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2009 exam question on stalin and the cold war (yalta and postdam conference)

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University of Toronto St. George
Jennifer Jenkins

During World War II, the United States and the Soviet Union were strong allies that, although ending in favour of their victory over Hitlers Nazi Regimes, wreaked havoc during the next few years. The wartime allies became enemies in a struggle of differing political ideologies. In order to understand how Stalinization caused the cold war, one has to begin by discussing World War II itself. Two meetings had had specifically sparked the cold war. These were the Yalta and Potsdam conferences. Both of which rendered a series of misunderstandings between the Soviet Union and the United States that acknowledged the beginning of the Cold War. Upon leaving World II, the United States shared very different ideologies than that of Stalin and the Soviet Union. For the U.S., they strictly adhered to the declaration of self- determination of which its principles are most pronounced in Woodrow Wilsons Fourteen Points. According to Wilson, nations should be granted opportunity to choose their own government. In other words, Americans were destined to make a democratically safe world. The Soviets on the other hand, felt that this was unacceptable, given that it would allow the United States to have too heavy an influence in indicating what nations should adopt what specific form of government. Hence, Stalinization was well under way before the Cold War started. In the February, Yalta conference, Theodore Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin met to discuss the future of Poland. Stalin had demanded he have a Soviet sphere of political influence in Eastern Europe. While Stalin had been convinced by Churchill and Roosevelt not to dismember Germany, Stalin had also declared that he would keep the portion of Eastern Poland that he had taken in 1939, demanding that a pro-Soviet Polish
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