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The "Big Three" at the Potsdam Conference, Winston Churchill, Harry S. Truman and Joseph Stalin.
|Date||17 July – 2 August 1945|
The Potsdam Conference (German : Potsdamer Konferenz) was held at Cecilienhof, the home of Crown Prince Wilhelm in Potsdam, occupied Germany, from 17 July to 2 August 1945. (In some older documents, it is also referred to as the Berlin Conference of the Three Heads of Government of the USSR, USA, and UK. ) The participants were the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States, represented respectively by Communist Party General Secretary Joseph Stalin, Prime Ministers Winston Churchill and Clement Attlee, and President Harry S. Truman.
German is a West Germanic language that is mainly spoken in Central Europe. It is the most widely spoken and official or co-official language in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, South Tyrol in Italy, the German-speaking Community of Belgium, and Liechtenstein. It is also one of the three official languages of Luxembourg and a co-official language in the Opole Voivodeship in Poland. The languages which are most similar to German are the other members of the West Germanic language branch: Afrikaans, Dutch, English, the Frisian languages, Low German/Low Saxon, Luxembourgish, and Yiddish. There are also strong similarities in vocabulary with Danish, Norwegian and Swedish, although those belong to the North Germanic group. German is the second most widely spoken Germanic language, after English.
Cecilienhof Palace is a palace in Potsdam, Brandenburg, Germany built from 1914 to 1917 in the layout of an English Tudor manor house. Cecilienhof was the last palace built by the House of Hohenzollern that ruled the Kingdom of Prussia and the German Empire until the end of World War I. It is famous for having been the location of the Potsdam Conference in 1945, in which the leaders of the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom and the United States made important decisions affecting the shape of post World War II Europe and Asia. Cecilienhof has been part of the Palaces and Parks of Potsdam and Berlin UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1990.
Wilhelm, German Crown Prince was the eldest child and heir of the last German Emperor, Wilhelm II, and the last Crown Prince of the German Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia. After the death of his grandfather Emperor Frederick III, Wilhelm became crown prince at the age of six, retaining that title for more than 30 years until the fall of the empire on 9 November 1918. During World War I, he commanded the 5th Army from 1914 to 1916 and was commander of the Army Group German Crown Prince for the remainder of the war. Crown Prince Wilhelm became head of the House of Hohenzollern on 4 June 1941 following the death of his father and held the position until his own death on 20 July 1951.
Stalin, Churchill, and Truman gathered to decide how to administer Germany, which had agreed to unconditional surrender nine weeks earlier on 8 May (Victory in Europe Day).The goals of the conference also included the establishment of postwar order, peace treaty issues, and countering the effects of the war.
Victory in Europe Day, generally known as VE Day or V-E Day, is a day celebrating the formal acceptance by the Allies of World War II of Nazi Germany's unconditional surrender of its armed forces on the 8 May 1945.
A number of changes had taken place in the five months since the Yalta Conference which greatly affected the relationships among the leaders. The Soviet Union was occupying Central and Eastern Europe; the Red Army effectively controlled the Baltic states, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria, and Romania, and refugees were fleeing from these countries. Stalin had set up a puppet Communist government in Poland, and he insisted that his control of Eastern Europe was a defensive measure against possible future attacks, claiming that it was a legitimate sphere of Soviet influence.
The Yalta Conference, also known as the Crimea Conference and code-named the Argonaut Conference, held from February 4 to the 11th 1945, was the World War II meeting of the heads of government of the United States, the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union for the purpose of discussing Germany and Europe's postwar reorganization. The three states were represented by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Premier Joseph Stalin, respectively. The conference convened near Yalta in Crimea, Soviet Union, within the Livadia, Yusupov, and Vorontsov Palaces.
The Baltic states, also known as the Baltic countries, Baltic republics, Baltic nations or simply the Baltics, is a geopolitical term, typically used to group the three sovereign states in Northern Europe on the eastern coast of the Baltic Sea: Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. The term is not used in the context of cultural areas, national identity, or language, because while the majority of people in Latvia and Lithuania are Baltic people, the majority in Estonia are Finnic. The three countries do not form an official union, but engage in intergovernmental and parliamentary cooperation. The most important areas of cooperation between the three countries are foreign and security policy, defence, energy and transportation.
Second, Britain had a new Prime Minister. Conservative Party leader Winston Churchill had served as Prime Minister in a coalition government; his Soviet policy since the early 1940s had differed considerably from President Roosevelt's, as Churchill believed Stalin to be a "devil"-like tyrant leading a vile system.A general election had been held in the UK on 5 July; but with results delayed to allow the votes of armed forces personnel to be counted in their home constituencies. The outcome became known during the conference when Labour leader Clement Attlee became the new Prime Minister.
The Churchill war ministry was the United Kingdom's coalition government for most of the Second World War from 10 May 1940 to 23 May 1945. It was led by Winston Churchill, who was appointed Prime Minister by King George VI following the resignation of Neville Chamberlain in the aftermath of the Norway Debate.
Clement Richard Attlee, 1st Earl Attlee,, was a British statesman and Labour Party politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1945 to 1951.
Third, President Roosevelt had died on 12 April 1945, and Vice President Harry Truman assumed the presidency; his succession saw VE Day (Victory in Europe) within a month and VJ Day (Victory in Japan) on the horizon. During the war and in the name of Allied unity, Roosevelt had brushed off warnings of a potential domination by Stalin in part of Europe. He explained, "I just have a hunch that Stalin is not that kind of a man." "I think that if I give him everything I possibly can and ask for nothing from him in return, 'noblesse oblige', he won't try to annex anything and will work with me for a world of democracy and peace."
Truman had closely followed the Allied progress of the war. George Lenczowski notes that, "despite the contrast between his relatively modest background and the international glamour of his aristocratic predecessor, [Truman] had the courage and resolution to reverse the policy that appeared to him naive and dangerous", which was "in contrast to the immediate, often ad hoc moves and solutions dictated by the demands of the war".With the end of the war, the priority of allied unity was replaced with the challenge of the relationship between the two emerging superpowers. The two leading powers continued to sustain a cordial relationship to the public, but suspicions and distrust lingered between them.
George Lenczowski was a lawyer, diplomat, scholar, and Professor of Political Science, Emeritus, at the University of California, Berkeley. Lenczowski was a pioneer in his field as the founder and first chair of the Committee of Middle Eastern Studies at Berkeley. He was among America's first major scholars of the modern Middle East.
Truman was much more suspicious of the Communists than Roosevelt had been, and he became increasingly suspicious of Soviet intentions under Stalin.He and his advisers saw Soviet actions in Eastern Europe as aggressive expansionism which was incompatible with the agreements that Stalin had committed to at Yalta the previous February. In addition, Truman became aware of possible complications elsewhere when Stalin objected to Churchill's proposal for an early Allied withdrawal from Iran, ahead of the schedule agreed at the Tehran Conference. The Potsdam Conference was the only time that Truman met Stalin in person.
At the Yalta Conference France had been granted an occupation zone within Germany, France had been a participant in the Berlin Declaration, and France was to be an equal member of the Allied Control Council. Nevertheless, at the insistence of the Americans, General de Gaulle was not invited to Potsdam, as he had too been denied representation at Yalta; a diplomatic slight which was a cause of deep and lasting resentment.Reasons for the omissions included the longstanding personal mutual antagonism between Roosevelt and De Gaulle, ongoing disputes over the French and American occupation zones and anticipated conflicts of interest over French Indochina; but also reflected the judgement of both the British and Americans that French aims in respect of many items on the Conference agenda were likely to be at variance with Anglo/American agreed objectives.
At the end of the conference, the three Heads of Government agreed on the following actions. All other issues were to be answered by the final peace conference to be called as soon as possible.
France, having been excluded from the Conference, resisted implementing the Potsdam agreements within its occupation zone. In particular, the French refused to resettle any expelled Germans from the east. Moreover the French did not accept any obligation to abide by Potsdam agreements in the proceedings of the Allied Control Council; in particular resisting all proposals to establish common policies and institutions across Germany as a whole, and anything that they feared might lead to the emergence of an eventual unified German government.
One person who was at the Potsdam Conference, but is not mentioned often is William D. Leahy. Leahy was Fleet Admiral in the U.S. Navy and stood as advisor to President Roosevelt during the Yalta Conference and to President Truman during the Potsdam Conference. Leahy had lengthy military background as he served as the senior-most United States military officer on active duty during WWII. He said in his book, I Was There: The Personal Story of the Chief of Staff to Presidents Roosevelt and Truman Based on His Notes and Diaries Made at the Time, that the Potsdam Conference was one of the most frustrating out of all the conferences, due to hostile relations between the Soviet Union and the United Kingdom and the United States. Throughout his work, he refers to the conference as its code name, Terminal. Later in his book he discusses a tour of Berlin that he takes with President Truman, and describes this experience as "I never saw such destruction. I don't know whether they learned anything from it or not."
In addition to the Potsdam Agreement, on 26 July, Churchill, Truman, and Chiang Kai-shek, Chairman of the Nationalist Government of China (the Soviet Union was not at war with Japan) issued the Potsdam Declaration which outlined the terms of surrender for Japan during World War II in Asia.
Truman had mentioned an unspecified "powerful new weapon" to Stalin during the conference. Towards the end of the conference, the United States gave Japan an ultimatum to surrender or meet "prompt and utter destruction", which did not mention the new bombbut promised that "it was not intended to enslave Japan". The Soviet Union was not involved in this declaration, as it was still neutral in the war against Japan. Prime minister Kantarō Suzuki did not respond, which was interpreted as a declaration that the Empire of Japan should ignore the ultimatum. Then the United States dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima on 6 August and Nagasaki on 9 August 1945. The justification was that both cities were legitimate military targets, to end the war swiftly, and to preserve American lives.
When Truman informed Stalin of the atomic bomb, he said that the United States "had a new weapon of unusual destructive force",but Stalin had full knowledge of the atomic bomb's development due to Soviet spy networks inside the Manhattan Project, and he told Truman at the conference to "make good use of this new addition to the Allied arsenal".
The Soviet Union converted the other countries of eastern Europe into satellite states within the Eastern Bloc, such as the People's Republic of Poland, the People's Republic of Bulgaria, the People's Republic of Hungary,the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic, the People's Republic of Romania, and the People's Republic of Albania.
The Potsdam Agreement was the August 1945 agreement between three of the Allies of World War II, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the Soviet Union. It concerned the military occupation and reconstruction of Germany, its borders, and the entire European Theatre of War territory. It also addressed Germany's demilitarisation, reparations and the prosecution of war criminals.
The Potsdam Declaration or the Proclamation Defining Terms for Japanese Surrender was a statement that called for the surrender of all Japanese armed forces during World War II. On July 26, 1945, United States President Harry S. Truman, United Kingdom Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and Chairman of China Chiang Kai-shek issued the document, which outlined the terms of surrender for the Empire of Japan as agreed upon at the Potsdam Conference. This ultimatum stated that, if Japan did not surrender, it would face "prompt and utter destruction".
The Tehran Conference was a strategy meeting of Joseph Stalin, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Winston Churchill from 28 November to 1 December 1943, after the Anglo-Soviet Invasion of Iran. It was held in the Soviet Union's embassy in Tehran, Iran. It was the first of the World War II conferences of the "Big Three" Allied leaders. It closely followed the Cairo Conference which had taken place on 22–26 November 1943, and preceded the 1945 Yalta and Potsdam conferences. Although the three leaders arrived with differing objectives, the main outcome of the Tehran Conference was the Western Allies' commitment to open a second front against Nazi Germany. The conference also addressed the 'Big Three' Allies' relations with Turkey and Iran, operations in Yugoslavia and against Japan, and the envisaged post-war settlement. A separate protocol signed at the conference pledged the Big Three to recognize Iran's independence.
The Morgenthau Plan by the Allied occupation of Germany following World War II was a proposal to eliminate Germany's ability to wage war by eliminating its arms industry, and the removal or destruction of other key industries basic to military strength. This included the removal or destruction of all industrial plants and equipment in the Ruhr. It was first proposed by United States Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morgenthau Jr. in a memorandum entitled Suggested Post-Surrender Program for Germany.
The Origins of the Cold War involved the breakdown of relations between the Soviet Union versus the United States, Great Britain and their allies in the years 1945–1949. From the American-British perspective, first came diplomatic confrontations stretching back decades, followed by the issue of political boundaries in Central Europe and political non-democratic control of the East by the Soviet Army. Then came economic issues and then the first major military confrontation, with a threat of a hot war, in the Berlin Blockade of 1948–1949. By 1949, the lines were sharply drawn and the Cold War was largely in place in Europe. Outside Europe, the starting points vary in the late 1940s or early 1950s.
The territorial changes of Poland immediately after World War II were very extensive, the Oder–Neisse line became Poland's western border and the Curzon Line its eastern border. In 1945, after the defeat of Nazi Germany, Poland's borders were redrawn in accordance with the decisions made first by the Allies at the Tehran Conference of 1943 where the Soviet Union demanded the recognition of the military outcome of the top secret Nazi–Soviet Pact of 1939 of which the West was unaware.
The concept of Western betrayal refers to the view that the United Kingdom and France failed to meet their legal, diplomatic, military and moral obligations with respect to the Czechoslovak and Polish nations during the prelude to and aftermath of World War II. It also sometimes refers to the treatment of other Central and Eastern European nations at the time.
This is a timeline of the main events of the Cold War, a state of political and military tension after World War II between powers in the Western Bloc and powers in the Eastern Bloc.
The Provisional Government of the Republic of Poland was created by the State National Council on the night of 31 December 1944.
Upon defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II, the victorious Allies asserted joint authority and sovereignty over 'Germany as a whole', defined as all territories of the former German Reich west of the Oder–Neisse line, having declared the destruction of Nazi Germany at the death of Adolf Hitler. The four powers divided 'Germany as a whole' into four occupation zones for administrative purposes, under the United States, United Kingdom, France and the Soviet Union respectively; creating what became collectively known as Allied-occupied Germany. This division was ratified at the Potsdam Conference. The four zones were as agreed in February 1945 by the United States, United Kingdom and Soviet Union meeting at the Yalta Conference; setting aside an earlier division into three zones proposed by the London Protocol.
The formation of the European Advisory Commission (EAC) was agreed on at the Moscow Conference on 30 October 1943 between the foreign ministers of the United Kingdom, Anthony Eden, the United States, Cordell Hull, and the Soviet Union, Vyacheslav Molotov, and confirmed at the Tehran Conference in November. In anticipation of the defeat of Nazi Germany and its allies this commission was to study the postwar political problems in Europe and make recommendation to the three governments, including the surrender of the European enemy states and the machinery of its fulfillment. After the EAC completed its task it was dissolved at the Potsdam Conference in August 1945.
The United Nations Conference on International Organization (UNCIO), commonly known as the San Francisco Conference, was a convention of delegates from 50 Allied nations that took place from 25 April 1945 to 26 June 1945 in San Francisco, California, United States of America. At this convention, the delegates reviewed and rewrote the Dumbarton Oaks agreements of the previous year. The convention resulted in the creation of the United Nations Charter, which was opened for signature on 26 June, the last day of the conference. The conference was held at various locations, primarily the War Memorial Opera House, with the Charter being signed on 26 June at the Herbst Theatre in Civic Center. A square adjacent to the city's Civic Center, called "UN Plaza," commemorates the conference.
The Percentages agreement was a secret informal agreement between British prime minister Winston Churchill and Soviet leader Joseph Stalin during the Fourth Moscow Conference in October 1944. It gave the percentage division of control over Eastern European countries, dividing them into spheres of influence. Franklin Roosevelt was consulted tentatively and conceded to the agreement. The content of the agreement was first made public by Churchill in 1953 in the final volume of his memoir. The US ambassador Averell Harriman, who was supposed to represent Roosevelt in these meetings, was excluded from this discussion.
The Iron Curtain was the name for the non-physical boundary dividing Europe into two separate areas from the end of World War II in 1945 until the end of the Cold War in 1991. The term symbolizes the efforts by the Soviet Union (USSR) to block itself and its satellite states from open contact with the West and its allied states. On the east side of the Iron Curtain were the countries that were connected to or influenced by the Soviet Union, while on the west side were the countries that were allied to the United States or nominally neutral. Separate international economic and military alliances were developed on each side of the Iron Curtain.
The Soviet re-occupation of Latvia in 1944 refers to the military occupation of Latvia by the Soviet Union in 1944. During World War II Latvia was first occupied by the Soviet Union in June 1940 and then was occupied by Nazi Germany in 1941–1944 after which it was re-occupied by the Soviet Union.
The Oder–Neisse line is the basis of the international border between Germany and Poland. It runs mainly along the Oder and Lusatian Neisse rivers and meets the Baltic Sea in the north, just west of the ports of Szczecin and Świnoujście.
The diplomatic history of World War II includes the major foreign policies and interactions inside the opposing coalitions, the Allies of World War II and the Axis powers. The military history of the war is covered at World War II. The prewar diplomacy is covered in Causes of World War II and International relations (1919–1939).
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