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georgeo76
05-09-2005, 05:36 PM
In his trip to Europe, American president Bush described the Yalta (http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/wwii/yalta.htm) conference as "one of the greatest wrongs of history"

Now I don't want to get into what any of you may think about the president, but I am interested in what you feel about this assertion.

From a humanitarian point of view: Was it ethically just to agree to soviet domination of Eastern Europe?

From a practical standpoint: Would it have been possible to force the Soviets back to their pre-war borders? Or assuming this was achieved diplomaticly or w/ force, how would these newly liberated countrys affected the reconstruction (Marshall plan)?

Politically: Was it possible for the Western Allies to achieve more w/ the Yalta talks? Or was the "Sphere of influence" a reasonable trade off for help w/ the Pacific War and a relatively stable post-war Europe.

Certainly the decisions made at Yalta had large human consequence. But it's hard to argue that this consequence was foreseen by the two western leaders, and that they, in their wisdom or folly, saw the greater good in carving up Europe.

LStarosta
05-09-2005, 05:41 PM
All I can say is that when many Polish airmen and soldiers found out about their betrayal at Yalta at the hands of Roosevelt and Churchill, many committed suicide. They fought as an ally, and when the allies won, they lost the war. Couldn't even march in the Victory Parade in '46, but countries like Nepal, Mexico, Brazil and others did. Sad.

My condolences to my other Eastern European brothers who met the same fate of Soviet domination.

Abbuzze
05-09-2005, 06:02 PM
Yes, the boderline movement was an Idea that maybe looked nice at the maps, but results a lot of pain, death or at least loosing their home for many people.

For the ethical point, agreeing to a soviet domination of eastern europe means also, that western europe was under allies, lets call it influence.
That was the important thing, and it worked very good, it took a long time till european goverments had an opposite imagniation what is the "right" thing, and also behaved in this way.
And we all remember the President was not amused http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif Good old Europe http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_wink.gif

blakduk
05-09-2005, 06:09 PM
Undoubtadly a betrayal for the Poles- as Churchill remarked at the time they were the reason the British declared war in the first place yet they were surrendered to a dictator at the war's end.
The sad reality was though that the western alliance couldnt have regathered their strength and attacked the USSR- Stalin knew this and used it to his advantage. The newly formed NATO took the only course open to them, of containment, confident that their economies would prosper while the Communist regime would crumble (eventually).
We also need to remember that Communism hadnt been discredited and that a lot of leading intellectuals saw it as a valid alternative to capitalism. It took a lot of courage for liberal intellectuals to break ranks and present the horror of such regimes to the world- authors like George Orwell were branded traitors for their work.
As distasteful as the cold war was, it was far more pleasant that a hot war would have been.
An ironic outcome of the cold war was the rehabilitation of Germany with the rest of Western europe- the Marshall plan, and paticularly the Berlin airlift, demonstrated in a practical way to the German people that the west wanted a confidant, prosperous Germany.
(This was in direct contrast to the outcome of WW1 when hostilities ended and the blockade of Germany continued).
The world is not fair, bad things do happen to good people, and we are often forced to choose between degrees of evil.

darkhorizon11
05-09-2005, 08:39 PM
Post WWI the league of nations created a "Cordon Sanitaire" to protect themselves (ie. France GB Belguim) from the Bolsheviks. This CS was a mish mash of countries with no real authority in the league. Their purpose is in the event of any Communist aggression they will slow any possible Soviet from reaching their soil. This countries being Romania, Hungary, Estonia, Latvia, Germany, Czechslovakia, Slovakia, Yugoslavia and guess who? Poland!

Skip to 1945. Its safe to say that the USSR bore the heaviest toll of the European war and lost more lives than even German herself. The paranoid Soviets believed it was not a matter of "if" Western Europe would invade again, but when. Stalin and his cabinet decide they would only accept their own cordon sanitiare. Hence the betrayal of Poland, the same goes for Romania too although she fought part of the war as the Axis so she didn't have the same innocence as Poland. As with Estonia, Latvia, Slovakia etc.

In the long run however many argue the deviousity of the Allies. Although the Soviets physically had more land, the Allies cut them out economically as is apparent in the Brentwood and Potsdam conferences. Eventually this is what killed Communism in Russia, not some mythical third world war.

horseback
05-09-2005, 09:02 PM
From a moral standpoint, I have to agree with President Bush; from a coldly practical standpoint, I think Roosevelt made the best decision he could with the information he had.

Taking a hard line with Stalin at that point might have led to an entirely communist Europe, implacably hostile to America, instead of a Socialist Europe with just the western half implacably hostile to US interests.

At the time of the Yalta Conference, the Soviets had a vastly more powerful land force in Europe than the Western Allies and the Germans combined; the Japanese Islands would probably have to be invaded at unGodly cost, and most important, the people (voters) of Britain and the United States were sick of war, and unlikely to accept the necessity of risking more war in Europe with a former Ally that their own propagandists had been telling them were good and decent people led by a great man...

The atomic bomb had yet to be tested, and the great bulk of US manpower was still in the continental US, unprepared for a mass transfer to Europe. Even if the Soviets could have been provoked into a Pearl Harbor like betrayal, the picture would not have been pretty.

Roosevelt may have felt that he could face down Stalin if things got unpleasant, but I doubt that he realized how little time he had left. Certainly, Truman came into office without the preparation that one would have expected if the President felt that he was dying...and I think that was one of the big factors, because Potsdam saw Truman and the British (had Churchill been ousted by then?)get bullied into some regrettable concessions.

That Truman eventually figured the situation out, and formulated a policy that led to the eventual collapse of the Soviet Empire is entirely to his credit; had Roosevelt had him properly prepared for the job, Eastern Europe and the Baltic states might have received their independence much sooner.

cheers

horseback

blakduk
05-09-2005, 09:04 PM
Darkhorizon- points well made, but i have to remark on the last point you made.
The reason the USSR dissolved wasnt due to some trickery of the western allies cutting them out of the key industrial zones of europe. The communist system is fundamentally flawed and tends to stifle innovation and enterprise over time. It is hideously ineffecient.

darkhorizon11
05-09-2005, 10:21 PM
True, true, it fails to take into consider that people don't want to live their whole lives wearing blue jeans and red shirts, working at the same job, living in the same tiny house, with the same pay as the guy next to them who doesn't work half as hard. Incentive is everything. Thanks for pointing that out blakduk. Although trust me the Soviets were cut out economically, the lesser known Brentwood conference mapped out the economy of post-war Europe (named Brentwood because of the resort it was held at out side Washington I think) and the Soviet Union wasn't even there AFAIK. Either way I'd also say the Western Allies were pretty sly with the way they worked out the Yalta conference.

The thing that really bugs me is how Putin refers to the collapse of the former Soviet Union as the "greatest tragedy this century" and how Bush seems to agree with him. Anyway niether here nor there this isn't the forum but yeah thanks for the instructional criticism blak duk.

georgeo76
05-10-2005, 06:05 AM
Just a few points.

Pres. Bushes point about Yalta goes along w/ his ideology that human freedom is more important than short term stability. Or rather that the only true stability comes from universal liberty. (paraphrasing him of course)

Yalta was mostly between Churchill and Stalin. Roosevelt was in extremely poor health, even his lucidity is questioned by historians. If I remember correctly, the division of Europe was decided by Churchill and Stalin, who passed a peace of paper w/ the names of countrys back and forth across a table. Scary stuff.

There were many ppl @ the time who still viewed comunisim as a perfectly reasonable alternative to capitalisim. The true extent of Stalin's crimes was largely unknown in the west, because 1) as is the case through out the cold war; all the good intelligence ran west to east, and 2) what was known was kept from the public for political expediency.

The original agreement was for all the "sphere" countrys to be allowed to ultimately decide how they would be governed. While it's true Stalin betrayed this agreement, I doubt that came as any surprise to Churchill.

The 'Bomb' was still a pipe dream @ this point, and help from the Soviets in the Pacific was a paramount interest.

F19_Ob
05-10-2005, 09:06 AM
Originally posted by georgeo76:

From a humanitarian point of view: Was it ethically just to agree to soviet domination of Eastern Europe?

To me it seems like the resources for the involved was pretty much exhausted and most had to lick their own wounds.
Simplifed idea but it strikes me over and over.

That probably is one of the major reasons that historicaly quickly rule out humanitarian points of views or in best case warps them.
When the going gets tough even the goodnatured get hars.

One another simplified example from my home:
Today we have about 3000-4000 (probably more) homeless people in sweden if one dont count refugees from other countries.
20 years ago that would have been a national disaster and cause of deep shame since we had a good wellfaresystem, (partially still do)
but today the economical climate is much harder and no one really cares about them but a few volunteers, and politicians rather choose to forget about it.

We do contribute to other poor countries but I suspect a part of that is because of the advantages and favors one gains in form of influence and PR. (I believe).

In some countries I have visited, starving people are a normal part of everyday life, nothing that causes anyone to lift an eyebrow about it.

So when harsness comes in, humanitarian goes out. Can happen anywhere.

Well anyway. In the above situation it probably had been unfavorable to mess with Stalin.
The cold war kind of shows that the relations already were way off.

a thought

Endrju
05-10-2005, 11:07 AM
From what I know, Yalta was the place where main decisions were only confirmed and there was a meeting in Teheran earlier in 1943 when the division of influence zones was made. During this conference Soviet diplomacy utilized rumours about planned German diversive action (which was believed to be conducted by Otto Skorzenny) and convinced president Roosevelt to live in a building owned by Russians in Teheran. Thus his contact with Churchill became more difficult. Russians also could eavesdrop Roosevelt and his counsellors, but it seems that American president realized that and it was not any problem to him.

Apart from his state of health there should be mentioned Roosevelt's special relation to Stalin. American president admired him, if not to say that he was "bewitched" by the dictator. Along with that, it can't be said about Roosevelt that he cared a lot about Eastern-Europen countries. Once he said about Poland that "this country makes trouble in Europe from 500 years"

And last thing, not long time ago (1990) former KGB agents published a book in which they indicate Harry Hopkins, main cousellor of the American president as their "agent of influence" It means that his task was not only spying, but also exerting influence on political decisions of the highest importance.

All these facts don't allow to say that USA and Great Britain couldn't do anything about division of Europe, and they were threatened by the Red Army - they even din't want to do anything against Stalin.

Atomic_Marten
05-10-2005, 11:19 AM
Originally posted by georgeo76:
In his trip to Europe, American president Bush described the Yalta (http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/wwii/yalta.htm) conference as "one of the greatest wrongs of history"

Now I don't want to get into what any of you may think about the president, but I am interested in what you feel about this assertion.

From a humanitarian point of view: Was it ethically just to agree to soviet domination of Eastern Europe?

From a practical standpoint: Would it have been possible to force the Soviets back to their pre-war borders? Or assuming this was achieved diplomaticly or w/ force, how would these newly liberated countrys affected the reconstruction (Marshall plan)?

Politically: Was it possible for the Western Allies to achieve more w/ the Yalta talks? Or was the "Sphere of influence" a reasonable trade off for help w/ the Pacific War and a relatively stable post-war Europe.

Certainly the decisions made at Yalta had large human consequence. But it's hard to argue that this consequence was foreseen by the two western leaders, and that they, in their wisdom or folly, saw the greater good in carving up Europe.

I have one counter-question; was it ethically to allow some allied countries to re-establish their collonies after WW2? Yet no-one cries over them frequently (on this forum that is).

And who would force Soviets to abandon their eastern domination plans? Same those countries who were already enslaved whole nations for long periods of time?

Those were the dark times for many nations outhere.

Better question my friend is, who would stop all insane people with power and their plans? I'll tell you.. nobody. http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_wink.gif

BBB_Hyperion
05-10-2005, 12:15 PM
Political decisions leading to the cut in europe had been made far earlier.

30 November 1939, The Russian-Finnish Winterwar: Russian troops invade Finland.

-
December 1939,
The Finnish Government ask the League of Nations for intervention, but it will be some time before the League convenes its meeting.
Finnish 9th Division defeated Russian 163th Division near Suomussalmi. Russian offensive no success.

No allied reaction towards russia.


-
Although Britain and France declared war on 3 September, they were unable to intervene effectively on Poland's behalf. Germany's Blitzkrieg overran Poland from the west and on 17 September it was invaded by the Soviet Union from the east. On 27 September 1939 Warsaw surrendered and, two days later, Germany and the Soviet Union signed a treaty of friendship which partitioned Poland between them.

No allied reaction towards russia.

-
6 October 1939,
The last Polish ground troops surrender. Polish national losses: 700.000 men captured by the Germans, 200.000 men by the Russians and great loss of life; more than 120.000 troops could escape. Thereby German lost 10.000 men and Russia several hundred.

No allied reaction towards russia.

-
12 March 1940,
Finland signs a treaty with Russia (Moskow) giving up a large amount of territory.

-
27 June 1940,
Romania, under the demands of Joseph Stalin, cedes Bessarabia and northern Bucovina to the Soviet Union.
Invasion of the baltic states by russia.

No allied reaction towards russia.

So we can come to following conclusions.

The russian-french secret threaty allows such actions or what is more likely it was accepted cause it was clear to all deciding parties that a war against both countries germany and russia is 1 too much.
This and some more leads to the later Yalta decisions to divide Europe
as well as some aspects already mentioned.

So all what was "liberated" from both sides was pretty much under control of the military and along with that the political system that came along.

With Yalta Conference half of europe got into Stalin's hands and did give him the option to spread the political ideas almost without resistance.
and if then it was crushed by military until the system itself did show signs of instability.

Thats why i see it the same Yalta was one of the worst decisions involving Millions of people changing 1 Regime to another.

Blackdog5555
05-10-2005, 03:23 PM
Roosevelt needed Russia to help with Japan. there was no way we were going to loses a million casualties alone. Yalta was a deal with the Devil but Roosevelt didnt understand Stalins true intent and brutality. Americans were naive. Its easy to Blame the allies but the only one who needs scolding is Stalin the Anti-Christ.

Mescof1
05-10-2005, 05:28 PM
I just finished an extensive study of Roosevelt--among the books read were FDR's Last Year; Off the Record with FDR 1942-1945; and Franklin and Winston by John Mecham.

I believe it was in 1943 or early 44 (will have to recheck date) that Churchill wanted to attack the "soft underbelly of Europe," up from Italy--cutting the German lines in two. The American commander in Italy totaly agreed with him and couldn't understand the stradegy of the Normandy invasion.

In other words "cut off the head and the tail will die." I would have to agree with Churchill's assessment. Churchill knew the cost of lives that would be expended in establishing a front from the coast of France--Roosevelt didn't care.

At Yalta, Stalin even drew this point of attack (up from Italy through the soft underbelly of Europe-cutting German lines in two) out in Churchill's map room and Churchill felt he was being mocked. Stalin asked why the allies didn't attack from this point. Churchill was furious.

An attack based from this point would have put the British and American forces into Eastern Europe much earlier and possibly removed "Uncle Joe's" bargaining card.

The books I have read clearly support the former poster's opinion of Roosevelt's admiration of STalin.

Also, an American OSS (CIA) agent in Berne, Switzerland started pre-negotiations with a German General for surrender terms. After finding out, the Russians were infuriated, and felt that the Americans and British had broken their word given at Yalta that surrender would be unconditional and negotiated by all three parties (Russian, British, U.S.).

I am an American of Czech and Austrian decent, my wife is Russian--her father fought on the Russian front. My opinion is that Roosevelt let politics get in the way of sound military tactics. Roosevelt was insistant on the second front at Normandy to pacify Stalin.

The book "FDR's Last Year" contains a lot of his medical records that have now been released.

Roosevelt was in no way physically fit to serve the final term.

On the other hand, my daughter who has studied World War II extensively while earning her undergraduate degree, thinks the Russians had a right to establish a "buffer zone" after Napoleon, WWI and WWII.

Through these studies, I have gained the utmost respect for Winston Churchill, as a person, a politician, and as a military tactician--but Roosevelt carried "the big stick" and basically called the shots. For this, the blame, if any, must be placed on the president's shoulders.

This is an interesting subject, and one must be careful to view the matter with an open mind and a careful perspective of the times as they were.

Mescoff

blakduk
05-10-2005, 07:27 PM
Mescof1- Are you suggesting the western allies DIDN'T attack through Italy?????
If so, you have to check your military history. The allies did indeed invade through 'the soft underbelly' and to quote an American general (whose name i cannot immediately recall) stated 'it turned out to be a tough old gut'.
The Italians quickly surrendered but the Germans, who hadnt trusted the resolve of the Italian forces, quickly reinforced the Italian peninsula with their own troops. A vast number of atrocities were committed by those troops which the locals still vividly recall (I know from having been there and been mistaken for a German). The allied campaign in Italy quickly bogged down- its very difficult terrain to fight in, especially in the north- so their impact on the war in europe didnt amount to much in the end.
The only option left to take the fight to the axis on land was a landing on the coast of France.
The allies learned a lot of valuable lessons from the campaign in Italy that greatly increased the chances of success for the Normandy invasion.

Mescof1
05-10-2005, 07:33 PM
Originally posted by blakduk:
Mescof1- Are you suggesting the western allies DIDN'T attack through Italy?????
If so, you have to check your military history.

I am just explaing the plan that Churchill advocated and laid out and the plan that STalin mocked him with at Yalta. If you read my post carefully you'll see I did not say through Italy--I said from Italy.

I'm not privy to the plans that Churchill laid out, but I would assume he ment possiby from Torino or Milano into Lyon, France and north from there.

Roosevelt was set on the establishment of a second front starting from the coast of France--this to pacify Stalin. Roosevelt trusted Stalin, and I can furnish you with several documented quotes from him to establish that fact.

I'm convinced from what I've read that Roosevelt had no interest whatsoever in a push north "from" Italy and was content to let the Italian campaign bog down.

It may have been tough terrain in Italy, but the coast of France was no "piece of cake" due to the fortifications.

A good discussion of this topic (Churchill's Plan) and of STalin mocking him about it is contained in the book "FDR's Last Year" -- Chapter entitled February 1945.

If you would like, I can re-check the book from the Library and would be glad to furnish you with the name of the American commander in Italy who agreed with Winston Churchill.

I still maintain that a push north from Italy would have placed the allies into Eastern Europe sooner, thereby making discussion of a "sell out" of Eastern Europe moot.


Mescoff

blakduk
05-10-2005, 08:13 PM
Mescof1- point taken.
I would have to say though that Churchill seemed to have a knack for dreaming up audacious plans that were unconventional, seemingly plausible, but frequently disastrous.
As for attacking FROM italy rather than through Normandy, there were many reasons not too- supply lines were longer and much more hazardous, aircover much more problematic, the terrain much more restricting and easier for the defender to thwart the attacker's maneuvores. Once the allies saw what the wermacht was still capable of without the help of the italians the flaws in the plan became much more obvious.
Another point you made re the secret negotiations between the americans and the germans for a negotiated surrender- the USSR never trusted them and were constantly looking for evidence of betrayal (not surprising given Stalin' track record). German high commanders definitely made overtures and were horrified with the American response- Roosevelt demanded an unconditional surrender against the wishes of many, including many in Congress and Churchill.
As for your contention that Russia had the right to demand a buffer zone after the two world wars- you can certainly see their reasoning for it. They had suffered terribly in both conflicts as well as their civil war. This together with the hostility that was coming from western regimes must surely have made them insecure. But the most telling feature must have been the paranoia dripping from their politburo. Although the gulags were not spoken of openly their malignant presence was always there.

Mescof1
05-10-2005, 08:24 PM
Originally posted by blakduk:
Mescof1- point taken.
I would have to say though that Churchill seemed to have a knack for dreaming up audacious plans that were unconventional, seemingly plausible, but frequently disastrous.
As for attacking FROM italy rather than through Normandy, there were many reasons not too- supply lines were longer and much more hazardous, aircover much more problematic, the terrain much more restricting and easier for the defender to thwart the attacker's maneuvores. Once the allies saw what the wermacht was still capable of without the help of the italians the flaws in the plan became much more obvious.
Another point you made re the secret negotiations between the americans and the germans for a negotiated surrender- the USSR never trusted them and were constantly looking for evidence of betrayal (not surprising given Stalin' track record). German high commanders definitely made overtures and were horrified with the American response- Roosevelt demanded an unconditional surrender against the wishes of many, including many in Congress and Churchill.
As for your contention that Russia had the right to demand a buffer zone after the two world wars- you can certainly see their reasoning for it. They had suffered terribly in both conflicts as well as their civil war. This together with the hostility that was coming from western regimes must surely have made them insecure. But the most telling feature must have been the paranoia dripping from their politburo. Although the gulags were not spoken of openly their malignant presence was always there.

Excellent Point!

Quote from "Winston and Franklin," page 126:

"At his meeting with Ibn Saud after the president's, Churchill and Muslim custom collided, but Churchill won. "I had been told that neither smoking nor alcoholic beverages were allowed in the Royal Presence," Churchill recalled. "As I was host at luncheon I raised the matter at once, and said to the interpreter that if it was the religion of His Majesty to deprive himself of smoking and alcohol I must point out that my rule of life prescribed as an absolutely sacred rite smoking cigars and also the drinking of alcohol before, after, and if need be during all meals and in the intervals between them, Churchill told the Saudi potentate. "The King graciously accepted the position."

As far as the secret negotiations between the Germans and the Americans, ie. the agent in Berne, all the evidence I can find characterized them as pre-negotiations and Washington was not aware they were happening.

Roosevelt realized, or began to realize, by March of 1945 that he had misjudged STalin.

You must also remember that the United Nations was Roosevelt's baby. He wanted success for this body more than anything else. This would be his legacy. The first meeting of the new "United Nations" was to be held in San Fancisco in June of 1945. Unfortunately, on April 12th, the president passed away.

Stalin insisted on three votes for Russia, and Roosevelt was using Eastern Europe as a bargaining chip.

It's not my contention that Russia had the right to demand a buffer zone, that was my daughter's opinion. My wife, who is Russian, absolutely disagrees with our daughter and thinks the Russians, if worried about another attack through Poland in the future, should have just built up their defenses in that area and left Poland alone.

We'll just have to respectfully "agree to disagree" about the effectivness of the push north "from" Italy as opposed to the Normandy Invasion in relation to, and its resultant affect on, the status of Eastern Europe following World War II.

Goodnight,

Mescoff

blakduk
05-10-2005, 09:49 PM
Mescof1- I fully agree with your comments re Roosevelt, he seems to have underestimated Stalin for quite some time. So did Hitler who had good intelligence prior to Barbarossa that the Red Army was in chaos and effectively leaderless thanks to Stalin's purges. It seems to have dawned on Roosevelt rather late that the USSR had the resources to make significant inroads into the German reich/western europe rather than just holding their own.
As for your anecdote about Churchill- the stories abounding about him and the quotes he is credited with make for remarkable reading. He truly was a great character of the 20th century. A flawed yet brilliant man.
One of the best stories i recall reading was of him being confronted by a woman at a dinner party who was offended by his copious consumption of alcohol. She allegedly confronted him and said 'You're a disgrace, you are hopelessly drunk'.
To which he replied 'Well madam, I may be drunk and you're ugly... however in the morning i shall be sober'