Why Were There Disagreements At The Potsdam Conference In 1945

The Allies met on 17 July of the same year for the Potsdam Conference. The summit, which continued until 2 August, brought together leaders from the Soviet Union, the United States and the United Kingdom. By that time Roosevelt had died and Churchill had lost the 1945 election, so there were open disagreements over the conduct of the conference. The aim of the meeting was to discuss the best way to punish Nazi Germany and to build on the thought-provoking decisions taken at the Yalta conference. The Potsdam conference took place after the Yalta conference. The Potsdam took place in August 1945. Despite numerous disagreements, the British delegation, Stalin and Truman managed to reach some agreements in Potsdam. It was decided that Germany should be occupied by the Americans, the British, the French and the Soviets. It would also be demilitarized and disarmed. The German industry used for military purposes had to be dismantled and the educational and judicial systems of the country defeated from the National Socialism of Nazism purged.

The racial laws of the Nazis and other laws should be repealed and war criminals brought to justice and punished. German society was to be transformed from a democratic point of view, but the country`s re-establishment as a sovereign state was postponed indefinitely. In the meantime, Germany was to be governed by an Allied control committee made up of the four occupying powers. Both the atmosphere and the state-of-the-art staff in Potsdam were very different from previous “Big Three” conferences in Tehran and Yalta. President Franklin D. Roosevelt died on April 12, 1945, and in his place was new President Harry S Truman, accompanied by his new Foreign Minister, James Byrnes. Midway through the conference, the results of the British general election on 5 July were announced and Churchill and Anthony Eden replaced by the new Labour Prime Minister, Clement Attlee, and his Foreign Minister, Ernest Bevin. Only the main Soviet delegates, Joseph Stalin and Vyacheslav Molotov, remained the same as at the Yalta conference. One of the most controversial topics of the Potsdam conference was the revision of the German-Soviet-Polish borders and the expulsion of millions of Germans from the disputed territories. In exchange for the territory it lost after the rebalancing of the Soviet-Polish border to the Soviet Union, Poland received much of German territory and began deporting German residents from the territories concerned, as well as other nations that held large German minorities.

The Negotiators in Potsdam were well aware of the situation and, although the British and Americans feared that a mass exodus of Germans to Western areas of occupation would destabilize them, they merely stated that “all transfers that take place should be done in an orderly and humane manner” and asked the Poles, Czechs and Hungary to temporarily suspend the additional deportations.