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Emil Brandau – 1A HoTA

"The Potsdam Conference marked the end of the wartime alliance and laid the foundations for
post-war hostility." With reference to the period up to 1949, to what extent do you agree with this
statement?

Overall thesis statement: The Potsdam Conference did not make the Cold War inevitable but was
a major factor in laying the foundations for post-war hostility.
I. Territorial disputes served to make Stalin angry and fed up with the west
a. The Soviets were reluctant to accept James F. Byrnes’ plans for the Polish border – Stalin
wanted more influence on Poland. Stalin and his Soviet brothers were in shock over this
firmness; they were much more accustomed to dealing with President Roosevelt’s
bargaining techniques than Truman’s hard-lining take-it-or-leave-it-isms.
b. “Stalin’s request for influence in North Africa and the Middle East was never given
serious consideration” – Stalin later illegally stationed parts of his military in Iran (1946),
testing the United Nations.
c. The Soviet insistence on $10 billion in reparations from Germany was shot down by
Byrnes who thought that each nation should take reparations from its own zone and only
its own zone. The Soviets knew that the eastern, agricultural side of Germany would
yield horrible reparations for what they were looking for – industry.
d. Stalin wanted the London Poles dissolved, which he did not get. He did get the practical
benefit of a Polish sphere of influence in the Polish People’s Republic, but did not get the
final result he desired.
II. Truman’s goals fell through, or only succeeded on shaky bases, leaving resentment and more
hostile attempts at the life of communist nations in later policy
a. Truman wanted to prevent Stalin from acquiring a sphere of influence in Eastern Europe,
and failed. Stalin ended up effectively taking Poland and Bulgaria.
b. The US and UK powers insisted that they were okay with Stalin having friendly states
nearby, so long as they were democratically elected – as was possible in Bulgaria,
Czechoslovakia, etc., but not in Poland. However, the USSR took Poland as a satellite
state anyway.
c. Truman agreed to defer discussion of Italian entry to the United Nations until a later date,
since Stalin did not want it to happen. This raised some suspicion that Stalin may have
Emil Brandau – 1A HoTA
wanted revenge on Italy for Mussolini, and since Stalin wanted Italy’s North African
territory, this may not have been unfounded.
d. Truman secured guarantee that Stalin would enter the war with Japan, but Truman (and
as was later revealed, Stalin) knew that this would be a very strange position as the US
was planning to drop the atomic bombs in Japan
III.