Post WWII Negotiations — The Potsdam Conference
The Potsdam Conference was a meeting of the victorious leaders of the Allies in Europe. It was held in an unbombed suburb of Berlin from July 17 - August 2, 1945.
Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and President Truman began the conference for their respective countries. On the agenda was the partitioning of the postwar world and resolving the problems of the war in the Far East. This included:
- The division of Germany.
- The movement of populations from Czechoslovakia, Austria, and Italy.
- Issuing a proclamation demanding unconditional surrender from the Japanese government.
Day 47 - Yalta Conference
“I didn’t say the result was good. I said it was the best I could do.”
-Franklin Roosevelt to diplomat Adolf Berle, Jr.
In the winter of 1945, Roosevelt met with Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin for the last time. The setting was the Ukrainian town of Yalta.
The Big Three gathered to chart a course for final victory in World War II. But during the Yalta Conference, they also struggled to create the basis for post-war cooperation.
FDR received Stalin’s firm commitment to enter the increasingly bloody war against Japan three months after Germany’s defeat. With American casualties rising in the Pacific war— and the atomic bomb yet untested— this was a significant achievement for the President. The Big Three also formally agreed to another of FDR’s priorities—the establishment of the United Nations organization. But there were serious disagreements about the future of Germany and the fate of areas occupied by Soviet armies, especially Poland.
While at the Yalta Conference, Joseph Stalin presented President Roosevelt with this set of bear fur gloves and Dukat papirosa (unfiltered) cigarettes. Inside the box are 13 unused cigarettes.
As a memento of the trip, this short snorter was created using a one chervonitz Soviet bill. A short snorter was a bill, typically from the destination country, signed by fellow travelers of a transoceanic flight. While Roosevelt, Churchill, Stalin, and Steve Early’s names are handwritten on the edges of the bill, they did not sign the bill. The bill was signed by Edwin M. Watson (just days before he died), Ross T. McIntire, Edward Flynn, Harry L. Hopkins, James F. Byrnes, William Leahy, an unidentifiable signature, and Anna Roosevelt Boettiger.
Day 46: FDR at Malta
On February 2, 1945, FDR arrived in Malta aboard the USS Quincy for a preliminary conference with Prime Minister Winston Churchill before the meeting in Yalta of Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin.
On this day, June 25, 1945, the United Nations Charter is signed in San Francisco. Here, Secretary of State Edward Stettinius signs the charter while President Harry S. Truman (second from left) looks on. The United States delegation is gathered around.
It’s the 90th Birthday of George Bush!
George Herbert Walker Bush was born on June 12, 1924, in Milton, Massachusetts.
On his 18th birthday, Bush graduated from Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts with World War II raging on two fronts. That same day, although he had been accepted at Yale University, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy as a seaman second class. He received his wings on June 9, 1943, becoming the youngest pilot in the U.S. Navy at the time.
During World War II, Bush flew torpedo bombers, completing 58 missions. On a run over Chichi Jima in 1944, his plane was hit by anti-aircraft fire. Bush bailed out and was rescued by a Navy submarine.
For his service during WWII, Bush was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and three Air Medals.
Watch this space for more on the life of George Bush throughout today.
Happy Birthday President Bush!
George Bush in Kennebunkport, Maine, circa 1925; At age 12; At Phillips Academy, Andover, MA. circa 1940; U.S. Navy Portrait (1942-1945); U.S. Navy Pilot George Bush in the cockpit of an Avenger, (1942-45).
Day 19: Visits by Winston Churchill
“It is fun to be in the same decade with you.”
-Franklin Roosevelt to Winston Churchill, January 1942
The friendship between Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill formed the core of the Anglo-American alliance during World War II.
On September 11, 1939—ten days after Germany invaded Poland— FDR wrote a confidential letter to Churchill, who had just entered the British cabinet as First Lord of the Admiralty. Roosevelt wanted to open a direct line of communication with him. He encouraged Churchill to “keep me in touch personally with anything you want me to know about.”
FDR’s note was the start of an extraordinary six-year correspondence between the two men that totaled almost 2000 messages.
Between 1941 and 1945, they would also spend 113 days together, beginning with an August 1941 meeting in the North Atlantic and ending at the Yalta Conference in February 1945. Churchill made visits to the United States in 1941, 1942, 1943 & 1944, including a trip to Washington, D.C. shortly after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
Day 15: D-Day
On the night of June 6, 1944, President Roosevelt went on national radio to address the nation for the first time about the Normandy invasion. His speech took the form of a prayer.
The date and timing of the Normandy invasion had been top secret. During a national radio broadcast on June 5 about the Allied liberation of Rome, President Roosevelt made no mention of the Normandy operation, already underway at that time.
When he spoke to the country on June 6, the President felt the need to explain his earlier silence. Shortly before he went on the air, he added several handwritten lines to the opening of his speech that addressed that point. They read: “Last night, when I spoke to you about the fall of Rome, I knew at that moment that troops of the United States and our allies were crossing the Channel in another and greater operation. It has come to pass with success thus far.”
These color photographs show the troops getting ready for the D-Day assault at an British port. Most of the color stills in the National Archives show the preparations rather than the invasion.
You can see more color photographs on the Media Matters blog.
Image: 111-C-1258, “These American troops have loaded their equipment onto an LCT and are waiting the signal for the assault against the Continent.”
Image: 111-SC-1237, “American troops at a British port descend into barges which will take them to troop ships from which they will launch the attack against Hitler’s Fortress Europe.”
Image: 111-SC-1248, “Medics and litter bearers going up the ramp of an LCT which will take them to France for the assault against Hitler’s Europe.”
Image: 111-SC-1232, “American troops at a British port descend into barges which will take them to troop ships from which they will launch the attack against Hitler’s Fortress Europe. Note Barrage balloons in the background.”
The Paratroopers of D-Day
When we think about the Normandy Invasion, most of us remember the troops landing on the beaches under heavy enemy fire. Just as important were the contributions of Airborne troops who parachuted into France before amphibious landing began.
More about the Airborne Division and "Operation Neptune" from the Eisenhower Library.