The situation in Europe in the immediate Post-War era


Tehran Conference

November 28, 1943 - December 1, 1943

The Tehran Conference was a strategy meeting of Joseph Stalin, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Winston Churchill. It was held in the Soviet Union's embassy in Tehran, Iran. It was the first of the World War II conferences of the "Big Three" Allied leaders . It preceded the 1945 Yalta and Potsdam conferences. The main outcome of the Tehran Conference was the Western Allies' commitment to open a second front against Nazi Germany. The conference also addressed the Allies' relations with Turkey and Iran, operations in Yugoslavia and against Japan, and the envisaged post-war settlement. A separate protocol signed at the conference pledged the Big Three to recognise Iran's independence.

Yalta Conference

February 4, 1945 - February 11, 1945

The Yalta Conference, also known as the Crimea conference, held from February 4 to 11, 1945, was the second conference between the three great powers, with the purpose of discussing Europe's postwar reorganisation. The conference convened in the Livadia Palace near Yalta in Crimea, Soviet Union. The aim of the conference was to shape a post-war peace that represented not just a collective security order but a plan to give self-determination to the liberated peoples of post-Nazi Europe. The meeting was intended mainly to discuss the re-establishment of the nations of war-torn Europe. Within a few years, with the Cold War dividing the continent, Yalta became a subject of intense controversy.

Surrender of Germany

May 7, 1945 - May 8, 1945

On May 7, 1945, Germany officially surrendered to the Allied powers, bringing an end to the European conflict in World War II. General Alfred Jodl, representing the German High Command, signed the unconditional surrender of both east and west forces in Reims, France, which would take effect the following day.

Potsdam Conference

July 17, 1945 - August 2, 1945

The Potsdam Conference, in Potsdam, occupied Germany, from 17 July to 2 August 1945. The three powers were represented by Communist Party General Secretary Joseph Stalin, Prime Ministers Winston Churchill and, later, Clement Attlee, and President Harry S. Truman. The three powers gathered to decide how to administer the defeated Nazi Germany, which had agreed to unconditional surrender nine weeks earlier, on 8 May (V-E Day). The goals of the conference also included the establishment of post-war order, peace treaty issues, and countering the effects of the war. Key agreements reached at the conference include:

A statement of aims of their occupation of Germany: demilitarization, denazification, democratization, decentralization, dismantling and decartelization.

Germany and Austria were to be divided respectively into four occupation zones (earlier agreed in principle at Yalta), and similarly each capital, Berlin and Vienna, was to be divided into four zones.

It was agreed that the Nazi war criminals would be put to trial.

Germany's eastern border was to be shifted westwards to the Oder–Neisse line, effectively reducing Germany in size by approximately 25% compared to its 1937 borders. The territories east of the new border comprised East Prussia, Silesia, West Prussia, and two thirds of Pomerania. These areas were mainly agricultural, with the exception of Upper Silesia which was the second largest centre of German heavy industry.

War reparations to the Soviet Union from their zone of occupation in Germany were agreed. It was also agreed that 10% of the industrial capacity of the western zones unnecessary for the German peace economy should be transferred to the Soviet Union within 2 years. Stalin proposed and it was accepted that Poland was to be excluded from division of German compensation, to be later granted 15% of compensation given to Soviet Union.

Truman reveals the Atom bomb to Stalin

Approx. July 17, 1945 - Approx. August 2, 1945

Truman had mentioned an unspecified "powerful new weapon" to Stalin during the Potsdam conference. Notably, when Truman informed Stalin of the atomic bomb, he did not explicitly mention its atomic nature, just vaguely saying that the United States "had a new weapon of unusual destructive force"; Stalin, though, had full knowledge of the atomic bomb's development due to Soviet spy networks inside the Manhattan Project, and told Truman at the conference to "make good use of this new addition to the Allied arsenal".

Allies call for Japan to surrender

July 26, 1945

The Allies called for the unconditional surrender of the Imperial Japanese armed forces in the Potsdam Declaration on July 26, 1945 - the alternative being "prompt and utter destruction". The Japanese response to this ultimatum was to ignore it.

Atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima

August 6, 1945

Atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki

August 9, 1945

Surrender of Japan

August 15, 1945 - September 2, 1945

The surrender of Imperial Japan was announced on August 15 and formally signed on September 2, 1945, bringing the hostilities of World War II to a close.

UN Established

October 24, 1945

The leaders of the "Big Three" – the UK, the Soviet Union, and the United States – controlled Allied strategy; relations between the United Kingdom and the United States were especially close. China and the Big Three were referred as a "trusteeship of the powerful", then were recognised as the Allied "Big Four" in a Declaration by United Nations and later as the "Four Policemen" of the United Nations.

In 1945, the Allied nations became the basis of the United Nations.

'The Long Telegram' is sent

February 22, 1946

In February 1946, George F. Kennan's Long Telegram from Moscow helped articulate the growing hard line against the Soviets. The telegram argued that the Soviet Union was motivated by both traditional Russian imperialism and by Marxist ideology; Soviet behavior was inherently expansionist and paranoid, posing a threat to the United States and its allies. Later writing as "Mr. X" in his article "The Sources of Soviet Conduct" in Foreign Affairs (July 1947), Kennan drafted the classic argument for adopting a policy of "containment" toward the Soviet Union.

Iron Curtain Speech

March 5, 1946

On March 5, 1946, Winston Churchill, while at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri, gave his speech "The Sinews of Peace," declaring that an "iron curtain" had descended across Europe. From the standpoint of the Soviets, the speech was an incitement for the West to begin a war with the USSR, as it called for an Anglo-American alliance against the Soviets

The Turkish Straits Crisis

August 7, 1946 - October 26, 1946

The Turkish Straits crisis was a Post-War territorial conflict between the Soviet Union and Turkey. Turkey, which had remained officially neutral throughout most of the freshly concluded Second World War (Until February 23, 1945 when they declared war on Nazi Germany) was pressured by the Soviet government to allow Soviet shipping to flow freely through the Turkish Straits, which connected the Black Sea to the Mediterranean. As the Turkish government would not submit to the Soviet Union's requests, tensions arose in the region, leading to a show of naval force on the side of the Soviets. The incident would later serve as a deciding factor in the issuing of the Truman Doctrine. At its climax, the tensions would cause Turkey to turn to the United States and NATO, for protection and membership, respectively. The result of this action contributed to the European post-war status quo that remains to this day.

Treaty of Dunkirk signed

March 4, 1947

The Treaty of Dunkirk was signed on 4 March 1947, between France and the United Kingdom in Dunkirk (France) as a Treaty of Alliance and Mutual Assistance against a possible German attack in the aftermath of World War II. The treaty entered into force on 8 September 1947 and preceded the Treaty of Brussels of 1948. According to Marc Trachtenberg, the German threat was a pretext for defense against the USSR.

The Truman Doctrine announced

March 12, 1947

The Truman Doctrine was an American foreign policy created to counter Soviet geopolitical expansion during the Cold War. It was first announced to Congress by President Harry S. Truman on March 12, 1947, and further developed on July 12, 1948 when he pledged to contain Soviet threats to Greece and Turkey. American military force was usually not involved, but Congress appropriated gifts of financial aid to support the economies and the militaries of Greece and Turkey. More generally, the Truman Doctrine implied American support for other nations threatened by Soviet communism. The Truman Doctrine became the foundation of American foreign policy, and led, in 1949, to the formation of NATO, a military alliance that is still in effect. Historians often use Truman's speech to date the start of the Cold War.

Treaty of Brussels signed

March 17, 1948

The Treaty of Brussels was signed on 17 March 1948 between Belgium, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, as an expansion to the preceding year's defence pledge, the Dunkirk Treaty signed between Britain and France. As the Treaty of Brussels contained a mutual defence clause, it provided a basis upon which the 1954 Paris Conference established the Western European Union (WEU). It was terminated on 31 March 2010.

Greece and Turkey Aid Bill announced

July 12, 1948

The Truman Doctrine stretches to encompass the nations of Greece and Turkey. Truman argued that if Greece and Turkey did not receive the aid that they urgently needed, they would inevitably fall to communism with grave consequences throughout the region. Because Turkey and Greece were historic rivals, it was considered necessary to help both equally even though the threat to Greece was more immediate.

The Korean War

June 25, 1950 - July 27, 1953

The Korean War began when North Korea invaded South Korea. The United Nations, with the United States as the principal force, came to the aid of South Korea. China came to the aid of North Korea, and the Soviet Union gave some assistance. Following the second world war, and the subsequent removal of Japanese forces from Korean territory, Korea was divided at the 38th parallel into North and South regions both with separate governments. Both regions claimed to be the legitimate government of all Korea, and neither recognised the border as permanent. The North was ruled by a Soviet backed communist government, whereas the south was ruled by an American backed capitalist one. The conflict was the first major one of the cold war, and was fought in proxy like many of the other conflicts of the era.