Building a New World
How did the conferences at Dumbarton Oaks and Yalta attempt to shape the postwar world? Before the war ended, President Roosevelt had wanted to ensure that war would never again engulf the world. He believed that a new international political organization could prevent another world war. Creating the United Nations
In 1944, at the Dumbarton Oaks estate in Washington, D.C., delegates from 39 countries met to discuss the new organization, which was to be called the United Nations (UN). The delegates at the conference agreed that the UN would have a General Assembly, in which every member nation in the world would have one vote. The UN would also have a Security Council with 11 members. Five countries would be permanent members of the Security Council: Britain, France, China, the Soviet Union, and the United States. These five permanent members would each have veto power. On April 25, 1945, representatives from 50 countries came to San Francisco to officially organize the United Nations and design its charter. The General Assembly was given the power to vote on resolutions and to choose the non-permanent members of the Security Council. The Security Council was responsible for international peace and security. It could ask its members to use military force to uphold a UN resolution. The Yalta Conference
In February 1945, with the war in Europe nearly over, Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin met at Yalta—a Soviet resort on the Black Sea—to plan the postwar world. Several agreements reached at Yalta later played an important role in causing the Cold War. A key issue discussed at Yalta was Poland. Shortly after the Germans had invaded Poland in 1939, the Polish government fled to Britain. In 1944, however, Soviet troops drove back the Germans and entered Poland. As they liberated Poland from German control, the Soviets encouraged Polish Communists to set up a new government. As a result, two governments claimed the right to govern Poland: one Communist and one non-Communist. President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill both argued that the Poles should be free to choose their own government. Stalin, however, quickly pointed out that every time invaders had entered Russia from the west, they had come through Poland. Eventually, the three leaders compromised. Roosevelt and Churchill agreed to recognize the Polish government set up by the Soviets. Stalin agreed it would include members of the prewar Polish government, and free elections would be held as soon as possible. The Declaration of Liberated Europe
After reaching a compromise on Poland, the three leaders agreed to issue the Declaration of Liberated Europe. The declaration echoed the Atlantic Charter, asserting “the right of all people to choose the form of government under which they will live.” The Allies promised that the people of Europe would be allowed “to create democratic institutions of their own choice” and to create temporary governments that represented “all democratic elements.” They pledged “the earliest possible establishment through free elections of governments responsive to the will of the people.” Dividing Germany
The conference then focused on Germany. Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin agreed to divide Germany into four zones. Great Britain, the United States, the Soviet Union, and France would each control one zone. The same four countries would also divide the German capital city of Berlin into four zones, even though it was in the Soviet zone. Although pleased with the decision to divide Germany, Stalin also demanded that Germany pay heavy reparations for the war damages it had caused. An agreement was reached that Germany could pay war reparations with trade goods and products, half of which would go to the Soviet Union. The Allies would remove industrial machinery, railroad cars, and other equipment from Germany as reparations. Later arguments about reparations greatly increased tensions between the United...
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