4 February 1945

4 February 1945

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4 February 1945

War at Sea

German submarine U-1014 sunk with all hands in the North Channel

Western Front

US 1st Army captures the first of the Roer dams

Belgium is cleared of German troops


Start of the Yalta Conference


US troops reach the outskirts of Manila

94th Infantry Division (United States)

The 94th Division was a unit of the United States Army in World War I, and of the Organized Reserve Corps in 1921 until 1942.

The 94th Infantry Division was a unit of the United States Army in World War II, and of the United States Army Reserve from 1956 until 1963. It continued in the Army Reserve as the 94th Command Headquarters (Divisional) from 1963 until the Army's realignment of reserve component combat arms into the Army National Guard in 1967.

The 94th Army Reserve Command (later redesignated 94th Regional Support Command and 94th Regional Readiness Command) was a regional command and control headquarters over most United States Army Reserve units throughout the six New England states of Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. For forty years, beginning in the late 1960s, the United States Army Reserve was divided up into a varying number of regional, branch-immaterial commands. Originally designated "army reserve commands" ("ARCOMs"), several were disbanded in and around 1995, while the remainder were redesignated "regional support commands" ("RSCs") at that time and re-dubbed "regional readiness commands" ("RRCs") in 2001. In addition to the RRCs, several mission-oriented commands were established, including such as training divisions and engineer commands. Like most RRCs, the 94th Regional Readiness Command was scheduled to be deactivated in fiscal year 2009 as part of the Army Reserve's reorganization into a functionally based command structure reporting to respective major Army commands ("MACOMs") plans were altered, the 94th became a training division headquartered at Fort Lee.

The 94th ARCOM/RSC/RRC wore the shoulder sleeve insignia of the 94th Infantry Division but did not, according to the United States Army Center of Military History, perpetuate the lineage of the old division and was thus not entitled to the division's battle honors. [ citation needed ] Army Regulation 840-10 dictates that the distinguishing flag of an RRC features a white-bordered, 38.1 cm (15 in.) tall rendering of the shoulder sleeve insignia on a plain blue background, rather than on the horizontally divided bi-colour background of red over blue as carried by an infantry division.

The 94th Division (Force Sustainment) is a unit of the United States Army Reserve, charged with providing sustainment training throughout the United States. The division is based at Fort Lee, Virginia and is subordinate to the 80th Training Command. The division has subordinate brigades that perform military occupational specialty (MOS) reclassification training. The division has brigades in the Continental United States and a multi-functional brigade in Puerto Rico. The 94th Infantry Division's standard (flag) and lineage bestowed upon the 94th Division (Force Sustainment) at its activation in 2009.

Yalta Conference foreshadows the Cold War

President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and Soviet leader Joseph Stalin meet to discuss the Allied war effort against Germany and Japan and to try and settle some nagging diplomatic issues. While a number of important agreements were reached at the conference, tensions over European issues—particularly the fate of Poland𠅏oreshadowed the crumbling of the Grand Alliance that had developed between the United States, Great Britain, and the Soviet Union during World War II and hinted at the Cold War to come.

Meeting in the city of Yalta in the Russian Crimean from February 4 to 11, Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin each arrived with their own agendas for the conference. For Stalin, postwar economic assistance for Russia, and U.S. and British recognition of a Soviet sphere of influence in eastern Europe were the main objectives. Churchill had the protection of the British Empire foremost in his mind, but also wanted to clarify the postwar status of Germany. Roosevelt’s goals included consensus on establishment of the United Nations and gaining Soviet agreement to enter the war against Japan once Hitler had been defeated. None of them left Yalta completely satisfied. There was no definite determination of financial aid for Russia. Many issues pertaining to Germany were deferred for further discussion. As for the United Nations, Stalin wanted all 16 Soviet republics represented in the General Assembly, but settled for three (the Soviet Union as a whole, Belorussia, and the Ukraine). However, the Soviets did agree to join in the war against Japan 90 days after Hitler’s Germany was defeated.

It was over the issue of the postwar status of Poland, however, that the animosity and mistrust between the United States and the Soviet Union that would characterize the Cold War were most readily apparent. Soviet troops were already in control of Poland, a procommunist provisional government had already been established, and Stalin was adamant that Russia’s interests in that nation be recognized. The United States and Great Britain believed that the London-based noncommunist Polish government-in-exile was most representative of the Polish people. The final agreement merely declared that a “more broadly based” government should be established in Poland. Free elections to determine Poland’s future were called for sometime in the future. Many U.S. officials were disgusted with the agreement, which they believed condemned Poland to a communist future. Roosevelt, however, felt that he could do no more at the moment, since the Soviet army was occupying Poland.

As the Cold War became a reality in the years that followed the Yalta Conference, many critics of Roosevelt’s foreign policy accused him of “selling out” at the meeting and naively letting Stalin have his way. It seems doubtful, however, that Roosevelt had much choice. He was able to secure Russian participation in the war against Japan (Russia declared war on Japan on August 8, 1945), established the basic principles of the United Nations, and did as much as possible to settle the Poland issue. With World War II still raging, his primary interest was in maintaining the Grand Alliance. He believed that troublesome political issues could be postponed and solved after the war. Unfortunately, Roosevelt never got that chance𠅊lmost exactly two months after the end of the conference, Roosevelt suffered a stroke and died.

4-11 February

Politics, Allies

Marshal Joseph Stalin, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Prime Minister Winston Churchill meet at the Yalta Conference in the Crimea to discuss postwar Europe. The ‘Big Three’ decide that Germany will be divided into four zones, administered by Britain, France, the United States, and the Soviet Union. An Allied Control Commission will be set up in Berlin, and Austria will also be divided into four zones. The capital, Vienna, will be in the Soviet zone and will also have a four-power administration. The Soviet Union will declare war on Japan two months after the war in Europe has ended, while changes to Poland’s borders will allow the Soviet Union to annex former Polish areas.

Fact File : Yalta Conference

Location: The Crimea
Players: British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, US President Franklin Roosevelt, Soviet leader Joseph Stalin.
Outcome: Allied Control Commission to deal with Germany campaign to occupy Germany and Russia discussed Russia demanded and won concessions if it was to enter war with Japan Declaration on Liberated Europe issued.

British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, pictured at the Yalta Conference in 1945©

Military strategy was first on the agenda as the Allies approached the final phase of the war against Germany. The occupation of Germany and Austria and liaison between Allied forces during this campaign was discussed. An Allied Control Commission for Germany was agreed on and France was to become one of the occupying powers.

Russia demanded concessions if it was to enter the war against Japan and a second agreement was reached without the knowledge of Churchill or China's President Chiang Kai-shek, whom it affected. These demands were: the preservation of Mongolia's status and the return of Russian territory along with new territory, the Kurile Islands. These were met.

Most complex was the debate about Poland's future, now that Poland had been liberated by the Red Army. A temporary agreement was reached to reorganise the Provisional Government 'on a broader democratic basis with the inclusion of democratic leaders from Poland itself and from Poles abroad'. This new government was to be called the Polish Provisional Government of National Unity, and it was agreed to set new frontiers which led to the creation of the Oder-Neisse line.

This was a conference that anticipated post-war events and the liberation of Europe. The Grand Alliance (Russia, USA, UK) made the following declaration:

The fact files in this timeline were commissioned by the BBC in June 2003 and September 2005. Find out more about the authors who wrote them.

4 February 1945 - History

Yalta Conference, also known as the Crimea Conference, was a conference that was held in a Russian resort town in Crimea in 1945 between February 4th and 11th. This conference brought together the heads of government of the U.S., U.K., and the Soviet Union.

The delegations of the conference were led by Joseph Stalin Soviet’s premier, Franklin D. Roosevelt American president and Winston Churchill the then British Prime minister or as they were commonly known the big three. It was not the first time that the 3 leaders were meeting as they had formerly met in November 1943.

This was the second of the three war-time conferences held among the three allies represented by the three leaders. It was followed the Tehran Conference which was later followed by the Postdam Conference.

Initially, Roosevelt had suggested that they meet somewhere neutral at the Mediterranean. His suggestion was met by opposition from Stalin who cited health concerns that prohibited him from making long trips. In place of the Mediterranean, Joseph Stalin proposed the sea-resort of Yalta an ancient city on the shores of the Black Sea, which all the leaders agreed upon.

The location of the conference was in Stalin’s favor as the soviet troops were a few miles from Berlin. This was also backed by the home ground advantage of hosting the conference in the USSR. Nevertheless, the eagerness to meet face to face made Roosevelt agree to Stalin’s request.

The Conference

This meeting was held in a resort town on the Crimean peninsula. All the delegation was staying in different chambers. The delegation from the U.S. was housed in the former palace of Tsar while Roosevelt stayed at the Livadia place. The British side delegation stayed in Prince Voronsov’s castle. The main delegates present in the conference were Averell Harriman, Anthony Eden Vyacheslav Molotov, Edward Stettinius, and Alexander Cadogan.

The conference commenced with an official dinner on the eve of February 4th. Some significant achievements were made in the meeting. The powers agreed that the unreserved surrender of Nazi Germany was a priority. The other pressing issue was the partitioning of Berlin and German. In regard to Germany, the leaders agreed that the defeated nation would be partitioned into 3 zones of occupation for each and every of the allied powers.

They agreed that Germany would be split into 4 occupied zones after the war. Joseph Stalin also agreed to allow France to acquire the fourth occupation zone in Germany and Austria drawn from the British and U.S. zones. It was also decided that France would get a seat in the ACC (Allied Control Council).

All the allied powers came with their its agenda to the conference. Of major importance to Roosevelt was founding of the UN and involvement of Stalin the war against Japan. During the conference, the leaders discussed Europe’s post-war reorganization, in particular the borders of Poland where war had erupted 6 years prior, and the fate of Japan, whose continued stubbornness kept the U.S. at war after the fall of Germany.

The British wanted to preserve their empire, and the Soviets wanted to acquire more land so as to strengthen their conquests. During the negotiations they released a declaration on Poland that provided for the inclusion of Communists in the post-war national government. They agreed that the eastern border to Poland would be along the Curzon line and that Poland would obtain substantial territorial compensation from Germany in the west.

Roosevelt had two main objectives in the conference held in Yalta which he managed to secure. He strongly believed that the only thing that would keep the U.S. from slipping back into isolation after the war was the U.N. He also wanted to make Joseph Stalin commit himself to involvement in the war against Japan and membership in the United Nations. Joseph Stalin agreed to get involved in the battle against the Empire of Japan in ninety days following the defeat of Germany. It was arranged that the USSR would obtain the southern part of Kurile and Sakhalin islands after conquering Japan.

Initially, the Yalta agreements were received with celebrations. Like Most Americans, Roosevelt viewed the agreements as proof that the spirit of American-Soviet wartime alliance would continue even after the war period. However, this was not to be as with the passing on of Roosevelt in April 1945, the new administration clashed with the USSR over their influence over the UN and in Eastern Europe. During the meeting Stalin was able to take advantage of the new president of America Harry S. Truman and have the decisions of Yalta ratified. He also managed to have a change of power in Britain, which saw Winston Churchill replaced by Clement Attlee along the way through the conference.

The Aftermath of the Conference at Yalta

The decisions produced in the conference that was held in Yalta are among the most important of the 20th century and probably modern History. This conference was the last trip abroad for Franklin D. Roosevelt. His main objective was to ensure the participation of the USSR in the UN which he accomplished at the price of giving veto power to every member of the Security-Council. Franklin D Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin shaped up much of the modern world and propelled into motion the creation of the world’s first real world government: the U.N.

The development of order in Europe and reconstruction of the national economic life under the Marshall plan were also achieved by the processes that facilitated the liberated people to get rid of the last remnants of fascism and to establish independent democratic institutions. This is one of the principles of the Atlantic Charter which states that all people have the right to vote for the form of government under which they will live. It restored the sovereign rights of all citizens who had been forcibly denied of them by the aggressor nations.

Stalin benefited greatly from the conference getting everything he wanted. He got a huge area of influence in the name of a buffer zone. In the process the autonomy, small countries were somehow compromised and forfeited for the sake of stability. That meant that the Baltic countries continued to be members of the USSR.

4 February 1945 - History

The Yalta Conference (1945)

The Yalta Conference, sometimes called the Crimea Conference and codenamed the Argonaut Conference, was the wartime meeting from February 4 to 11, 1945 between the heads of government of the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union. The delegations were headed by Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and Joseph Stalin, respectively.

The key Allied leaders, Roosevelt, Stalin, and Churchill, were known as the "Big Three" because of the might of the nations they represented and their peaceful collaboration during World War II. These three leaders met together only twice during World War II, but when they did conference, their decisions changed the course of history.

After the Tehran Conference, the three leaders promised to meet again, and this agreement came to pass at the Yalta Conference of February 1945. Although Stalin had expressed concern about Roosevelt's health during the Teheran conference, this concern did not translate into action. The Soviet dictator refused to travel further than the Black Sea Resort, Yalta, in the Crimean Riveria (then part of the Soviet Union, now part of Ukraine) for the next summit and, once again, Churchill and Roosevelt were both the ones taking long and tiring trips to attend the Yalta summit.

Each of the three powers brought their own agenda to the Yalta Conference. The British wanted to maintain their empire, the Soviets wished to obtain more land and to strengthen conquests, and the Americans wanted to insure the Soviet's entry into the Pacific war and discuss postwar settlement. Moreover, Roosevelt hoped to obtain a commitment from Stalin to participate in the United Nations. As the first topic on the Soviet's agenda for expansion, the subject of Poland immediately arose, and Stalin was quick to succintly state his case with the following words:

"For the Russian people, the question of Poland is not only a question of honor but also a question of security. Throughout history, Poland has been the corridor through which the enemy has passed into Russia. Poland is a question of life and death for Russia."

Accordingly, Stalin made it clear that some of his demands regarding Poland were not negotiable: the Russians were to gain territory from the eastern portion of Poland and Poland was to compensate for that by extending its Western borders, thereby forcing out millions of Germans. Reluctantly, Stalin promised free elections in Poland, notwithstanding the recently installed Communist puppet government. However, it soon became apparent that Stalin had no intentions of holding true to his promise of free elections. In fact, it was fifty years after the Yalta Conference that the Poles first had the opportunity to hold free elections. As mentioned earlier, at Yalta a principal aim of Roosevelt was to make sure that the Soviets would enter the Asian war, i.e., the war against the Japanese. Unfortunately, however, Roosevelt should never have spent any time agonizing over Soviet involvement in the Pacific war because Stalin did not need convincing. The Soviets themselves were keen to assuage the intense feelings of humiliation that resulted from a long ago defeat by Japan and loss of privileges in Manchuria during the Russo-Japanese War. The Soviets were keen on regaining lost territories and optimistic that they could obtain more lands.

However, Roosevelt was oblivious to Stalin's objectives because of Stalin's excellent 'poker face,' and he readily met Stalin's price, leaving the Yalta Conference exuberant because Stalin had agreed to enter the Pacific war against Japan. Moreover, the Soviets had agreed to join the United Nations given the secret understanding of a voting formula with a veto power for permanent members in the Security Council, there by providing the Soviets with more control in world affairs and greatly weakening the United Nations. Overall, Roosevelt felt confident that Yalta had been successful. The Big Three had ratified previous agreements about the postwar division of Germany: there were to be four zones of occupation, one zone for each of the three dominant nations plus one zone for France. Berlin itself, although within the Soviet zone, would also be divided into four sectors, and would eventually become a major symbol of the Cold War because of the division of the city due to the infamous Berlin Wall, which was constructed and manned by the Soviets.

The Big Three had further decided that all original governments would be restored to the invaded countries and that all civilians would repatriated. Democracies would be established, all territories would hold free elections, and order restored to Europe, as declared in the following official statement:

"The establishment of order in Europe and the rebuilding of national economic life must be achieved by processes which will enable the liberated peoples to destroy the last vestiges of Nazism and fascism and to create democratic institutions of their own choice."

In the postwar setting, Russia would gain the southern half of the Sakhalin Islands and Kuriles, half of East Prussia, Konigsberg, Germany, and control of Finland. In addition, Roosevelt let it slip that the United States would not protest if the Soviet Union attempted to annex the three Baltic States (Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania) or establish puppet governments, therefore leaving Stalin as pleased with the overall results as Roosevelt, and more rightly so. The Yalta Conference is often regarded by numerous Central European nations as the "Western betrayal." This belief, held by countries such as Poland, Slovakia, Romania, and the Czech Republic, is rooted in the belief that the Allied powers, despite venerating democratic policies and signing numerous pacts and military agreements, allowed smaller countries to be controlled by and/or made Communist states of the Soviet Union. At the Yalta conference, the Big Three "attempted to sacrifice freedom for the sake of stability," and many believe the decisions and concessions of Roosevelt and Churchill during the summit lead to the power struggle of the ensuing Cold War.

The conference was held in Yalta, a resort town on the Crimean peninsula in the Soviet Union (now in Ukraine). The American delegation was housed in the Tsar's former palace, while President Roosevelt stayed at the Livadia Palace where the meetings took place. The British delegation was installed in Prince Vorontsov's castle of Alupka. Key members of the delegations were Edward Stettinius, Averell Harriman, Anthony Eden, Alexander Cadogan, and Vyacheslav Molotov. According to Anthony Beevor, all the rooms were bugged by the NKVD. Stalin arrived by train on February 4. The meeting started with an official dinner on the evening of that day.

* There was agreement that the priority was the unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany. After the war, the country would be split into four occupied zones, with a quadripartite occupation of Berlin as well.

* Stalin agreed to let France get the fourth occupation zone in Germany and Austria, carved out from the British and American zones. France would also be granted a seat in the Allied Control Council.

* Germany would undergo demilitarization and denazification.

* Creation of an allied reparation council with its seat in Moscow.

* The status of Poland was discussed but was complicated by the fact that Poland by this time was under the control of the red army. It was agreed to reorganize the Provisionary Polish Government that had been set up by the Red Army through the inclusion of other groups as the Polish Provisional Government of National Unity to be followed by democratic elections. (This effectively excluded the exile Polish government that had formed in London).

* The Polish eastern border should basically follow the Curzon Line, and Poland should receive substantial territorial compensation in the west from Germany.

* 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 United Nations once it was agreed that each of the five permanent members of the Security Council would have veto power.

* Stalin agreed to enter the fight against the Empire of Japan within 90 days after the defeat of Germany. The Soviet Union would receive the southern part of Sakhalin and the Kurile islands after the defeat of Japan.

Yalta was the last great conference before the end of the war and the last trip of Roosevelt abroad. To observers he appeared already ill and exhausted. Arguably, his most important goal was to ensure the Soviet Union's participation in the United Nations, which he achieved at the price of granting veto power to each permanent member of the Security Council, a condition that significantly weakened the UN. Another of his objectives was to bring the Soviet Union into the fight against Japan, as the effectiveness of the atomic bomb had yet to be proven. The Red Army had already removed Nazi forces from most of Eastern Europe, so Stalin essentially got everything he wanted: a significant sphere of influence as a buffer zone. In this process, the freedom of small nations was somehow expendable and sacrificed for the sake of stability, which would mean that the Baltic countries of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia would continue to be members of the USSR.


As Stalin reneged on promises concerning Eastern Europe, perception of Yalta changed and Roosevelt was blamed for effectively ceding Eastern Europe to the Soviets. While his poor health may have affected his judgment, Roosevelt was able to secure some concessions from Stalin during the meeting. Despite this, many came to view the meeting as a sellout that greatly encouraged Soviet expansion in Eastern Europe and northeast Asia.

The leaders of the Big Three would meet again that July for the Potsdam Conference. During the meeting, Stalin was effectively able to have the decisions of Yalta ratified as he was able to take advantage of new US President Harry S. Truman and a change of power in Britain that saw Churchill replaced partway through the conference by Clement Attlee.

4 February 1945 - History

The RAF gave this reasoning for the mission just prior to the bombing.

Regardless of whether it was neccesary or not, I've never heard many German narratives where they shed a tear for the complete destruction of Warsaw(planned in advance) or the devastation inflicted upon Belarus, the Ukraine, Yugoslavia, Greece, and so on. Not all Germans supported Nazism, but those that did were complict in the fate of their country.

Necessity is a tough thing to pin down when it comes the massive bombings late in the war. For instance, one of the best criticisms of the Dresden bombings is that the military target list that was used to justify the attacks remained largely untouched. The primary factory areas of the city were located nowhere near the center of town that was bombed. The factories remained largely untouched during the raids as did the major rail hub located there and the bridges that facillitated movement west from the town.

TonyT touched on this topic when he and I were debating with erasure the hypocrisy of the Nuremberg Trials in the General Dostler thread:
Curious Why German General Dostler Was Executed By Firing Squad and Not at Nuremberg?

TonyT's posts about the Allied bombing campaign and "Directive 22" are contained on page 5 (post #50). I would highly encourage folks to read it in full as it is quite informative. I will quote some parts of it here that pertained to Dresden and the intent:

With respect to Dresden, Winston Churchill is the person that selected it as a target of a critical nature, citing it as a “communication centre” whose destruction would disrupt German operations against the Soviets advancing from the East. The actual orders issued to Bomber Command stated the purpose of the raid was to “cause confusion in the evacuation from the East” and “hamper the movement of troops from the West”. To be clear, the “evacuation” to which the order referred was the thousands of German civilians fleeing from the Russian advance, not retreating German troops. The point was that the bombing would undoubtedly create a panic among the refugees. The sheer mass of people fleeing Dresden would clog the roads to the point where German troops in the West would be unable to move forward to reinforce those fighting in the East. And it was for that exact reason that the British classified these non-combatant refugees as “legitimate military targets” and launched the attack on Dresden.

Based on those quotes I think there is very little to support the idea of Dresden and the bombings in general as anything more than a concerted effort to terrorize the civilians of Germany, which was the intent and directive of bomber command virtually from the beginning. In sections of the post unquoted, it took until 1944 for the Americans to convince the British to change strategy and specifically target industries, but by 1945 they were starting to run out of targets and went back to their old practice.

As for who started the "terror bombings" that answer would be the British. Hitler had issued Directive 17 at the beginning of the Battle of Britain that was extremely explicit about NOT engagin in attacks on civilian targets, but Hitler reserved the right to give such an order as a reprisal, in particular London was not to be touched.

The war against England is to be restricted to destructive attacks against industry and air force targets which have weak defensive forces. The most thorough study of the target concerned, that is vital points of the target, is a pre-requisite for success. It is also stressed that every effort should be made to avoid unnecessary loss of life amongst the civilian population

On August 15th a German bomber group mistakenly bombed the wrong airfield and the target they attacked was very close to London. Additionally the Germans were actively bombing British ports and there were civilian casualties during these raids, but the intent was NOT to bomb civilian targets.

In response to these raids, the British launched an attack on August 24th against industrial targets within the city of Berlin. Do to heavy cloud cover the bombs were dropped indescriminately across the city. The British continued these attacks daily and civilian casualties mounted in the city as the bombing was still indesciminate. In response Hitler rescinded Directive 17 on Septmeber 3rd and planning began for raids that began on September 7th that directly targeted British cities in direct response to British targeting of German cities.

So, if we go back and unravel the series of events that gave rise to "terror bombing" it was the British who began it and the British who instilled as the primary directive of bomber command for most of the war.

This Day in WWII History: Feb 4, 1945: The Yalta Conference commences

Yalta Conference in February 1945 with (from left to right) Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Joseph Stalin.
Also present are USSR Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov (far left) Field Marshal Alan Brooke, Admiral of the Fleet Sir Andrew Cunningham, RN, Marshal of the RAF Sir Charles Portal, RAF, (standing behind Churchill) George Marshall, Army Chief of Staff
and Fleet Admiral William D. Leahy, USN, (standing behind Roosevelt).

On this day, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and Premier Joseph Stalin meet 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.

The military situation at the end of the conference.

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.

Watch the video: When the Allies settled in Berlin 1945 (February 2023).

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