|Seated (l to r) Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin|
4 February 1945
The Yalta Conference took place between 4 February 1945 and 11 February 1945. Much can be said about the Conference, but this is not the place for that. Instead, here are some simple summaries. First, The following was taken from History.com's "This Day in History."
On 4 February 1945 President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and Premier Joseph Stalin met at Yalta, in the Crimea, to discuss and plan the postwar world — namely, to address the redistribution of power and influence. It is at Yalta that many place the birth of the Cold War.This list of "Key Points" was taken from Wikipedia.
It had already been determined that a defeated Germany would be sliced up into zones occupied by the United States, Great Britain, France, and the Soviet Union, the principal Allied powers. Once in Germany, the Allies would see to the deconstruction of the German military and the prosecution of war criminals. A special commission would also determine war reparations.
But the most significant issue, the one that marked the conference in history, was Joseph Stalin's designs on Eastern Europe. (Stalin's demands had started early with his desire that the location of the conference be at a Black Sea resort close to the USSR. He claimed he was too ill to travel far.) Roosevelt and Churchill attempted to create a united front against the Soviet dictator; their advisers had already mapped out clear positions on Europe and the creation and mission of the United Nations. They propounded the principles of the Atlantic Charter, formulated back in August 1941, that would ensure "life, liberty, independence, and religious freedom" for a free Europe and guarantee that only those nations that had declared war on the Axis powers would gain entry into the new United Nations.
Stalin agreed to these broad principles (although he withdrew his promise that all 16 Soviet republics would have separate representation within the United Nations), as well as an agreement that the Big Three would help any nation formerly in the grip of an Axis power in the establishment of "interim governmental authorities broadly representative of all democratic elements in the population... and the earliest possible establishment through free elections of governments responsive to the will of the people." Toward that end, Roosevelt and Churchill gave support to the Polish government-in-exile in London; Stalin demurred, insisting that the communist-dominated and Soviet-loyal Polish Committee of National Liberation, based in Poland, would govern. The only compromise reached was the inclusion of "other" political groups in the committee. As for Poland's new borders, they were discussed, but no conclusions were reached.
The conference provided the illusion of more unanimity than actually existed, especially in light of Stalin's reneging on his promise of free elections in those Eastern European nations the Soviets occupied at war's end. Roosevelt and Churchill had believed Stalin's promises, primarily because they needed to—they were convinced the USSR's support in defeating the Japanese was crucial. In fact, the USSR played much less of a role in ending the war in the East than assumed. But there was no going back. A divisive "iron curtain," in Churchill's famous phrase, was beginning to descend in Europe.
Agreement to the priority of the unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany. After the war, Germany and Berlin would be split into four occupied zones.
Stalin agreed that France might have a fourth occupation zone in Germany and in Austria but it would have to be formed out of the American and British zones.
Germany would undergo demilitarization and denazification.
German reparations were partly to be in the form of forced labor. The forced labor was to be used to repair damage Germany inflicted on its victims.
Creation of a reparation council which would be located in the Soviet Union.
The status of Poland was discussed. It was agreed to reorganize the communist Provisional Government of the Republic of Poland that had been installed by the Soviet Union "on a broader democratic basis."
The Polish eastern border would follow the Curzon Line, and Poland would receive territorial compensation in the West from Germany.
Churchill alone pushed for free elections in Poland. The British leader pointed out that the UK "could never be content with any solution that did not leave Poland a free and independent state". Stalin pledged to permit free elections in Poland, but forestalled ever honoring his promise.
Citizens of the Soviet Union and of Yugoslavia were to be handed over to their respective countries, regardless of their consent.
Roosevelt obtained a commitment by Stalin to participate in the UN.
Stalin requested that all of the 16 Soviet Socialist Republics would be granted UN membership. This was taken into consideration, but 14 republics were denied.
Stalin agreed to enter the fight against the Empire of Japan within 90 days after the defeat of Germany.
Nazi war criminals were to be hunted down and brought to justice.
A "Committee on Dismemberment of Germany" was to be set up. Its purpose was to decide whether Germany was to be divided into six nations.