For What Reasons, and to What Extent, Did the Potsdam Conference of July 1945 Contribute to the Development of the Cold War?

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For what reasons, and to what extent, did the Potsdam Conference of July 1945 contribute to the development of the Cold War?

The name “Cold War” is the name given to a series of events such as numerous international affairs and major crises that occurred after World War Two until the USSR dissolved in 1991, these events include the Cuban Missile Crisis and the rise and fall of the Berlin wall. However, before the Cold War happened, conferences were held between leaders of Britain, USA and the USSR and many historians argued that this was how the Cold War started. The Potsdam Conference was one of the conferences that were held. When the Potsdam conference was held in 1945, Germany had already surrendered and President Roosevelt, who represented the USA as the president in the previous two conferences, passed away and was replaced by Truman, Churchill’s Party lost in the 1945 UK election and Clement Atlee replaced him. This change in leadership meant that the two nations had different ideologies and approaches to situations meaning it would easily have affected the course of the cold war. In this essay, I will look into how the Potsdam Conference contributed to the development of the cold war analyzing what happened in the Potsdam Conference and how it contributed to the development of the Cold War.

On October 9th 1944, Stalin and Churchill met in Moscow formulated a scheme called “Percentages Agreement”, which is an agreement between the West and USSR about the amount of power each side would want to have in a number of countries after the defeat of Germany. However, Truman wasn’t happy about the agreement, as he was worried that the countries in Eastern Europe would be under Stalin’s “sphere of influence”, meaning that Eastern Europe would be slowly turned into a communist country. But even though Truman did not approve of the “percentages agreement”, there wasn’t much he could do, as the Red Army was already occupying the territories in Eastern Europe and without threat, it wasn’t possible to push the Red Army back to the Soviet Union, and if he forced the Red Army to retreat back to the Soviet Union by force, it would have caused another large-scale war to start, and Europe was too crippled for another war and thus Truman had to agree with the “Percentage Agreement. Although it was an unofficial agreement between the two leaders, the percentage agreement formed a basis on how the Potsdam conference was conducted.

Truman was also unhappy with the agreements over Poland, he challenged the decision over the frontier, the territory which Germany lost after the end of World War Two; he also insisted that the Polish government needs to be “reorganized”, meaning that the USA wanted a new government, as they think that there wasn’t a “free and democratic” vote. From these two incidents, it has already shown that there is tension arising between USA influenced Western Europe and the Soviets, as Truman was unhappy about several agreements that were set for the two sides.

During the Potsdam Conference, it was decided that Germany was to be split and divided into four parts and to be ruled by four countries: Britain, USA, USSR, and France. Berlin was also divided into four sectors, and governed by the four countries mentioned above. The Allies had agreed during the Yalta conference that they would disarm, demilitarize, de-Nazify and divide Germany, but at Potsdam they couldn’t find a way agree on doing this together, so the de-Nazification and demilitarization of Germany was to be performed in their own zones which they occupied. However, the German economy was to be run as a “whole”, meaning that the West and the USSR had to run the Germany economy together as a team, but they only the domestic industry and agriculture that had to be run as a “whole”.

The split of Berlin and Germany was very significant and it led to a few change of events in the Cold war. In 1948, Stalin decided that he...
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