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Yalta Conference

The Yalta Conference, sometimes called the Crimea 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 Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. The delegations were headed by Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and Joseph Stalin respectively.

Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Joseph Stalin at Yalta
Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Joseph Stalin at Yalta

It was a continuation of the series of meetings begun at the Casablanca Conference (January 14 to 24, 1943) and was followed by Potsdam Conference. The meeting took place in the former Imperial palace at Yalta in the Crimea on the north side of the Black Sea.

The agreements of the Yalta conference were in dispute even before the final meeting at Potsdam. Following the death of Roosevelt he was publicly accused of signing central and eastern Europe into Communist control, as both Churchill and Roosevelt did not accept the pleas for international control over countries liberated by the Soviets. Moreover, no other governments were appointed nor notified of the decisions made at the meeting.

The official agreements reached at the meeting included:

  • The declaration of liberated Europe, allowing for democratic elections in all the liberated territories.
  • A conference in April in San Francisco on the proposed world organization, the United Nations (UN). The structure of the UN was also considered and the Security Council idea was agreed upon. The US and UK also agreed to support the Ukrainian and Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republics having separate UN seats.
  • The dismemberment, disarmament and demilitarization of Germany, which the three powers saw as "requisite for future peace and security". The country was to be divided into zones amongst the Allies. The French were also granted a zone of occupation and membership of the Allied Control Council for Germany .
  • Reparations from Germany for "losses caused by her to the Allied nations in the course of the war". Reparations were allowed in the form of the removal of national wealth (machine tools, ships, shares in German enterprises, etc.), the annual delivery of goods for a period to be fixed, or the use of German labour. The Americans and Russians agreed on the figure of $22 billion in reparations, while the British delegation did not believe a final figure could yet be arrived at.
  • The question of war crimes was postponed.
  • Poland was to have a "broad democratic provisional government" leading up to "free and unfettered elections as soon as possible on the basis of universal suffrage and secret ballot"
  • In Yugoslavia the Tito-Šubašić Agreement would be put into effect, merging the Royal and Communist governments.
  • The Soviets agreed to intervene in the war with Japan within three months of the German surrender. In return they would be given the Sakhalin and Kurile Islands and pre-eminent interests over Port Arthur and Darien (Dalian) and its rail connections.
  • Concerns over the Italo-Yugoslav and Italo-Austrian frontiers were postponed as were decisions over Yugoslav-Bulgarian relations, Romania, Iran, and the Montreux Convention.
  • All captured Soviet nationals be repatriated whether they were willing or not.

With regards to the future of Germany, the Yalta conference was extremely ambigious. The Allies were committed only to 'the complete disarmament, demilitarization and the dismemberment of Germany as they deem requisite for future peace and security.'. This formulation permitted scope for future modifications and moreover essentially gave each a free hand to impose and practice its own interpretation of decision.

The Yalta Conference is often cited as the beginning of the Cold War.

Last updated: 10-24-2004 05:10:45