Yalta Conference, February 4-11, 1945
Yalta Conference in February 1945 with (from left to right) Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Joseph Stalin. Also present are USSR Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov (far left); Field Marshal Alan Brooke, Admiral of the Fleet Sir Andrew Cunningham, RN, Marshal of the RAF Sir Charles Portal, RAF, (standing behind Churchill); George Marshall, Army Chief of Staff and Fleet Admiral William D. Leahy, USN, (standing behind Roosevelt).
It was their last meeting, the last Allies Conference of the War, that was to reorganise Europe in “peace-time”. WWII was drawing to a close: soon Hitler would be dead in the ruins of Berlin, soon the USSR, and her martyrs, would win the war, at last, at the price of 25 million dead.
Soon President Roosevelt would die. The former Allies would become the enemies of the Cold War. Atomics would be dropped on defenceless Japanese cities. When they meet again in Potsdam, in August 1945, Truman is President, the dice are down, and the Cold War has started, in all but the name. But still, in this cold month of February, 1945, it was possible to hope… against all hopes. German refugees were flowing through the ruined roads and cities of central Europe, in their millions. For the next 45 years Germany would be a divided country.
In the US Roosevelt’s New Deal would survive in the guise the warfare/welfare state till the late 70’s, then other demons would take over.
Britain was a shadow of her former self, then a hopelessly indebted country, the country soon of Orwell’s “1984” – of food rationing perduring till the 50’s, still a colonial power, although not for much longer.
The long night of Stalinism would last until 1954, the year a French army was defeated in Dien-Bien-Phu in what would be soon called the Republic of North-Viet-Nam, and was still then “l’ Indochine”, and the United Nations (chiefly the US and Britain) would stop bombing what was already North-Korea.