The Yalta Conference
When the Yalta Conference convened in February 1945, the world watched the Grand Alliance in anticipation, hoping for a new world of peace. Churchill, Roosevelt, and Stalin depended on one another to not only get what was best for their respective countries, but to end the war in peace and good will. Quickly after the conference ended, disagreements arose and optimism faded. With the death of U.S. President Roosevelt, Soviet relations with the West suffered even more as Truman and Churchill refused to give Stalin definitive answers about reparations. The concessions and agreements of Yalta are regarded as some of the most controversial decisions of the war. Yalta shaped post-war Europe, surrendered Eastern Europe to Soviet Control, and through its aftermath, laid the foundation for the Cold War.
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Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin—An Unusual Alliance
The Grand Alliance of Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin was based on necessity and not political agreement. Winston Churchill, the Prime Minister of Great Britain, favored democratic government and free enterprise, but he was still the leader of an imperialist nation. Joseph Stalin, ruler of the Soviet Union, desired to spread communism throughout the world. President of the United States Franklin Roosevelt disliked communism and imperialism. He was by far the most idealistic and least power-hungry of the three. The alliance between these men was one of convenience and necessity.
The Yalta Conference became the high point of the alliance, but many criticize Roosevelt and Churchill for giving the world over to communism. It must be realized that Hitler remained the dominant threat, not Stalin at this time. Throughout the entire war, Stalin honored his promises, and his colleagues had no reason to distrust him. While Churchill and Roosevelt may have been unsure of Stalin’s motives at times, fascism threatened the world, not communism. When it came time to negotiate, all parties ceded something. Stalin allowed France a seat at the table, Britain had to come to terms with American power, and America had to hand Poland over to Soviet control. The Grand Alliance and the Yalta Conference were examples of diplomacy and the prospect that different ideologies could co-exist and create peace. Sadly, shortly after World War II, the Cold War began and communists became the enemies of democracy.