2. The Demise of the Grand Alliance
Major Interpretations of Cold War Historiography
Yalta Conference: February 4, 1945
All three parties are aware that the war will end in months, so at the conference the three powers sat down to
map out the post war world and settle outstanding issues;
Political Objective at Yalta:
Acceptance of the Soviet Union to create an international organization (UN), and bring in China;
Four Freedom: freedom of want, speech, political interference, fear.
Want the Soviet Union’s engagement in the war with Japan. (Americans calculated to invade the
Japanese homeland, it would cost America over 1 million lives and no president could even survive
(politically) such losses
Fully aware of Britain’s weak position, Churchill wanted France into the security council
Vichy government in France is collaborating with the Nazi government, another concession from Stalin.
Territorial security for Soviet Union, especially Poland. Want to push border into Polish territory.
Agreed, because 90% of the German army bled on the Eastern front dealing with the USSR
Also the USSR took on the most casulaties.
Political objective needs to give way to military power. Battle of the Bulge in the Ardennes pinned down USA &
Britain, and could not overcome that German offensive without USSR help. The Russian army was much closer
to Berlin. And Eastern Europe was pretty much occupied by the Red Army. Britain & US was in a much weaker
position to demand concession from USSR. Yalta outcome was determined by this military situation.
Traditionalists argue that Yalta was a U.S. betrayal of Eastern Europe, but considering all factors that contributed
to this outcome, it was balanced; all three countries made concessions.
Potsdam Conference: July 17 , 1945
Completely different stage
Roosevelt died, replaced by Truman
In March 1945, U.S. cancelled all lend-lease support to the Soviet Union without explanation;
Molotov, Soviet foreign minister, was badly received by Truman when he travelled to attend UN opening;
Truman demanded 85% U.S. say in every international affair, while the rest of the world has 15%
Nazi Germany has been defeated, U.S. is most powerful, most efficient economically and military
Russian intelligence found out that U.S. was in secret talk with Germany for separate peace (SS. Gen. Wolfe)
Churchill was voted out by Clement Attlee – lacked the Charisma, knowhow and the experience of Churchill;
Stalin basically has to deal with two brand new individuals that he disliked and knew nothing about.
The three powers have low expectations of this conference, and couldn’t come to agreement with even smaller
problems, let long the German Question.
Britain & US wanted a broader base of government in Eastern Europe, more influence of non-communist
parties; the Soviet Union in turn wanted equal say in Italian affairs and Japanese affairs – no agreement;
U.S. complained that it was never consulted on the Poland issue despite what was agreed at Yalta;
Spain was never penalized for supporting the Nazis during WWII The German Problem:
Stalin agreed to the original US proposal that Germany be occupied by the four powers;
$20 billion reparation, half goes to the Soviet Union
4Ds: demilitarization, denazification, democratization, decentralization/decartelization
USA has the Morgenthau Plan, which sought to turn Germany into a medieval state, destroying its industrial
potential and making it an agricultural state. Russians agreed in principle, but decided to postpone it to deal
with other issues first.
Relationship of the three states went downhill after Potsdam
The Soviet Union & Eastern European Communist States
Britain went to war in September 1939 in response to Hitler’s unprovoked invasion of Poland;
Polish officials fled Warsaw then Paris to set up a government-in-exile in London
Poland for Russia: National Interest
Treat of Riga (Russo-Polish War 1921) left the new Polish state in possession of some Russian territory;
Aug 1939 Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact: Germany avoided two front war; Soviets gets part of Poland;
Sept 1939 Hitler invaded Poland
Pact broke when Hitler attacked Soviet Union in 1941; Russia tr