Yalta and Potsdam
To accurately understand the significance of the conferences, the personal interaction of the leaders, the decisions that were made and what was said is closely examined. Yalta marked the high point for the Big Three in the sense that the three were together in the belief that they were deciding the fate of the world. While Potsdam was more of a steep decline, marking the collapse of the Big Three. The change of Roosevelt to Truman in the second conference also greatly affected the alliance because Truman had different approach towards Stalin than Roosevelt did.The “Big Three” who originally met – in hopes for a better world – in Tehran in 1943 and Yalta in February, 1945, met once again at Potsdam in July, 1945.
Churchill was thanking Stalin for his ‘hospitality and friendship’ at the Yalta Conferences. Then how come, despite these friendly gestures, did the Soviet Authorities tried to break up pro- American demonstrations that erupted in Moscow? Why did American Authorities suspend shipments of aid for the USSR and then resume them? Why did Truman turn cold towards Stalin and decided to keep the knowledge of the atomic bomb a secret from the Soviets?The answer lies in the fact that the war was won by the Grand Alliance and its member who were already at war – ideologically and geopolitically – with each others. Near the end of World War II, global politics were at peak level and after 1945; a series of clashes and misunderstandings widened the gap between the Americans and Soviets even more and eventually lead to open hostility. The United States believed that a county should be run on a capitalist system – that is all industry, business and agriculture should be owned privately or by firms.In contrast, the Soviets believed in socialism, meaning that everything should be owned by the state and should be run by the government. These two – very different ideologies – were conflicting to each other and believed that the alternative ideology was a threat to their own way of living. In 1 945, two conferences, Yalta and Potsdam were held with the top political leaders Of Russia, America and Britain, Otherwise known as the ‘Big Three’.
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These conferences were meant to decide the future of the world after the war and what to do with Germany.America and Russian’s different beliefs and post-war aims and the increasing tension between the two sides became apparent at the Yalta and Potsdam Conferences. Therefore, it is significant to closely examine what was said and decided during these conferences that drove both sides. The 1 John Lewis Caddis, The Cold War: A New History (United Sates of America: The Penguin Press, 2005) 5. 2 John D. Clare, ‘The Big Three during the War,” Greenfield History Site. 2002 < http://mvw.
johndclare. net/cold_war4. tm> (2010). 3 caddis 6. Coco question of this essay deals with what was discussed and agreed upon during the Yalta and Potsdam conferences and will answer: To what extent did the Yalta and Potsdam conferences contribute to the development of the Cold War in Europe? WHAT THEY BELIEVED AND THE POST-WAR AIMS The two great powers, even though they had united to fight against the Nazis, were completely different in everything else. Ideology was very important for the Soviet Union, since it was built around it and the west viewed the USSR as a growing threat and distrusted them.The Soviet Union was a communist entry, which was ruled by a dictator and put the needs of the state ahead of human rights, while America was a capitalist democracy which valued freedom and feared communism.
Although the ideological differences between the two great powers were immense and important in creating a tense atmosphere between them, ideology alone does not offer an explanation for the cold war. A capitalist economy is based on private ownership, private profit and free competition. It encourages private individuals to own businesses and make profits.A communist economy on the other hand, is quite different. The economy is controlled by the government. A country’s wealth and resources are owned by the state or government. The state controls and plans all economic activity so that everybody benefits.
Thus, it can be seen how different these ideologies were and how conflict could arise from these differences. Going into the Yalta and Potsdam Conferences, Soviet Union wanted to ensure security, establish control over Eastern Europe, and get reparation from Germany.On the other hand, Britain and America wanted to help Germany recover to avoid any future turmoil from Germany and wanted to prevent large areas of Europe from coming under Communist control. In recent history, the USSR had been invaded a total of three times, once in WWW, once in the Russian civil war and once in WWW. As a result, there were many Russian casualties and as a way of making sure that the USSR would be secure from any future attack or aggression along the Western border, Stalin decided to surround Russia with a buffer of “friendly” countries which later came to be known as the Iron Curtain.During the World War, as the Russians pushed the Germans out of their border, they also pushed inwards into Eastern Europe, occupying many countries, making it easier for them to establish control. As they established controls in these areas, they gave the local Communist parties a lot of support and thus, widened their influence in their countries.
Also, as they pushed back, they brought along Moscow- trained Communist leaders who had gone to the USSR during the war. These leaders took over the reins of the governments in some parts of Eastern Europe, spreading the influence of Communism.After the Soviets had pushed the Germans out Of Poland, it fell under communism and remained so until Stalin’s death. Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria and Czechoslovakia are some of there countries that fell under Communism. Stalin then proceeded to establish one-party governments in these countries by first establishing coalition governments, then removing the partners in these governments. The coalitions were needed as the Communist Parties in the different countries were not strong enough on their own to gain the support of the people and govern the country.In this way, the USSR could then proceed to tighten its control over Eastern Europe, successfully forming the satellite states or the Iron Curtain.
The west was afraid that the Communist ideology would spread as its nature was expansionist. Thus, when the USSR attempted to improve security by having satellite States, the West saw this as an attempt to spread the influence of Communism. This especially affected LISA as it needed new markets and Europe could provide them. As more and more markets were dominated by USSR, USA lost these potential markets. There was mutual suspicion and mistrust between the east and the west because of this.As well, there were still suspicious from Wig’s atomic bomb incident and the second front. The second front was not opened till 3 years after Stalin started demanding it and few days before it was dropped, the US informed the other lies except Russia that the atomic bomb was about to be dropped on to Japan.
This severely discredited the West and spoiled the relations between the East and the West. This meant that the ‘Big Three’ found it very difficult to agree upon anything at the Conferences (Yalta, Potsdam) and if anything achieved more misunderstandings.Although ideology made some degree of conflict likely between the Capitalist West and Communist East, in actual the struggle was largely fought over issues such as global power and prestige which became obvious at the two conferences, Yalta and Potsdam. 4< http://mvw. tracesofevil. om/1999/03/history-essays-relating-to-cold- war . html> YALTA The Yalta conference was held on February 4, 1945.
The Americans arrived with the long-term goal of gaining final Soviet approval to the formation of a peace organization, a structure to ensure peace, the Lignite Nations.The Allies also made it necessary to discuss European political and military problems. Their major goal was to fix a date for the USSR to attack Japan, which the Soviets decided would be three months after Germany surrendered. Stalin kept this promise, in return for territorial concessions in Asia. The future role of France was also discussed. Britain wanted France to play a full role in postwar Germany but the Soviets felt that France had not played much of a role in the war and should not have any say now.At the conference the Big Three agreed that France would have a zone of occupation in Germany out of US and Britain’s share – this sat well with the Soviets as they didn’t lose anything.
France was to also have membership in the Allied control council for Germany. However, French leader Charles Degaussed was not invited to the conference. The three leaders also discussed German reparations, which required the Germans to pay for some of the damage done by them during the war. Churchill pointed out the Germany was so damaged by the war that the Allies could not hope to extract any money from Germany.German reparations after World War had been paid with the help of loans from the United States. The official State Department minutes of the meeting noted that there had been only two billion pounds extracted from Germany in the form of reparations by the Allies after the last war and that even this would not have been possible had not the United States given Germany credit. “7 Roosevelt responded to this, “that he remembered very vividly that the United States had lost a great deal of money.
He said that we had lent over ten billion dollars to Germany and that this time we would not repeat our past mistakes. 8 Roosevelt never anticipated how strong the United States would emerge from the war, and added that the United States COOL_SLD not afford to aid the Germans economically. Winston Churchill was strongest in raising the issue of the dangers of starving Germany if too many reparations were demanded and taken. He focused on the fact that the Germans must be left enough resources to pay reparations. A starving Germany would benefit no one. Churchill was thinking of the way reparations were handled after World War l. Even though Germany paid reparations with loans from the United States, Germany was economically devastated.
Poor economic conditions created resentment, and laid the groundwork for Hitler. Realism at Yalta put limits on reparations. Churchill was well advised to use the arguments he used, that Germany needed to keep enough resources and to produce enough to pay what reparations were demanded. The leaders decided to leave the details to a commission. Reparations did not prove to be a major practical issue. 5 Bruce L. Bragger, “Yalta,” Military History Online 1 999 < http:// www.
militaryhistoryonline. om/wwii/articles/yalta. aspx> (August 2005). 6 Bragger. United States Department of State, Foreign Relations of the United States, Diplomatic Papers. The Conference at Malta and Yalta (Washington: Government printing Office, 1955) 621. 8 U.
S State Department, 621. Soviet Foreign Minister Behaves Molotov later complained “We collected reparations after the war, but they amounted to a pittance. ‘9 However, the Soviets took enough from their occupation zone in Germany to make it harder when they tried to create the German Democratic Republic, East Germany. Molotov later commented on this dilemma, “Quietly, bit by bit, we ad been creating the GIRD, our own Germany.What would those people think of us if we had taken everything from their country? After all, we were taking from the Germans who wanted to work with us. “l O The most controversial decision to emerge from Yalta dealt with the postwar Polish government. Poland had been divided between Germany and the Soviet Union in 1 939, and invaded by both that September.
However, the Soviets were accurate when they told Churchill that the Nazi-Soviet pact of that year Was made obsolete by the German invasion of the Soviet Union. By August 1 944, the Soviet army had pushed the German back almost to Warsaw.