Held from February 4 to 11, 1945, theYalta conference which brought together the leaders of the Soviet Union (Joseph Stalin), the United States (Franklin Delano Roosevelt) and the United Kingdom (Winston Churchill), was long regarded as the moment when the postwar order was established. In reality, although important, this event was only one episode in the long process of negotiations between the future winners of the Second World War (from the Atlantic Conference in the summer of 41, to that of Potsdam in July - August 45, via that of Casablanca in January 43, etc ...). In Yalta, the main issues concerned the modalities of the German surrender and the establishment of the United Nations (UN).
The Yalta conference
Yalta is a Crimean town, located near Livadia, the summer residence of Nicholas II. At the start of the 20th century, it became one of the favorite places to stay for the Russian aristocracy. In February 1945, it hosted the conference which brought together the three great allied leaders of the Second World War, Roosevelt Churchill and Stalin; General de Gaulle and General Tchang Kaï-chek had not been invited. The "Big Three" agreed on military plans for the impending defeat of Nazi Germany, whose surrender was to be unconditional.
The defeated Germany was to be divided into four zones of occupation (France receiving part of the zone allocated to the Americans). All German military forces were to be disbanded and German war industry destroyed (however the United States abandoned the Morgenthau Plan, which sought to reduce Germany to a purely agricultural economy).
The three partners could not come to an agreement on the problem of the future borders of Poland. Instead, they decided that a conference preliminary to the founding of a United Nations would be held in San Francisco in April 1945; the principle of the right of veto in the future Security Council was adopted. The U.S.S.R. pledged to go to war with Japan "two or three months" after the German surrender, but demanded in compensation the southern part of the island of Sakhalin, the Kuril Islands, the restitution of all its positions lost as a result. of the Russo-Japanese War of 1904/05 and a joint Soviet-Chinese administration of the Manchurian railways.
The consequences of Yalta
When the Yalta documents were published in 1946 and, more fully, in 1955, these last provisions aroused a great deal of emotion in the United States, where the Republicans accused the Roosevelt administration of having favored in Yalta the stranglehold of Communism on the United States. China. But it must be remembered that at the time of the Yalta conference, the preparation for the atomic bomb was not complete. The first explosion did not take place until June 16. 1945); Roosevelt therefore had to face the possibility of a still long and bitter war against Japan, and help from the U.S.S.R. seemed to him essential to obtain victory in the Far East, hence the broad concessions made to Stalin. It has also been said that the Yalta accords implied a real division of the world between the Americans and the Soviets. In fact, nothing in the content of the agreements indicated, directly or indirectly, such a division of the world or even a division of spheres of influence between the three powers participating in the conference.
The “Liberated Europe Declaration” approved in Yalta, on the contrary, provided for tripartite participation in all control councils and in the administration of all former enemy states in Europe. Far from abandoning Eastern Europe to the USSR, it affirmed, in accordance with the principles of the Atlantic Charter, the "right of all peoples to choose the form of government under which they will have to live", and the " restoration of sovereign rights and autonomy among peoples that aggressor countries have deprived of them by force ”. The division of Europe into two blocs did not result from the Yalta agreements but from the "cold war", which was inevitable since Stalin, after 1945, not in virtue but in defiance of the Yalta agreements, had begun to impose "socialist" structures in the countries of Eastern Europe occupied by the Red Army.
This Yalta conference is revealing of the balance of power between the big three and it announces in certain respects the Cold War. Faced with a Stalin in a position of strength, Churchill only manages to extract minimal concessions (think of Poland) while Roosevelt, already gravely ill, promotes his concept of collective security and the United Nations.
- 1945, from Yalta to Potsdam, from illusions to the cold war, by Arthur Funk. Complex, 1999.
- Yalta or the sharing of the world, by Arthur Conte. Saint-Clair, 1974.
- Yalta Conference: Joseph Stalin, Winston Churchill, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Livadia Palace, Yalta, Black Sea, Crimea, Allied Conferences.