Yalta Conference

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Yalta Conference
Crimean Conference
Argonaut and Magneto
Yalta Conference (Churchill, Roosevelt, Stalin) (B&W).jpg
The "Big Three" at the Yalta Conference, Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Joseph Stalin. Behind them stand, from the left, Field Marshal Sir Alan Brooke, Fleet Admiral Ernest King, Fleet Admiral William D. Leahy, General of the Army George Marshall, Major General Laurence S. Kuter, General Aleksei Antonov, Vice Admiral Stepan Kucherov, and Admiral of the Fleet Nikolay Kuznetsov.
Host countryFlag of the Soviet Union (1936-1955).svg  Soviet Union
Date4–11 February 1945
Venue(s) Livadia Palace
Cities Yalta, Crimean ASSR, Russian SFSR, USSR
Participants Flag of the Soviet Union (1936-1955).svg Joseph Stalin
Flag of the United Kingdom.svg Winston Churchill
Flag of the United States (1912-1959).svg Franklin D. Roosevelt
Follows Tehran Conference
Precedes Potsdam Conference

The Yalta Conference, also known as the Crimea Conference and code-named Argonaut and Magneto, held 4-11 February 1945, was the World War II meeting of the heads of government of the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union to discuss the postwar reorganization of Germany and Europe. The three states were represented by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and Premier Joseph Stalin, respectively. The conference was held near Yalta in Crimea, Soviet Union, within the Livadia, Yusupov, and Vorontsov Palaces.

Contents

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. The meeting was intended mainly to discuss the re-establishment of the nations of war-torn Europe. However, within a few short years, with the Cold War dividing the continent, Yalta became a subject of intense controversy.

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. It was also preceded by a conference in Moscow in October 1944, not attended by President Roosevelt, in which Churchill and Stalin had spoken of European Western and Soviet spheres of influence. [1]

Conference

Yalta American Delegation in Livadia Palace from left to right: Secretary of State Edward Stettinius, Maj. Gen. L. S. Kuter, Admiral E. J. King, General George C. Marshall, Ambassador Averell Harriman, Admiral William Leahy, and President F. D. Roosevelt. Livadia Palace, Crimea, Russia U.S. delegation at the Yalta Conference.jpg
Yalta American Delegation in Livadia Palace from left to right: Secretary of State Edward Stettinius, Maj. Gen. L. S. Kuter, Admiral E. J. King, General George C. Marshall, Ambassador Averell Harriman, Admiral William Leahy, and President F. D. Roosevelt. Livadia Palace, Crimea, Russia

By the time of the Yalta Conference, the armed forces of the Western Allies had liberated all of France and Belgium and were fighting on the Western border of Germany. In the east, Soviet forces were 65 km (40 mi) from Berlin, having already pushed back the Germans from Poland, Romania, and Bulgaria. There was no longer a question of German defeat. The issue was the new shape of postwar Europe. [2] [3] [4]

French leader General Charles de Gaulle was not invited to either the Yalta or Potsdam conference, a diplomatic slight that was the occasion for deep and lasting resentment. [5] De Gaulle attributed his exclusion from Yalta to the longstanding personal antagonism towards him by Roosevelt, although the Soviet Union had also objected to his inclusion as a full participant. But the absence of French representation at Yalta also meant that extending an invitation for De Gaulle to attend the Potsdam Conference would have been highly problematic. He would then have felt honor-bound to insist that all issues agreed at Yalta in his absence would have had to be re-opened. [6]

The initiative for calling a second 'Big Three' conference had come from Roosevelt, who hoped for a meeting before the US Presidential elections in November 1944, but subsequently pressed for a meeting early in 1945 at a neutral location in the Mediterranean. Malta, Cyprus and Athens were each suggested. Stalin, insisting that his doctors opposed any long trips, rejected these options. [7] He proposed instead that they meet instead at the Black Sea resort of Yalta in the Crimea. Stalin's fear of flying also was a contributing factor in this decision. [8] Nevertheless, Stalin formally deferred to Roosevelt as the 'host' for the conference; all plenary sessions were to be held in the American accommodation at the Livadia Palace, and Roosevelt is invariably seated centrally in the group photographs (all of which were taken by Roosevelt's official photographer).

Each of the three leaders had his own agenda for post-war Germany and liberated Europe. Roosevelt wanted Soviet support in the U.S. Pacific War against Japan, specifically for the planned invasion of Japan (Operation August Storm), as well as Soviet participation in the United Nations; Churchill pressed for free elections and democratic governments in Eastern and Central Europe (specifically Poland); 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. Stalin's position at the conference was one which he felt was so strong that he could dictate terms. According to U.S. delegation member and future Secretary of State 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." [9]

Poland was the first item on the Soviet agenda. Stalin stated that "For the Soviet government, the question of Poland was one of honor" and security because Poland had served as a historical corridor for forces attempting to invade Russia. [10] In addition, Stalin stated regarding history that "because the Russians had greatly sinned against Poland", "the Soviet government was trying to atone for those sins." [10] Stalin concluded that "Poland must be strong" and that "the Soviet Union is interested in the creation of a mighty, free and independent Poland." Accordingly, Stalin stipulated that Polish government-in-exile demands were not negotiable: the Soviet Union would keep the territory of eastern Poland they had already annexed in 1939, and Poland was to be compensated for that by extending its western borders at the expense of Germany. Contradicting his prior stated position, Stalin promised free elections in Poland despite the existence of a Soviet sponsored provisional government recently installed by him in Polish territories occupied by the Red Army.

Roosevelt wanted the USSR to enter the Pacific War against Japan with the Allies, which he hoped would end the war sooner and reduce American casualties.

One Soviet precondition for a declaration of war against Japan was an American official recognition of Mongolian independence from China (the Mongolian People's Republic had been a Soviet satellite state from its beginning in 1924, through World War II). The Soviets also wanted recognition of Soviet interests in the Manchurian railways and Port Arthur (but not asking the Chinese to lease). These conditions were agreed to without Chinese participation.

The Soviets also wanted cession of Karafuto and the Kuril Islands, taken from Russia by Japan in the Russo-Japanese War (1905), which was also agreed to.

In return, Stalin pledged that the Soviet Union would enter the Pacific War three months after the defeat of Germany. Later, at Potsdam, Stalin promised President Truman to respect the national unity of Korea which would be partly occupied by Soviet troops.

A Big Three meeting room Livadiya Conference.JPG
A Big Three meeting room

Furthermore, the Soviets agreed to join the United Nations, given the secret understanding of a voting formula with a veto power for permanent members of the Security Council, thus ensuring that each country could block unwanted decisions.

At the time, the Soviet Army had occupied Poland completely and held much of Eastern Europe with a military power three times greater than Allied forces in the West.[ citation needed ] The Declaration of Liberated Europe did little to dispel the sphere of influence agreements that had been incorporated into armistice agreements.

All three leaders ratified the agreement of the European Advisory Commission setting the boundaries of post-war occupation zones for Germany: three zones of occupation, one for each of the three principal Allies. They also agreed to give France a zone of occupation carved out of the US and UK zones, although De Gaulle on principle subsequently refused to accept that the French zone would be defined by boundaries established in his absence. De Gaulle thus ordered French forces to occupy Stuttgart in addition to the lands earlier agreed upon as comprising the French occupation zone. He only withdrew when threatened with the suspension of essential American economic supplies. [11] Churchill at Yalta then argued that the French would necessarily also need to be a full member of the proposed Allied Control Council for Germany. Stalin resisted this until Roosevelt backed Churchill's position, but Stalin still remained adamant that the French should not be admitted to full membership of the Allied Reparations Commission to be established in Moscow, only relenting at the Potsdam Conference.

Also, the Big Three agreed that all original governments would be restored to the invaded countries (with the exceptions of Romania and Bulgaria, where the Soviets had already liquidated most of the governments;[ clarification needed ] and Poland whose government-in-exile was also excluded by Stalin) and that all civilians would be repatriated.

Declaration of Liberated Europe

The Declaration of Liberated Europe was created by Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Joseph Stalin during the Yalta Conference. It was a promise that allowed the people of Europe "to create democratic institutions of their own choice". The declaration pledged, "the earliest possible establishment through free elections governments responsive to the will of the people." This is similar to the statements of the Atlantic Charter, which says, to"the right of all people to choose the form of government under which they will live." [12]

Key points

The key points of the meeting were as follows:

Democratic elections

The Big Three further agreed that democracies would be established, all liberated European and former Axis satellite countries would hold free elections and that order would be restored. [18] In that regard, they promised to rebuild occupied countries by processes that will allow them "to create democratic institutions of their own choice. This is a principle of the Atlantic Charter  – the right of all peoples to choose the form of government under which they will live". [18] The resulting report stated that the three would assist occupied countries to form interim government that "pledged to the earliest possible establishment through free elections of the Governments responsive to the will of the people" and to "facilitate where necessary the holding of such elections." [18]

The agreement called on signatories to "consult together on the measures necessary to discharge the joint responsibilities set forth in this declaration." During the Yalta discussions, Molotov inserted language that weakened the implication of enforcement of the declaration. [19]

Regarding Poland, the Yalta report further stated that the provisional government should "be pledged to the holding of free and unfettered elections as soon as possible on the basis of universal suffrage and secret ballot." [18] The agreement could not conceal the importance of acceding to pro-Soviet short-term Lublin government control and of eliminating language calling for supervised elections. [19]

According to President Roosevelt, "if we attempt to evade the fact that we placed somewhat more emphasis on the Lublin Poles than on the other two groups from which the new government is to be drawn I feel we will expose ourselves to the charges that we are attempting to go back on the Crimea decision." Roosevelt conceded that, in the words of Admiral William D. Leahy, the language of Yalta was so vague that the Soviets would be able to "stretch it all the way from Yalta to Washington without ever technically breaking it." [20]

The final agreement stipulated that "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 and from Poles abroad." [18] The language of Yalta conceded predominance of the pro-Soviet Lublin Government in a provisional government, albeit a reorganized one. [19]

Aftermath

Poland and the Eastern Bloc

Allied-occupied territories (red) on 15 February 1945, four days after the end of the conference 1945-02-15GerWW2BattlefrontAtlas reworked.jpg
Allied-occupied territories (red) on 15 February 1945, four days after the end of the conference
Poland's old and new borders, 1945 - Kresy in light blue Map of Poland (1945) corr.png
Poland's old and new borders, 1945 – Kresy in light blue

Because of Stalin's promises, Churchill believed that he would keep his word regarding Poland, remarking "Poor Neville Chamberlain believed he could trust Hitler. He was wrong. But I don't think I am wrong about Stalin." [21]

Churchill defended his actions at Yalta in a three-day Parliamentary debate starting on February 27, which ended in a vote of confidence. During the debate many MPs criticised Churchill and expressed deep reservations about Yalta and support for Poland, with 25 drafting an amendment protesting the agreement. [22]

When the Second World War ended, a Communist government was installed in Poland. Many Poles felt betrayed by their wartime allies. Many Polish soldiers refused to return to Poland, because of the Soviet repressions of Polish citizens (1939–1946), the Trial of the Sixteen and other executions of pro-Western Poles, particularly the former members of the AK (Armia Krajowa). The result was the Polish Resettlement Act 1947, Britain's first mass immigration law.

On March 1, Roosevelt assured Congress that "I come from the Crimea with a firm belief that we have made a start on the road to a world of peace." [23] However, the Western Powers soon realized that Stalin would not honour his promise of free elections for Poland. After receiving considerable criticism in London following Yalta regarding the atrocities committed in Poland by Soviet troops, Churchill wrote Roosevelt a desperate letter referencing the wholesale deportations and liquidations of opposition Poles by the Soviets. [23] On March 11, Roosevelt responded to Churchill, writing, "I most certainly agree that we must stand firm on a correct interpretation of the Crimean decision. You are quite correct in assuming that neither the Government nor the people of this country will support participation in a fraud or a mere whitewash of the Lublin government and the solution must be as we envisaged it in Yalta." [24]

By March 21, Roosevelt's Ambassador to the USSR Averell Harriman cabled Roosevelt that "we must come clearly to realize that the Soviet program is the establishment of totalitarianism, ending personal liberty and democracy as we know it." [25] Two days later, Roosevelt began to admit that his view of Stalin had been excessively optimistic and that "Averell is right." [25]

Four days later, on March 27, the Soviet Peoples Commissariat for Internal Affairs (NKVD) arrested 16 Polish opposition political leaders that had been invited to participate in provisional government negotiations. [25] The arrests were part of a trick employed by the NKVD, which flew the leaders to Moscow for a later show trial followed by sentencing to a gulag. [25] [26] Churchill thereafter argued to Roosevelt that it was "as plain as a pike staff" that Moscow's tactics were to drag out the period for holding free elections "while the Lublin Committee consolidate their power." [25] The Polish elections, held on January 16, 1947, resulted in Poland's official transformation to a communist state by 1949.

Following Yalta, in the USSR, when Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov expressed worry that the Yalta Agreement's wording might impede Stalin's plans, Stalin responded "Never mind. We'll do it our own way later." [21] While the Soviet Union had already annexed several occupied countries as (or into) Soviet Socialist Republics, [27] [28] [29] other countries in central and eastern Europe that it occupied were converted into Soviet-controlled satellite states, such as the People's Republic of Poland, the People's Republic of Hungary, [30] the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic, [31] the People's Republic of Romania, the People's Republic of Bulgaria, the People's Republic of Albania, [32] and later East Germany from the Soviet zone of German occupation. [33] Eventually the United States and the United Kingdom made concessions in recognizing the then Communist-dominated regions, sacrificing the substance of the Yalta Declaration, while it remained in form. [34]

Aborted enforcement plans

At some point of Spring 1945, Churchill had commissioned a contingency military enforcement operation plan (war on the Soviet Union) to obtain "square deal for Poland" (Operation Unthinkable), which resulted in a May 22 report stating unfavorable success odds. [35] The report's arguments included geostrategic issues (possible Soviet-Japanese alliance resulting in moving of Japanese troops from continent to Home Islands, threat to Iran/Iraq) and uncertainties concerning land battles in Europe. [36]

Potsdam and the atomic bomb

The Potsdam Conference was held from July to August 1945, which included the participation of Clement Attlee (who had replaced Churchill as Prime Minister) [37] [38] and President Harry S Truman (representing the United States after Roosevelt's death). [39] At Potsdam, the Soviets denied claims that they were interfering in the affairs of Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary. [34] The conference resulted in (1) the Potsdam Declaration regarding the surrender of Japan, [40] and (2) the Potsdam Agreement regarding the Soviet annexation of former Polish territory east of the Curzon Line, and, provisions, to be addressed in an eventual Final Treaty ending World War II, for the annexation of parts of Germany east of the Oder-Neisse line into Poland, and northern East Prussia into the Soviet Union.

Four months after the death of Roosevelt, President Truman ordered the dropping of an atomic bomb on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945.

See also

Notes

  1. Melvyn Leffler, Cambridge History of the Cold War, Volume 1 (Cambridge University Press, 2012), p. 175
  2. Diana Preston, Eight Days at Yalta: How Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin Shaped the Post-War World (2019) pp 1-23.
  3. David G. Haglund, "Yalta: The Price of Peace." Presidential Studies Quarterly 42#2 (2012), p. 419+. online
  4. Donald Cameron Watt, "Britain and the Historiography of the Yalta Conference and the Cold War." Diplomatic History 13.1 (1989): 67-98. online
  5. Fenby, Jonathan (2012). The General; Charles de Gaulle and the France he saved. Skyhorse. pp. 280–90.
  6. Feis, Herbert (1960). Between War and Peace; The Potsdam Conference . Princeton University Press. pp.  128–38.
  7. Stephen C. Schlesinger, Act of Creation: The Founding of the United Nations (Boulder: Westview Press, 2003). ISBN   0-8133-3324-5
  8. Beevor, Antony (2012). The Second World War. New York: Little, Brown and Company. p.  709. ISBN   978-0-316-02374-0.
  9. Black et al. 2000 , p. 61
  10. 1 2 Berthon & Potts 2007 , p. 285
  11. Fenby, Jonathan (2012). The General; Charles de Gaulle and the France he saved. Skyhorse. p. 282.
  12. "Soviet Satellite States". schoolshistory.org.uk. Archived from the original on March 2, 2019. Retrieved March 1, 2019.
  13. Pavel Polian. Against Their Will: The History and Geography of Forced Migrations in the USSR. Central European University Press 2003 ISBN   963-9241-68-7 pp. 244–49
  14. Osmańczyk, Edmund. Encyclopedia of the United Nations and International Agreements: T to Z. p. 2773. ISBN   978-0-415-93924-9.
  15. "United Nations". U.S. Department of State. Retrieved September 22, 2014. Voting procedures and the veto power of permanent members of the Security Council were finalized at the Yalta Conference in 1945 when Roosevelt and Stalin agreed that the veto would not prevent discussions by the Security Council. In April 1945 the new U.S. President Truman agreed to General Assembly membership for Ukraine and Byelorussia while reserving the right, which was never exercised, to seek two more votes for the United States.
  16. "Agreement Regarding Japan," Protocol Proceedings of the Crimea Conference (February 11, 1945). Online.
  17. Ehrman,VI 1956, p. 216.
  18. 1 2 3 4 5 February 11, 1945 Protocol of Proceedings of Crimea Conference, reprinted in Grenville, John Ashley Soames and Bernard Wasserstein, The Major International Treaties of the Twentieth Century: A History and Guide with Texts, Taylor and Francis, 2001 ISBN   0-415-23798-X, pp. 267–77
  19. 1 2 3 Leffler, Melvyn P. (1986). "Adherence to Agreements: Yalta and the Experiences of the Early Cold War". International Security . 11 (1): 88–123. doi:10.2307/2538877. JSTOR   2538877.
  20. The American People in World War II: Freedom from Fear, Part Two By David M. Kennedy p. 377
  21. 1 2 Berthon & Potts 2007 , p. 289
  22. pp. 374–83, Olson and Cloud 2003
  23. 1 2 Berthon & Potts 2007 , pp. 290–94
  24. Telegram, President Roosevelt to the British prime minister, Washington, 11 March 1945, in United States Department of State, Foreign Relations of the United States, Diplomatic Papers: 1945 Volume V, Europe (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1967), pp. 509–10.
  25. 1 2 3 4 5 Berthon & Potts 2007 , pp. 296–97
  26. Wettig 2008 , pp. 47–48
  27. Senn, Alfred Erich (2007). Lithuania 1940: revolution from above. Amsterdam; New York: Rodopi. ISBN   978-90-420-2225-6.
  28. Roberts 2006 , p. 43
  29. Wettig 2008 , pp. 20–21
  30. Granville, Johanna (2004). The First Domino: International Decision Making during the Hungarian Crisis of 1956. Texas A&M University Press. ISBN   978-1-58544-298-0.
  31. Grenville 2005 , pp. 370–71
  32. Cook 2001 , p. 17
  33. Wettig 2008 , pp. 96–100
  34. 1 2 Black et al. 2000 , p. 63
  35. "Operation Unthinkable". Northeastern University. Archived from the original on November 16, 2010. Retrieved September 25, 2015. defined as no more than square deal for Poland
  36. "Operation Unthinkable". Northeastern University. Archived from the original on November 16, 2010. Retrieved September 25, 2015. defined as no more than square deal for Poland
  37. Roberts 2006 , pp. 274–75
  38. "Clement Richard Attlee". Archontology.org. Archived from the original on April 20, 2009. Retrieved December 19, 2011.
  39. Truman 1973 , p. 208
  40. "Potsdam Declaration". Ndl.go.jp. July 26, 1945. Retrieved December 19, 2011.

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References

Further reading


Coordinates: 44°28′04″N34°08′36″E / 44.46778°N 34.14333°E / 44.46778; 34.14333