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You are here -> HOME - RETROVILLE - 1945 - In the News - Yalta Conference
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Welcome to Retroville! It's 1945!
On February 4, 1945, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and Josef Stalin met at Lividia Castle, the former palace of Czar Nicholas. This location, on Crimean southern shore of the Black Sea, was selected for both its security and as a concession to Stalin who wished to host the event.
From left to right - Churchill, Roosevelt, Stalin - Yalta Conference - February 1945
Looking exhausted, President Roosevelt joined the other heads of State in Yalta at what would become the beginning of the "Cold War." They met to discuss various terms and conditions, concessions and demands, as they related to the end of WWII.

As the conference began, Stalin, in charge of the most powerful army on Earth, had 12 million soliders in 300 divisions. He had made progess to the Oder River and his troops were poised to attack Berlin. At that time, the USSR was already in possessio of poland.

The United States had 4 million men in 85 divisions, but they remained west of the Rhine in their push toward Berlin. However, strategic bombings conducted by US forces had reduced every major city in Germany to rubble, with one exception--Dresden.

Churchill would send his bombers over Dresden on February 13, two days after the close of the conference. The levelling of this last major German city fairly destroyed any little hope German citizens had that the war could turn in their favor.

During the conference, Stalin laid out his demands. Russia was to receive $20 billion in reparations from Germany, annexation of Poland to the Curzon line, 3 seats in the United Nations, and the territories in the Far East including Outer Mongolia, south Sakhalin Island, and the Kuriles.

Churchill and Roosevelt had a clear understanding of the power of the Soviet army. With that in mind, and knowing the United Nations could deal with Stalin at a later date, they agreed to the demands. Of course, the US press would accuse Roosevelt of "selling out," but that was not the case. As Roosevelt explained to Adolf Berle, "I didn't say the result was good.  I said it was the best I could do."

Sadly, Roosevelt's health would continue to deteriorate until, just two months after the conference, he would die of a massive cerebral hemorrhage.

Although his detractors have blamed his ill health for the deals made at Yalta, he was simply unable to negotiate any better with a country whose army exceeded his own by almost 4 to 1.

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