Stalin’s actions in Eastern Europe during 1944 and 1945
There has been many controversial points raised about the wartime relationship between the USA, the USSR and Great Britain; some historians assert that Stalin’s actions in Eastern Europe were the most vital of the disputes between the wartime allies, others disagree. The question refers to Stalin’s actions in Eastern Europe; source D illustrates negative action taken by Stalin regarding Poland. It’s a fairly orthodox view that Stalin deliberately halted at the Vistula River “and allowed the Nazis to return and crush the Poles.
Approximately 200,000 Poles were killed in the Warsaw rising that went unaided. Stalin was not prepared to see an unfriendly government of Poland considering its vital position; this slaughter left Poland crippled creating the perfect opportunity for Stalin to “hand Poland over to his Puppets. ” It is for this reason that many believed Stalin lied in his claim that the Red Army lingered to regroup. This created huge disputes and tension between the wartime allies after “Hopes for genuine democracy in Eastern Europe after the war were destroyed. ”
Stalin’s actions in Poland had already created problems for the allies after the discovery at Katyn Forest in April 1943. The traditional hostility between Poles and Soviets came to fore when 10,000 Polish officers were found slaughtered in a mass grave, the suspicion fell upon Soviet troops and although this was played down during the war, disputes followed and were heightened during negotiations regarding Poland. Because Poland was of particular interest to Stalin, after being the route of three invasions of the USSR; it worried the Allies greatly creating clashes at their very first meeting in Teheran.
Stalin was extremely crafty in the negotiations over Polish territory, source B covers the fate of post-war Poland; “There was discussion over the boundaries of post-war Poland. ” These terms were actually agreed at Potsdam in … By assenting to the Polish Boundary in the East the Western Allies fashioned a condition which no independent Polish government could acknowledge thus producing the perfect opportunity for Stalin to establish his own puppet Government, gaining more control over Poland.
Seriously alarming the allies and creating further disagreements. This account by an historian seems reliable and certainly useful but his blatant orthodox view can discredit some arguments put forward. Source B briefly addresses the spheres of influence that were to be consulted in the “Balkan Bargain” which is discussed in further detail in source A. Although there seems to be an air of agreement at this meeting, there is a worrying factor: Stalin’s casual way in which he deals with the fate of millions.
Churchill in his book claimed he said to Stalin: “Might it not be thought rather cynical if it had seemed we had disposed of these issues, so fateful to millions of people, in such an offhand manner? Let us burn the paper. ” To which Stalin replied “No, you keep it,” This perhaps suggests the worrying issue that Stalin is not interested in written agreements and is quite willing to adept them to his own will.
This will have of course caused concern but the validity of the source must be accounted for; it’s from Churchill’s book with the very dramatic title “Triumph and Tragedy” suggesting possible bias from an orthodox view. Another action of Stalin that caused disputes was his insistence on opening a Second Front. This is elaborated in Source B; “Stalin in his insistence that invading France should be given highest priority.
” Although Stalin’s impatience to open a second front created destructive quarrels part of the blame must be put upon Roosevelt who “supported Stalin in his insistence… and hesitated greatly in granting him it. Stalin felt that the fighting was been left for Russia and eagerly awaited the opening of a second front to relieve some of the pressure off the Red Army. He first asked Churchill for a Second Front in 1941, 3 years later he was still waiting with growing suspicions; the theory that the West was leaving Communism to destroy itself soon emerged. Revisionist historians would sympathise with his wait empathising the abandonment by Churchill and Roosevelt.
The Orthodox view would be that timing was crucial for the second front to be successful; which seems rather weak making Roosevelt’s actions more damaging here than Stalin’s. Much like discussions at Yalta that are mentioned in source C in which there seems to be fairly successful; despite Roosevelt making “plain to Stalin his mistrust of Churchill” The Yalta conference was held in February 1945; the Soviet Union agreed to join war against Japan, adhere to the principle of free elections in Eastern Europe and the establishment of the United Nations.
However conflict was evident in discussions over Polish Government and reluctance to allow Stalin to keep areas of Poland. This illustrates stubbornness on both sides that is even more evident in the later conference of Potsdam in July 1945. Stalin was furious that the decision to drop the atomic bomb was made without him; equally Stalin frustrated the alliance by integrating some of Poland into the Soviet Union and positioning communists in governments throughout Europe.
Stalin seems to have taken the majority of wrong action here yet the dropping of the atomic bomb was a vital decision that excluded Stalin. Despite McCauley’s claim that “Roosevelt hoped to create post-war partnership with Stalin” disputes at Yalta and Potsdam suggest an important dispute between the wartime allies at the time. Some of the disputes discussed in all four sources suggest Stalin’s actions in Eastern Europe to be the cause.
Certainly all Stalin’s actions regarding Poland created vast tensions and disputes as did the spheres of influence and Stalin’s actions discussed at Potsdam: the moving of Poles into the USSR, communists integrated into governments and incorporating some of Poland into the Soviet Union. Yet the allies’ hesitation in opening a second front created important disputes as did discussions at Yalta and Potsdam in particular the dropping of the atomic bomb. Therefore blame cannot be placed entirely unto Stalin; the “shotgun marriage” was bound to have disputes especially considering the importance of the issues they faced.