February 4, 1945: The Yalta Conference opens.

The “Big Three” Allied leaders of World War II met at the Livadia Palace in Crimea for the second time (after the 1943 Tehran Conference) this time to discuss the reorganization of post-war Europe. By this time, victory in Europe was but three months away, and the Red Army’s offensive thrust into Germany was complete. It had already been decided that Germany would be divided into four zones to be administered by the United States, Soviet Union, Great Britain, and France. Other key issues were negotiated, though not necessarily decided, during that week at Yalta.

Germany would, once again, undergo demilitarization, as well as denazification, a process through which any elements of German National Socialism were removed from society, and certain Nazi leaders would be put on trial for war crimes. Certain boundary lines were set, including the Polish-Soviet border; Poland itself, along with all other liberated European countries, would be open to Democratic elections. This promise was not kept, and, as a result, many in Poland and the Allied nations regarded the outcome of the Yalta Conference as a betrayal of Eastern Europe to the Soviet Union; Franklin D. Roosevelt, who died two months after the conference, was criticized for “selling out” to Stalin. Stalin also agreed that the Soviet Union would enter the war against Japan three months after the fall of Germany, and also that it would join the United Nations. Whatever hitches met at or caused by the uncertainty of Yalta and the events surrounding it, the United Nations would, supposedly, be able to deal with any disagreements between the Soviet Union and its allies, or so it was hoped. 

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