Cracks in the Grand Alliance, 1941-45

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Cracks in the Grand Alliance, 1941-45
"It is useless to try to discover who made the first move to break the alliance. It is impossible to trace the first ‘broken promise’ ... In this ‘marriage of convenience’, the thought that a divorce was inevitable had been in the mind of each partner from the beginning"

Isaac Deutscher, Stalin (1969)

Conference'>Conference_or_Event__Summary_–_Who_was_offended__What_was_it'>Conference or Event

Summary – Who was offended?

What was it?

Atlantic Conference 1941


Stalin alienated by Churchill and Roosevelt’s open commitment to liberal democracy / free trade

The Atlantic Charter was a joint declaration released by Roosevelt and Churchill which alienated Stalin by declaring their determination to free trade and the restoration of self-governments for all countries that had been occupied during the war. In Stalin’s view, this would threaten the 'buffer zone' he planned to create to protect the USSR.

The Second Front

Stalin alienated by Churchill and Roosevelt’s refusal to open a second front against the Nazis

The Soviets resented the fact that the British and Americans delayed the opening of a second front against Germany, and suspected that this was designed to ensure that the Nazis and the Soviets would grind each other into the dust. The Russians ultimately suffered 20 million casualties – 10 times more than the rest of the Allies.

Tehran Conference 1943


Churchill alienated by the growing friendship between Roosevelt and Stalin

The main outcome of the Tehran Conference was the Western Allies' commitment to open a second front against Nazi Germany. However, during the conference Churchill was alienated by the close relationship that started to develop between Roosevelt and Stalin. For example, Stalin proposed executing 50,000–100,000 German officers so that Germany could not plan another war. Roosevelt joked that "maybe 49,000 would be enough." Churchill, however, was outraged and said that "I would rather be taken out into the garden here and now and be shot myself”. He stormed out of the room. Stalin had to go and get him; putting his arm around the prime minister, Stalin assured him it was all a joke.

Stalin’s actions in Katyn exposed, 1943

Roosevelt and Churchill alienated by Stalin’s brutality

In 1940, Stalin’s brutality was illustrated by the mass execution of Polish officers after the USSR occupied their country as part of the Nazi-Soviet Pact. Stalin claimed that the murders had been conducted by the Nazis, but the refusal of the Allies to bring this as a formal charge against them at Nuremberg betrayed the fact that they were fully aware of his responsibility and duplicity.

Moscow Conference 1944


Roosevelt was alienated by the growing friendship between Churchill and Stalin

At this conference, Roosevelt was not made party to the “Percentages Agreement” reached between Stalin and Churchill about how to divide various European countries into spheres of influence. Indeed, the US ambassador who was supposed to represent Roosevelt in these meetings, was excluded from this particular discussion. Even Churchill called it a "naughty document". Stalin did not keep his promises about Romania, Bulgaria, and Hungary, which became one-party communist states with no British influence.

Stalin’s re-occupation of the Baltic States, 1944

Roosevelt and Churchill alienated by Stalin’s brutality

Stalin 'liberated' Estonia and Latvia from Nazi occupation in 1944 but it became immediately clear there was no intention of allowing them independence after WW2 as per the intentions of the Atlantic Charter.

Bretton Woods Conference 1944

Stalin alienated by Churchill and Roosevelt’s open commitment to liberal democracy / free trade

This gathering of delegates from 44 nations in New Hampshire saw the creation of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and was seen by the Soviets as an attempt to secure that the post-war world would be dominated by the capitalist system. Roosevelt held the Wilsonian belief that free trade promoted international peace (e.g. tariffs during the Great Depression had made a bad situation worse).

Stalin’s actions during the Warsaw Rising, 1944

Roosevelt and Churchill alienated by Stalin’s brutality

Stalin’s brutality, amply demonstrated at Katyn, was reinforced in Poland again during the Warsaw Uprising. Stalin did not support the rebellion of pro-Western Poles against the Nazis, preferring instead to leave the Nazis to slaughter them. Despite being at the gates of Warsaw, the Soviets did not supply the rebels from the air, and refused to allow British and American air drops. Only once the rebels were defeated did Stalin order the Red Army into Warsaw to drive out the Nazis.

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