In 1945, the “Big Three” of World War II—Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston S. Churchill, and Joseph Stalin—had not met since December 1943. Because of Allied landings in France and the Soviet thrust across Poland and into Germany, by the summer of 1944 a second meeting of the three men was deemed necessary. But arguments over the time and place of their meeting delayed the conference until 4–11 February 1945, when they met at Yalta in the Crimea because Stalin refused to leave the Soviet Union.
Facts About The Yalta Conference For Kids
The Yalta Conference was the second wartime summit meeting between U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and Soviet Premier Josef Stalin. It met from February 4 through February 11, 1945, in the Crimean city of Yalta. A mood of optimism prevailed at the conference because German armies were in retreat throughout Europe and victory was assured. The principal agenda item was Germany. Although there were sharp policy differences between the three parties, the Yalta Conference reached agreement on most issues, and the Big Three came away convinced that allied unity had been preserved.
Germany, it was agreed, would be divided into three zones of occupation (a fourth zone was carved out of the British and American zones for France). Occupation policy would be made by a Four Power Allied Control Commission to be located in Berlin. Reparations were to be extracted from Germany, with the details to be determined by an Allied Reparations Commission in Moscow. Nazism and German militarism were to be extinguished, and war criminals were to be justly and swiftly punished.
Poland proved to be an intractable problem. Churchill and Roosevelt sought unsuccessfully to persuade Stalin to recognize the London-based government in exile, but he continued to support the government installed by the Soviet Union in Lublin. At most, the Western leaders secured from Stalin a commitment to free and unfettered elections as soon as possible. No decisions were reached regarding
Poland’s postwar boundaries, although it was understood that the eastern boundary would be the Curzon line. As to the liberated countries in Eastern Europe, the conferees pledged in a Declaration on Liberated Europe to respect “the right of all peoples to choose the form of government under which they will live.”
A secret protocol stipulated that the Soviet Union would enter the war against Japan within three months after Germany’s surrender. As compensation, Russia‘s losses to Japan resulting from the Russo-Japanese War in 1904 and 1905 would be restored. These included southern Sakhalin, adjacent islands, and the Kuril Islands. The Soviet Union also received the lease of Port Arthur, internationalization of the port of Dairen, and partial control over the Chinese Eastern and South Manchurian railroads as concessions.
Regarding the United Nations, it was agreed that a United Nations conference would be held in the United States on April 25, 1945. The United States and Britain agreed to accept Ukraine and Belorussia as original members, thus giving the Soviet Union three votes in the General Assembly. Also, important provisions related to the voting rules of the Security Council were formulated, including a provision for the veto power of the five permanent members.
Because Stalin ultimately succeeded in imposing communist regimes on the peoples of Eastern Europe, some critics have accused Roosevelt of “selling out” Eastern Europe. However, the consensus of scholarly opinion is that the superior military position of the Red Army at the end of the war virtually guaranteed Soviet predominance, regardless of the decisions made at Yalta.