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Diplomacy and Conflict • Negotiating Peace: Diplomacy During WWII

The Yalta Conference was a meeting of the leaders of Great Britain, the Soviet Union, and the United States to decide the fate of post-World War II Germany and resolve various other issues. The compromises made failed to completely satisfy any of the participants but led to the Allied occupation of Germany, the rise of the iron curtain, and the establishment of the United Nations (UN).

The Allies gathered at the Crimean Peninsula city of Yalta, on the Black Sea, from February 4 to February 11, 1945. The meeting, which was called at the request of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, included British prime minister Winston Churchill and U.S. president Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Why was the Conference Called?

The meeting was called as Soviet armies rapidly advanced toward Berlin. British and U.S. forces were preparing to invade Germany, and the surrender of Adolf Hitler and his Third Reich was imminent. The United States was also in the midst of invading Japan.

The most important issue discussed at the conference was the fate of postwar Germany. The three leaders planned the Allied occupation and split Germany into four occupation zones with France as the fourth occupying power. The meeting also ordered Germany to pay the Soviet Union war reparations to compensate for 20 million Russian deaths.


The Soviet Union was given great influence over most of Eastern Europe. The conference agreed that Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, and parts of Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia would be granted independent governments with free elections, but the governments would have to be Soviet friendly. That decision was in effect the birth of the "iron curtain," as Churchill coined it. Stalin also won additional geopolitical security through the renegotiation of Poland's borders and the recomposition of Poland's government.

The United States seized on the opportunity to promote the establishment of a world organization to maintain the postwar peace. The conference scheduled another meeting in April 1945 at which the UN would be established.

Another major issue discussed at the conference was the strategy to defeat Japan. The United States needed the Soviet Union to commit to helping in that endeavor. In exchange for the return of territory in the Far East, Stalin promised that he would declare war on Japan within 90 days of Germany's surrender. As agreed, the Soviets entered the Allies' war against Japan on August 8, 1945, two days after U.S. president Harry Truman ordered the atomic bombing of Japan that quickly brought an end to World War II.

"iron curtain,"

Further Reading

Churchill, Winston S., Triumph and Tragedy, 1953; Kolko, Gabriel, The Politics of War: The World and United States Foreign Policy, 1943-1945, 1968.

MLA Citation

McCallum, Lisa. "Yalta Conference." World History: The Modern Era, ABC-CLIO, 2020, worldhistory.abc-clio.com/Search/Display/310053. Accessed 20 Jan. 2020.

Entry ID: 2171547

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