HIST 2340-US Diplomatic History after 1900
Best of What’s Around: Roosevelt and the Nature at Yalta
The destructiveness of World War II ravaged the world for six years, and saw millions of
lives ended at the hands of more horrific and brutally weapons than any had ever seen. But the
war could not last forever, and by early February 1945, the “Big Three” Allied Powers were
again meeting to discuss their plans for a postwar world. However, unlike previous conferences
between the Allies, this conference would go down in history for the controversies that emerged
from its decisions and compromises. This conference was the Yalta Conference, and it has
become an argument among many circles that President Franklin Roosevelt “sold out” to Soviet
General Secretary Josef Stalin, and ultimately gave away Eastern Europe and Northeast Asia to
the “Red menace.” But is this true? Given the situation that the Allies found themselves in, both
through their engagement with the war, and the preexisting geopolitical nature of Eastern
Europe, Roosevelt did not “sell out” to the Soviets, but instead negotiated terms with his ally
that, given the then present situation, were the best that anyone could hope for.
The Yalta Conference lasted from February 4-11, 1945, and was devised to work out the
fate of postwar Europe between the United States, United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union.
Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin all went into Yalta with goals for the postwar world, with the
Western Allies and the USSR often conflicting over issues of political influence and alignment.
Indeed, over the course of the conference, two particular issues would become the background of
most controversies surrounding the conference:
1. The fate of Poland and Eastern Europe
1Athan G. Theoharis,
The Yalta Myths
(Columbia: University of Missouri Press), 11