
However, Alger Hiss disagreed with this analysis: "As I look back on the Yalta Conference after more than forty years, what stand out strikingly are the surprising geniality as host and the conciliatory attitude as negotiator of Joseph Stalin, a man we know to have been a vicious dictator. Except for the Russian demand for reparations, coolly received by the United States, all the requests were ours. And, except for Poland, our requests were finally granted on our own terms. In agreeing to enter the war against Japan, Stalin asked for and was granted concessions of his own, but the initiative had been ours-we had urgently asked him to come to our aid."
At the time of Yalta, Germany was close to defeat. British and USA troops were advancing from the west and the Red Army from the east. At the conference it was agreed to divide Germany up amongst the Allies. However, all parties to that agreement were aware that the country that actually took control of Germany would be in the strongest position over the future of this territory. The main objective of Winston Churchill and Stalin was the capture of Berlin, the capital of Germany. Franklin D. Roosevelt did not agree and the decision of the USA Military commander, General Dwight Eisenhower, to head south-east to Dresden, ensured that Soviet forces would be the first to reach Berlin.
Christopher Andrew, the author of The Mitrokhin Archive (1999), is an historian who believes that Joseph Stalin completely out-negotiated Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill at Yalta: "The problem which occupied most time at Yalta was the future of Poland. Having already conceded Soviet dominance of Poland at Tehran, Roosevelt and Churchill made a belated attempt to secure the restoration of Polish parliamentary democracy and a guarantee of free elections. Both were outnegotiated by Stalin, assisted once again by a detailed knowledge of the cards in their hands. He knew, for example, what importance his allies attached to allowing some 'democratic' politicians into the puppet Polish provisional government already established by the Russians. On this point, after initial resistance, Stalin graciously conceded, knowing that the 'democrats' could subsequently he excluded. After first playing for time, Stalin gave way on other secondary issues, having underlined their importance, in order to preserve his allies' consent to the reality of a Soviet-dominated Poland. Watching Stalin in action at Yalta, the permanent under-secretary at the Foreign Office, Sir Alexander Cadogan, thought him in a different league as a negotiator to Churchill and Roosevelt."
It has been argued by G. Edward White, the author of Alger Hiss's Looking-Glass Wars (2004) that Alger Hiss himself had a profound impact on the conference. "Hiss's increased access to confidential sources, especially after he became an assistant to Secretary of State Edward Stettinius, made it possible for him to funnel intelligence information of considerable value to the Soviets. For example, Hiss's placement, coupled with that of the British Soviet agent Donald Maclean, who held a high-level post in the British Embassy in Washington from 1944 to 1949, meant that Stalin had a firm grasp of the postwar goals of the United States and Great Britain before the Yalta Conference."
White points out that Hiss, Donald Maclean, Kim Philby and other British-based Soviet agents in "providing a regular flow of classified intelligence or (confidential) documents in the run-up to (Yalta.)" A recently released KGB document dated March 1945 shows that the Soviets were very pleased with Hiss's contribution during the Yalta Conference: "Recently ALES (Hiss) and his whole group were awarded Soviet decorations. After the Yalta conference, when he had gone on to Moscow, a Soviet personage in a cry responsible position (ALES gave to understand that it was Comrade Vyshinsky, deputy foreign minister), allegedly got in touch with ALES and at the behest of the military NEIGHBOURS (GRU) passed oil to him their gratitude and so on."
Poland was the main debating point. Only a strong, pro-Communist government in Poland would be able to guarantee the security of the Soviet Union.
Stalin then brought up the question of reparations in kind and in manpower, but said he was not ready to discuss the manpower question. Since the Russians were using many thousands of prisoners in what was reported to be virtual slave camps, they had little to gain by discussing the matter. Stalin then had Deputy Foreign Commissar Maisky elaborate on the Russian view of the reparations question.
The proposal in brief was: Reparations in kind should include factories, plants, communication equipment, investments abroad, etc., and should be made over a period of ten years, at the end of which time all reparations would have been paid. The total value of the reparations in kind asked by the Soviet was 10 billion dollars, to be spread over the ten-year period.
The German heavy industries should be cut down and 80 per cent. removed in a period of two years after the surrender.
Allied control should be established over German industry, and all German industry that could be used in the production of war material should be under international control for a long period.
Churchill objected to the 10 billion-dollar figure, and he and Roosevelt agreed that a reparations committee should be appointed to study the issue. Roosevelt made it clear that the United States would not make the financial mistakes that followed World War I. He added that America would not want any manpower, any factories, or any machinery. It might want to seize German property in the United States, which at that time was estimated not to exceed 200 million dollars. Reparations presented a very complicated problem, and the appointment of a special commission seemed to be the only possible way to arrive at any kind of recommendation that could be accepted.
In the fall of 1944 the Soviet Union and the Provisional Government of France had entered into a treaty of friendship. It was immediately obvious at Yalta, however, that the treaty and the friendly words exchanged over it by the diplomats had not changed in any degree Marshal Stalin's opinion on the contribution of France to the war. He thought France should play little part in the control of Germany, and stated that Yugoslavia and Poland were more entitled to consideration than France.
When Roosevelt and Churchill proposed that France be allotted a zone of occupation, Stalin agreed. But it was clear he agreed only because the French zone was to be taken out of the territory allotted to the United States and the United Kingdom. And he especially opposed giving France a representative on the Allied Control Council for Germany. He undoubtedly concurred in the opinion expressed to the President by Mr. Molotov that this should be done "only as a kindness to France and not because she is entitled to it."
"I am in favor of France being given a zone," Stalin declared, "but I cannot forget that in this war France opened the gates to the enemy." He maintained it would create difficulties to give France a zone of
occupation and a representative on the Allied Control Council and refuse the same treatment to others who had fought more than France. He said France would soon demand that de Gaulle attend the Big
Churchill argued strongly in favor of France's being represented on the Council. He said the British public would not understand if questions affecting France and the French zone were settled without her participation in the discussion. It did not follow, as Stalin had suggested, that France would' demand de Gaulle's participation in the conferences of the Big Three, he added. And, in his best humor, Mr. Churchill said the conference was "a very exclusive club, the entrance fee being at least five million soldiers or the equivalent."
Winston Churchill: "The peace of the world depends upon the lasting friendship of the three great powers, but His Majesty's Government feel we should be putting ourselves in a false position if we put ourselves in the position of trying to rule the world when our desire is to serve the world and preserve it from a renewal of the frightful horrors which have fallen upon the mass of its inhabitants. We should make a broad submission to the opinion of the world within the limits stated. We should have the right to state our case against any case stated by the Chinese, for instance, in the case of Hongkong. There is no question that we could not be required to give back Hong Kong to the Chinese if we did not feel that was the right thing to do. On the other hand, I feel it would be wrong if China did not have an opportunity to state its case fully. In the same way, if Egypt raises a question against the British affecting the Suez Canal, as has been suggested, I would submit to all the procedure outlined in this statement. colleagues on the Security Council."
Joseph Stalin: "I would like to have this document to study because it is difficult on hearing it read to come to any conclusion. I think that the Dumbarton Oaks decisions have, as an objective, not only to secure to every nation the right to express its opinion, but if any nation should raise a question about some important matter, it raises the question in order to get a decision in the matter. I am sure none of those present would dispute the right of every member of the Assembly to express his opinion. "Mr. Churchill thinks that China, if it raised the question of Hong Kong, would be content only with expressing opinion here. He may be mistaken. China will demand a decision in the matter and so would Egypt. Egypt will not have much pleasure in expressing an opinion that the Suez Canal should be returned to Egypt, but would demand a decision on the matter. Therefore, the matter is much more serious than merely expressing an opinion. Also, I would like to ask Mr. Churchill to name the power which may intend to dominate the world. I am sure Great Britain does not want to dominate the world. So one is removed from suspicion. I am sure the United States does not wish to do so, so another is excluded from the powers having intentions to dominate the world."
Winston Churchill: "May I answer?"
Joseph Stalin: "In a minute. When will the great powers accept the provisions that would absolve them from the charge that they intend to dominate the world ? I will study the document. At this
time it is not very clear to me. I think it is a more serious question than the right of a power to express its intentions or the desire of some power to dominate the world."
Winston Churchill: "I know that under the leaders of the three powers as represented here we may feel safe. But these leaders may not live forever. In ten years' time we may disappear. A new generation will come which did not experience the horrors of war and may probably forget what we have gone through. We would like to secure the peace for at least fifty years. We have now to build up such a status, such a plan, that we can put as many obstacles as possible to the coming generation quarreling among themselves."
Roosevelt was, above all else, a consummate politician. The outcome of this was some confusion in Anglo-American relations which profited the Soviets.
Roosevelt did not confine his dislike of colonialism to the British Empire alone, for it was a principle with him, not the less cherished for its possible advantages. He hoped that former colonial territories, once free of their masters, would become politically and economically dependent upon the United States, and had no fear that other powers might fill that role.
Winston Churchill's strength lay in his vigorous sense of purpose and his courage, which carried him undismayed over obstacles daunting to lesser men. He was also generous and impulsive, but this could be a handicap at the conference table. Churchill liked to talk, he did not like to listen, and he found it difficult to wait for, and seldom let pass, his turn to speak. The spoils in the diplomatic game do not necessarily go to the man most eager to debate.
Marshal Stalin as a negotiator was the toughest proposition of all. Indeed, after something like thirty years' experience of international conferences of one kind and another, if I had to pick a team for going into a conference room, Stalin would be my first choice. Of course the man was ruthless and of course he knew his purpose. He never wasted a word. He never stormed, he was seldom even irritated. Hooded, calm, never raising his voice, he avoided the repeated negatives of Molotov which were so exasperating to listen to. By more subtle methods he got what he wanted without having seemed so obdurate.
There was a confidence, even an intimacy, between Stalin and Molotov such as I have never seen between any other two Soviet leaders, as if Stalin knew that he had a valuable henchman and Molotov was confident because he was so regarded. Stalin might tease Molotov occasionally, but he was careful to uphold his authority. Only once did I hear Stalin speak disparagingly of his judgment and that was not before witnesses.
As I look back on the Yalta Conference after more than forty years, what stand out strikingly are the surprising geniality as host and the conciliatory attitude as negotiator of Joseph Stalin, a man we know to have been a vicious dictator. In agreeing to enter the war against Japan, Stalin asked for and was granted concessions of his own, but the initiative had been ours-we had urgently asked him to come to our aid.
The meeting, in early February 1945, came at a turning point in the war. A series of Allied successes had assured victory in Europe. It was time to agree upon peace terms to be demanded from Germany. But only a few weeks earlier the Battle of the Bulge had shown that the German military machine was still dangerous, and plans were needed for joint military action to finish it off. It was also important to discuss the future of liberated Europe and to complete plans for the creation of a postwar world organization, the United Nations.
The war in the Far East was then far from settled. Fanatic Japanese defense of the islands that Japan had occupied in the Pacific heralded a costly invasion of the home islands, unless Russia could be brought into the Far Eastern war in which it had remained neutral. Our Joint Chiefs of Staff thought that if Russia did not join us, we might even have to invade Manchuria, where a powerful separate Japanese army was stationed as a defense against Russia.
President Roosevelt had two main objectives in coming to Yalta, one military and one political. His military objective at the Crimea Conference (for that is what it was officially called) was to obtain from Stalin a firm commitment and a definite date for Soviet entry into the war against Japan, the subject of an informal agreement at the Teheran Conference a year earlier but there left indefinite.
Roosevelt's political objective was to outline the terms of the future peace in Europe and to complete the partial agreement with the British and the Russians for the United Nations Charter. Accord on the general structure of the UN had been reached late the preceding summer in the Dumbarton Oaks Conversations in Washington, but that accord covered only some of the essential elements of the charter.
Roosevelt gained both of his objectives, sound reason for the exuberant mood of the Americans as we left Yalta eight days after our arrival in the most trying of wartime circumstances. Soviet entry into the war against Japan had for months been a major objective of our Joint Chiefs of Staff, chaired by General George C. Marshall. The Joint Chiefs had told us diplomats that Russian participation in the war in the Far East would prevent a million American casualties. And without it, they said, the Pacific conflict would last at least until the latter part of 1946.
This, then, was a goal of utmost importance, of immeasurable value to us. As we were leaving Yalta at the end of the conference, I heard General Marshall's reply to Secretary of State Stettinius's observation that the general must be eager to return to his desk after an absence of approximately two weeks. "Ed," said Marshall, "for what we have got here I would gladly have stayed a month." And in his memoirs Averell Harriman, at the time our ambassador to Moscow, quotes crusty Admiral William Leahy, Roosevelt's personal military adviser, as saying, "This makes the whole trip worthwhile."
On our arrival at Saki airport in the Crimea on the morning of February 3, 1945, Roosevelt and Churchill were met by Molotov and other Soviet officials. An impromptu guard of honor, Russian soldiers in ill-matching field garb, had been drawn up to greet the two Western leaders. It seemed that the Russians had eyes only for Roosevelt.
I wanted, especially, to see how the sight of FDR's physical affliction would affect them. Roosevelt carried himself nobly, erect on his pile of furs. As his jeep went up and down the irregular lines, the faces of the men he was reviewing seemed to reveal quite openly a mixture of awe and admiration. To me, the incident illustrated the universal potency of the Roosevelt presence, and the warmth of the friendly attitude displayed was, I felt, a happy augury for the success of our negotiations.
We had a long, cold, uncomfortable and quite exhausting drive of seven to eight hours over war-damaged roads from the airport at Saki to our Yalta quarters. Stalin did not arrive until the next day. He then paid a courtesy call on Roosevelt, an occasion used also for a private discussion of the major American objective, Soviet entry into the war against Japan.
That afternoon the first plenary session was held. Like all the other plenary sessions, it took place at Livadia Palace, and President Roosevelt presided. This practice was based on protocol, for Roosevelt was not only head of government but also chief of state and thus technically outranked Churchill and Stalin.
My inclusion in the American delegation was a matter of chance. When Secretary of State Stettinius presented Roosevelt with a list of the State Department personnel that Stettinius proposed to take with him as aides, the President immediately vetoed Jimmy Dunn. James Clement Dunn, later our ambassador to Italy under President Truman, had at the time of the Yalta Conference been for some years the director of an office in charge of European affairs in the State Department. A small, slight, dapper man, he was by no means the only State Department or Foreign Service officer whose views were more conservative than Roosevelt's. But Dunn was perhaps outstanding in the openness of his opposition to the President's liberalism.
When FDR said he wouldn't have Dunn at Yalta, Stettinius proposed me because of my participation in the State Department's work on the projected United Nations, which included my service as secretary of the Dumbarton Oaks Conversations. As Stettinius later recounted the incident to me, the President had said he didn't care who was named, provided it wasn't Dunn.
This was an example of the tension that exists between a strong, liberal president on the one hand and the traditionally conservative Department of State and its Foreign Service on the other. The Department and the Foreign Service regard themselves as permanent custodians of American foreign policy, as compared with presidents, who come and go. There was a saying in Roosevelt's Washington that the writ of the New Deal ran throughout the government except for the State Department. True to its conservative bent, the State Department remained aloof from liberal elements of Roosevelt's policies. This helps to explain why, soon after FDR's death, willingness to negotiate differences with the Soviet Union, as at Yalta, changed to confrontation.
A representative expression of opposition to Roosevelt's policies, which at times almost reached disaffection, is apparent throughout the first part of George Kennan's memoirs, which deals with his early years in the Foreign Service. Almost exactly my age and with a similar background, Kennan (who was to become, briefly, United States Ambassador to Moscow in 1952) was clearly estranged from the reformist spirit of the New Deal which I found so congenial.
Hiss's increased access to confidential sources, especially after he became an assistant to Secretary of State Edward Stettinius, made it possible for him to funnel intelligence information of considerable value to the Soviets. For example, Hiss's placement, coupled with that of the British Soviet agent Donald Maclean, who held a high-level post in the British Embassy in Washington from 1944 to 1949, meant that Stalin had a firm grasp of the postwar goals of the United States and Great Britain before the Yalta Conference. A recent study, in highlighting Soviet intelligence success in the 1940s, singled out the contributions of Hiss, Maclean, and other British-based Soviet agents in "providing a regular flow of classified intelligence or (confidential) documents in the run-up to (Yalta.)" "Some sense of how Moscow felt that good intelligence had contributed to Stalin's success at Yalta," the study concluded, "is conveyed by Moscow's congratulations to Hiss." The reference was to a secret meeting in Moscow, just after the Yalta Conference, at which Hiss was personally thanked for his efforts by Deputy Soviet Premier Andrei Vyshinki.
Although there is clear evidence that Maclean and Hiss knew each other comparatively well, and were in a position to consult with one another publicly about postwar planning measures involving the Soviets, Hiss regularly denied any memory of even having met Maclean.
Hiss's access to information also meant that the Soviets could use him to learn a good deal about prospective United States policy toward the Far East, because Hiss had been privy to internal deliberations about postwar goals in that region as an adviser to Hornbeck. In addition, State Department records show that Hiss, when affiliated with the Office of Special Political Affairs, had made requests for confidential information from the Office of Strategic Services on postwar atomic energy policy and the internal security of Britain, France, China, and the Soviet Union. In this period Hiss had the sponsorship, within the State Department, of Hornbeck, Pasvolsky, Stettinius, and Assistant Secretary of State Dean Acheson.
Yalta was to prove an even bigger success for Soviet intelligence than Tehran. This time both the British and the American delegations, housed respectively in the ornate Vorontsov and Livadia palaces, were successfully bugged.
The mostly female personnel used to record and transcribe their private conversations were selected and transported to the Crimea in great secrecy. The NKGB sought, with some success, to distract both delegations from its surveillance of them by lavish and attentive hospitality, personally supervised by a massive NKGB general, Sergei Nikiforovich Kruglov. When Churchill's daughter, Sarah, casually mentioned that lemon went well with caviar, a lemon tree appeared, as if by magic, in the Vorontsov orangery. At the next Allied conference, in Potsdam, General Kruglov was rewarded with a KBE, thus becoming the only Soviet intelligence officer to receive an honorary knighthood.
Stalin was even better informed about his allies at Yalta than he had been at Tehran. All of the Cambridge Five, no longer suspected of being double agents, provided a regular flow of classified intelligence or Foreign Office documents in the run-up to the conference, though it is not possible to identify which of these documents were communicated to Stalin personally. Alger Hiss actually succeeded in becoming a member of the American delegation. The problem which occupied most time at Yalta was the future of Poland. He knew, for example, what importance his allies attached to allowing some `democratic' politicians into the puppet Polish provisional government already established by the Russians. On this point, after initial resistance, Stalin graciously conceded, knowing that the `democrats' could Subsequently he excluded. Watching Stalin in action at Yalta, the permanent under-secretary at the Foreign Office, Sir Alexander Cadogan, thought him in a different league as a negotiator to Churchill and Roosevelt: "He is a great man, and shows up very impressively against the background of the other two ageing statesmen." Roosevelt, in rapidly failing health and with only two months to live, struck Cadogan, by contrast, as "very woolly and wobbly".
Roosevelt and Churchill left Yalta with no sense that thcy had been deceived about Stalin's true intenrions. Even Churchill, hitherto more sceptical than Roosevelt, wrote confidently, "Poor Neville Chamberlain believed he could trust Hitler. He was wrong. But I don't think I'm wrong about Stalin." Some sense of how Moscow felt that good intelligence had contributed to Stalin's success at Yalta is conveyed by its congratulations to Hiss.
Recently ALES (Hiss) and his whole group were awarded Soviet decorations. After the Yalta conference, when he had gone on to Moscow, a Soviet personage in a cry responsible position (ALES gave to understand that it was Comrade Vyshinsky, deputy foreign minister), allegedly got in touch with ALES and at the behest of the military NEIGHBOURS (GRU) passed oil to him their gratitude and so on.
The Yalta Conference, sometimes called the Crimea Conference and code named the Argonaut Conference, was held from February 4 to 11, 1945. This World War II meeting comprised the heads of government of the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union, represented by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and Premier Joseph Stalin, respectively, to discuss Europe’s post-war reorganization. The conference convened in the Livadia Palace near Yalta in Crimea.
The meeting was intended mainly to discuss the re-establishment of the nations of war-torn Europe. Within a few years, with the Cold War dividing the continent, Yalta had become a subject of intense controversy. To a degree, it has remained controversial.
Yalta was the second of three wartime conferences among the Big Three, preceded by the Tehran Conference in 1943 and followed by the Potsdam Conference in July 1945, attended by Stalin, Churchill (who was replaced halfway through by the newly elected British Prime Minister Clement Attlee), and Harry S. Truman, Roosevelt’s successor. The Yalta conference was a crucial turning point in the Cold War.
Yalta Conference - History
Yalta Conference, also known as the Crimea Conference, was a conference that was held in a Russian resort town in Crimea in 1945 between February 4th and 11th. This conference brought together the heads of government of the U.S., U.K., and the Soviet Union.
The delegations of the conference were led by Joseph Stalin Soviet’s premier, Franklin D. Roosevelt American president and Winston Churchill the then British Prime minister or as they were commonly known the big three. It was not the first time that the 3 leaders were meeting as they had formerly met in November 1943.
This was the second of the three war-time conferences held among the three allies represented by the three leaders. It was followed the Tehran Conference which was later followed by the Postdam Conference.
Initially, Roosevelt had suggested that they meet somewhere neutral at the Mediterranean. His suggestion was met by opposition from Stalin who cited health concerns that prohibited him from making long trips. In place of the Mediterranean, Joseph Stalin proposed the sea-resort of Yalta an ancient city on the shores of the Black Sea, which all the leaders agreed upon.
The location of the conference was in Stalin’s favor as the soviet troops were a few miles from Berlin. This was also backed by the home ground advantage of hosting the conference in the USSR. Nevertheless, the eagerness to meet face to face made Roosevelt agree to Stalin’s request.
This meeting was held in a resort town on the Crimean peninsula. All the delegation was staying in different chambers. The delegation from the U.S. was housed in the former palace of Tsar while Roosevelt stayed at the Livadia place. The British side delegation stayed in Prince Voronsov’s castle. The main delegates present in the conference were Averell Harriman, Anthony Eden Vyacheslav Molotov, Edward Stettinius, and Alexander Cadogan.
The conference commenced with an official dinner on the eve of February 4th. Some significant achievements were made in the meeting. The powers agreed that the unreserved surrender of Nazi Germany was a priority. The other pressing issue was the partitioning of Berlin and German. In regard to Germany, the leaders agreed that the defeated nation would be partitioned into 3 zones of occupation for each and every of the allied powers.
They agreed that Germany would be split into 4 occupied zones after the war. Joseph Stalin also agreed to allow France to acquire the fourth occupation zone in Germany and Austria drawn from the British and U.S. zones. It was also decided that France would get a seat in the ACC (Allied Control Council).
All the allied powers came with their its agenda to the conference. Of major importance to Roosevelt was founding of the UN and involvement of Stalin the war against Japan. During the conference, the leaders discussed Europe’s post-war reorganization, in particular the borders of Poland where war had erupted 6 years prior, and the fate of Japan, whose continued stubbornness kept the U.S. at war after the fall of Germany.
The British wanted to preserve their empire, and the Soviets wanted to acquire more land so as to strengthen their conquests. During the negotiations they released a declaration on Poland that provided for the inclusion of Communists in the post-war national government. They agreed that the eastern border to Poland would be along the Curzon line and that Poland would obtain substantial territorial compensation from Germany in the west.
Roosevelt had two main objectives in the conference held in Yalta which he managed to secure. He strongly believed that the only thing that would keep the U.S. from slipping back into isolation after the war was the U.N. He also wanted to make Joseph Stalin commit himself to involvement in the war against Japan and membership in the United Nations. Joseph Stalin agreed to get involved in the battle against the Empire of Japan in ninety days following the defeat of Germany. It was arranged that the USSR would obtain the southern part of Kurile and Sakhalin islands after conquering Japan.
Initially, the Yalta agreements were received with celebrations. Like Most Americans, Roosevelt viewed the agreements as proof that the spirit of American-Soviet wartime alliance would continue even after the war period. However, this was not to be as with the passing on of Roosevelt in April 1945, the new administration clashed with the USSR over their influence over the UN and in Eastern Europe. During the meeting Stalin was able to take advantage of the new president of America Harry S. Truman and have the decisions of Yalta ratified. He also managed to have a change of power in Britain, which saw Winston Churchill replaced by Clement Attlee along the way through the conference.
The Aftermath of the Conference at Yalta
The decisions produced in the conference that was held in Yalta are among the most important of the 20th century and probably modern History. This conference was the last trip abroad for Franklin D. Roosevelt. His main objective was to ensure the participation of the USSR in the UN which he accomplished at the price of giving veto power to every member of the Security-Council. Franklin D Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin shaped up much of the modern world and propelled into motion the creation of the world’s first real world government: the U.N.
The development of order in Europe and reconstruction of the national economic life under the Marshall plan were also achieved by the processes that facilitated the liberated people to get rid of the last remnants of fascism and to establish independent democratic institutions. This is one of the principles of the Atlantic Charter which states that all people have the right to vote for the form of government under which they will live. It restored the sovereign rights of all citizens who had been forcibly denied of them by the aggressor nations.
Stalin benefited greatly from the conference getting everything he wanted. He got a huge area of influence in the name of a buffer zone. In the process the autonomy, small countries were somehow compromised and forfeited for the sake of stability. That meant that the Baltic countries continued to be members of the USSR.
The issue of Poland
Much of the debate centred around Poland. The Allies were keen to press for Polish independence because of the assistance of Polish troops on the Western front.
As mentioned however, the Soviets held most of the cards when it came to negotiations over Poland. According to one member of the U.S. delegation, James F. Byrnes, “it was not a question of what we would let the Russians do, but what we could get the Russians to do.”
For the Russians, Poland held strategic and historic significance. Poland had served as a historical corridor for armies set on invading Russia. Stalin’s statements concerning Poland employed extensive doublespeak. Stalin argued that:
“…because the Russians had greatly sinned against Poland, the Soviet government was trying to atone for those sins. Poland must be strong [and] the Soviet Union is interested in the creation of a mighty, free and independent Poland.”
This ultimately meant that the USSR kept the territory it had annexed in 1939, and instead Poland’s territory would be extended at the expense of Germany.
Stalin promised that there would be free Polish elections whilst establishing a Soviet sponsored provincial government in Polish territories occupied by the Red Army.
Stalin did also eventually agree to entering the Pacific war three months after the defeat of Germany, provided that he could recover lands that the Russians had lost to the Japanese in the Russo-Japanese war of 1904-1905, and that the Americans recognised Mongolian independence from China.
Winston Churchill shares a joke with Marshal Stalin (with the help of Pavlov, Stalin’s interpreter, left) in the conference room at Livadia Palace during the Yalta Conference. Credit: Imperial War Museums / Commons.
The Mongolian People’s Republic had been a Soviet satellite state since its creation in 1924.
The Soviets also agreed to join the United Nations, provided that the UN employed the Security Council system wherein it could veto any unwanted decisions or actions.
Each power also ratified an agreement around the division of postwar Germany into zones. The USSR, USA and the UK all had zones, with the UK and the USA agreeing to subdivide their zones further to create a French zone.
General Charles de Gaulle was not allowed to attend the Yalta conference, which he attributed to longstanding tension between him and Roosevelt. The Soviet Union also were unwilling to accept the French representation as full participants.
Since de Gaulle did not attend Yalta, he also could not attend Potsdam, as he would have been honour-bound to re-negotiate issues discussed in his absence at Yalta.
Joseph Stalin gesturing as he speaks with Vyacheslav Mikhaylovich Molotov during the conference at Yalta. Credit: National Museum of the U.S. Navy / Commons.
Yalta Conference - History
I. WORLD ORGANIZATION
It was decided:
1. That a United Nations conference on the proposed world organization should be summoned for Wednesday, 25 April, 1945, and should be held in the United States of America.
2. The nations to be invited to this conference should be:
(a) the United Nations as they existed on 8 Feb., 1945 and
(b) Such of the Associated Nations as have declared war on the common enemy by 1 March, 1945. (For this purpose, by the term "Associated Nations" was meant the eight Associated Nations and Turkey.) When the conference on world organization is held, the delegates of the United Kingdom and United State of America will support a proposal to admit to original membership two Soviet Socialist Republics, i.e., the Ukraine and White Russia.
3. That the United States Government, on behalf of the three powers, should consult the Government of China and the French Provisional Government in regard to decisions taken at the present conference concerning the proposed world organization.
4. That the text of the invitation to be issued to all the nations which would take part in the United Nations conference should be as follows:
"The Government of the United States of America, on behalf of itself and of the Governments of the United Kingdom, the Union of Soviet Socialistic Republics and the Republic of China and of the Provisional Government of the French Republic invite the Government of -------- to send representatives to a conference to be held on 25 April, 1945, or soon thereafter , at San Francisco, in the United States of America, to prepare a charter for a general international organization for the maintenance of international peace and security.
"The above-named Governments suggest that the conference consider as affording a basis for such a Charter the proposals for the establishment of a general international organization which were made public last October as a result of the Dumbarton Oaks conference and which have now been supplemented by the following provisions for Section C of Chapter VI:
"1. Each member of the Security Council should have one vote.
"2. Decisions of the Security Council on procedural matters should be made by an affirmative vote of seven members.
"3. Decisions of the Security Council on all matters should be made by an affirmative vote of seven members, including the concurring votes of the permanent members provided that, in decisions under Chapter VIII, Section A and under the second sentence of Paragraph 1 of Chapter VIII, Section C, a party to a dispute should abstain from voting.'
"Further information as to arrangements will be transmitted subsequently.
"In the event that the Government of -------- desires in advance of the conference to present views or comments concerning the proposals, the Government of the United States of America will be pleased to transmit such views and comments to the other participating Governments."
It was agreed that the five nations which will have permanent seats on the Security Council should consult each other prior to the United Nations conference on the question of territorial trusteeship.
The acceptance of this recommendation is subject to its being made clear that territorial trusteeship will only apply to (a) existing mandates of the League of Nations (b) territories detached from the enemy as a result of the present war (c) any other territory which might voluntarily be placed under trusteeship and (d) no discussion of actual territories is contemplated at the forthcoming United Nations conference or in the preliminary consultations, and it will be a matter for subsequent agreement which territories within the above categories will be place under trusteeship.
[Begin first section published Feb., 13, 1945.]
II. DECLARATION OF LIBERATED EUROPE
The following declaration has been approved:
The Premier of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and the President of the United States of America have consulted with each other in the common interests of the people of their countries and those of liberated Europe. They jointly declare their mutual agreement to concert during the temporary period of instability in liberated Europe the policies of their three Governments in assisting the peoples liberated from the domination of Nazi Germany and the peoples of the former Axis satellite states of Europe to solve by democratic means their pressing political and economic problems.
The establishment of order in Europe and the rebuilding of national economic life must be achieved by processes which will enable the liberated peoples to destroy the last vestiges of nazism and fascism and to create democratic institutions of their own choice. This is a principle of the Atlantic Charter - the right of all people to choose the form of government under which they will live - the restoration of sovereign rights and self-government to those peoples who have been forcibly deprived to them by the aggressor nations.
To foster the conditions in which the liberated people may exercise these rights, the three governments will jointly assist the people in any European liberated state or former Axis state in Europe where, in their judgment conditions require, (a) to establish conditions of internal peace (b) to carry out emergency relief measures for the relief of distressed peoples (c) to form interim governmental authorities broadly representative of all democratic elements in the population and pledged to the earliest possible establishment through free elections of Governments responsive to the will of the people and (d) to facilitate where necessary the holding of such elections.
The three Governments will consult the other United Nations and provisional authorities or other Governments in Europe when matters of direct interest to them are under consideration.
When, in the opinion of the three Governments, conditions in any European liberated state or former Axis satellite in Europe make such action necessary, they will immediately consult together on the measure necessary to discharge the joint responsibilities set forth in this declaration.
By this declaration we reaffirm our faith in the principles of the Atlantic Charter, our pledge in the Declaration by the United Nations and our determination to build in cooperation with other peace-loving nations world order, under law, dedicated to peace, security, freedom and general well-being of all mankind.
In issuing this declaration, the three powers express the hope that the Provisional Government of the French Republic may be associated with them in the procedure suggested.
[End first section published Feb., 13, 1945.]
III. DISMEMBERMENT OF GERMANY
It was agreed that Article 12 (a) of the Surrender terms for Germany should be amended to read as follows:
"The United Kingdom, the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics shall possess supreme authority with respect to Germany. In the exercise of such authority they will take such steps, including the complete dismemberment of Germany as they deem requisite for future peace and security."
The study of the procedure of the dismemberment of Germany was referred to a committee consisting of Mr. Anthony Eden, Mr. John Winant, and Mr. Fedor T. Gusev. This body would consider the desirability of associating with it a French representative.
IV. ZONE OF OCCUPATION FOR THE FRENCH AND CONTROL COUNCIL FOR GERMANY.
It was agreed that a zone in Germany, to be occupied by the French forces, should be allocated France. This zone would be formed out of the British and American zones and its extent would be settled by the British and Americans in consultation with the French Provisional Government.
It was also agreed that the French Provisional Government should be invited to become a member of the Allied Control Council for Germany.
The following protocol has been approved:
On the Talks Between the Heads of Three Governments at the Crimean Conference on the Question of the German Reparations in Kind
1. Germany must pay in kind for the losses caused by her to the Allied nations in the course of the war. Reparations are to be received in the first instance by those countries which have borne the main burden of the war, have suffered the heaviest losses and have organized victory over the enemy.
2. Reparation in kind is to be exacted from Germany in three following forms:
(a) Removals within two years from the surrender of Germany or the cessation of organized resistance from the national wealth of Germany located on the territory of Germany herself as well as outside her territory (equipment, machine tools, ships, rolling stock, German investments abroad, shares of industrial, transport and other enterprises in Germany, etc.), these removals to be carried out chiefly for the purpose of destroying the war potential of Germany.
(b) Annual deliveries of goods from current production for a period to be fixed.
(c) Use of German labor.
3. For the working out on the above principles of a detailed plan for exaction of reparation from Germany an Allied reparation commission will be set up in Moscow. It will consist of three representatives - one from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, one from the United Kingdom and one from the United States of America.
4. With regard to the fixing of the total sum of the reparation as well as the distribution of it among the countries which suffered from the German aggression, the Soviet and American delegations agreed as follows:
"The Moscow reparation commission should take in its initial studies as a basis for discussion the suggestion of the Soviet Government that the total sum of the reparation in accordance with the points (a) and (b) of the Paragraph 2 should be 22 billion dollars and that 50 per cent should go to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics."
The British delegation was of the opinion that, pending consideration of the reparation question by the Moscow reparation commission, no figures of reparation should be mentioned.
The above Soviet-American proposal has been passed to the Moscow reparation commission as one of the proposals to be considered by the commission.
VI. MAJOR WAR CRIMINALS
The conference agreed that the question of the major war criminals should be the subject of inquiry by the three Foreign Secretaries for report in due course after the close of the conference.
[Begin second section published Feb. 13, 1945.]
The following declaration on Poland was agreed by the conference:
"A new situation has been created in Poland as a result of her complete liberation by the Red Army. This calls for the establishment of a Polish Provisional Government which can be more broadly based than was possible before the recent liberation of the western part of Poland. The Provisional Government which is now functioning in Poland should therefore be reorganized on a broader democratic basis with the inclusion of democratic leaders from Poland itself and from Poles abroad. This new Government should then be called the Polish Provisional Government of National Unity.
"M. Molotov, Mr. Harriman and Sir A. Clark Kerr are authorized as a commission to consult in the first instance in Moscow with members of the present Provisional Government and with other Polish democratic leaders from within Poland and from abroad, with a view to the reorganization of the present Government along the above lines. This Polish Provisional Government of National Unity shall be pledged to the holding of free and unfettered elections as soon as possible on the basis of universal suffrage and secret ballot. In these elections all democratic and anti-Nazi parties shall have the right to take part and to put forward candidates.
"When a Polish Provisional of Government National Unity has been properly formed in conformity with the above, the Government of the U.S.S.R., which now maintains diplomatic relations with the present Provisional Government of Poland, and the Government of the United Kingdom and the Government of the United States of America will establish diplomatic relations with the new Polish Provisional Government National Unity, and will exchange Ambassadors by whose reports the respective Governments will be kept informed about the situation in Poland.
"The three heads of Government consider that the eastern frontier of Poland should follow the Curzon Line with digressions from it in some regions of five to eight kilometers in favor of Poland. They recognize that Poland must receive substantial accessions in territory in the north and west. They feel that the opinion of the new Polish Provisional Government of National Unity should be sought in due course of the extent of these accessions and that the final delimitation of the western frontier of Poland should thereafter await the peace conference."
It was agreed to recommend to Marshal Tito and to Dr. Ivan Subasitch:
(a) That the Tito-Subasitch agreement should immediately be put into effect and a new government formed on the basis of the agreement.
(b) That as soon as the new Government has been formed it should declare:
(I) That the Anti-Fascist Assembly of the National Liberation (AVNOJ) will be extended to include members of the last Yugoslav Skupstina who have not compromised themselves by collaboration with the enemy, thus forming a body to be known as a temporary Parliament and
(II) That legislative acts passed by the Anti-Fascist Assembly of the National Liberation (AVNOJ) will be subject to subsequent ratification by a Constituent Assembly and that this statement should be published in the communiqué of the conference.
[End second section published Feb. 13, 1945.]
IX. ITALO-YOGOSLAV FRONTIER - ITALO-ASUTRIAN FRONTIER
Notes on these subjects were put in by the British delegation and the American and Soviet delegations agreed to consider them and give their views later.
X. YUGOSLAV-BULGARIAN RELATIONS
There was an exchange of views between the Foreign Secretaries on the question of the desirability of a Yugoslav-Bulgarian pact of alliance. The question at issue was whether a state still under an armistice regime could be allowed to enter into a treaty with another state. Mr. Eden suggested that the Bulgarian and Yugoslav Governments should be informed that this could not be approved. Mr. Stettinius suggested that the British and American Ambassadors should discuss the matter further with Mr. Molotov in Moscow. Mr. Molotov agreed with the proposal of Mr. Stettinius.
XI. SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
The British delegation put in notes for the consideration of their colleagues on the following subjects:
(a) The Control Commission in Bulgaria.
(b) Greek claims upon Bulgaria, more particularly with reference to reparations.
(c) Oil equipment in Rumania.
Mr. Eden, Mr. Stettinius and Mr. Molotov exchanged views on the situation in Iran. It was agreed that this matter should be pursued through the diplomatic channel.
[Begin third section published Feb. 13, 1945.]
XIII. MEETINGS OF THE THREE FOREIGN SECRETARIES
The conference agreed that permanent machinery should be set up for consultation between the three Foreign Secretaries they should meet as often as necessary, probably about every three or four months.
These meetings will be held in rotation in the three capitals, the first meeting being held in London.
[End third section published Feb. 13, 1945.]
XIV. THE MONTREAUX CONVENTION AND THE STRAITS
It was agreed that at the next meeting of the three Foreign Secretaries to be held in London, they should consider proposals which it was understood the Soviet Government would put forward in relation to the Montreaux Convention, and report to their Governments. The Turkish Government should be informed at the appropriate moment.
The forgoing protocol was approved and signed by the three Foreign Secretaries at the Crimean Conference Feb. 11, 1945.
E. R. Stettinius Jr. M. Molotov Anthony Eden
AGREEMENT REGARDING JAPAN
The leaders of the three great powers - the Soviet Union, the United States of America and Great Britain - have agreed that in two or three months after Germany has surrendered and the war in Europe is terminated, the Soviet Union shall enter into war against Japan on the side of the Allies on condition that:
1. The status quo in Outer Mongolia (the Mongolian People's Republic) shall be preserved.
2. The former rights of Russia violated by the treacherous attack of Japan in 1904 shall be restored, viz.:
(a) The southern part of Sakhalin as well as the islands adjacent to it shall be returned to the Soviet Union
(b) The commercial port of Dairen shall be internationalized, the pre-eminent interests of the Soviet Union in this port being safeguarded, and the lease of Port Arthur as a naval base of the U.S.S.R. restored
(c) The Chinese-Eastern Railroad and the South Manchurian Railroad, which provide an outlet to Dairen, shall be jointly operated by the establishment of a joint Soviet-Chinese company, it being understood that the pre-eminent interests of the Soviet Union shall be safeguarded and that China shall retain sovereignty in Manchuria
3. The Kurile Islands shall be handed over to the Soviet Union.
It is understood that the agreement concerning Outer Mongolia and the ports and railroads referred to above will require concurrence of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek. The President will take measures in order to maintain this concurrence on advice from Marshal Stalin.
The heads of the three great powers have agreed that these claims of the Soviet Union shall be unquestionably fulfilled after Japan has been defeated.
For its part, the Soviet Union expresses it readiness to conclude with the National Government of China a pact of friendship and alliance between the U.S.S.R. and China in order to render assistance to China with its armed forces for the purpose of liberating China from the Japanese yoke.
Joseph Stalin Franklin d. Roosevelt Winston S. Churchill
February 11, 1945.
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12th–19th centuries Edit
The existence of Yalta was first recorded in the 12th century by an Arab geographer, who described it as a Byzantine port and fishing settlement. It became part of a network of Genoese trading colonies on the Crimean coast in the 14th century, when it was known as Etalita or Galita. Crimea was captured by the Ottoman Empire in 1475, which made it a semi-independent subject territory under the rule of the Crimean Khanate but the southern coast with Yalta was under direct Ottoman rule forming the Eyalet of Kefe (Feodosiya). Yalta was annexed by the Russian Empire in 1783, along with the rest of Crimea, sparking the Russo-Turkish War, 1787-1792. Prior to the annexation of the Crimea, the Crimean Greeks were moved to Mariupol in 1778 one of the villages they established nearby is also called Yalta.
In the 19th century, the town became a fashionable resort for the Russian aristocracy and gentry. Leo Tolstoy spent summers there and Anton Chekhov in 1898 bought a house (the White Dacha) here, where he lived till 1902 Yalta is the setting for Chekhov's short story, "The Lady with the Dog", and such prominent plays as The Three Sisters were written in Yalta. The town was also closely associated with royalty. In 1889 Tsar Alexander III finished construction of Massandra Palace a short distance to the north of Yalta and Nicholas II built the Livadia Palace south-west of the town in 1911.
20th century Edit
During the 20th century Yalta was the principal holiday resort of the Soviet Union. In 1920, Vladimir Lenin issued a decree "On the Use of Crimea for the Medical Treatment of the Working People" which endorsed the region's transformation from a fairly exclusive resort area into a recreation facility for tired proletarians. Numerous workers' sanatoria were constructed in and around Yalta and the surrounding district. There were, in fact, few other places that Soviet citizens could come for a seaside holiday, as foreign travel was forbidden to all but a handful. The Soviet elite also came to Yalta the Soviet premier Joseph Stalin used the Massandra Palace as his summer residence.
Yalta was occupied by the German Army from 9 November 1941 to 16 April 1944.
The town came to worldwide attention in 1945 when the Yalta Conference between the "Big Three" powers – the Soviet Union, the United States and the United Kingdom – was held at the Livadia Palace.
21st century Edit
Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, Yalta has struggled economically. Many of the nouveaux riches of ex-Soviet citizens began going to other European holiday resorts, now that they had the freedom and money to travel conversely, the impoverishment of many ex-Soviet citizens meant that they could no longer afford to go to Yalta. The town's transport links have been significantly reduced with the end of almost all passenger traffic by sea. The longest trolleybus line in Europe goes from the train station in Simferopol to Yalta (almost 90 km). Yalta is crowded in the vacation season (July–August) and prices for accommodation are very high. Most of the tourists are from countries of the former Soviet Union in 2013, about 12% of tourists to the Crimea were Westerners from more than 200 cruise ships. 
Yalta has a beautiful seafront promenade along the Black Sea. People can be seen strolling there all seasons of the year, and it also serves as a place to gather and talk, to see and be seen. There are several beaches to the east and west of the promenade. The town has several movie theaters, a drama theater, plenty of restaurants, and several open-air markets.
Two beaches in Yalta are Blue Flag beaches since May 2010, these were the first beaches (with two beaches in Yevpatoria) to be awarded a Blue Flag in a CIS member state. 
Key Facts & Information
PRIOR TO YALTA CONFERENCE
- In November 1943, the “Big Three” Allied leaders Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and Joseph Stalin met in Tehran, Iran to tackle the next plans about the ongoing war against the Axis Powers in the Pacific and Europe.
- The said gathering, more commonly known as the Tehran Conference, led to the following decisions: the annexation of northern France in 1944 through the combined efforts of the United States and Great Britain, the launching of another battlefront against Nazi Germany, and the participation of the Soviet Union in the Pacific War against Japan in the time of Germany’s surrender.
- After the liberation of France and Belgium from Nazi control, the Allied forces advanced to the German border. In the eastern region, the Soviet soldiers fended off the German troops, forcing them to retreat in Poland, Bulgaria, and Romania. The troops also managed to get within 40 miles of Berlin.
- Roosevelt, meanwhile, was well aware that the Pacific War would not end as planned, and might put the Americans at a disadvantage against the Japanese, so he needed the support of the Soviet Union to ensure the victory, hence the urgency of meeting the other Allied powers.
- The Mediterranean was the first location of the meeting as Roosevelt suggested. However, Stalin had health issues, forbidding him from travelling long distances. He then offered to host the conference in the resort city of Yalta, along the coast of the Black Sea, which was approved by all the Allied leaders.
- On February 4-11, 1945, the three Allied leaders gathered at the Yalta Conference, with the priority of defeating Nazi Germany. It commenced through an official dinner on the evening of February 4.
- Each member of the delegation was assigned to a different chamber. Roosevelt stayed at the Livadia Palace, while the rest of the American delegation stayed in the former Tsar residence. The British, meanwhile, remained in the castle of Prince Vorontsov.
- The other delegates at the meeting included Averell Harriman, Anthony Eden Vyacheslav Molotov, Edward Stettinius, and Alexander Cadogan.
- Following this, the Big Three came to an agreement that after the impending surrender of Germany, the country would be partitioned into four post-war occupation zones. The four divisions would be under the control of the United States, Great Britain, the Soviet Union, and France.
- Although French leader Charles de Gaulle was not invited to the meeting, Stalin supported France’s post-war governing, with the condition that the French occupation zone would be drawn from the US and British zones.
- France was also given a seat in the Allied Control Council (ACC).
- Moreover, it was decided that Germany should be fully scrapped of military power and Nazi ideas and that the country would bear some, though not all, responsibility for post-war compensations.
- The case of Poland was likewise discussed in the conference. Stalin claimed that the Polish territories had been twice used by the Germans as a passage to attack Russia for the last three decades. He thereafter proclaimed that the Soviet Union would not surrender Poland after its occupation in 1939 and that the requests of the Polish government-in-exile based in London would not be welcomed.
- Stalin, however, allowed the participation of other Polish political parties in the communist-led provisional government in Poland. In addition, the country would be given territorial reparations in western Germany.
- The Soviet Premier also agreed to establish free elections in Poland and the rest of Eastern Europe freed from Nazi control, such as Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria. This was one of Churchill’s main agendas, coming into the conference since Britain wished to keep their empire intact.
- In exchange, the US and the UK agreed that future regimes in Eastern European countries that border the Soviet Union would be friendly to the Soviet regime, allowing Stalin to build influence in case future conflicts occured in Europe.
- Roosevelt, on the other hand, wanted to ensure the establishment of the United Nations and reiterate the involvement of the Soviet Union in the Pacific War after the fall of Germany.
- Consequently, Stalin committed to the war against the Japanese within two to three months following the collapse of Germany. In return, the Soviet Union would obtain the Japanese territories, such as the Kuril and the Sakhalin Islands, that the regime had lost during the Russo-Japanese War in 1904-1905.
- In addition, Stalin asked for diplomatic recognition of Mongolian independence from China. In 1924, the Mongolian People’s Republic was established and was under the influence of the Soviet Union.
- Stalin likewise promised the Soviet membership in the United Nations, an international peacekeeping body established by Roosevelt and Churchill as part of the Atlantic Charter in 1941. Following the affirmation of the three leaders on a proposal in which all permanent members of the organization’s Security Council would have veto rights, Stalin made this pledge.
- The agreements at the Yalta Conference were initially well-received. However, Stalin had made it clear by March 1945 that he would not keep his promises about Polish political independence.
- Contrastingly, Soviet forces aided the provisional government in Lublin, Poland, in cracking down any resistance. After the elections in 1947, it was clear that Poland would become one of the first Eastern European states controlled by the Soviet Union.
- Following the death of Roosevelt in April 1945, Stalin was able to hold influence over the new American President Harry Truman when the Allied powers gathered again at the Potsdam Conference in Germany.
- Since the Soviet troops were already controlling major parts of Germany and Eastern Europe, Stalin successfully obtained the ratification of the concessions he made at the Yalta Conference.
- In the course of the Potsdam meeting, Stalin also managed to influence Britain’s change of power, replacing Churchill in favor of Clement Atlee.
- In March 1946, Churchill gave his famous speech, announcing the establishment of the Iron Curtain in Eastern Europe, marking the end of the collaboration between the Soviet Union and its allies in the West, hence the start of the Cold War.
Yalta Conference Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about the Yalta Conference across 24 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Yalta Conference worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the Yalta Conference, also known as the Crimea Conference, which was a meeting held between the three major Allied leaders of the Second World War, namely American President Franklin Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin to plan the occupation of Nazi Germany and decide the fate of post-war Europe. The conference, hosted by Stalin in a Russian resort town in the Crimean Peninsula, lasted from 4-11 February 1945. The conference also discussed some unresolved matters from the Tehran Conference of 1943, and would later face other concerns at the Potsdam Conference of 1945.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Yalta Conference Facts
- Locating Yalta
- Find the Words
- Crossword Puzzle
- Road to the Yalta Conference
- The Big Three
- Cartoon Analysis
- Source Analysis
- In a Nutshell
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Your guide to the Yalta and Potsdam conferences, 1945
What was the Yalta conference and why was it held? What did each of the 'big three' – Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin – want from the meeting? And what was finally decided at the Potsdam conference? Here's your guide to these key meetings of World War Two, which took place in 1945.
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Published: July 16, 2020 at 11:25 am
What was the Yalta conference and why was it held?
Between 4 and 11 February 1945, US President Franklin D Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin met at Yalta – a resort city on the south coast of the Crimean Peninsula, on the Black Sea – for a major conference. Their aim was to thrash out how to bring World War Two to an end and plan the post-war reorganisation of Europe – in particular Germany.
The so-called ‘big three’ convened at Livadia Palace, the former summer residence of Tsar Nicholas II, for eight days. Roosevelt, who was in poor health, had suggested a meeting place somewhere in the Mediterranean, but Stalin, who was famously afraid of flying, had refused to go farther than the Black Sea and suggested the Soviet resort of Yalta.
What was happening elsewhere in February 1945?
The Yalta Conference took place at a critical time in World War Two. By the start of 1945 it was clear that, despite continuing resistance, Germany had lost the war. The Battle of the Bulge – the last German offensive on the Western Front, fought in the Ardennes region of Belgium – had shattered what remained of the German army, as well as destroying essential weapons, tanks and supplies. Elsewhere, Stalin’s Red Army had captured East Prussia and was less than 50 miles from Berlin. The once mighty Luftwaffe was drastically depleted, while Allied bombs continued to fall on German towns and cities on a daily basis. Adolf Hitler was fighting a losing battle.
Did you know?
At the Tehran Conference of 1943, Soviet agents alleged that the Germans were planning Operation Long Jump – a plot to assassinate the Big Three at the same time, only for it to be called off at the last minute. Aspersions have since been cast on whether the plot ever existed.
What did each of the ‘big three’ want from the meeting?
The three leaders had met 15 months earlier in the Iranian capital Tehran, where they had discussed ways to defeat Nazi Germany, agreed on an invasion of Normandy and had conversations around the Soviets’ entry into the Pacific War. The tentative beginnings of what a future peace settlement might look like had been made in Tehran, but it was at Yalta where the real discussions began.
Each leader sat down at Yalta with specific goals in mind. For Roosevelt, ending the ongoing war with Japan was of paramount importance, but to achieve this, he needed Stalin’s military help. The US president also wanted the Soviets to join the UN – a new global peacekeeping body – which it did, remaining a member until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.
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Stalin’s priority at Yalta was to get his country back on its feet and increase its standing on the European political stage. The Soviet Union, whilst crushing German forces on the eastern front, had been devastated by the war, with an estimated 27 million Soviet citizens (around one in seven) killed during the conflict, and vast swathes of industry, farming, cities and homes obliterated. Stalin needed money to rebuild his battered country, and pressed for huge reparations from Germany, as well as spheres of influence in Eastern Europe to prevent further invasions, and ensure that Germany could never threaten world peace again.
Churchill, too, was keen to see an end to any future German threat, but he was also concerned about extending the power of the USSR and wanted to see fair and free government across Eastern Europe, especially in Poland,
in whose defence Britain had declared war with Germany in 1939. Both he and Truman were worried that inflicting huge reparations on Germany, as had been done after World War I, could, in the future, create a similar economic situation in the country that had led to the rise and acceptance of the Nazi Party. With differing priorities and world views, it was clearly going to be difficult for the Big Three to reach an agreement.
Why wasn’t French leader Charles de Gaulle present at the conference?
De Gaulle, by unanimous consent from all three leaders, was not invited to Yalta, nor to the Potsdam Conference a few months later it was a diplomatic slight that created deep and lasting resentment. Stalin in particular felt that decisions about the future of Europe should be made by those powers who had sacrificed the most in the war. If France was allowed to participate at Yalta, other nations, too, would arguably have had an equal right to attend.
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What was eventually agreed at Yalta?
The decisions made at Yalta demonstrate the extent to which power had shifted between the Allies over the course of the war. Once Germany’s unconditional surrender had been received, it was proposed that the country, and its capital, be split into four occupied zones – the fourth occupation zone was granted to France but, at Stalin’s insistence, would
be formed out of the American and British zones.
The fate of Poland was a key sticking point in negotiations. For centuries, the country had been used as a historical corridor for armies intent on invading Russia, and Stalin was determined to retain the regions of Poland that he had annexed in 1939 after the Soviet invasion. But he conceded to Churchill’s demand that free elections be held in all Nazi- liberated territories in Eastern Europe, including Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, and Poland.
Other key decisions included the demilitarisation of Germany the payment of reparations by Germany, partly in the form of forced labour the representation of two of the 16 Soviet Socialist Republics (Ukraine and Byelorussia) at the UN, and Soviet participation in the war against Japan, following Germany’s surrender. Another concession made by the US and Britain was to allow all former Soviet prisoners of war, including those who had changed sides and fought for Germany, to be forcibly repatriated back to the USSR.
What happened next?
None of the Big Three left Yalta with everything they had set out to achieve, but a public show of unity and cooperation was widely reported as they went their separate ways. At the conclusion of the conference, an agreement was made that they would meet once more after Germany had surrendered, so that they could make firm decisions on any outstanding matters, including the borders of post-war Europe. This final meeting took place at Potsdam, near Berlin, between 17 July and 2 August 1945.
What had happened between the ending of the Yalta conference and the meeting at Potsdam?
Aside from Germany’s surrender in May 1945, the political landscape had changed considerably in the five months that had passed since Yalta. Roosevelt, who had been seriously ill at Yalta, had died of a massive brain haemorrhage in April 1945, so it was the new US President Harry Truman who travelled to Berlin, accompanied by his newly appointed Secretary of State James Byrnes.
Promises made at Yalta had also been rescinded. Despite pledging free Polish elections, Stalin was already making moves to install a communist government in that country and many Poles, both in Britain and elsewhere, felt they had been sold out by Truman and Churchill. And despite the Pacific War that was still raging in the East, Stalin had not yet declared war on Japan or provided military support to the US.
What was different about the Potsdam conference?
The political atmosphere at Potsdam was decidedly more strained than at Tehran and Yalta. President Truman was far more suspicious of Stalin and his motives than Roosevelt, who had been widely criticised in the US for giving into Stalin’s demands over Poland and Eastern Europe. Truman was also open in his dislike of communism and Stalin personally, stating that he was “tired of babying the Soviets”.
Further upheaval was to come, though, with the results of the British general election, which had taken place on 5 July. The announcement, made three weeks later on 26 July (to allow the votes of those serving overseas to be counted) saw a decisive victory for the Labour Party and meant that Churchill and his Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden were replaced at the conference – from 28 July – by Britain’s new Prime Minister Clement Attlee and his Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin. And although war against Japan was still ongoing, the lack of a common European enemy saw the Big Three find it harder to reach a mutually acceptable compromise on what the post-war political reconstruction of Europe would look like.
Another important development had also occurred since Yalta – one that would have a profound global impact. A week into the conference, after gaining Stalin’s agreement that the Soviets would join the Pacific War, Truman casually informed Stalin that the US was in possession of “a new weapon of unusual destructive force”: the atomic bomb, which had been tested for the first time on 16 July.
What was finally decided at Potsdam?
Once again, the fate of post-war Poland proved to be one of the biggest stumbling blocks of the conference, and it was finally agreed that Stalin would retain the land he had annexed in 1939. By way of compensation for land lost to the USSR, Poland was to be granted large areas of Germany, up to the Oder-Neisse Line – the border along the Rivers Oder and Neisse. But there was still no firm agreement that Stalin would adhere to his Yalta promise and ensure free elections in Eastern Europe.
As had been discussed at Yalta, Germany and Berlin were to be divided into four zones, with each Allied power receiving reparation from its own occupation zone – the Soviet Union was also permitted to 10- 15 per cent of the industrial equipment in the western zones of Germany in exchange for agricultural and other natural products from its own zone.
With regards to Germany itself, it was confirmed that administration of that country was to be dictated by the ‘five Ds’: demilitarisation, denazification, democratisation, decentralisation and deindustrialisation, and Germans living in Poland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia at the end of the World War II were to be forcibly expelled to Germany. Thousands of Germans died as a result of the expulsion order official West German accounts state that at least 610,000 Germans were killed in the course of the expulsions. By 1950, the total number of Germans who had left eastern Europe (either voluntarily or by force) had reached 11.5 million.
Did Potsdam succeed in its aims with regard to Europe?
Although some agreements and compromises emerged at Potsdam, there were still important issues that had not been resolved. Before long, the Soviet Union had reconstituted the German Communist Party in the Eastern Sector of Germany and had begun to lay the groundwork for a separate, East German nation state, modelled on that of the USSR.
What was the Potsdam declaration?
Though Germany was the focus at Potsdam, on 26 July the US, Britain and China issued the Potsdam Declaration: an ultimatum calling for the unconditional surrender of Japan. Stalin, not being at war with Japan, was not party to it. The Japanese did not surrender, and just days after the conference ended, the US dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki – which ultimately did what the Potsdam Declaration could not. Within weeks, Stalin had accelerated his own nuclear weapons programme, detonating its first atomic bomb – First Lightning – at a remote test site in Kazakhstan on 29 August 1949. The stage for the Cold War had been set.
Charlotte Hodgman is the editor of BBC History Revealed magazine
Yalta and The Big Three
The Yalta Conference was held February 4–11, 1945. It was code-named “Argonaut” to conceal the fact that the leaders of the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union were assembling to discuss the postwar reorganization of Europe.
The conference was held near Yalta in Crimea, Soviet Union. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and Soviet Premier Josef Stalin, (known as the Big Three) represented their respective countries
Yalta was the second of three major wartime conferences among the Big Three. It was preceded by the Tehran Conference in November 1943, and was followed by the Potsdam Conference in July 1945.
The aim of the conference was to shape a post-war peace that represented not just a collective security order but a plan to give self-determination to the liberated peoples of post-Nazi Europe.
However, each of the three leaders had his own agenda. Roosevelt wanted Soviet support in the U.S. Pacific War against Japan as well as Soviet participation in the United Nations Churchill pressed for free elections and democratic governments in Eastern and Central Europe and Stalin demanded a Soviet sphere of political influence in Eastern and Central Europe as an essential aspect of the USSR's national security strategy.
The Declaration of Liberated Europe was created during the Yalta Conference. It was a promise that allowed the people of Europe "to create democratic institutions of their own choice". The Big Three also agreed that all original governments would be restored to the invaded countries (with the exceptions of Romania, Bulgaria, and Poland) and that all civilians would be repatriated.
The trouble was, the original governments and infrastructure of many countries were so damaged by the war that they could no longer be effective.
Within a few short years, Yalta became a subject of intense controversy. The US, the UK, and the Soviets all propped up new leaders and economic systems which aligned with their goals and values. Determined to halt the spread of communism, the United States became embroiled in numerous conflicts, not with the USSR directly, but with Communist governments in Korea, Vietnam, and Cuba.
Even the German capitol of Berlin was divided into “spheres of influence”. The infamous wall would not be constructed until 1961, but the ideological divide that came to define the Cold War was already firmly in place before WWII ended.
IGCSE History Revision
The Yalta Conference consisted of Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin (the Big Three) meeting at Yalta in February 1945. The following happened at the conference:
- Stalin accepted France as one of the four powers
- Germany and Berlin were to be divided into four zones, each occupied by one of the four allies
- Poland would shift to the west, losing land to USSR and getting land from Germany
- USSR would declare war on Japan three months after the end of the war
- Stalin promised to allow free elections in the countries he occupied
- Germany was to pay reparations of $20 million
The Potsdam Conference in Berlin began on July 17, 1945, attended by Stalin, Truman and Attlee. It did not go as smoothly as the Yalta Conference, as Truman was more anti-Communist and tensions increased between USA and USSR. Stalin wanted to cripple Germany with reparations but Truman feared for a repeat of the consequences of the Treaty of Versailles. Truman disliked the pro-Soviet governments established all over Eastern Europe. They failed to reach an agreement on most issues and afterwards, Churchill described the border between the West and the Soviet-controlled states as an &lsquoiron curtain&rsquo.