By the time the Big Three gathered for the last time at Yalta in February , the Allies were closing in on Germany from both the east and west.
Several major questions had to be settled, chief among them the fate of Poland, which was then occupied by Soviet troops that were advancing on Berlin. Stalin demanded that part of Poland be transferred to the Soviet Union and that a Soviet-friendly communist government in the city of Lublin control the remainder of the country.
This alarmed Roosevelt and Churchill, but they were powerless to force Stalin to guarantee a democratic and independent Poland. The Yalta Conference ended in a compromise.
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Stalin, in return, agreed to hold elections in Poland so its people could choose their own government. He also agreed to declare war against Japan shortly after the German surrender.
The end of the war marked the end of the Grand Alliance. Roosevelt died in April and was succeeded by his vice president, Harry S. Truman, a committed anticommunist.
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Churchill met briefly with Stalin at the Potsdam Conference, but was replaced halfway through it by a newly elected prime minister, Clement Attlee. Ongoing disputes between the Soviets and the democratic allies about how to organize the postwar world eventually killed the alliance. Stalin continued to expand Soviet influence in eastern Europe, while America and Britain were determined to stop him without provoking another war. This tense standoff between the former allies, which became known as the Cold War, would last for decades.
The Big Three.
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Milestones: – - Office of the Historian
European Theater of Operations. The Chinese contribution was pushed aside soon after the conflict, as an inconvenient story in the neat ideological narrative of the Cold War. War broke out in earnest in July , and during the eight years that it lasted, both the Nationalist forces of Chiang Kai-shek and, to a lesser extent, the Communist fighters answering to Mao Zedong engaged in extraordinary feats of resistance. Though far weaker and poorer than the mighty United States or the British Empire, China played a major role in the war.
In China itself, they held down some , Japanese soldiers. The costs were great.
Germany agreed to harsh terms.
At least 14 million Chinese were killed and some 80 million became refugees over the course of the war. These strains placed immense pressure on what by then was a weak and isolated country.
Such missteps made the Nationalist Kuomintang government seem corrupt and inefficient, and an embarrassing ally for the United States — even though the Nationalists did the vast majority of the fighting against Japan, far more than the Communists.