Yalta and Potsdam

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To what extent did the Yalta and Potsdam conferences contribute to the development of the Cold War in Europe?

Word Count: 3722

ABSTRACT

The Yalta and Potsdam conferences remain as one of the key sources when studying about Cold War and the alliance of the “Big Three.” The focus question of the essay asks, “To what extent did the Yalta and Potsdam conferences contribute to the development of Cold War in Europe?” The two conferences have significant relevance when trying to come to the conclusion as to why did the Cold War erupt?

To accurately understand the significance of the conferences, the personal interaction of the leaders, the decisions that were made and what was said is closely examined. Yalta marked the high point for the Big Three in the sense that the three were together in the belief that they were deciding the fate of the world. While Potsdam was more of a steep decline, marking the collapse of the Big Three. The change of Roosevelt to Truman in the second conference also greatly affected the alliance because Truman had different approach towards Stalin than Roosevelt did. The conferences that were suppose to decide the post-war world and ensure no future war only worsened the situation as the different visions for that post-war world collided with already heightened misconceptions.

The Yalta and Potsdam Conferences were not the reason for Cold War but were what kick-started the new kind of war that lasted for forty-six years. Indeed, its necessary to study the two conferences as they played an important role in deciding the future of the world during that period.

Abstract Word Count: 247

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Introduction………………………………………………………………………………………………………………............................4-5

What They Believed and the Post-War Aims………………………………………………………………………………..………5-6

Yalta…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..7-11

Potsdam…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..12-13

Conclusion…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….14

Bibliography……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..15-16

INTRODUCTION

On April 25, 1945, the Red Army, 58th Guards Division were celebrating their victory over Nazi Germany with U.S Army, 69th Infantry Division on German Land1. Five days later Adolf Hitler shot himself and a week later Germany surrendered. The “Big Three” who originally met

– in hopes for a better world – in Tehran in 1943 and Yalta in February, 1945, met once again at Potsdam in July, 1945. Churchill was thanking Stalin for his ‘hospitality and friendship’ at the Yalta Conference2. Then how come, despite these friendly gestures, did the Soviet Authorities tried to break up pro-American demonstrations that erupted in Moscow? Why did American Authorities suspend shipments of aid for the USSR and then resume them? Why did Truman turn cold towards Stalin and decided to keep the knowledge of the atomic bomb a secret from the Soviets? The answer lies in the fact that the war was won by the Grand Alliance and its member who were already at war – ideologically and geopolitically – with each other3.

Near the end of World War II, global politics were at peak level and after 1945; a series of clashes and misunderstandings widened the gap between the Americans and Soviets even more and eventually lead to open hostility. The United States believed that a country should be run on a capitalist system – that is all industry, business and agriculture should be owned privately or by firms. In contrast, the Soviets believed in socialism, meaning that everything should be owned by the state and should be run by the government. These two - very different ideologies - were conflicting to each other and believed that the alternative...
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