Winston Churchill

ChurchillSir Winston ChurchillChurchill, Winston
In January he told a colleague that he believed that de Gaulle was "a great danger to peace and for Great Britain. After five years of experience, I am convinced that he is the worst enemy of France in her troubles ... he is one of the greatest dangers to European peace ... I am sure that in the long run no understanding will be reached with General de Gaulle". In France, there were accusations that Britain had armed the demonstrators, and de Gaulle raged against 'Churchill's ultimatum', saying that "the whole thing stank of oil".

Franklin D. Roosevelt

RooseveltFranklin RooseveltPresident Roosevelt
Though reluctant to back an unelected government, Roosevelt recognized Charles de Gaulle's Provisional Government of the French Republic as the de facto government of France in July 1944. After most of France had been liberated from German occupation, Roosevelt granted formal recognition to de Gaulle's government in October 1944. Over the following months, the Allies liberated more territory from Nazi occupation and began the invasion of Germany. By April 1945, Nazi resistance was crumbling in the face of advances by both the Western Allies and the Soviet Union. In the opening weeks of the war, Japan conquered the Philippines and the British and Dutch colonies in Southeast Asia.

Joseph Stalin

StalinJosef StalinJosif Stalin
Stalin attended the Potsdam Conference in July–August 1945, alongside his new British and U.S. counterparts, Prime Minister Clement Attlee and President Harry Truman. At the conference, Stalin repeated previous promises to Churchill that he would refrain from a "Sovietization" of Eastern Europe. Stalin pushed for reparations from Germany without regard to the base minimum supply for German citizens' survival, which worried Truman and Churchill who thought that Germany would become a financial burden for Western powers.

World War II

Second World WarwarWWII
These landings were successful, and led to the defeat of the German Army units in France. Paris was liberated on 25 August by the local resistance assisted by the Free French Forces, both led by General Charles de Gaulle, and the Western Allies continued to push back German forces in western Europe during the latter part of the year. An attempt to advance into northern Germany spearheaded by a major airborne operation in the Netherlands failed. After that, the Western Allies slowly pushed into Germany, but failed to cross the Ruhr river in a large offensive. In Italy, Allied advance also slowed due to the last major German defensive line.

Soviet Union

In 1939, the Soviet Union made a dramatic shift toward Nazi Germany. Almost a year after Britain and France had concluded the Munich Agreement with Germany, the Soviet Union made agreements with Germany as well, both militarily and economically during extensive talks. The two countries concluded the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact and the German–Soviet Commercial Agreement in August 1939. The nonaggression pact made possible Soviet occupation of Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Bessarabia, northern Bukovina, and eastern Poland. In late November, unable to coerce the Republic of Finland by diplomatic means into moving its border 25 km back from Leningrad, Joseph Stalin ordered the invasion of Finland.

Vyacheslav Molotov

MolotovHammerV.M. Molotov
Molotov accompanied Stalin to the Teheran Conference in 1943, the Yalta Conference in 1945, and, following the defeat of Germany, the Potsdam Conference. He represented the Soviet Union at the San Francisco Conference, which created the United Nations. Even during the period of wartime alliance, Molotov was known as a tough negotiator and a determined defender of Soviet interests. Molotov lost his position of First Deputy Chairman on March 19, 1946, after the Council of People's Commissars was reformed as the Council of Ministers. From 1945 to 1947, Molotov took part in all four conferences of foreign ministers of the victorious states in World War II.

Allies of World War II

AlliedAlliesAllied forces
Canada was the last member of the Commonwealth to declare war on Germany on 10 September 1939. Because of Cuba's geographical position at the entrance of the Gulf of Mexico, Havana's role as the principal trading port in the West Indies, and the country's natural resources, Cuba was an important participant in the American Theater of World War II, and subsequently one of the greatest beneficiaries of the United States' Lend-Lease program.

Cold War

the Cold Warcold-warCold War era
The unity of NATO was breached early in its history, with a crisis occurring during Charles de Gaulle's presidency of France. De Gaulle protested at the strong role of the United States in the organization and what he perceived as a special relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom. In a memorandum sent to President Dwight D.

Eastern Front (World War II)

Eastern FrontGreat Patriotic WarWorld War II
Soviet production and upkeep was assisted by the Lend-Lease program from the United States and the United Kingdom. In the course of the war the US supplied $11 billion of materiel through Lend-Lease. This included 400,000 trucks, 12,000 armored vehicles (including 7,000 tanks), 11,400 aircraft and 1.75 million tons of food. The British supplied aircraft including 3,000 Hurricanes and 4,000 other aircraft during the war. Five thousand tanks were provided by the British and Canada. Total British supplies were about four million tons.

Western betrayal

Munich Betrayalfelt betrayedbetrayal
The term refers to several events, including the treatment of Czechoslovakia during the Munich Agreement and the resulting occupation by Germany, as well as the betrayal at Abbeville (Anglo-French Supreme War Council) of France and the UK to aid Poland when the country was invaded by Germany and the Soviet Union in 1939. The same concept also refers to the concessions made by the United States and the United Kingdom to the Soviet Union during the Tehran, Yalta, and Potsdam conferences, to their passive stance during the Warsaw Uprising against Nazi occupation, and post-war events, which allocated the region to the Soviet sphere of influence and created the communist Eastern Bloc.

Eastern Bloc

Soviet bloccommunist blocEastern Europe
The Lost Border: Photographs of the Iron Curtain. "Symbols in Transition" Documentary film regarding the post-89 handling of the political symbols and buildings of eastern Europe.

Oder–Neisse line

frontier changesGerman-Polish bordersubsequent border shift
Churchill later claimed that he would never have agreed to the Oder–Western Neisse line, and in his famous Iron Curtain speech declared that The Russian-dominated Polish Government has been encouraged to make enormous and wrongful inroads upon Germany, and mass expulsions of millions of Germans on a scale grievous and undreamed-of are now taking place. Not only were the German territorial changes of the Nazis reversed, but the border was moved westward, deep into territory which had been in 1937 part of Germany with an almost exclusively German population.

United Kingdom

Britain entered the Second World War by declaring war on Nazi Germany in 1939 after Germany had invaded Poland. Winston Churchill became prime minister and head of a coalition government in 1940. Despite the defeat of its European allies in the first year of the war, Britain and its Empire continued the fight alone against Germany. In 1940, the Royal Air Force defeated the German Luftwaffe in a struggle for control of the skies in the Battle of Britain. Urban areas suffered heavy bombing during the Blitz. There were also eventual hard-fought victories in the Battle of the Atlantic, the North Africa campaign and the Burma campaign.

European theatre of World War II

European theatreEuropean TheaterEurope
In order to further the humiliation of the French people and the country itself, Hitler arranged for the surrender document to be signed in the Forest of Compiègne, in the same railway coach where the German surrender had been signed in 1918. The surrender divided France into two major parts; the northern part under German control, and a southern part under French control, based at Vichy and referred to as Vichy France, a rump state friendly to Germany. Many French soldiers, as well as those of other occupied countries, escaped to Britain. The General de Gaulle proclaimed himself the legitimate leader of Free France and vowed to continue to fight.

Axis powers

AxisAxis forcesAxis power
In 1945, under Japanese sponsorship, the Empire of Vietnam and the Kingdom of Kampuchea were proclaimed as Japanese puppet states. On 26 September 1940, de Gaulle led an attack by Allied forces on the Vichy port of Dakar in French West Africa. Forces loyal to Pétain fired on de Gaulle and repulsed the attack after two days of heavy fighting, drawing Vichy France closer to Germany. During the Anglo–Iraqi War of May 1941, Vichy France allowed Germany and Italy to use air bases in the French mandate of Syria to support the Iraqi revolt. British and Free French forces attacked later Syria and Lebanon in June–July 1941, and in 1942 Allied forces took over French Madagascar.


SudetenSudeten crisisSudeten Germans
To achieve a solution, Italian dictator Benito Mussolini suggested a conference of the major powers in Munich and on 29 September, Hitler, Daladier and Chamberlain met and agreed to Mussolini's proposal (actually prepared by Hermann Göring) and signed the Munich Agreement, accepting the immediate occupation of the Sudetenland. The Czechoslovak government, though not party to the talks, submitted to compulsion and promised to abide by the agreement on 30 September. The Sudetenland was assigned to Germany between 1 October and 10 October 1938.

Origins of the Cold War

Cold War emerged in Europeonset of the Cold Warorigins of the conflict
In occupied Germany, the US and the Soviet Union established zones of occupation and a loose framework for four-power control with the ailing French and British. At the Potsdam Conference starting in late July 1945, the Allies met to decide how to administer the defeated Nazi Germany, which had agreed to unconditional surrender nine weeks earlier on May 7 and May 8, 1945, VE day. Serious differences emerged over the future development of Germany and Eastern Europe. At Potsdam, the US was represented by a new president, Harry S. Truman, who on April 12 succeeded to the office upon Roosevelt's death.

Red Army

Soviet ArmySovietSoviet troops
Regarding prisoners of war, both sides captured large numbers and had many die in captivity – one recent British figure says 3.6 of 6 million Soviet POWs died in German camps, while 300,000 of 3 million German POWs died in Soviet hands. From the fall of East Prussia, Soviet soldiers carried out large-scale rapes in Germany, especially noted in Berlin until the beginning of May 1945.

Presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt

Roosevelt AdministrationFranklin D. Roosevelt's presidencyF. D. Roosevelt presidency
In 1936, Germany remilitarized the Rhineland in defiance of the Versailles Treaty. In March 1938, Germany peacefully annexed Austria. Later that year, Germany demanded the annexation of German-speaking parts of Czechoslovakia. In a last desperate effort to keep the peace, Britain and France agreed to German demands with the September 1938 Munich Agreement. Roosevelt supported Britain and France, and insisted on American neutrality in Europe. In March 1939, Hitler flouted the Munich Agreement by occupying the remaining portions of Czechoslovakia. In response, the British announced their commitment to defending Poland, which many assumed Hitler would attack next.

Clement Attlee

AttleeEarl AttleeAttlee government
However, with the rising threat from Nazi Germany, and the ineffectiveness of the League of Nations, this policy eventually lost credibility. By 1937, Labour had jettisoned its pacifist position and came to support rearmament and oppose Neville Chamberlain's policy of appeasement. In 1938, Attlee opposed the Munich Agreement, in which Chamberlain negotiated with Hitler to give Germany the German-speaking parts of Czechoslovakia, the Sudetenland: We all feel relief that war has not come this time. Every one of us has been passing through days of anxiety; we cannot, however, feel that peace has been established, but that we have nothing but an armistice in a state of war.

Polish People's Republic

Polandcommunist PolandRepublic of Poland
These awards were confirmed at the Tripartite Conference of Berlin, otherwise known as the Potsdam Conference in August 1945 after the end of the war in Europe. Stalin was determined that Poland's new government would become his tool towards making Poland a Soviet puppet state controlled by the communists. He had severed relations with the Polish government-in-exile in London in 1943, but to appease Roosevelt and Churchill he agreed at Yalta that a coalition government would be formed. The communists held a majority of key posts in this new government, and with Soviet support they soon gained almost total control of the country, rigging all elections.

Harry S. Truman

TrumanHarry TrumanPresident Truman
Truman benefited from a honeymoon period after Roosevelt's death, and from the Allies' success in Europe, ending the war against Nazi Germany. Truman was pleased to issue the proclamation of V-E Day on May 8, 1945, his 61st birthday. "We have discovered the most terrible bomb in the history of the world. It may be the fire destruction prophesied in the Euphrates Valley Era, after Noah and his fabulous Ark." - Harry Truman, writing about the atomic bomb in his diary on July 25, 1945 In the wake of Allied victory, Truman journeyed to Europe for the Potsdam Conference. He was there when he learned the Trinity test—the first atomic bomb—on July 16 had been successful.


eastern PolandEastern Borderlandseastern
In September 1939, after the Soviet Union joined Nazi Germany in their attack on Poland in accordance with the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, the territories were incorporated into Soviet Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania in the atmosphere of terror. The Soviet gains in the course of World War II were ratified by the Allies at the Tehran Conference, the Yalta Conference and the Potsdam Conference. When the Soviet Union broke up, the former Kresy remained a significant part of the former Soviet republics as they gained independence.


The minority Germans came to accept their role in the new country and relations with Austria were good. Yet the Great Depression caused a sharp economic downturn, followed by political disruption and insecurity in Europe. Thereafter Czechoslovakia came under continuous pressure from the revisionist governments of Germany and Hungary. Eventually this led to the Munich Agreement of September 1938, which allowed Nazi Germany to partially dismember the country by occupying what was called the Sudetenland, a region with a German-speaking majority and bordering Germany and Austria.

Hastings Ismay, 1st Baron Ismay

Hastings IsmayGeneral IsmayLord Ismay
After VE Day, Ismay accompanied Churchill to the Potsdam Conference. Like Yalta, the conference focussed primarily on political issues, so there was little for Ismay to do. After Clement Attlee defeated Churchill in the 1945 election, becoming Prime Minister, Ismay kept his position, working with Attlee at the conference, but remained loyal to Churchill. Ismay and Churchill remained friends for the remainder of their lives, and Ismay even helped Churchill write his memoirs, reviewing and commenting on each chapter of his manuscript. Shortly after the Potsdam Conference, the war in Asia ended on VJ Day.