The Allied force was by all accounts an unusual
collection of nations that came together, but at the same time
mistrusted each other. Capitalist America believed, wrongly, that
the Imperialist Britain wanted to expand its Empire. Communist
Russia mistrusted the capitalists, and would not fully trust any
information that was supplied to them by Churchill and Roosevelt.
The British feared Russian intentions, rightly, in eastern Europe.
But they had been forged together to fight one
common enemy, the Nazis. The alliance would be tested many times,
and Hitler would try to put a wedge between them, but the alliance
would hold steady. On several occasions the leaders of the Allies
would meet to discuss aims and co-ordinate efforts to defeat the
Nazis, and hopefully these meetings would help hold the alliance
together long enough to bring victory.
Churchill had contact with Roosevelt from the
moment he had become the British Prime Minister in May 1940. Roosevelt
had realized, where the American public and Congress had not,
that Britain was important to the defence of the United States.
When France fell Britain stood alone and the rumbles of war with
Japan were getting louder. Once Roosevelt had secured his third
Presidential term in November 1940 he instigated the 'Lend-lease'
bill to help Britain in its struggle. When Hitler invaded Russia
in the summer of 1941, both Roosevelt and Churchill extended an
offer of aid to Stalin.
The first conference between Churchill and Roosevelt
was in August 1941 at Placentia Bay, in Newfoundland. Although
Russia was now at war with Hitler, America was still several months
away from entering, with the attack at Pearl Harbor by the Japanese.
At Placentia Bay, agreements and aims were agreed and the 'Atlantic
Charter' was signed between the British and Americans.
Shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor and
the entrance of the United States into the conflict, Churchill
met Roosevelt in Washington and sealed the Anglo-American alliance.
Also the principles of 'Atlantic Charter' was agreed by twenty
six countries, who also promised not to negotiate or make a separate
peace with Hitler. This conference also sowed the seeds for the
future UN (United Nations).
Churchill and Roosevelt met in Casablanca, Morocco,
on the 14th January 1943. The Allies had invaded north Africa
and the campaign was going to plan. At this conference they decided
on where to invade occupied Europe, which would come from the
south, while Allied forces could be built up in Britain in preparation
for an invasion in northern France. They also proclaimed at this
meeting on the 'unconditional surrender' doctrine to the Axis
Roosevelt and Churchill then met Chaing Kai-shek
(Nationalist Chinese Leader) in Cairo in November 1943, and from
that meeting Roosevelt and Churchill went on to Teheran to meet
with Stalin. Roosevelt addressed the American people in a Christmas
Eve radio broadcast
and outlined the outcome of those meetings. This would be the
first of two conferences that would decide the fate of eastern
Europe after the defeat of the Nazis, and a new post war Europe.
The conference at Yalta, in the Crimea in February
1945, was an important meeting between Churchill, Roosevelt and
Stalin on the eve of the final push in Europe and the systematic
destruction of Hitler's thousand year Reich.
The Russians had made great progress in the east
and the Nazis were retreating on a broad front. The Allies in
the west had just endured Hitler's last major offensive in an
attempt to cut off the American and British forces, but it failed.
The conference at Yalta just confirmed decisions that were made
regarding eastern Europe in Teheran. Its was agreed that the Russians
would have influence in Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary. Also the
Baltic states and Poland would be under Russian influence. While
the British would have influence in Greece.
With the partition of Germany between the Allies,
a new European map was defined. Russia had created a buffer zone
to protect the 'motherland' from future aggression from the west,
later it would be known in the west as the "Iron Curtain".
Also at Yalta Roosevelt had secured a pledge from Stalin that
Russia would join the Allies in the Pacific war against Japan,
although no state of war existed between Russia and Japan. Stalin
promised support once Germany had been totally defeated.
Yalta would be the last time that the three
leaders would meet together, with the death of President Roosevelt
on 12th April, 1945, the next meeting at Potsdam would have President
Truman representing the United States. Although Churchill would
attend Potsdam, he would have to return to Britain because of
the General Election. It was an election that he lose, and it
would be the new British Prime Minister Clement Attlee that would
return to the conference table at Potsdam representing Great Britain.
The Potsdam conference was held on 17th July,
1945. The defeat of Germany, and victory for the Allies was proclaimed
on 8th May 1945, VE Day (Victory in Europe), and the Potsdam conference
was held in a suburb of Berlin, and in the home of the former
kings of Prussia. But this conference would take on a cooler atmosphere
between the Allies, which would be a prelude to much colder relations
in the near future. Not only had the European map been redefined,
but also the political map. A political map that would dominate
world politics and events for the next 50 years.