The Yalta Conference
The Yalta Conference was one of the most important events in history, let alone, this century. It took place from February 4 to February 11, 1945, at Yalta, Crimea, a port/resort. The three main individuals at this meeting were Churchill of Great Britain, Roosevelt of the United States and Stalin of the
U.S.S.R, known back then, and now known as Russia.
Roosevelt had two primary goals at Yalta, and he secured them both, during the negotiations. One these key objectives was to involve Stalin in the war against Japan. The Americans had lost too many people since the battles fought with Australia against Japan were bloody ones. And, since it was not clear how to defeat the Japanese since they were so devoted to their country (recall the Kamakasi), Roosevelt wanted Russian involvement in the war.
His other major objective at the Crimea conference was to ensure the creation of the UN along the lines proposed by the Americans. �FDR believed that the UN was the only device that could keep the United States from slipping back into isolationism after WWII�(1). After detailed explanations of the UN proposal, by Secretary of State, Edward R. Stettinius, Stalin and Churchill agreed to the guidelines proposed. Because Churchill strongly wanted to have certain countries in the British commonwealth accepted into the UN, Roosevelt was unable to deny Stalin the admission of Soviet Ukrainian and Belorussian republics in the UN. Another very important matter on the table of discussions at Yalta was Poland. Since Poland was a very large country and situated between Germany and Russia. It was also a very will strategically placed country. So, at the Yalta conference it was discussed whether Poland would be allowed to have free elections. Stalin was greatly opposed to having supervised (by the Americans, British and Soviets) election in Poland and so.
Another matter of great importance and Crimea was the reparations to be received from Germany. The Russians wanted a set amount of $$50 million. They also wanted 50% of this money. However, a historian close to Roosevelt, advised him that this would be a bad idea. He believe that �it would open the door to all sorts of deliberations in the future�.
One last matter was the issue of an occupation zone for France and the related matter of a seat for France on the Allied Control Commission, to be established in Berlin as soon as they surrendered. Churchill took the initiative on this issue, arguing with great energy that France be given both and occupation zone and a seat of the ACC. The British prime minister was understandable anxious to engage France in the task of occupying and controlling Germany in the general to rebuild French power with a view to help offset the Soviet military presence in Central Europe. After much behind the scenes talks and debates, FDR was finally convinced to give France a seat in the ACC. Stalin agreed, but it in no way affected the size of the Soviet occupation, so it was of no real interest to him. It had always been understood that any zone for France would be formed out of part of the British and American zones, already made out.
Churchill�s concern about particular issues reflected in his apprehension that the United States would not maintain an armed presence in Europe. Stalin had noted that a prolonged presence of American military forces would be necessary in Europe. In reply to Stalin�s comment, he said that American forces should not stay very long. This opinion was underlined by FDR when in a telegram to Churchill he stated that �You know, of course that after Germany�s collapse I must bring American troops home as rapidly as transportation problems will permit�(2). So, it came as no surprise to Churchill, when at Yalta, FDR stated that American troops will not remain in Germany for more than two years after the war. He later explained in more detail why he made such a decision, and he stated that the American public will be more involved in �world activity� since they now were in a international organization created by them and their troops were back in the country.
Finally, Stalin accepted a declaration of a Liberated Europe (after a few modifications made), on based on an American Draft. While little more than a statement of an intent to consult about he achievement of a democratic government in �liberated� Europe, is at least kept the door open for discussions to this end.
Before ending with my conclusion, I would like to discuss what has become the issue of many debates. Roosevelt�s health during these discussions.
It is believed that during the discussions, FDR was not feeling very well, and it is a factor, which many historians believed had affected his performance at the meetings. �Witnesses disagree on FDR�s physical condition at Yalta, although the long tip and the demands of the negotiating schedule must have been taxing on a man in increasingly declining health�(3). Perhaps a man by the name of Anthony Eden has provided the best answer we are likely to receive to this question �that the President�s declining health altered his judgment, though his handling of the Conference was less sure than it might have been�.
Another issue that has made the debate tables throughout the world is the division of Germany. The Teheran suggestion was the Germany be divided into five parts. So, the division of Germany itself was postponed until later, when prime ministers met in London, but it was denied again by Stalin.
Roosevelt died two months later, after the Yalta conference in Warm Springs, Georgia. It was declared that his death was due to a �brain hemorrhage�. Many rumors were circling about, but the most important and the most believed was the Roosevelt had committed suicide, realizing what a grave mistake he had made. The long suffering of the people of Europe, to get away from Hitler was replaced by more than 45 years of slavery from the communists.
It is not clear why Roosevelt declared that he had made a very good deal at Yalta, because in the agreement, he gave Stalin all of Eastern Europe and some Japanese islands. In return, Stalin did nothing. The agreement called for Stalin to join the war against Japan, however, the Soviet Union did not declare war on Japan until several days after the atomic bombs crippled Japan for the past 4 decades and a half. Thus, Stalin got all that territory for free.
As a conclusion, I would like to discuss the influence that this pact had on the world where I came from. I was raised in a communist country (due to this pact) and I can tell the people a few things about how life was like. My dad, having lived through a lot of these changes going on after the war, (communists taking over) has told me many stories about the oppression the communists brought to Romania after the war. In fact, the Stalin promised at Yalta that Romania would have free elections, but only 16 days after the conference, the Russians destroyed the democratic government instituted in the country and established communism.
The Russians caused much pain to this small country, Romania, killing many people and making them pay for being allied to Germany for a small part of the war. The fact that Germany took over Romania did not matter to the Russians who made Romania give all of its agricultural products to Russia for more than 10 years along with many other taxations and pay-backs. One of the biggest way the Russians influenced the Romanian people, was by killing all of it�s highest intellect. Any person with higher education (than high school) that did not �seem� to agree with the concepts of communism (let alone talk or write against the government) was immediately put to death.
Freedom is took for granted and the pain that a small country like that
had to go through will not be forgiven in the years to come. Certainly, my generation will not forget it, and I will pass on to my children the many stories of great oppression that Romania had to go through after the war. And I hope that this painful memory will never be forgotten.
I will criticize FDR for doing this to Eastern Europe, because it ruined one of the most beautiful, and educated places in the world. Eastern Europe has proved that it can take the pain and oppression of its captors and it will live through the economic crisis that has affected it because of the fall of this communist empire.