For what reasons, and with what results, were there disagreements between participants at the conferences of Yalta and Potsdam in 1945?

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For what reasons, and with what results, were there disagreements between participants at the conferences of Yalta and Potsdam in 1945?



From May 2009 Paper 2 examination 



From the markscheme:

Candidates should be able to explain why there were disagreements or grounds for possible antagonism between Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin at the conference of Yalta, and Attlee, Truman and Stalin at Potsdam, which took place in order to plan for the situation at the end of the Second World War. The meeting at Yalta in the Crimea took place between 4–11th February 1945. Among matters agreed were the disarmament and partition of Germany, the establishment of the United Nations, and the declaration by USSR of war on Japan after Germany was defeated. The Potsdam Conference lasted from 17th July to 2nd August, 1945. It was confirmed that Germany should be temporarily divided into four occupation zones, but political differences began to emerge. Reasons for disagreements could be: clash of personalities; different ideologies; past actions, before and during the war; mutual suspicion and fear; illness; change of participants at Potsdam.
Policies which caused disagreement included: post-war settlement of Europe; treatment of Germany; reparations; Poland.
Results could include: break up of war time alliance; increase of mutual fear and suspicion; onset of the Cold War; division of Germany; establishment of Soviet satellite states.
N.B. if only one conference is mentioned mark out of [12 marks].
[0 to 7 marks] for vague general sweeping assertions.
[8 to 10 marks] for narrative accounts of the conferences, with implicit disagreements. 
[11 to 13 marks] for focus on reasons and result with explicit attention to disagreements. 
[14 to 16 marks] for structured analysis of reasons, results and differences.
[17 + marks] for perceptive analysis and perhaps different interpretations.

EXAMPLE 1:

The norm in History has been, over the past decades, to blame certain events on certain parties. This can be particularly seen in the historical study of the cold war, where orthodox historians such as the notoriously biased George Kennan seek to blame the radicalism of the Soviet Union, while revisionists such as William Williams seek to point the finger at American foreign policy. While both sides agree that the Yalta and Potsdam conferences of 1945 played a crucial role in the breakdown in relations between the former World War II allies, the partitioning of blame, which makes up the focus of most historical essays on this subject, remains divided. This essay shall attempt to avoid this blame game, instead focusing it’s analysis of the disintegration of these relationships at Yalta and Potsdam on the thesis put forward by the post-revisionist Ernest May: That the antagonism following the conclusion of the First World War was, for a number of reasons including differing ideologies, opposing attitudes regarding the treatment of Germany and the conflicting visions of the political restructuring of Eastern Europe, inevitable.



The Yalta and Potsdam conferences both dealt in part with how the (former) allies would handle a defeated Germany. At this stage (1945), Germany’s various sieges of Russian cities, such as Stalingrad and Leningrad had broken. Demoralised, the German troops were on the retreat. On the Western front, D-Day had proven successful, pushing German troops fairly rapidly out of France. Although Germany had yet to formally lose the war at Yalta, Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill were already aware at this stage that the German defeat was only a matter of time. Thus, answering the “German question” once again was an issue: how to prevent a resurgence of Nazism? How to treat the defeated German people? How to replace the now destroyed political institutions? On some points the allied leaders, especially at Yalta, appeared to agree. Decisions regarding a guarantee for an at least partially co-ordinated assault and eventual defeat of Germany, and the decision to split Germany into four occupied zones following this defeat appeared to have been made quickly. Initially this indicates a united front of world leaders, who, through their rapid decision making processes, appear to be acting together and in agreement. As Laurence Rees points out, however, many of these points had been discussed extensively amongst the allied leaders during November 1943 Tehran conference. Therefore, following Rees’ argument, Yalta presented us with little more than the image of these world leaders formally signing and announcing these agreements, while the actual negotiations of these agreements had occurred away from the public scrutiny in the 15 months prior to the Yalta conference. The implication of this is that any major disagreements present within Yalta between the allied leaders would’ve been hidden from view, as they would only have been visible in effect prior to the conference during these negotiations at Tehran and beyond. Indeed, at the Potsdam conference, where the now slightly altered personages present (Truman replacing the now deceased Roosevelt and Atlee replacing Churchill midway through the conference) did not have an extended period of negotiation prior to the conversation and, under this more pressured, less pre-formulated and extremely volatile conditions, divides in the relationships of the formerly allied leaders immediately began to appear, with the now far more pressing question (as Germany had at this point formally surrendered), of how, exactly, the allied powers were going to treat Germany and punish its sins being a central cause for contention between the negotiators. Naturally, on some points the negotiators agreed, not least on the manner in which the victors would split up Berlin. On many other issues, even extremely foundational issues such as reparations, there were very broad differences. This was particularly well elaborated upon in Ian Bickerton’s recent “The Illusion of Victory”, where he clearly shows how the Western allies, most notably Churchill, Truman and later Atlee, asserted that, due to the memories of the “failure” of the Treaty of Versailles, the west would attempt to rebuild Germany economically, if not militarily. This was initially and in no uncertain terms asserted at Potsdam, however it was very rapidly made clear that Stalin had no intentions of complying with this mentality, instead seeking to destroy Germany still further by demanding reparations, distinctly harkening back to article 232 of the Treaty of Versailles. It is very telling, that even on an issue as central and important, as how to deal with Germany, there was such an obvious political divide between Stalin and the West. This political fissure resulted, eventually, into the division of Germany, as failures to agree on political policies irreparably divided the Soviet occupied zone from the other three ones. This tension and fissure in political strategy, even on a socio-economic scale, in Germany would over the next 45 years come to be one of the enduring images of the cold war in Western perception, an image that was initiated by the disagreements at Potsdam. These disagreements do, however, beg a few key questions. Surely, in a conference following a war to defeat Germany, the question of how to resolve political strife within Germany would be considered important above all else. It seems incredible, then, that disagreements of such a magnitude could occur on a such debated and central issue such as the German question, especially considering the speed that relatively cordial agreements had been made at Yalta a few months prior. It seems near impossible to believe that such great fissures had developed so quickly. Instead, these occurrences point towards the idea that, within the closed circles of these political negotiations, their had never been an agreement of how to resolve the German question, despite the illusion provided by Yalta. It seems obvious that neither party had ever intended to agree on how to treat Germany, but had merely put off dealing with these circumstances until later. Thus, it was near inevitable that, following the defeat of Germany, these unaddressed fissures in understanding between these key players would cause overt political tension, as would eventually prove to be the case at Potsdam. Although the failure of the German question did seem inevitable, and would cause much of the political tension that would come to be known as the cold war, when we ask why these issues had been unable to be resolved anyways, we come to see that although this issue was contentious and had serious implications on global international relations, it was more a symptom of deeper rooted issues, than itself a root cause of the cold war. In our search for these root causes of the disagreements at Yalta and Potsdam, and the consequent cold war, we need to look elsewhere.



Another hugely contentious issue, especially at Potsdam, that occupied the “Allied” leaders both prior to and after the conclusion of the Second World War, was the question of how to deal with the liberties and territories of the now Soviet occupied Eastern European states. At Yalta, agreements had been reached regarding the treatment of the various states in Eastern Europe. Therefore, on the surface it would appear that all that was required at Potsdam was a few finalising touches on these plans that, apparently, had already been agreed upon. This would not prove to be the case. At Yalta a central topic of debate was the fate of Poland and the Eastern bloc. Churchill remarked then, despite his oft open hostility towards Stalin, that "Poor Neville Chamberlain believed he could trust Hitler. He was wrong. But I don't think I'm wrong about Stalin." This is rather incredible to hear from a man who saw political events of the 1930s somewhat more lucidly than the majority and who undoubtedly knew that Stalin had, along with Germany, invaded Poland in 1939. This came from a man who had been confronted by Stalin as early as 1943, with Stalin seeking firm assurances that the Soviet Union would get Russia. In retrospect, it seems obvious that Stalin’s more imperialistic view of the Eastern bloc clashes absolutely with Churchill and the Americans’ expectations of a Wilsonian process of democratic self-determination. Nevertheless, despite this apparently clear disagreement of ideals concerning the Eastern Bloc, a number of initial agreements appeared to have been reached. Stalin was given some of the eastern portion of Poland, in what was known as Churchill’s great betrayal of the Polish people, who had sacrificed their lives fighting key battles for the British, only for Churchill to arbitrarily give their own land away to Poland’s worst enemy, Stalin, as part of some political agreement in which the Poles had no choice. Similarly, although the other states of the Eastern bloc were “guaranteed” their independence (although the nature of this supposed independence remained unclear, at least in written terms), Stalin was allowed a “Soviet Sphere of Influence” encompassing these “nations”, of whose nature was left ambiguous. Here we see some ideological disagreements, if not personal ones. Despite the apparent Wilsonian ideals embodied by the West, to paraphrase Christopher Catherwood, in his recent biography of Winston Churchill, the betrayal of the West and the handing of the Eastern bloc into the willing hands of the dictatorial Stalin hearkened back to the betrayal at Munich of Czechoslovakia in 1938. This seemed a betrayal of these Wilsonian ideals, instead appeasing the demanding Stalin, albeit in a slightly different (post-war) context. Perhaps, upon the analysis of this issue at Potsdam and the far more explicit disagreements there, the nature of this ostensible betrayal shall become clearer. At Potsdam, it seems that Truman does a bit of a U-turn from Roosevelt’s ideas. Whereas Roosevelt seemed willing to allow Stalin a fair amount of flexibility in his dealings with the Eastern bloc, Truman remained steadfast in his pro-democratic ideals, harshly criticizing Stalin’s policies in the Eastern bloc, which seemed to be pointing towards more than just guaranteeing the “liberties” of these states. Indeed, Stalin, through both his covert operations within these nations and his overt support for the communist parties in these states that seemed to be pointing towards an attempt from Stalin’s end to establish a series of autonomous regions and thus expand his communist Soviet empire into the east of Europe. Truman’s passionate, if somewhat diplomatically inadvisable criticism of Stalin’s policy only resulted in the highlighting of the extent of the disagreements between east and west on these matters, further widening the fissures in their relationship. This fissure would lead Churchill to define, in 1946, the Iron Curtain that politically and socially would split East and West Europe for 44 years and come to define the very nature of the cold war within Europe. But what was the nature of this disagreement at Potsdam? Had not the agreements already been made at Yalta? Here, as has been discussed by many modern historians, notably Eduard Mark, was the key disagreement at Yalta at work. This disagreement was a difference of interpretations of the “agreements” laid out at Yalta. As has already been remarked upon, these agreements were, by nature, rather vague. Mark argues that there were two distinct interpretations of these agreements, as demonstrated in the example of the “Soviet Sphere of Influence.” Stalin believed that this Sphere of Influence allowed him to become politically involved in the actions of these relevant nations. Conversely, the American view was that this Sphere of Influence remained a mere protection guarantee, where Soviet influence would remain severely limited. These differences in interpretations were not resolved prior to them being put into practice. The consequences of this were then seen with the disagreements at Potsdam. Here we again perceive a fundamental flaw between Stalin and his “allies”. Even on matters, which had been agreed upon, these leaders failed to agree due to their failure to unify their interpretations of these agreements. This points towards a central difference in attitudes that implies a near impossibility of agreement on key matters such as the Treatment of the Eastern bloc. These differences would, inevitably, lead to conflict, political or otherwise, again implying that the breakdown in relations between the “former” allies was, in many cases, destined to be. Similar to the disagreement over Germany, however, this fails to explain the very nature of this essential disagreement, instead providing simply another context in which this disagreement would bear a serious impact. Nevertheless, the disagreements over the troublesome Eastern bloc remain more of a symptom, than a cause for the deep-rooted distrust and source of divergence that would escalate into the cold war.



Perhaps the most popular source of disagreement at both Yalta and Potsdam, and one heavily popularized by the popular media of all parties, was the differences in political ideologies. When put under consideration, America, Great Britain and the Soviet Union made for rather unlikely allies. The United States considered itself to be a capitalist democracy, set against all forms of Imperialism, with an economic system that set it’s foundations on the principles of Thomas Malthus’ Free Market. The United Kingdom was a monarchy and although it’s values were more libertarian than what is generally associated with the classical model of a monarchy, with power more concentrated in the parliament than in the ruling class itself, the United Kingdom remained the largest colonialist Empire of the time. The Soviet Union was based on Leninism, a more violent interpretation of the traditional Marxist socialism. At this time, however, the Soviet Union was absolutely ruled by Stalin under his slogan “socialism in one country”. Despite this slogan, Stalin demonstrated, following internal consolidation, imperialist tendencies that in part influenced his agreement to the Nazi-Soviet Pact of 1939, which allowed him to seize parts of Poland. Stalin also was a totalitarian dictator, who ruled based on fear and the strength of his army and secret police. The economy was entirely nationalized, while traditional civilian liberties such as the freedom of the press and the right to gather was totally denied. Thus we can see three divergent political ideologies that defined both the nations that represented them, the people who represented these nations and the manner in which these people and these nations approached the negotiations at Potsdam and Yalta. To take the previously described example of the discussions regarding the treatment of the Eastern bloc, we see that Stalin’s imperialist and communist motivated attitudes push him to seek the global revolution that Lenin had glorified in 1917. Thus, to him, due to his political beliefs, and as argued by his biographer Robert Service, he believed it to be his duty to seek a communistical control over the politics of the neighbouring Eastern bloc nations.  Admittedly, contextual concerns such as the damage suffered by Russia from the war and his interest in establishing a buffer to the west that he himself controlled hugely influenced his policies, but on a deeper level, as Service points out, it is his ideological beliefs that inform his interpretations of events and his resultant reactions on these policies. It is also the manner in which he reacts based on these ideologies that so clearly sets Stalin into conflict with the Western powers, ideologically reacting so as to profess their disgust at Stalin’s policies, instead advocating democracy and self-determination, ideological themes that suit their political basis, but not Stalin’s. We see this conflict and thus these disagreements at the negotiation table repeated with the antagonism between the characters at Yalta and Potsdam. At Yalta, Churchill and Stalin and a great deal of animosity between them. Churchill, politically, had always been wary of Stalin’s Russia, while Stalin had become infuriated by Churchill’s refusal to open a second front during 1942 and 1943, fuelling Stalin’s paranoid suspicions that Churchill was abandoning Russia to be defeated by the Nazis. F. D. Roosevelt, on the other hand, was desperate to appease Stalin, whom he felt should be reasoned with, much like how Chamberlain sought to reason with Hitler. In his attempts to appease Stalin, Roosevelt went so far as to alienate Churchill. This backfired spectacularly, breeding still more suspicion in the air. Similarly at Potsdam, there was a great deal of animosity between the staunchly pro-capitalist Truman and the staunchly anti-capitalist Stalin. Truman sought a firm and unyielding approach when dealing with Stalin, something the Stalin undoubtedly failed to appreciate. Additionally, both Truman and the British Prime Minister Atlee were politically inexperienced, easy prey for Stalin were it not that Truman had a secret weapon for the negotiation table: the atom bomb. All this aided to create an atmosphere of suspicion and paranoia. Indeed, the American most able to advise regarding dealings with Russia, George Kennan, stated that Russia was paranoid and schizophrenic, unable to be trusted. This only added to the anti-Soviet American stance, which in turn only further fuelled Stalin’s resolve to turn against the West. What we see here is how both the political ideologies of the various nations, and the people influenced by these ideologies, approached the conferences at Yalta and Potsdam unable to trust any other party, to the extent where this cloud of suspicion prevented any form of compromise, due to fear of betrayal of both morality or from some other party, not to mention creating the disagreements broached above, that would lead to the splitting of Europe, the creation of a military standoff and the beginnings of the cold war. In essence, it was these disagreements in political attitudes that prevented the negotiators from finding solutions, thus creating conflicts. Due to the deep roots that these ideologies have in the culture and political system of the nations they represent, by extension we can thus state that it appears, that the inflexibility of these unlikely allies and the differences that would thus arise caused the rise of a political standoff such as the cold war to be inevitable.



In conclusion, we see that at both the Potsdam and Yalta conferences, there were disagreements between the negotiators on key issues. The disagreements, remaining largely cooperatively unresolved, escalated into the beginnings of the cold war. Analysing these disagreements in detail, we perceive a fundamental misunderstanding and inability to effectively cooperate between all of the negotiating parties. At the very core of the disagreements lies the thorny issue of political attitudes, ideologies and how these translate into real life. The inflexibility of all the parties within their own ideologies meant that conflict would be inevitable. An alliance between nations so opposed in their views could only have been forged by the extremes of the Nazi threat and, as shown, the falling out of these allies, the dissolving of the alliance and the rise of a new conflict between these former allies that would prove to be known as the cold war was never a question of if, but instead only a question of when. 

EXAMPLE 2: 


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Closing in on the end of the Second World War (WW2) tensions between the allied leaders (Stalin, Churchill and Roosevelt) were at a peak. The nations were united by their quest to defeat Hitler’s Germany and rid the world of the Nazis; as well as securing the future of Europe and the world so that a war on this scale would never break out again. The “Big Three” met in February 1945 in Yalta, Crimea, and again in July at Potsdam, Germany. However at Potsdam Churchill had lost the election and been replaced by Atlee and Roosevelt had died and had been replaced by his Vice President Harry Truman. While both conferences were supposed to smooth the transition into the post war phase the two the two conferences differed greatly from one another although they were intended to accomplish the same things. The main differences between Yalta and Potsdam was the fact that Churchill and Roosevelt (FDR) were no longer there but instead Atlee and Truman, two people who had been kept in the dark not only about Yalta but also about what had been agreed upon in Teheran. The only constant figure at Yalta and at Potsdam was Stalin the leader of the most controversial nations in the “Big Three”. The results of the disagreements were that what was agreed upon at Yalta had to be discussed again at Potsdam, Trumann was an anti communist and therefore had problems with Stalin and his ideas about what should be done.





Although Germany was on the verge of surrendering when the “Big Three” met at Yalta tensions were high. With Churchill making statements behind the scenes such as “ The Soviet Union has become a danger to the free world”. He argued this before the most devastating enemy the world has ever faced had been defeated. Churchill believed that Stalin and the Soviet Union were such a threat that even before Yalta in 1944 he had British paratroopers drop behind enemy lines at Arnhem to try to get to Berlin first, however the paratroopers were cut off and completely whipped out. However there were also important agreements made at Yalta that would then be followed up at Potsdam. There would be a United Nations and the Soviet Union would join but other nations had not been decided upon. The fact that the Soviet Union were going to join the United Nations (UN) meant that one of the most powerful nations in the world was going have a say in international matter but on the other had it also meant that Communist ideologies and Stalinist rule would have a major say in international decisions; meaning that if the USSR didn’t want something to happen then they would fight it (something that western nations such as Britain and America did not want). They agreed to divide Germany into occupational ‘zones’. However the division of Germany was one of the main disagreements at Yalta and Potsdam; because the big three could not agree upon who would get what parts of Germany. A prime example of this is the fact that France got Ruhr the most industrialised part of Germany, this infuriated Stalin as the USSR had defeated Germany and faced far more casualties than the French and still they had not surrendered like the French who did in 6 weeks. They also agreed that they would bring Nazi war criminals tor trial, then they faced the dilemma of they were going to do this; if they would make it a show trial like the Soviets did in the 1930’s or if it would be closed off for the public. Stalin also agreed to join the war against Japan within 2 or 3 months of the defeat of Germany, and that the USSR were to regain all territory lost to Japan in the 1905 Russo Japanese war, however by the time Germany had been defeated and the time had come for Stalin to help in the Japanese theatre they Americans no longer needed or wanted them there as they had fought hard and faced catastrophic losses for islands such as Iwogima and they had developed the Atomic Bomb a weapon that would forever shape the future of human warfare.





At Potsdam Germany had been defeated and now it was time for the Big three to decide what would become of Hitler’s failed Germany. However at Potsdam Churchill had been replaced by Atlee as he had lost the election and Roosevelt had died and had been replaced by Trumann. Both Trumann and Atlee had been kept in the dark about what had been agreed upon at Teheran and at Yalta. this lead to many additional disagreements that altered what had previously been agreed upon. The disagreements about how Germany was to be divided continued as Stalin still disagreed that he would be getting the worst part of Germany and the French who surrendered in 6 weeks were getting the most industrious part of the nation. Russia was allowed to take the reparations from the Soviet Zone in Eastern Europe. However it was still not clear how much Germany was to pay in reparations in total. This would later become an especial problem because of the very poor state of the German economy and Britain and the Americans did not want a repeat of hyperinflation after Versailles. The involvement of the Russians in the Japanese theatre was no longer necessary as the Americans dropped the first Atomic Bomb at Hiroshima showing their complete dominance technologically over Russia. This greatly increased tensions between Trumann and Stalin, as he had not told his Russian counterpart that they had developed such a powerful weapon. It also showed the deep distrust between America and the Soviet Union after Germany had been defeated.



In conclusion the agreements at Yalta and Potsdam also faced resistance as the Big Three could not agree on many of the terms because each of them wanted something else to happen in Europe.


EXAMPLE 3

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Leading up to the end of the Second World War, the future of the world rested in the hands of Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin. Even though the actual winner of the war was still uncertain at this point, the Big Three decided upon having a conference at Yalta to decide what would occur in the event that Germany was defeated. After the victorious end of the war, the three allies were faced with the anticipated post-war issues that required the realisation of the solutions discussed at the Yalta Conference. When the Second World War officially ended on 14 August 1945, the leaders of Russia, Britain and America came together again to finalise the actions decided in the Yalta Conference of 4 February 1945, but instead in the 17 July 1945 Potsdam Conference. As each country had different political purposes and there was a leader replacement with Britain and America, coming to a final conclusion at the conferences meant a lot of “hard bargaining”.





With the end of the war nigh, the three unlikely allies met on the 4 February 1945 to attend a conference that would last eight days at Yalta. The main aim of the conference was to discuss how to recover from the Second World War. Unlike events that occurred with the Treaty of Versailles in 1919, Britain and America adamant not to treat Germany in the same manner that helped cause the Second World War. Churchill distrusted Stalin, however they had a mutual respect for one another. Roosevelt was, on the other hand, driven to finding a conclusion for the end of the war, and despised arguing about events post-war. To prevent this, the Big Three met up at the Yalta Conference, where they reached some agreements. The first was in the form of dividing Germany. Germany was able to create a lot of damage in the Second World War, and the Big Three resolved that the only way to prevent this from happening again would be to divide it and split it among the allies. The next agreement was of creating a United Nations, an organisation very similar to the League of Nations; however, it would include both the Soviet Union and America. Another agreement was where, due to the inconceivable acts performed by many during the war, the Nazi war criminals would be punished as a consequence. Introducing free elections in Eastern Europe, named as the “Declaration of Liberated Europe”. In order to promote their newfound alliance, the Soviet Union conceded to aiding America’s war against Japan, in return for some of their conquered Japanese land. The final point that caused the most disagreement however, was the aim to set up a Polish Provisional Government of National Unity. This point caused a lot of debate between the countries’ leaders, as Stalin had already set up a communist government in Lublin when there was a Polish government in exile in London, waiting for its return. Stalin would not remove the government he set up in Lublin, however, to appease Britain and America, he did promise to allow a select number of members to join the communist government. The disagreement was laid to rest as the Big Three continued to work on finding a solution to win the war.





Upon 14 August 1945, the Big Three won the war and were faced with the reality of having to actually deal with the post-war issues they had discussed about in Yalta. At the Potsdam Conference, which lasted from 17 July to 2 August 1945, situations changed drastically. Each country, having eradicated the problem with Germany, now had no real common aim. Russia, Britain and America all had different intentions, which led to many disagreements when it came to the Potsdam Conference. To worsen the situation even further, Churchill and Roosevelt were no longer in power. Churchill lost the election and was replaced by Clement Attlee, who also distrusted Stalin. The other great power that was replaced was Roosevelt. On 12 April 1945, Roosevelt died and Churchill said he felt as if he had been “struck a physical blow”. Truman replaced Roosevelt as President. President Truman was known for his anti-Communism nature, and despised working so closely with the Soviet Union. Unfortunately, as Truman hadn’t been included in the Yalta Conference, he had very little idea of the goings about. Stalin knew that he could take advantage of this new change of leaders and so he did. Poland became victim to Stalin’s intentions and so did the rest of Eastern Europe. Truman felt particularly threatened by Stalin’s actions and so, upon finding out of the first successful atomic bomb launch in Hiroshima, Truman decided to use it to his advantage. After finding out about the atomic bomb, Truman arrived to Potsdam the day after, as Churchill described it, “a changed man”.





The agreements at Potsdam were very similar to the ones set up in Yalta. Germany was to be divided into four “zones of occupation”, which would be separated between Britain, USSR, America and France. Nazi war criminals were brought to trial through the Nuremberg Trials. The Polish Provisional Government of National Unity would be set up and would be ruling. Also, much to the benefit of the Soviet Union, they were allowed to take reparations from their zone in East Germany and 10% of West Germany’s industrial equipment. Although most of the same agreements as Yalta were agreed upon, due to the recent change in participants, many disagreements came forth as well. Upon the subject of dividing Germany, they came across a disagreement of how to do so. This was resolved however so that, although the Soviet Union would have the zone with Berlin, Berlin would also be subject to zones for each of the allies. Another point of contention was the debate of the size of reparations Germany would have to pay. Britain and America, as a consequence of the Treaty of Versailles and due to the state the German economy was in, were reluctant to demand too high of an amount. Therefore the allies agreed upon a system of trading their products, which later became a large issue. The source of much of Truman’s anger was as a consequence of the Soviet policy occurring within Eastern Europe.





The disagreements at Potsdam were amplified mainly due to the fact that there was a change in leadership with America and Britain, and because, as a result of the defeat of Germany, the Big Three no longer had a common purpose. At Yalta, although they all had a common purpose, they still were subject to the fact that each had different intentions, and these would be influential in the decision-making after the end of the Second World War. Truman’s threat of the atomic bomb also strained the relations with Stalin and was a crucial factor in causing some of the disagreements during the conferences as well.  





Works Cited:


Miscamble, Wilson D. From Roosevelt to Truman: Potsdam, Hiroshima, and the Cold War. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2007. Print.


Plokhy, Serhii. Yalta: The Price of Peace. New York: Viking, 2010. Print.


Whitcomb, Roger S. The Cold War in Retrospect: The Formative Years. Westport, CT: Praeger, 1998. Print.


Woodward, E. L. British Foreign Policy in the Second World War. London: H.M.S.O., 1970. Print.


EXAMPLE 4

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The 8th of May sounded the end of World War 2, for only two of the major powers as Stalin only signed the ending of war on the 9th of May. This is the first example of cracks beginning to show in the relationship between the three major powers. There were many differences of opinion on how to deal with Germany, Stalin saw the conferences as a chance to display how crippled his country was after the war, therefor hopefully supporting his point that Germany should be dealt with strongly. He choose Yalta specifically because it had been ravaged during the war. This shows how geography or the economic aspect varied between the powers as Russia had been significantly more damaged than Britain or America. For example the 300,000 men that Britain lost during the war seems minuscule in comparison to the 27 million that perished for Russia. The countries were also based on very different political structures and there was always the risk that something would happen to a leader either through death or being discharged from office. The regional aspect of how Germany should be divided was another stumbling block for the allies as it was agreed that France would receive some of the best areas of Germany whilst Russia would receive poorer less resourceful areas of Germany. The obvious reason for this was the geographical locations of the areas of Germany however there a slight undertone that it was that France would be able to recover faster and be able to support nations against the communist threat.





Tensions between France Britain and Russia remained high during the war as even though they appeared to be a united front behind the scenes there was still many issues. For example after the First World War many French investors lost money in Russia leading them to put pressure on the government. As a conclusion to the civil war the Czar of Russia, Nicholas II was murdered. Nicholas was the cousin of King George meaning Britain was reluctant to communicate with Russia. This lead to “mutual mistrust and hostility”. The issues remained during the conferences, for example the mutual suspicion that surrounded the conference.  This is proven by the  powers used devious tactics such as making deals behind each others back. According to Henry Kissinger’s “Diplomacy”, he states that Stalin’s approach reflected both his communist ideology and traditional Russian foreign policy. This highlights the major differences from Churchill and Roosevelt who wanted to rebuild Europe and work together with collective security. “This meant rebuilding Great Britain, France, and even defeated Germany so that, along with the United States, these countries could counter balance the soviet colossus to the east”. These were joint aims which would eventually turn into the Marshall plan. However both sides had reservations which meant neither was fully committed. Churchill always feared that if Roosevelt left office and the Republicans took over and returned to isolationism leaving Britain stranded.  Where as Roosevelt had concerns and memories of the depression fresh in his mind and feared another Wall Street Crash. The aims of the Western Countries resulted in the Dawes Plan and Marshall aid,  the aim of these two initiatives was to halt the sphere of Russian Influence and provide countries with aid and allow them to build up and become a united strong Europe. One of the countries to benefit from this was Greece, as a Greek national I should feel gratitude towards the actions of the Western Countries at this time as without this aid Greece would be a very different nation to what it is today. There were also economic differences which played a major part in the conferences, many in the east saw capitalism as “responsible for the division of society” (Cold War Steve Phillips). They argued it was because of the rich factory owners and the divisions between them and their workers that caused some of the issues leading to the war. Communism stood for equality and they believed the best way o achieve this was by having a state owned economy meaning in principle that it would be equal. Even today we can see how major corporations are influencing the decisions of the American government and the concept of a state owned economy would bring about anarchy in an American system as it would wipe away wealth and status for many Americans.








It is argued that this is because of the political differences. The two governments stood for very different things, the “USA saw itself as the upholder of liberal democracy. Liberal democracies stood for free press, the right to vote, freedom of speech and freedom to vote. The majority of these would be taken away under a communist sate. This was bound to end to disagreements between the countries. The only major difference apart from those factors being taken away was that they hoped for a classless society thus needing no other political parties. Meaning there was potential for it to be turned into a dictatorship very quickly. The tensions leading up to the cold up can be traced back to these conferences because this was the chance to exude their nations dominance and some especially Stalin as written about in the novel “Diplomacy” display that Stalin thought these conferences where about political power rather than the future of Germany. The political systems are and were very different at the time and they had very different ideology’s and what would work best for their countries. The ideology behind Stalin was furthering on from leader Lenin and his Bolshevik revolution in 1917 based on ideas and principles of Karl Marx. These ideas and principles represented what Roosevelt and Churchill feared the most; a threat to capitalism and democracy. As written by Phillip Stevens “communism was to provide a source of fear”, this was one of the ideology’s behind the communist state because they fathomed that conflict was “inevitable” as they represented very different systems and they enjoyed very little common ground. Lenin once said “it is inconceivable that the Soviet republic should continue to exist for a long period side by side with imperialist states” This highlights how hostile the communist philosophy was towards Capitalists and these principles were still prominent in the conferences at Yalta and Potsdam. Even to some extent today leaving in Germany when travelling to Munich, one can still see the differences that 40 years of communism can bring to a land. However the conflict wasn’t purely one sided during the civil war conservative forces in Russia also known as “Whites” received support from allied governments however after the end of the first world war the support dwindled and Lenin took over and set Russia on her new course. This again highlights the political differences between the countries and that the West would even consider using military force. This was reinforced when Harry S Truman stated “if Germany is winning the war we ought to help Russia, and if Russia is winning we ought to help Germany”. His opinion was not shared with Roosevelt however I sizeable portion of the American public.








From this we can see that there were differences in every major part of the principles of each system be it capitalism or communism. Even though these issues had began with the Bolshevik revolution it is hard not to recognize these peace conferences as the seeds of the cold war. As three superpowers collided head first with neither willing to move past the differences and both simply wanting to protect their interests or expand on their already large spheres of influence. It is also argued that the final breakdown in relations was due to the attitudes and policies of the nations.  These disagreements lead to what has become known as the cold war. This was an arms race of astronomical proportion. To conclude from the opinion of Stalin it was inevitable that the powers would collide and that a power struggle would ensue. Others issues would also arise such as the Cuban Missile crisis in October 1962. Tensions would again rise and nearly result in war, all of this can be followed back to these conferences and how the ideologies economic standing and political views influenced the decisions in Yalta and Potsdam and how the influenced our world today and how they nearly ended in catastrophe.





EXAMPLE 5

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Question: For what reasons, and with what results, were there disagreements between participants at the conferences of Yalta and Potsdam in 1945?


“With the defeat of the Reich… there will remain in the world only two great powers capable of confronting each other, the United States and Soviet Russia. The laws of both geography will compel these two powers to a trial of strength, either military or in the fields of economics and ideology” stated Adolf Hitler in his testament in April 1945. In this essay I will argue that as soon as Germany had surrendered; the common enemy was no longer a binding force, the Grand Alliance starting off in Yalta Conference (4-11th of February) and then succeeding to Potsdam (17th of July till 2nd of August) fell apart. This disintegration continued from 1945 until its climax at the Berlin Blockade of 1948. Moreover, I will argue that there were disagreements between the Grand Alliance due to the military, economic and ideologist impediments.
The first genuine conference of the Grand Alliance was in Yalta on the 4th of February 1945. The Yalta Conference was the final summit held before the end of the war, and was attended by Stalin, Churchill and Roosevelt. The four main points that were discussed in this conference were quite frankly that Germany would be occupied by the allies meaning split in four, the USSR would join in the war against Japan, the Soviet-Polish border would be moved Westwards, and Stalin agreed to free elections in Poland. Yalta is a very controversial conference. Charles L. Mee states in his book “Yalta” I came to see it as a betrayal of smaller powers especially to Poland, which was essentially handed over to the USSR.” The disagreement in Yalta was therefore that Stalin did not liberate the countries in Eastern Europe, but instead occupied them with his troops, much to the pique of the Western allies. While examining Yalta one could clearly see some “Versailles” attributes and similarities. This was that due to the fact it became established Soviet policy to make them ‘voluntary’ satellite states throughout Eastern Europe, while Britain and the US called for self-determination. One could state that Stalin’s stance was much like George Clemenceau during the Versailles peace talks due to the fact that he demanded 80% reparations from Germany as well a few other demands. However, what is often ignored by this simplistic argument is that Stalin lost 25 million people, 1,700 cities were destroyed and 70% of their industry vanished all from the cause of World War 2. In addition one could not solely haul the largest army in history back to the destructed USSR. Furthermore, tensions occurred between the Grand Alliance as according to the Percentages Agreement Churchill made with Stalin in 1944, it was decided to split countries in Eastern Europe such as Bulgaria, Romania and Yugoslavia, into spheres of influence. Not only did this lead to conspiracy theories however due to the fact that Roosevelt wasn’t present which lay the cornerstone of agitation. Moreover, Britain and the US could care less whether the countries of Eastern Europe remained under Communist occupation; their interests were concentrated in Greece and Turkey. However, the factor that did motivate the Western allies to stand up to the Soviet Union was Moscow’s control of Poland. The reason for this dispute was quite clearly that Britain had gone to war and lost five hundred thousand men for Polish liberation from Nazi occupation and could not now lose it to the Soviets. This was the primary reason for British opposition to Soviet influence in Eastern Europe, particularly Poland and certainly not the ideals of self-determination. Therefore, one would agree with Charles L. Mee that after all, at Yalta, while it was declared that Poland would be “independent and democratic”, the rest of Eastern Europe was merely suggested to be “liberated from Nazi occupation”.
As Hitler had stated in his testament it the war resulted in two superpowers with totally opposing ideologies. The US had a nuclear monopoly while Russia’s aim was to liberate Eastern Europe. One can forget though that the atomic age had a profound effect on international relations.             It is an arguable statement that this resulted in the statement from Carr “From Friends to Foes” as he argues that the Cold War and especially the Atomic Bomb was an act of aggression against the Soviet Union. Carr argues that it was the United States acquirement, especially its first dentation on the 15th of July 1945, just two days before Potsdam commenced. The Atomic Bomb quite clearly showed that the results of the Yalta conference alarmed Stalin, to modernize and catch up to the West, “making good the hundred year gap in ten years”. Secondly, the fact that the Americans now had the Bomb meant that the Soviet Union did not have to join the effort against Japan, as had been determined at Yalta. As the German threat was gone that unified the allies, now the Japanese was too, rendering further partnership between the USA and USSR meaningless. Nevertheless ascribe to the USA and Britain having atomics weapons stationed in Western Europe, Stalin had to occupy more land in Eastern Europe in order to increase the distance between the weapons and Moscow. All in all, the fact that Britain and the USA worked closely together in the Manhattan Project from 1942 did not only isolate Stalin but also sett a foundation for the Arms Race.     
When the three powers met again, at Potsdam in July and August 1945, the situation was different. The war in Europe was over, Truman was now the American President, and Clement Attlee replaced Churchill during the Potsdam Conference. Truman took a much tougher line than Roosevelt, especially on Poland. The major issue at Potsdam was the question of how to handle Germany. As at Yalta, the Soviets had requested for heavy postwar reparations from Germany, half of which would go to the Soviet Union. Meanwhile, Roosevelt had died, and America had a new president, Truman, who was inclined to ‘get tough’ with the Russians. While Roosevelt had acceded to such demands, Truman and his Secretary of State, James Byrnes, were determined to diminish the treatment of Germany. The main reason why Truman and Byrnes encouraged this position was because they wanted to avoid a repetition of the situation created by the Treaty of Versailles, which had caused high reparations from Germany following World War One. Nevertheless, the main vexation was the American confidence, which the possession of the Atom Bomb now gave them. Truman stated, “The Russians only understand one language - ‘how many armies have you got?’  I’m tired of babying the Soviets” which clearly shows us that he was the one making decision and wouldn’t take order not even from the Soviet Union. Moreover, the US had experienced a wartime economic boom. The industrial output of the US grew by 90% between 1940-1944. Therefore, taking this into consideration, and the fact that the US had a nuclear monopoly; it can be argued that the Americans have never been as strong as they were just after war.
All in all, I would absolutely agree with the statement from Hitler, which he had written in his testament in April 1945. As soon as the “Reich” fell there will remain in the world only two great powers capable of confronting each other, the United States and Soviet Russia. Quite clearly if you look into the issues they faced you would clearly determine the military exhibits whit the nuclear monopoly, the economical boom and with the different ideologies of each nations both Yalta and Potsdam couldn’t not have been held without any issues. To summon both conferences and the start of the “Cold War” I would like to quote Thucydides who stated, “War broke out because of the growth and power in Athens (America) and the fear that it inspired in Sparta (Soviet Union)”.

EXAMPLE 6


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To truly understand the disagreements that arose between “The Big Three” one must understand the conflicting views and understandings of the three nations whom brought an end to the Second World War. With each side of the allied forces fearing the others intentions, appeasement and intimidation occurred from both sides of the conference room creating what would result as the distrust and disloyalty between the participants. Robert Vincent Daniels was an American historian who concentrated mainly on Soviet history and also wrote the book ‘Red October’. Daniels states that “the Yalta treaty was what changed wartime collaboration into post-war confrontation”. In Yalta decisions for post war Europe began: the division of Germany into different districts, Germany’s reparations and Stalin’s promise to join the war in the east. In this essay we will analyze the reason and results of these main decisions, and see how it would lead to further antagonism and disagreements in Potsdam.





February 4th 1945, Churchill and Roosevelt arrive at to meet Stalin at the former Tsar’s vacation retreat, Yalta. With the war close to ending, and the USSR losing around 24 million casualties, resulting in around 10% of its population, and destroying its infrastructure and industry, from the bombing of major cities like Leningrad and Stalingrad. Hunger was also rampant; Alexander Werth a correspondent for the London Sunday Times Reported: “Some people in the streets went quite insane from the hunger”.

With the situation in Russia dire, Stalin was ready to unleash his wrath on Germany with him even offering to punish and execute 100,000 German officers after the war. Churchill later strongly denounced the remark. Stalin took his chance at Yalta to make demands and to see them carried out.  “The Big Three” agreed to continue with decisions made at The Teheran Conference which was held two years prior to that. Decisions like: recognizing the communist provisional government to govern Poland, strengthening democracy in the region, adding territories from East Germany to Poland, and some from east Poland to the USSR. The trio also added the agenda of dividing Germany, reparations to be paid by Germany and adding territories to the USSR which were taken in 1939 by Hitler.  

Roosevelt, who came to the conference weakened and sick by his physical state, reflected the United Sates situation in the east. With the US, only at this stage of the war process managing to regain a foothold in the peninsula, similarly requested the assistance of a second front like Stalin did in Teheran. Stalin took advantage of this request and required that Southern Sakhalin, Kuril Islands and the former Russian Port Arthur would be under Soviet control. Roosevelt agreed to these offers having no other alternative.



At the end of the Yalta Conference it seemed that Russia gained the upper hand in the agreements made. Whether it was in the territorial aspect in which its territories grew not only in the west but also in the east, or in its sphere of influence where communist governmental satellites were already implemented, or economically in which the Soviet Union would receive reparations for its losses in the war. Churchill distastefully wrote to Roosevelt after the Yalta conference on how: “the Soviet Union has become a danger to the free world.” This quote demonstrates Churchill’s concern towards the growing influence of the Soviet Union and how a rift began to emerge between the figures in which that what was until then a “friendship” or at least a cooperating alliance between “The Big Three” evolved into antagonism and suspicion. 

On May the 8th, Wilhelm Keitel the Nazi War Minister signed the German instrument of unconditional surrender in Berlin on behalf of the German people. “Potsdam marked the start of the new Europe”, stated Paul Reynolds, an orthodox historian for the BBC, in which he argued that the implications of the changes made at the conference shaped what we consider today as Europe. It is also there where he mentions that relations “fell out of love” between “The Big Three”. By this time, Churchill was replaced by Clement Attlee (heading the Labor Party which replaced the conservatives), Harry S. Truman succeeded Roosevelt following his death in April, and Stalin, the leader of the USSR.

With these leaders arriving to the conference table, different ideologies also applied. With Clement Atlee appointed as Labour party official, this decision met the needs of his people back in Britain who sought social reform in the style of a welfare state in post-war Britain. With Clements’s socialist views came a new restrained foreign policy in the British government. With Clement being considered moderate, Harry S. Truman, a former KKK member from Missouri, arrived with a hardheaded attitude against Communism. The born Polish turned American diplomat and political scientist, George Lenczowski, analysed Truman’s negotiation tactics at Potsdam and concluded that: “Truman had the courage and resolution to reverse the policy that appeared to him naive and dangerous." This statement of course needs to be taken in hindsight but it does seem that a change in foreign policy was changed in comparison to Roosevelt who stated: “Stalin is not that kind of man” with regards to Stalin’s aggressive stance in Europe.

Disagreements started to emerge in Potsdam starting with the issue of Poland. At Yalta it was decided that that although the communist party would be recognized in Poland, there would be a more pluralistic approach to democracy. Stalin ignored these agreements and was already implementing a soviet controlled government, practically eliminating the prior exiled Polish Government or as they were cynically known: “the London Poles”. Moreover, Stalin ordered the exile of roughly 3 million ethnic Germans from Poland into the now occupied Eastern Germany.  This was not only insulting but a rather cruel conclusion for Britain given it went to war and lost almost half a million lives to fight for the independence and freedom of Poland. This was a clear statement from Stalin manifesting his dominance in the region with complete disregard to whatever was decided prior to Potsdam.

The best example substantiating the answer to this essay’s question can be the “German question”, the reason for and the subsequent results of this disagreement. The “German Question” is the conflicting course of action that both Truman and Stalin tried to implement. Namely, what will be done with Germany? Stalin eagerly sought revenge and control over Germany punishing her through reparations (e.g. 60% of industry and 20% heavy industry products) to be claimed by the Soviet Union. These were estimated to worth app. 100 billion German Marks. The worth of return investment from East Germany would have amounted to 15 times the west’s return investment. In addition, a 10 Billion dollar reparations scheme was devised in which only 3.6 bn. was to be paid until 1950 mostly because of the horribly hindered retail market controlled by the GDR  which was closed off to the west. A final act of dominance was the annexation of 25% of eastern German territory (1937 borders) to the soviet controlled Poland. While Stalin’s Aim was to punish the Hun, the Allies stance was to kiss it.

At Potsdam it was decided to divide Germany into different “occupied zones” which would decentralize and decartelize the government. Thus, for example, Frankfurt was to become the economic centre, Rhineland the political and Hamburg the Media and Press. Nevertheless, Truman’s course of action was to ironically finance and invest in Germany rather to deflate and exploit its condition. This culminated in 1947 in what was to be called the “Marshal Plan” named after secretary of State George Marshall. This favourable course of action towards Western Germany pumped into its industry around 17 billion dollars (around 160 $ in today’s values) worth of economic aid and investment. Truman’s willingness to contribute to the newly formed German state continued when in January 1948 renewed negotiations with foreign secretary Molotov and administration officials came to talk about a complete and free German market to allow German economical growth. Disagreements continued, while the Soviet agenda was to delay rather to accelerate growth demanding unconditional fulfilment of German reparations. The offer was rejected and continued polarization and rejection continued.





Yalta and Potsdam signalled a renewed opportunity of world collaboration and cooperation after the Axis tyranny and destruction. While this was a possibility, factors which where hopefully conveyed in this essay, hindered the development of cooperation in Europe and Asia. Ideology and power struggles all came to play at the two conferences and created an unmanageable condition that would only be solved if only one super power collapsed, in the end this occurred in 1991 in the fall of the USSR.



Example 7




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Question: For what reasons, and with what results, were there disagreements between participants at the conferences of Yalta and Potsdam in 1945?





“With the defeat of the Reich… there will remain in the world only two great powers capable of confronting each other, the United States and Soviet Russia. The laws of both geography will compel these two powers to a trial of strength, either military or in the fields of economics and ideology” stated Adolf Hitler in his testament in April 1945. In this essay I will argue that as soon as Germany had surrendered; the common enemy was no longer a binding force, the Grand Alliance starting off in Yalta Conference (4-11th of February) and then succeeding to Potsdam (17th of July till 2nd of August) fell apart. This disintegration continued from 1945 until its climax at the Berlin Blockade of 1948. Moreover, I will argue that there were disagreements between the Grand Alliance due to the military, economic and ideologist impediments.

The first genuine conference of the Grand Alliance was in Yalta on the 4th of February 1945. The Yalta Conference was the final summit held before the end of the war, and was attended by Stalin, Churchill and Roosevelt. The four main points that were discussed in this conference were quite frankly that Germany would be occupied by the allies meaning split in four, the USSR would join in the war against Japan, the Soviet-Polish border would be moved Westwards, and Stalin agreed to free elections in Poland. Yalta is a very controversial conference. Charles L. Mee states in his book “Yalta” I came to see it as a betrayal of smaller powers especially to Poland, which was essentially handed over to the USSR.” The disagreement in Yalta was therefore that Stalin did not liberate the countries in Eastern Europe, but instead occupied them with his troops, much to the pique of the Western allies. While examining Yalta one could clearly see some “Versailles” attributes and similarities. This was that due to the fact it became established Soviet policy to make them ‘voluntary’ satellite states throughout Eastern Europe, while Britain and the US called for self-determination. One could state that Stalin’s stance was much like George Clemenceau during the Versailles peace talks due to the fact that he demanded 80% reparations from Germany as well a few other demands. However, what is often ignored by this simplistic argument is that Stalin lost 25 million people, 1,700 cities were destroyed and 70% of their industry vanished all from the cause of World War 2. In addition one could not solely haul the largest army in history back to the destructed USSR. Furthermore, tensions occurred between the Grand Alliance as according to the Percentages Agreement Churchill made with Stalin in 1944, it was decided to split countries in Eastern Europe such as Bulgaria, Romania and Yugoslavia, into spheres of influence. Not only did this lead to conspiracy theories however due to the fact that Roosevelt wasn’t present which lay the cornerstone of agitation. Moreover, Britain and the US could care less whether the countries of Eastern Europe remained under Communist occupation; their interests were concentrated in Greece and Turkey. However, the factor that did motivate the Western allies to stand up to the Soviet Union was Moscow’s control of Poland. The reason for this dispute was quite clearly that Britain had gone to war and lost five hundred thousand men for Polish liberation from Nazi occupation and could not now lose it to the Soviets. This was the primary reason for British opposition to Soviet influence in Eastern Europe, particularly Poland and certainly not the ideals of self-determination. Therefore, one would agree with Charles L. Mee that after all, at Yalta, while it was declared that Poland would be “independent and democratic”, the rest of Eastern Europe was merely suggested to be “liberated from Nazi occupation”.

As Hitler had stated in his testament it the war resulted in two superpowers with totally opposing ideologies. The US had a nuclear monopoly while Russia’s aim was to liberate Eastern Europe. One can forget though that the atomic age had a profound effect on international relations.             It is an arguable statement that this resulted in the statement from Carr “From Friends to Foes” as he argues that the Cold War and especially the Atomic Bomb was an act of aggression against the Soviet Union. Carr argues that it was the United States acquirement, especially its first dentation on the 15th of July 1945, just two days before Potsdam commenced. The Atomic Bomb quite clearly showed that the results of the Yalta conference alarmed Stalin, to modernize and catch up to the West, “making good the hundred year gap in ten years”. Secondly, the fact that the Americans now had the Bomb meant that the Soviet Union did not have to join the effort against Japan, as had been determined at Yalta. As the German threat was gone that unified the allies, now the Japanese was too, rendering further partnership between the USA and USSR meaningless. Nevertheless ascribe to the USA and Britain having atomics weapons stationed in Western Europe, Stalin had to occupy more land in Eastern Europe in order to increase the distance between the weapons and Moscow. All in all, the fact that Britain and the USA worked closely together in the Manhattan Project from 1942 did not only isolate Stalin but also sett a foundation for the Arms Race.     

When the three powers met again, at Potsdam in July and August 1945, the situation was different. The war in Europe was over, Truman was now the American President, and Clement Attlee replaced Churchill during the Potsdam Conference. Truman took a much tougher line than Roosevelt, especially on Poland. The major issue at Potsdam was the question of how to handle Germany. As at Yalta, the Soviets had requested for heavy postwar reparations from Germany, half of which would go to the Soviet Union. Meanwhile, Roosevelt had died, and America had a new president, Truman, who was inclined to ‘get tough’ with the Russians. While Roosevelt had acceded to such demands, Truman and his Secretary of State, James Byrnes, were determined to diminish the treatment of Germany. The main reason why Truman and Byrnes encouraged this position was because they wanted to avoid a repetition of the situation created by the Treaty of Versailles, which had caused high reparations from Germany following World War One. Nevertheless, the main vexation was the American confidence, which the possession of the Atom Bomb now gave them. Truman stated, “The Russians only understand one language - ‘how many armies have you got?’  I’m tired of babying the Soviets” which clearly shows us that he was the one making decision and wouldn’t take order not even from the Soviet Union. Moreover, the US had experienced a wartime economic boom. The industrial output of the US grew by 90% between 1940-1944. Therefore, taking this into consideration, and the fact that the US had a nuclear monopoly; it can be argued that the Americans have never been as strong as they were just after war.

All in all, I would absolutely agree with the statement from Hitler, which he had written in his testament in April 1945. As soon as the “Reich” fell there will remain in the world only two great powers capable of confronting each other, the United States and Soviet Russia. Quite clearly if you look into the issues they faced you would clearly determine the military exhibits whit the nuclear monopoly, the economical boom and with the different ideologies of each nations both Yalta and Potsdam couldn’t not have been held without any issues. To summon both conferences and the start of the “Cold War” I would like to quote Thucydides who stated, “War broke out because of the growth and power in Athens (America) and the fear that it inspired in Sparta (Soviet Union)”.


Example 8

After the end of WWII, several problems had to be solved, like what to do with Germany and Europe after 60 million people being killed. In 1945 the conferences of Yalta and Potsdam were held, Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill were to meet and discuss the future of Europe. The question asks, what disagreements were between Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin and what results did they have. Stalin was the leader of Russia, Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman was the leader of The United States and Clement Attlee and Churchill were the leaders of Britain. The best way to approach this essay is to look at all three leaders and their desires at each conference because the disagreements were only the leader’s faults. This essay will discover some the reasons that caused the disagreements between the three major powers during 1945, like the different aims that the leaders wanted to achieve and the situations they were facing. After looking at the leaders desires and reasons of disagreements, the essay will talk about the results of the disagreements like the Cold War and the annexing of Poland.
The Potsdam conference was held from the 17th of July to the 2nd of August in Potsdam, German occupied territory, the final goal that the three powers wanted to achieve was to administer punishment against the defeated Nazi Germany. Since the Yalta conference earlier in the year, Stalin was occupying a large amount of eastern Europe (Poland, Czechoslovakia, Baltic states and parts of Germany), he set up a communist government in Poland, Stalin himself said “The Soviet government cannot agree to the existence in Poland of a government hostile to it.”, which showed how much Stalin wanted to hold the Eastern line against Western Europe so he could have his “Soviet sphere of influence” in his hands. This caused problems that G. Kennan and H. S. Truman would see as a threat to western safety and Britain found Stalin’s actions unfair due to the amount of effort that the western powers have given to protect Poland. This already caused unbalance in the conference and it clearly showed that Stalin had the stronger hand against the amateur and fresh Harry S. Truman and Clement Attlee unlike the experience Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill. Harry S. Truman had a very negative view on the Soviets, he was born in Lamar, Missouri, with his dad being a farmer, he had very little experience of having power in politics and knowing about international relations because Roosevelt did not take Harry S. Truman as a serious Vice President. Walter LaFeber commented in one of his interviews how Truman about how insecure Truman was after talking to Molotov. The results of the problems caused by Soviet’s hunger for power and Truman’s view on the Soviets was the Iron Curtain and the Truman Doctrine that would aid any country that would be attacked by Communist powers and bring Truman’s famous speech on how the Soviets can not be trusted.

  The results of the Yalta conference were demilitarization, denazification, a fixed reparations bill and the status of Poland being changed. The Yalta conference was held on the 4th of February until the 11th of February in Yalta, Crimea, which Stalin used as an advantage to make already poorly Churchill travel all the way by ship and rail. Today, with conferences being held in Germany and Brussels, it takes a few hours in a luxury plane for the American officials to get there, but in 1945 travel was slow and uncomfortable. Roosevelt and Churchill were forbidden to travel, but they still went all the way to the USSR, while Stalin’s forces were still pushing until Berlin. This however was not a major reason for disagreement at the Yalta conference, It is important to mention that the physical and mental ability of the two other powers would have been weaker, hence that Roosevelt did die due to health problems shortly after the conference in April. However, all three leaders had three different agendas in mind, Stalin wanted communist victory, Churchill came to Yalta with concern about what the red army was doing with Poland and Roosevelt came to Yalta to be friends with “Uncle Joe” Stalin, hoping he would help out in the Pacific war against Japan. Churchill had very little power in the conference, it was evident because he dismissed the American’s as “profoundly ignorant of the Polish situation” because he knew that Roosevelt only cared about the Japanese war between the Americans. Roosevelt knew he only had 3 million soldiers against 10 million Russians that were marching into Berlin, he needed to prioritize friendship with Stalin over anything else so Stalin would not attack the American land. The result of this disagreement between Churchill and Stalin with Roosevelt was that the Red Army was to join America against the Japenese, Churchill could only sit, watch and wave along with the other two great powers. The personality clashes during the Conference would fall apart during the Potsdam conference after Churchill would lose his position as Prime Minister and Roosevelt would die. 

The result of the Yalta conference was in some ways a disaster, eastern Europe was to be swallowed by the red army, all the effort that the British put into Poland would be thrown away. However there were a few good things, the United Nations were created that would provide peace until today onwards and America were provided time, time to complete the atomic bomb, so Stalin could not be a threat against Western Europe. At Yalta, the U.S and the Russia’s would become allies to fight against the Japanese in the pacific, Churchill was left out, however the Russia-US alliance proved to be near useless, Roosevelt proved to “hold hands with the devil” if necessary in 1939, U.S. plans on building atomic bombs were kept secret and the Russians still spied on the U.S. because there was the lack of trust. The results of the Potsdam conference were brought from the Yalta conference in some ways, it was the continuation of the Yalta conference, war criminals would be put on trials in Nuremberg and reparations would be shifted to the USSR because they had more power in Europe than the other powers. The reparations were set to 20,000,000,000 dollars, Stalin demanded that he wants half of the reparations for the damage that the Soviets suffered, like the battle of Stalingrad where according to Anthony Beevor 1.1 million soviet Russians died.
To conclude, the Yalta and Potsdam conference was never there to create perfect results. The three personalities of the different powers from all over the world had different demands and objectives. The reasons of disagreement mainly include Stalin’s and Roosevelt’s demand for peace and power and the U.S. opinion on Stalin’s future moves. The results of the Yalta and Potsdam conference would later cause many more problems and it would lead to a cold war and disagreement between the USSR and the U.S. Like today, the conferences for the Russia crisis have been a clash of many leaders, with many disagreements and we can only hope for good things to come.