The Yalta Conference

In February 1945, the Big Three – Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin - met again at Yalta in the Crimea region of the USSR.

Winston Churchill, Franklin Roosevelt and Joseph Stalin meet together at the Yalta conference, shown on the map. They agree to a post-war settlement and decide Germany’s fate once it had been defeated

Objectives:

With an Allied victory looking likely, the aim of the Yalta Conference was to decide what to do with Germany once it had been defeated. In many ways the Yalta Conference set the scene for the rest of the Cold War in Europe.

Outcomes:

  1. Germany would be divided into four zones of occupation with the USSR, Britain, France and the USA each controlling a zone. France had been liberated from Nazi Germany and was included at the conference partly due to pressure from the French leader, General de Gaulle, but also because Britain wanted a European ally with whom it could share the cost of the post-war reconstruction of Germany.
  2. The German capital, Berlin, was about 100 miles inside the Soviet zone and it, too, was to be divided into four zones, each controlled by one of the Allied powers. Berlin would become a continuing source of tension once the Cold War began in earnest.
  3. All countries freed from Nazi control were to be guaranteed the right to hold free, democratic elections to choose their own governments. This commitment was released as an official joint statement, the Declaration on Liberated Europe. However, Stalin was offered a sphere of influence in Eastern Europe where communist ideals would dominate.
  4. Again, Stalin committed to joining the war against Japan, once Germany had been defeated. This was important to the Americans who were suffering heavy losses in the Pacific, despite the fact they were gradually pushing back the Japanese.
  5. All the leaders made a commitment to pursue, and put on trial, suspected Nazi war criminals.
  6. The Allies agreed to the setting up of the United Nations, an organisation dedicated to international cooperation and the prevention of war.

Revision tip

Berlin was to become a Cold War flashpoint. Make sure you know the different key events:

  • What was decided about Berlin at the Yalta and Potsdam Conferences in 1945
  • What happened during the Berlin Crisis and the Berlin Blockade of 1948-9
  • What happened when the Berlin Wall was built in 1961