End of Second World War
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End of Second World War
The Yalta conference
On 4-11 February 1945, the “Big Three” - The United Kingdom, the United States and the Soviet Union, represented respectively by
- met at Yalta in the Crimea where they planned the last stages of the war and how to deal with defeated Germany and liberated Europe.
The “Big Three” held three meetings: the Tehran conference (1943), the Yalta conference (1945) and the Potsdam conference (1945) where they discussed the end of the war and the future of Europe.
More concretely, they discussed key issues such as the creation of a United Nations Organization and the post-war administration of Germany, reparations and the status of Poland and Yugoslavia. The Soviet Union pledged to declare war against Japan six months after the capitulation of Germany, and the Allies agreed that all vestiges of Nazism and Fascism would be destroyed. Poland, however, remained a major source of contention. The capitulation of Germany followed on 8 May 1945.
The Potsdam conference
Five months later, from 16 July to 2 August 1945, the three same powers met again. With the exception of Stalin, they were represented by different statesmen: the President of the United States – Roosevelt - died on 12 April 1945 and was succeeded by
Harry S. Truman
; and Churchill who was defeated in parliamentary elections, handed over authority to the first ever Labour Prime Minister,
, during the conference.
The leaders tackled many issues such as how to deal with eventual peace settlements, the future of Germany and immediate concern about Eastern Germany, the vital question of reparations and the surrender of Japan. It transpired with time, however, that the vagueness of the terms of
the Potsdam Agreement
allowed for varying interpretations, and led to mutual accusations of breaches of the agreements.
The first atomic weapons
By then, Japan was the only Axis country that had not capitulated and it refused to. On 6 August 1945, the United States dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima to force the Japanese generals to accept defeat. The Soviet Union declared war on Japan on 8 August.
On 9 August 1945, the United States dropped a second atomic bomb on Nagasaki, bringing Japan to officially capitulate on 2 September, therefore ending the Second World War.
The creation of the UN
Meanwhile, on 26 June 1945, 50 countries signed the
United Nations Charter
. It effectively came into existence on 24 October 1945 once the Charter had been ratified by the five permanent members of the Security Council: The main victors of the Second World War – China, France, the United Kingdom, the United States and the USSR – and by most of the other 45 signatories.
The United Nations was formed in a spirit of co-operation with the hope of providing a body to the international community which would help prevent future wars. It aimed to succeed where the League of Nations had failed.
It is interesting to note that Article 51 of the UN Charter on the right to self-defence forms the basis of NATO’s founding treaty (also known as the North Atlantic Treaty or the Washington Treaty).
Agreeing on peace treaties
It should be noted that neither Yalta nor Potsdam were peace treaties. The task of drawing up such treaties fell to the Council of Foreign Ministers created at the Potsdam Conference. It met for the first time in London in September 1945 to draft peace treaties with Bulgaria, Finland, Hungary, Italy and Romania. They were eventually signed in February 1947 (Paris Peace Treaties). However, so many disputes emerged during these negotiations that unity among the Allies was effectively lost.
501 - Truman and the atomic bomb - 1945
502 - Winston Churchill
503 - Teheran Conference - 1943
504 - Yalta Conference - 1945
505 - Franklin D. Roosevelt
506 - Joseph Stalin
507 - Clement Attlee
508 - Harry S. Truman
509 - Allied Control Council, HQ - 1945
512 - Nagasaki, before and after - 1945
568 - Potsdam Conference - 1945
569 - Surrender of Japan - 1945
806 - The Potsdam Agreement - 1945
807 - The UN Charter - 1945
873 - From WWII to Potsdam
966 - Potsdam Conference - 1945
999 - United Nations Charter - 1945
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