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Yalta Conference

The Yalta Conference of February 1945 took place in the Crimea. Yalta is an ancient city on the shores of the Black Sea. This war conference is where the Big Three, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and Joseph Stalin issued the Yalta Agreement, their "Declaration on Liberated Europe." The conference at Yalta attempted to deal with the fate of postwar Europe, specifically the borders of Poland where the war began six years before, and the fate of Japan, whose ongoing tenacity kept America at war after the fall of Germany. Another perplexing problem, the partitioning of Germany and Berlin, was a major issue on the table. Of great importance to FDR was the creation of the United Nations. The decisions made at Yalta literally defined much of the modern world, politically, militarily and economically, and heralded the Cold War.


On September 11, 1939, just a few days after Hitler triggered the Second World War by unleashing the German Army in Poland, U.S. president Franklin D. Roosevelt penned a brief but important message to Britain`s First Lord of the Admiralty, Winston Churchill. FDR wrote to Churchill because he was looking for information about the war in Europe and wanted to to gather it informally, quietly, and on a personal level. This was the beginning of a unique relationship between the two most important leaders of the Free World, and established a precedent repeated by several successive American presidents and British leaders. On May 10, 1940, the very day on which the German Army finally launched its long-anticipated attack on the Low Countries and France, Churchill became the prime minister of Great Britain.

Over the course of the war, the two men exchanged thousands of messages, telephone calls, and indirect third-party exchanges. They also met in person nine times, including the two famous meetings with Soviet premier Stalin at Teheran and Yalta, creating "Summit Diplomacy." The ninth and last meeting took place at Yalta. FDR died six weeks later.

Summit diplomacy was a new kind of international accord whose roots lay in the American Joint Chiefs of Staff, formed in 1893. At the time, the Joint Chiefs comprised the military heads of the Army and the Navy. The signing of the "Anglo-American Alliance" (December 1941), inaugurated the creation of the Combined Chiefs of Staff, a joint British and American military command with authority over all Anglo-American operations. The communication and cooperation between FDR and Churchill culminated in the creation of the Atlantic Charter, which outlined the basic framework of the future NATO and United Nations organizations.

Anglo-American Alliance. This agreement was signed about three months after the U.S. Congress declared war on Japan and set the stage for the American declaration of war on the remaining Axis countries. It was signed in Washington on February 23, 1942, by Sumner Welles, acting secretary of state, and Viscount Halifax, British ambassador. The gist of this post-Pearl Harbor agreement was Roosevelt`s public acknowledgment of America`s close ties with Britain and Churchill. Essentially a formality, the agreement notified the isolationists in Congress that America could no longer remain immune to politics and wars on distant continents.

The agreement, in part, stipulates;

"... whereas the President of the United States of America has determined, pursuant to the Act of Congress of March 11, 1941, that the defense of the United Kingdom against aggression is vital to the defense of the United States of America;

"And whereas the United States of America has extended and is continuing to extend to the United Kingdom aid in resisting aggression;

"And whereas the Governments of the United States of America and the United Kingdom are mutually desirous of concluding now a preliminary agreement in regard to the provision of defense aid and in regard to certain considerations which shall be taken into account in determining such terms and conditions and the making of such an agreement has been in all respects duly authorized, and all acts, conditions and formalities which it may have been necessary to perform, fulfill or execute prior to the making of such an agreement in conformity with the laws either of the United States of America or of the United Kingdom have been performed, fulfilled or executed as required.”

Lend-Lease Act. The agreement was followed weeks later with the Lend-Lease Act, which stipulated that the president could authorize shipment of weapons, food, or equipment to any country whose struggle against the Axis assisted U.S. defense. By retooling U.S. industrial output to the demands of war, Lend-Lease virtually eliminated any semblance of American neutrality. Yalta: world-altering decisions The conference at Yalta produced decisions that were decidedly among the most important of the 20th century, perhaps of modern history. Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin carved up much of the modern world and set into motion the creation of the foundation of the world`s first real world government, the United Nations. The establishment of order in Europe and the rebuilding of national economic life under the Marshall Plan were achieved by processes that enabled the liberated peoples to destroy the last vestiges of fascism and to create democratic institutions of their own choice. This is a principle of the Atlantic Charter - the right of all people to choose the form of government under which they will live - the restoration of sovereign rights and self-government to those peoples who have been forcibly deprived of them by the aggressor nations.