The Sovietisation of Eastern Europe 1945-1968
World war two saw a grand alliance of Britain, America and Russia created in order to defeat their common enemy, Adolf Hitler. In pursuit of this goal they attended a number of conferences to plan their attacks and to decide on the future of post war Europe. At Teheran in 1943 Churchill voiced concerns about the post-war situation in Eastern Europe, he was afraid that victory over the Nazis would leave the USSR in control of Eastern Europe. To prevent this from happening he proposed that the Anglo-American’s open up a second front in the Balkans. Stalin rejected this proposal as he knew it would thwart his plan to extend his ‘sphere of influence’ in Eastern Europe after the war, and insisted the second front be opened in France.
The war in Europe was nearly over when the allied leaders met at Yalta. While there was general agreement on how to deal with Germany, Churchill and Stalin had different ideas when it came to Poland. Stalin wanted the communist-dominated Lubin committee to form the new government, whereas Churchill spoke out in favour of the London based Polish government in exile. It was agreed that a coalition government would be created but no decision was made on where Poland’s borders would be drawn after the war. The question of Poland was raised again at Potsdam. Stalin got two leaders to accept the Lubin government but he promised that after the war free elections would be held. Moscow saw control of Eastern Europe as essential to soviet security. Stalin had lived through two German invasions of his country and he was determined that the USSR would never again face the threat of invasion from the West. He believed that if the counties to the west of the USSR were ‘friendly’ they would act as a ‘buffer zone’ between the USSR and Western Europe. However as the ‘grand alliance’ had disintegrated and the Cold War intensified Stalin presses on with his plan which usually involved three stages.