Volume 7, December 2003, Section E034

The Polish Question at the Yalta Conference



Demetris I. Loizos, B.A., M.A./M.Phil, D.HA

History Professor




            The Livadia Palace in YaltaYalta or Jalta is a city located on the Crimean peninsula, nowadays in southern Ukraine. In 1928 it had a population of about 30,000 and it was the center of the health resorts in the Black Sea. However, when the Germans evacuated the area during the Second World War, they caused damages to all the buildings and, therefore, in 1945 it was a ruined city with roofless houses.[1] This was the place that was chosen by the Big Three (F. Roosevelt, W. Churchill and J. Stalin) as a meeting point in early 1945. Two Palaces from the tsarist era were to offer hospitality to the three delegations. The plenary sessions of the meeting were held every afternoon at the Livadia Palace, while the meetings of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs as well as the military talks took place in the Yusupov Palace in the mornings.[2]

            One of the focal points of discussion in Yalta was the Polish issue that consisted of two major questions. The first one was the border line on both the west and the east side of Poland and the second question was who was going to govern the country.[3] Concerning the Polish frontiers, the Russians aimed at the annexation of part of the eastern territories of Poland which, in fact, were part of Russia before the Russo-Polish war of 1920-1921. In 1921 the Treaty of Riga set the Polish frontier 150 miles east of the Curzon line[4] and a considerable number of Russians found themselves under Polish administration. It was also true, however, that about one million Poles lived to the east of the Riga frontier and therefore an ethnologically precise settlement of the border was unrealistic.[5]

            On the other hand, the problem of the Polish government was difficult as well. In early 1945 there were two Polish governments. One of them was in exile in London and it was referred to as the London Poles or London Government; the other one was in Lublin (Poland) and it was referred to as the Lublin Committee or the Lublin Government. The London Government was composed of the members of the Polish Government who had fled the country at the beginning of World War II while the Lublin Government consisted of young Poles who had remained in the country during the war and belonged to the Left. In January 1945, the Lublin Committee, being pro-Soviet, declared itself the Provisional Government of Poland and it was immediately recognized by the USSR.[6]

            Stalin justified this action of recognition in the following words:


            I think that Poland cannot be left without a government. Accordingly, the Soviet Government has agreed to recognize the Provisional Polish Government [...] I hope that events will show that our recognition of the Polish Government in Lublin is in keeping with the interests of the common cause of the Allies and that it will help accelerate the defeat of Germany.[7]

            Stalin had already expressed his views clearly on this issue in a letter to Roosevelt:


            We cannot tolerate a situation in which terrorists, instigated by Polish emigres [non-communist elements who had left Poland after the beginning of the war] assassinate Red Army soldiers and officers in Poland, wage a criminal struggle against the Soviet forces engaged in liberating Poland and directly aid our enemies, with whom they are virtually in league. [...] It should be borne in mind that the Soviet Union, more than any other Power, has a stake in strengthening a pro-Ally and democratic Poland [...] because the Polish problem is inseparable from that of the security of the Soviet Union. To this I should add that the Red Army's success in fighting the Germans in Poland largely depends on a tranquil and reliable rear in Poland, and the Polish National Committee [Lublin Poles] is fully cognisant of this circumstance, whereas the emigre Government [London Poles] and its underground agents by their acts of terror threaten civil war [...][8]

            Stalin rushed to recognize the Lublin Government in Poland because it was loyal to the communists; he needed stability and tranquility in the rear of the Red Army when the final offensive against Germany began in mid-January 1945. Also, in this way, the London Government (anticommunist) would not have been able to take over in Poland when the war would come to an end, although it was the legal Polish Government. Furthermore, Stalin was aware of how much the Poles disliked the Russians when they recalled the Soviet foreign policy before the war. The Poles remembered well the Soviet policy of partition that had been followed after a secret agreement between the USSR and Germany in 1939 (Ribendrop-Molotov Pact). After all, the whole history of Russo-Polish relations is a history of mutual mistrust and national hatred. Therefore, Stalin had to secure the support of the Polish Government in order to prevent any action of the Poles against the Soviet army. Stalin would also like the idea of using in the future Poland as a buffer state between the Soviet Union and the West: a tsarist policy that had been followed after the 18th century.

            Both Roosevelt and Churchill expressed their disappointment with Stalin's action and sent messages to him saying that the Polish question should be discussed in detail at the Crimean conference.[9] Churchill was much more distressed because he had tried to prevent Russian influence in Poland using the London Government. A meeting was arranged between Stalin and Mikolajczyk (head of the London Poles) in 1944 to solve their differences. The London Government, however, did not want to accept the Curzon line although this solution was supported by all three —Roosevelt, Stalin and Churchill. When Mikolajczyk resigned and was replaced by Arciszewski, the new London Government in exile had clearly become anti-Soviet.[10]

            Churchill and Roosevelt, therefore, arrived in Yalta facing, on the one hand, the fait accompli of the Polish Provisional Government supported and recognized by the USSR and, on the other hand, the London Government that was irreconcilable in its views. The Secretary of State, Edward Stettinius, Edward Stettiniushad already prepared a memorandum of suggested action items for the President. In the case of Poland the US favored the Curzon line in the east with the town of Lwow remaining in Poland and a transfer of German territory limited to East Prussia (a small coasted salient of Pomerania) and Upper Silesia (Map 1). The USA also supported the formation of a new representative government that would hold free elections when conditions permitted. Inclusion of Mikolajczyk in a provisional government was considered to be important but the Lublin government was not going to be recognized in its present form.[11]

            In this case, the Americans did not follow the policy of just diplomacy at it refers to the nationalities. Although the Curzon line was not the best solution for Poland and did not compensate the country for what it had suffered during the war, it would appease the Russians and clear their grievances related to the greater Poland of the interwar period. At the same time with Lwow remaining Polish there would be no common border between Czechoslovakia and the USSR and the latter would be far away from Hungary and Central Europe. The western allies wanted as little Russian influence in this part of Europe as possible. As far as the western Polish frontier was concerned, the Americans offered Poland territory inhabited mainly by Germans and including East Prussia. The inclusion of East Prussia would solve the irregularities that had been observed with Wilson's policy of self-determination of populations, according to which Germany was cut into two pieces because of the Polish Corridor to Danzig. Last but not least, free elections were considered essential so that an imposed government composed by communists would be avoided.

            Although, therefore, the two first days of the Conference were devoted to the discussion of the German problem or to informative meetings, on 6 February 1945 the discussion turned to Poland. President Roosevelt opened the discussion on Poland by saying that he believed Americans were in favor of the Curzon line and looked forward for a representative government in Poland that would be composed of the leaders of the five political parties.[12] Churchill confirmed that the British government was in favor of the Curzon line (Lwow though remaining in the USSR) because Britain believed that a "strong, free and independent Poland was much more important than particular territorial boundaries." Churchill claimed that it was because he trusted the declarations of Stalin about the sovereignty and independence of Poland that he placed the frontier issue second, meaning they could be discussed later on.[13] The British Prime Minister said that the Polish Government in London was recognized by his country. Although he himself had had no contact with it, he felt that Mikolajczyk, Gralski and Pouner (members of the London Government) were all honest men. Churchill also suggested the creation of a government for Poland to hold elections.[14]

            Stalin began his speech by saying that the Polish question was for the Soviet Union an issue of both honor and security because both countries had long-lived disputes between themselves and a strong Poland would not become again "a corridor for attack on Russia."[15] Stalin was very much against the Curzon line because it left Bialystok (or Belostok) and the Bialystoc region to Poland (Map 1).[16] It seems that the Russians would feel more secure with a Russo-Polish border along the two rivers west of Bialystok. Stalin was also very critical of Churchill's proposal to create a Polish government in Yalta and said that "a Polish government could be set up only with the participation and consent of the Poles." He claimed that the London Government dropped Mikolajczyk because it did not want to come to an agreement with the Lublin Government. Moreover, he said that the latter refused to hear of any unity with the government in exile. Stalin was upset because he wanted tranquility in the Red Army's rear and he had information that some underground forces had killed 212 Soviet soldiers. Therefore, according to him, the Warsaw Government turned out to be useful and the London Government and its agents in Poland, harmful in this war against the Germans. Stalin concluded that he would support the government that would give peace in the rear of the Russian army.[17] Roosevelt said nothing.

            That same night Roosevelt, after he consulted with Churchill, sent a letter to Stalin, part of which read as follows:


            In so far as the Polish Government is concerned, I am greatly disturbed that the three Great Powers do not have a meeting of mind about the political set up in Poland. It seems to me that it puts all of us in a bad light throughout the world to have you recognizing one government while we and the British are recognizing another in London [...]

            [...] I would like to develop your proposal a little and suggest that we invite here to Yalta at once Mr Bierut and Mr Osubka Morawski from the Lublin Government and also two or three from the following list of Poles [representing ...] the other elements of the Polish people. [...] We could jointly agree with them on a provisional government in Poland which should no doubt include some Polish leaders from abroad such as Mr Mikolajczyk, Mr Gralski, and Mr Romer [...][18]

Most probably, the Americans foresaw the dangers that the open question of the formation of a representative Polish government had created and rushed to make their ideas clear before the next meeting. It seems though that the opportunity to exercise pressure on Stalin was missed when Roosevelt remained silent in the last meeting during the day.

            The next day (7 February 1945) Stalin stated that he had received the President's letter but he was not sure if there would be enough time for both the representatives of the Lublin Poles and those of the London Government to come to the Crimea.[19] In this way Stalin postponed any real action of the delegations at the Conference to solve the problem of the Polish government immediately. Moreover, he suggested that the American legation  listened to the proposals Molotov had worked out. Molotov proposed that (1) the Curzon line would be the eastern frontier of Poland; (2) the Polish western frontier would run from the town of Stettin (Polish) to the south along the rivers Oder and West Neisse (Map 1 and Map 2); (3) some democratic leaders from Polish emigre circles would be added to the provisional Government; (4) the enlarged Provisional Government would be recognized by the Allies; and (5) would call the Poles to polls as soon as possible.[20] Stalin tried to prove his good intentions by accepting the Curzon line and compensating Poland with German territory in the west. He also accepted the idea of "emigres" Poles, as he called them, in the future government. Stalin might have thought that he had nothing to loose by promising the allies what they had more or less actually demanded, since the Red Army had virtually occupied the whole of Poland and was now approaching Berlin (Map 3: Front line 8 February 1945).

            Both Roosevelt and Churchill were embarrassed with the word "emigre" that was used and Churchill proposed to change it to "Poles temporarily abroad," to which Stalin agreed. Churchill was also not satisfied with the western Polish boundaries and particularly concerning the area west of the river Oder (Map 1). Those territories, continued Churchill, were heavily populated by Germans and the Russian proposal would involve a movement of German population. "It would be a great pity to stuff the Polish goose so full of German food that it died of indigestion," concluded the British Prime Minister. But Stalin assured him that the Soviet Army would leave no Germans in this area.[21]

            Meanwhile, Stettinius passed to the President the following written warning: "Have we the authority to deal with a boundary question of this kind, giving a guarantee?" When Churchill began to speak, Roosevelt wrote on a piece of paper: "Now we are in for 1/2 hour of it."[22] Stettinius wanted to warn Roosevelt that they might be involved in a frontier question that could be discussed again after the end of the war under new circumstances. It seems that Roosevelt was thinking that the primary aim of the Conference was to show the world that there was agreement of decisions among the Big Three.

            In the morning of 8 February Roosevelt sent a letter to Stalin regarding the Soviet proposal for Poland. The American delegation was not in favor of the extension of the western Polish frontier up to western Neisse river. Moreover, the Americans proposed that Polish leaders from both governments be invited to the Crimea to form a "Polish Government of National Unity." A Presidential Committee would also be formed and would undertake the formation of the government of National Unity composed of representatives from the Warsaw Government, from elements inside Poland, and from Poles abroad. The immediate action of that government would be the organization of elections. The new Polish Government of National Unity would be recognized by all three Governments of the Crimean Conference as the Provisional Government of Poland.[23] It took the Americans another whole night to realize that the western Neisse frontier line was unacceptable.

            Molotov answered the American proposal for a government of National Unity by stating that the Soviet Union felt that it would be better to enlarge the existing Warsaw Government because it enjoyed great prestige and popularity in Poland. On the other hand, Mikolajczyk, Grabski, and Witos had not been connected with the events of the liberation of the country. He was against the creation of a Presidential Committee but in favor of the enlargement of the existed National Council. On the question of the frontier, Molotov was sure that the Polish will was in accordance with the Soviet proposal.[24] When Molotov talked about the enlargement, Stettinius sent the following written message to the President: "Mr President: Not to enlarge Lublin but to form a new Gov. of some kind."[25] The Americans feared that Stalin's friends would be the majority in the enlarged government.

            L-->R Churchill, Roosevelt, Stalin at YaltaChurchill intervened at this point saying that a lack of agreement on the recognition of one Polish Government only would stamp the meeting "with the seal of failure." He stated that the British were informed that the Warsaw Government was not accepted by the majority of the Poles. Moreover, he said that he did not agree with the London Government's actions and he proposed free general elections in Poland with universal suffrage and free candidatures. Britain, he continued, would then recognize the government regardless of the attitude of the Polish Government in London.[26] It is worth noting that that same day the British delegation circulated its own proposals. They proposed that the western frontier of Poland included the free city of Danzig, the region of East Prussia, west and south of Konigsberg, the administrative district of Oppelm in Silesia, and the lands desired by Poland east of the Oder line (Map 1). An exchange of the Polish and German populations of the above area was suggested as well as the establishment of a Polish government representing all democratic elements of the country. Elections would be held as soon as possible.[27]

            On 9 February at noon the Foreign Ministers Stettinius, Molotov, and Eden met at the Livadia Palace to discuss the Polish question. Stettinius dropped the American proposal on the creation of a Presidential Committee. However, he suggested the following formula:


            [...] the present Polish Provisional Government be recognized into a fully representative government based on all democratic forces in Poland abroad, to be termed "The Provisional Government of National Unity" [...] This "Government of National Unity would be pledged to the holding of free and unfetter selections as soon as practicable on the basis of universal suffrage and secret ballot in which all democratic parties would have the right to participate and to put forward candidates."

            When a "Provisional Government of National Unity" is satisfactorily formed, the three Governments will then proceed to accord its recognition.[28]

Molotov asked to study the Russian translation first and Eden pointed out that he was against an action in favor of the Lublin Government because it would involve complicated issues of recognition in respect to the London Government. He also insisted on the formation of a new government in Poland.[29]

            In the plenary meeting of the same day Molotov asked for the substitution of the first sentence of Stettinius draft with the following:


            The Present Provisional Government of Poland should be recognized on a wider democratic basis with the inclusion of democratic leaders from Poland itself and from those living abroad, and in this connection this government would be called the National Provisional Government of Poland.[30]

Molotov also asked for the addition of the words "non-Fascist and anti-Fascist" before the words "democratic parties" in the last sentence of the paragraph.[31] After a half-hour intermission Roosevelt said that he proposed the change of the first words of Molotov's suggestion. Instead of the "Provisional Government" he proposed the use of the words "The Government now operating in Poland". He also expressed the view that there should be an inclusion for the desire of free elections that was expected by the six million Poles in the United States.[32] Stalin agreed with the amendment of the President.[33]

            On the same day at the meeting of the Foreign Ministers Molotov disagreed on the last sentence proposed by Stettinius which read as follows:


            The Three governments recognizing their responsibility as a result of the present agreement for the future right of the Polish people freely to choose the government and institutions under which they are to live, will receive reports on this subject from their ambassadors in Warsaw.[34]

The question on the inclusion of the above sentence was left to the Big Three Meeting next day.

            On 10 February 1945 at the meeting of the Foreign Ministers Stettinius stated that the Polish question had given serious study and that the American delegation was prepared to withdraw the last sentence which Molotov had objected to.[35] The new formula therefore included the following points: (1) the Polish Provisional Government would be recognized after the inclusion of democratic leaders from Poland and from Poles abroad; (2) the new Provisional Polish Government of National Unity would organize elections; (3) after the formation of the new government, the United States, the Soviet Union, and Britain would establish diplomatic relations with Poland and the ambassadors would report to the respective governments about the situation in the country.[36]

            Churchill disagreed on the formula because it did not make any mention of frontiers. He believed that the British War Cabinet would not accept the line of the western Neisse.[37] At this point Stettinius informed the President that he was told by Eden that he had received a "bad" cable from the Cabinet which expressed its fear that the British delegation was going too far. Meanwhile Harry Hopkins of the American mission scribbled to Roosevelt the following note:


            Mr President:-

            I think you should make clear to Stalin that you support the eastern boundaries but that only a general statement be put in communiqué saying we are considering essential boundary changes. Might be well to refer exact statement to foreign ministers.


Roosevelt told the plenary session that he believed that the Polish Government should be consulted before any statement was made in regard to the western frontier. Stalin and Churchill proposed that the same action should be taken for the eastern frontier too. Molotov, therefore, suggested that he should form a last sentence on the Polish formula.[39] Almost at the end of the meeting of that day, President Roosevelt said that he had to propose some small amendments concerning the frontiers of Poland and the respective formula.[40] The changes were accepted by the conference and the final draft read as follows:


            The Three Heads of Government [instead of "the three powers"] consider that the eastern frontier of Poland should follow the Curzon line with digressions from it in some regions of five to eight kilometres in favor of Poland. It is recognized that Poland must receive substantial accession of territory in the North and West. They feel [instead of "agree"] that the opinion of the new Polish Provisional Government of National Unity should be sought in due course on the extent of these accessions and the final delimitation of the Western frontier of Poland should thereafter await the Peace Conference.[41]

            The text was finally approved by all parts and Roosevelt announced that he had to leave by 3 p.m. the next day and a committee was appointed to prepare the Conference communiqué. The communiqué on Poland noted the enlargement of the Polish Provisional Government which would hold "free and unfettered" elections; the recognition of the Curzon line as the eastern frontier of Poland; and that the western frontier would be settled at the Peace Conference.[42]

            By the end of the Yalta Conference, Poland and almost all of eastern Europe was controlled by the Red Army. Stettinius claimed that "as a result of this military situation, it was not a question of what Great Britain and the United States would permit Russia to do in Poland, but what the two countries could persuade the Soviet Union to accept."[43] Problems and dissatisfaction with the agreements at the Yalta Conference were expressed a few months after the end of the meeting. On 1 April 1945 Churchill wrote to Stalin that he was embarrassed because the "new" and "recognized" Polish Government had not been established yet, because the "Soviet or Lublin Government" vetoed any invitation to Poles abroad that they did not approve. He also mentioned the fact that Molotov withdrew his offer to allow observers or missions to enter Poland.[44] Stalin answered to Churchill's complaints by complaints. He claimed that the "Polish question had indeed reached an impasse," because of the attitude of the British and American ambassadors in Moscow. According to Stalin they ignored the Polish Provisional Government and they wanted to invite Polish leaders from abroad who did not recognize the decisions of Yalta.[45] Apart from the British, however, Poles in America were also disturbed in 1945 by the agreement on the boundaries. Congressmen of Polish origin[46] as well as Polish-American organizations denounced the Curzon line as being another partition of Poland. The Curzon line after all was the old Ribendrop-Molotov line that had divided Poland between Russia and Germany. Congressman O'Konski declared that "without a free Poland there can be no free Europe or a free world. The fate of Poland will determine whether the war has been won or lost."[47] The American Secretary of State, E. Stettinius, provided a balance sheet at the end of his book on the Yalta Conference. His opinion is that the agreement on Poland was more or less a concession by Stalin to both Roosevelt and Churchill. "It was not exactly what we wanted, but, on the other hand, it was not exactly what the Soviet Union wanted,"[48]concluded Stettinius. (Map 4)

            The partition of poland in 1945Stettinius had definitely the impression that in the case of Poland the Americans and the British had not allowed Stalin a free hand in Poland. The close study of the documents shows, though, that all three sides were afraid of one another. All three had agreed that they wanted the creation of a territorially unified Poland. They agreed on the eastern frontier along the Curzon line. In this way the Russians received what they had been asking for the last forty years. The western allies wanted to show Stalin that they would satisfy the territorial appetite of Russia in that area and at the same time Stalin would help them with Germany and most important with the final phase of the war against Japan.

            For a moment, the western frontier seemed to have created new problems. Stalin at the beginning insisted on the Polish acquisition of an area (Neisse-Oder) heavily populated by Germans, in an attempt to appease the Lublin Government. In the future that regime would declare that although the Poles lost to the Russians an area that historically was part of the old 17th century Jaggelonian Empire (Poland-Lithuania) in the east, they were compensated with Eastern Prussia and the area up to the Neisse river. Finally Stalin agreed to the reconsideration of the western frontier issue. This move was interpreted by Stettinius as a retreat but it seems that Stalin was not quite sure on what points he could exercise pressure on the western allies. On the question of the Polish government it appears that Stalin was more interested in a regime that would be friendly to the Russians rather than to a purely communist government in Poland. That is why at the end he yielded to the formation of a government recognized by all three governments. Of course, he tried to postpone any real action on this matter for latter on when the Russians would have complete control of Poland and might not need the allies to finish that war. All in all, Stalin was assured in Yalta that the Americans and the British would more or less agree to his plans concerning Poland. Stalin should have left Yalta satisfied with what he had achieved on the Polish issue.

            The British, on the other hand, had to face the London Government which had showed no cooperation and finally denounced the Yalta agreements. Churchill had to go back to Britain and assure the British cabinet that the Big Three had solved the Polish question in the best possible way. Stalin had accepted the participation of "Poles from abroad" in the Provisional Government of Poland; an independent Poland would be created in accordance with the British policy concerning this country; Stalin had promised free elections. Churchill was not so naive to be convinced of what the Russian bear had told them in Yalta. Yet, the western allied forces needed the Russians desperately in early 1945. In early February the western allies were just recovering from the German attack. They needed the Russians to exercise more pressure on the eastern front or even siege Berlin (Map 3) to force the Germans to relieve pressure on the western front. Churchill, therefore, left Yalta satisfied that at least Stalin would not abandon his allies now that he was winning his part of the war and that at least legally he had bound himself to a free and independent Poland. The British knew that they could trust the Americans more than they could believe in Stalin's promises.

            It seems that the Americans reacted last in the Conference at Yalta. Was it because Roosevelt had just won his third Presidential elections in the autumn of 1944 and was very tired with a failing health? Well, it appears that his advisers were alert and made suggestion during the actual meeting. The President, though, needed time to think and discuss probably over and over the various possibilities usually during the night. Then the Americans reacted to what was usually a talk of Churchill and Stalin during the day. Was Roosevelt to blame for the fate of Poland? FDR had just won the elections and was definitely not concerned for the time being with the Americans of Polish origin in the USA. He was very much interested, though, in the course of the war. The Russians were very close to Berlin and the Americans had to rush to meet them there but that would not be the end of the war. The Americans thought that they needed the help of Stalin in the war against a still very powerful Japan (as they thought), which could last for months or even years after the defeat of Germany. The President could now go back to Washington hoping that Stalin would respect the alliance after the end of the war in Europe.

            In the final analysis all three leaders left the Crimea confident that at least they had not broken off the alliance, an act that Hitler would appreciate and hope reading over and over how Frederick the Great escaped from complete destruction in the 18th century. The Prussian Emperor was saved at the last crucial moment before the collapse of his army when the coalition against him was dissolved. Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin left the Crimea assured that each one had won that round in the game of international politics. Stalin had acquired the eastern part of Poland and an acceptance of the presence of communism in the future government of Poland. Churchill had secured the participation of Poles from abroad in the future government and that would, at least, be appreciated in London. Roosevelt had assured the entry of the USSR in the war in the Pacific and had not allowed Stalin a free hand in Poland.

            History has proven that all three were deceived in Yalta by one another. The use of the atomic bomb ended the war faster than they expected and Russian assistance was not that an important factor. Britain could not afford to play the role of a world power any more and passed the baton to the USA, which felt that had to protect the principles of the republic all over the world and therefore could not trust the untrustworthy: the Russians. Stalin, on the other hand, saw that he could not trust the Americans who had the power now to destroy any part of the world. He had to protect the Soviet Union by allowing the descent of an "iron curtain" between eastern Europe and the West. President Roosevelt, Prime Minister Churchill and Marshal Stalin used Yalta in the Crimea as a summer resort in the cold winter days of February 1945.


* * *



[1] US Department of State, "The President's Log at Yalta," The Conferences at Malta and Yalta, 1945 [Diplomatic Papers] (Washington: GPO, 1955), p. 551 ; A. H. Birse, Memoirs of an Interpreter (New Yotk: Coward-McCann, 1967), p. 179.

[2] Birse, p. 182.

[3] Herbert Feis, Churchill, Roosevelt, Stalin, 2nd ed. (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1967), p. 522 ; Robert A. Divine, Roosevelt and World War II (Baltimore: John Hopkins Press, 1969), p. 91 ; Winston Churchill, Triumph and Tragedy (Cambridge, Mass.: Houghton Mifflin, 1953), p. 366.

[4] At the Paris Peace Conference of 1919 the issue of the Ruso-Polish frontier was not solved because Russia was not represented at the meeting. However, in the text of the Treaty of Versailles a proposal was included for a tentative frontier, known as the Curzon line [Sidney Harcave, Russia: A History, 5th ed. (New York: Lippincott, 1964), p. 538].

[5] Charles F. Delzell, "Russian Power in Central-Eastern Europe," in The Meaning of Yalta, edited by J. N. Snell (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State Univ. Press, 1956), p. 37.

[6] Harcave, pp. 683-84.

[7] Stalin to Churchill, 3 January 1945, in Stalin's Correspondence with Churchill, Attlee, Roosevelt, and Truman (1941-1945) (Moscow: FLPH, 1957 ; rpt. New York: Dutton, 1958), pp. 289-90 ; Stalin was not probably thinking of exporting the Russian revolution to Europe at this point in time (See arguments in Isaac Deutscher, Stalin: A Political Biography (N. York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1966), pp. 536-37.

[8] Stalin to Roosevelt, 27 December 1944, Correspondence, p. 181.

[9] Churchill to Stalin, 5 January 1945, in Stalin's Correspondence, p. 239 ; Roosevelt to Stalin, 31 December 1944, in Stalin's Correspondence, pp. 182-183.

[10] Feis, p. 520 ; William L. Newman, After Victory (New York: Harper & Row, 1967), pp. 127-128 ; Gadis Smith, American Diplomacy during the Second World War, 1941-1945 (New York: Wiley, 1965), p. 142

[11] US, Department of State, p. 568 ; A survey of the Yalta meeting with extracts of the discussion concerning Poland along with the declaration after the end of the Conference can be found in Edward J. Rozek, Allied Wartime Diplomacy: A Pattern in Poland, (N. York: Wiles, 1958), pp. 338-356.

[12] US, Department of State, p. 667 ; In the March 1930 elections the five major parties were a) the National Democrat Party (8.2% of the total vote), b) Wyzwolenie et al. left party (14.7%), c) the Socialist party (13.1%), d) the Joint list of the National Minorities party (18.7%) and e) the Nonpartisan Block for Cooperation with the Government or BBWR left party et al. (24%) [Joseph Rothschild, East Central Europe between the Two World Wars (Seattle: Univ. of Washington Press, 1974), p. 63].

[13] Churchill, p. 368.

[14] Department of State, p. 668 ; Robert Beitzell, ed., Tehran, Yalta, Potsdam: The Soviet Protocols (Hat-tiesburg, Miss.: Academic International, 1969, pp. 86-87 [hereafter cited as Soviet Protocols.]

[15] Department of State, p. 669.

[16] Soviet Protocols, p. 88 ; Churchill tried to overlook this old demand of Russia and he supported the claims of the Soviet Union in the area of Lwow (Map 2) [Churchill, p. 367]. Roosevelt, however, insisted that Lwow remains Polish (see Stettinius memorandum in this paper in page 3 above).

[17] Department of State, pp. 679-81 ; Soviet Protocols, pp. 87-90.

[18] Roosevelt to Stalin, Koreiz, the Crimea, 6 February 1945, in Stalin's Correspondence, pp. 187-189 ; Churchill claims in his book Triumph and Tragedy that Roosevelt consulted him before he sent the letter and that he was also in favor of that solution (Churchill, p. 372).

[19] Department of State, p. 711 ; Soviet Protocols, p. 92 ; Stettinius claims that the American delegation was not surprised by the Soviet announcement of proposals because it had been informed by Churchill [Edward Stettinius, Roosevelt and the Russians: The Yalta Conference (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubeday, 1949), p. 172].

[20] Department of State, p. 716 ; Soviet Protocols, pp. 96-97 ; Churchill, p. 373 ; Stettinius, pp. 181-82.

[21] Department of State, p. 717 ; Churchill, p. 374 ; Soviet Protocols, pp. 97-98.

[22] Stettinus, pp. 182 and 184.

[23] Department of State, pp. 792-93.

[24] Department of State, pp. 776-78 ; Churchill, pp. 377-78 ; Molotov's objection is omitted from the Soviet minutes of the session.

[25] Stettinius, p. 213.

[26] Churchill, pp. 378-79 ; Soviet Protocols, pp. 104-105 ; Department of State, pp. 778-79.

[27] Department of State, pp. 869-70 ; Churchill refers to the same document as an Anglo-American revised proposal (Churchill, pp. 375-76).

[28] Department of State, p. 804 ; The authorship of this document is not indicated on the original.

[29] Ibid.

[30] Department of State, p. 842.

[31] Ibid.

[32] Department of State, p. 842 ; Soviet Protocols, p. 113 ; Stettinius, p. 240.

[33] Soviet Protocols, p. 117 ; There is a discrepancy in this point. In Bohlen Minutes this sentences is omitted. In Matthew's Minutes it is recorded that Stalin said that he could form the first words as follows: "The Polish Government which acts in Poland" (Department of State, p. 854).

[34] Department of State, p. 868 ; This proposal of the American Secretary of State is not recorded in Stettinius’s book.

[35] Department of State, p. 872 ; Stettinius justified that step backward of the American delegation claiming that he had a meeting with the President that morning and that they both were anxious to reach an  agreement with the other governments. "We did not wish to prevent a Polish settlement by insisting on the last sentence of our formula [...]", concluded the Secretary of State (Stettinius, p. 251).

[36] Department of State, p. 898 ; Stettinius, p. 259 ; Churchill claimed that the last provision about the ambassadors and their reports was agreed upon between him and Stalin in a private conversation. "This was the best I could get", concluded Churchill (Churchill, p. 385).

[37] Department of State, p. 898 ; Churchill, p. 386 ; Soviet Protocols, p. 119

[38] Stettinius, p. 260.

[39] Soviet Protocols, pp. 119-120 ; Department of State, p. 899 ; Churchill, p. 386.

[40] Roosevelt was warned by both Stettinius and Hopkins on the constitutional problems for the United States involved in the Polish frontier settlement (Stettinius, pp. 183 & 270).

[41] Department of State, p. 905.

[42] The complete text on the Polish question appears in the Appendix.

[43] Stettinius, p. 301.

[44] Churchill to Stalin, 1 April 1945, Stalin's Correspondence, pp. 309-10.

[45] Stalin to Churchill, 7 April 1945, op. cit., pp. 314-16.

[46] Republican Alvin O'Konski from Wisconsin, and Democrats Thaddens Wasillnski from Wisconsin and Joseph Ryter from Connecticut.

[47] Quoted in Athan G. Theocharis. The Yalta Myths (Columbia: Univ. of Missouri Press, 1970), p. 28.

[48] Stettinius, p. 303.




The yalta Conference Documents

Modern History Sourcebook: The Yalta Conference, Feb. 1945



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