Big Three meet at Yalta

Seventy-three years ago today, Feb. 11, 1945, the final meeting of the Big Three of the Allied Forces in World War II took place at Yalta on the Black Sea in what today is Ukraine.

Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin met to discuss the division of Europe following the war and the conditions for the Soviet Union to join the battle against Japan in the Pacific Theater of operations.

Roosevelt was in ill health and would die a mere two months after the conference in Yalta. While the president knew testing of the atomic bomb was progressing well, he needed to get Stalin’s assurance the Soviets would join the war against Japan if an invasion was necessary. The Soviet dictator pledged to join that effort within a few months of a peace in Europe.

The three leaders also worked out final details at Yalta for the establishment of the United Nations.

Many have said Stalin took advantage of the sick president, and that one of the tragic consequences of Yalta was that much of Eastern Europe was enslaved under Soviet rule because of the Allied Forces’ division of spheres of influence.

The Soviets never allowed free elections to take place in the nations they were occupying when the war ended in Europe. Stalin had pledged to Roosevelt and Churchill at Yalta that such elections would occur.

The war was well on its way to finishing by the end of the Yalta Conference. The Germans signed an unconditional surrender on May 8, 1945.

On Aug. 6, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima. On Aug. 8, the Soviet Union declared war on Japan. On Aug. 9, the United States dropped a second atomic bomb on Japan, this time at Nagasaki.

On Aug. 15, Japan announced it was surrendering.

Within eight months of the historic meeting of the Big Three at Yalta, World War II was over.


* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.