This Day in History: 1945 Allied leaders gather at Potsdam

ad42f8d218e1baf048dd5179db015d5dThe leaders of the three Allied nations have gathered in the German city of Potsdam to decide the future of a defeated Germany.
British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, US President Harry S Truman and leader of the Soviet Union Josef Stalin, accompanied by senior ministers and military staff, are conducting a systematic review of the political and economic situation in Europe.
The main aims of the conference are:
– to establish the future control of Germany
– to decide how to disable certain industries in Germany so that the country cannot rise up against its neighbours again
– to ensure delivery of food and raw materials to a liberated Europe ravaged by war and in danger of famine
Adequate shipping is desperately need to bring in supplies, but allied ships are currently in demand in the Pacific region where fighting is continuing.
The war in the Pacific will certainly be high on the agenda.
Earlier this year the Soviet Union broke is treaty of friendship with Japan and the Japanese are hoping the USSR will not get involved in the war in the Far East.
In the last few days US battleships and swarms of planes have been bombarding Japan’s industrial cities.
The Japanese, crippled by defeats on islands off the Philippines last October, have been slow to respond and even the infamous suicide aircraft have been conspicuous by their absence.
Churchill visits Hitler’s bunker
There is tight security around the conference which is being held in a secret location and guarded by thousands of British, American and Soviet troops.
Earlier today, Mr Churchill and President Truman each visited the shattered German capital, Berlin.
Mr Churchill, accompanied by Foreign Minister Anthony Eden and his daughter Mary Churchill, was greeted at the Brandenburg Gate by Colonel-General Gorabotov, the Soviet Military Governor of Berlin.
The US President was driven in the summer heat through battle scarred avenues and past refugees camping out on the roadside.His car stopped at the ruins of the old Reichs Chancery from where Hitler made his speeches.
He declined an invitation by Soviet Major-General Sidnev to inspect the building and drove on.
When Mr Churchill arrived, he was also greeted by the major-general, and his party got out of the car and walked through a crowd of amazed onlookers whispering: “It’s Churchill, see the cigar.”
He inspected the damaged walls of the building and was then driven by jeep to see the interior. The British group then visited the Fuhrer’s room on the first floor and Hitler’s legendary bunker.
He was also shown the spot where the bodies of Hitler and Eva Braun were said to have been burned.
When he emerged from the Chancery, the prime minister was cheered by a group of British sailors and Royal Marines who were also visiting the war-torn city, and then returned to Potsdam.

Courtesy BBC News

In context

This was the third and last of the big war conferences after Teheran and Yalta.
It was Prime Minister-elect Clement Attlee who finally signed the Potsdam Agreement on behalf of Britain after Churchill was defeated in the general election on 26 July.
That day the leaders issued a statement known as the Potsdam Declaration. In it they demanded Japan’s unconditional surrender by 28 July and threatened Japan with “utter destruction”.
Japan refused the terms.
The US dropped two atomic bombs on Hiroshima on 6 August and Nagasaki on 9 August, the day Soviet forces invaded Japanese-occupied Manchuria in China.
Japan officially surrendered on 2 September 1945.
As a result of Potsdam, Germany was divided into four occupation zones.
An Allied Control Council was created and made up of representatives of the four Allies to deal with matters affecting Germany and Austria.
At Potsdam, leaders made plans to introduce representative and elective principles of government in Germany, discussed reparations, outlawed the Nazi Party and decentralised the German economy.
It was also agreed that Poland’s western frontier should run along the Oder-Neisse line. The German population of certain Eastern European territories – more than 10 million people – were transferred to Germany.
Political differences between the USA and USSR, and the breaching of the agreement by Stalin over reparations, marked the start of the Cold War.

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