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15 October 2014
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Timeline - 1939-1945

Fact File : Yalta Conference

4 to 11 February 1945

Location: The Crimea
Players: British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, US President Franklin Roosevelt, Soviet leader Joseph Stalin.
Outcome: Allied Control Commission to deal with Germany; campaign to occupy Germany and Russia discussed; Russia demanded and won concessions if it was to enter war with Japan; Declaration on Liberated Europe issued.

British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, pictured at the Yalta Conference in 1945
British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, pictured at the Yalta Conference in 1945©
The conference held in the Crimea, codenamed Argonaut (also referring to preliminary meetings held by various Allied foreign secretaries) continued discussions held in Quebec about Germany's future once the war was over. Apart from the three Allied leaders, the conference included a total of around 700 military advisors and diplomats.

Military strategy was first on the agenda as the Allies approached the final phase of the war against Germany. The occupation of Germany and Austria and liaison between Allied forces during this campaign was discussed. An Allied Control Commission for Germany was agreed on and France was to become one of the occupying powers.

Russia demanded concessions if it was to enter the war against Japan and a second agreement was reached without the knowledge of Churchill or China's President Chiang Kai-shek, whom it affected. These demands were: the preservation of Mongolia's status and the return of Russian territory along with new territory, the Kurile Islands. These were met.

Most complex was the debate about Poland's future, now that Poland had been liberated by the Red Army. A temporary agreement was reached to reorganise the Provisional Government 'on a broader democratic basis with the inclusion of democratic leaders from Poland itself and from Poles abroad'. This new government was to be called the Polish Provisional Government of National Unity, and it was agreed to set new frontiers which led to the creation of the Oder-Neisse line.

This was a conference that anticipated post-war events and the liberation of Europe. The Grand Alliance (Russia, USA, UK) made the following declaration:

'... the three governments will jointly assist the people in any European liberated state or former Axis state in Europe where, in their judgment conditions require, (a) to establish conditions of internal peace; (b) to carry out emergency relief measures for the relief of distressed peoples; (c) to form interim governmental authorities broadly representative of all democratic elements in the population and pledged to the earliest possible establishment through free elections of Governments responsive to the will of the people; and (d) to facilitate where necessary the holding of such elections.'

The fact files in this timeline were commissioned by the BBC in June 2003 and September 2005. Find out more about the authors who wrote them.


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