January 4, 1942 – Anthony Eden Gives An Assessment And An Appraisal

Anthony Eden
Anthony Eden – As the tide of war slowly turned, any good word was taken to the bank.

January 4, 1942 – Sir Anthony Eden – Address – BBC Home Service – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –

January 4, 1942. A new year and the war was now engulfing the world. America was attacked and so it no longer became a War in Europe, but World War 2. In January 1942, Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden returned from a meeting in Moscow regarding their progress in the war. This address outlines the purpose at that meeting and how the Russians were faring in their fight against the Nazi armies.

It was also a meeting with Premier Joseph Stalin over the proposed Anglo-Soviet Pact, and outlining the details of the agreement. The pact, which was a Twenty-Year Mutual Assistance Agreement Between the United Kingdom and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics or Anglo-Soviet Treaty established a military and political alliance between the USSR and the British Empire during World War II, and for 20 years after it.

The Anglo-Soviet Treaty was preceded by tough negotiations before it was signed by Eden, and his Soviet counterpart, Vyacheslav Molotov, on 26 May 1942.

Stalin’s ambitions for Russian territorial expansion were never far from the surface, but his tactics had to vary as the country’s war fortunes fluctuated. Like Germany and Japan, he wished to advance his empire, particularly into the Balkans. During a visit to Berlin in 1940, Stalin demanded free access to the Mediterranean, knowing that he was courting war with Germany by doing so.

Barely a year later, Stalin was in no position to make demands of Germany as Hitler looked set on taking the Kremlin. Eden’s diplomatic visit to Moscow in December 1941 demonstrated the fact that the Allies were anxious about the situation – if Stalin was to make a separate peace with Hitler, the F├╝hrer would have command of Europe.

Stalin kept the stakes high. He demanded that Britain recognise Russia’s boundaries as they stood before the German invasion on 22 June 1941. Eden, with the support of Churchill and Roosevelt, would not agree to these Soviet demands on territory that had been part of Finland, the Baltic States, Eastern Poland and northern Romania.

The first three months of 1942 saw a change in the Allies’ stance and Churchill sent word to Roosevelt that, ‘The increasing gravity of the war has led me to feel that the principles of the Atlantic Charter ought not to be construed so as to deny Russia the frontiers she occupied when Germany attacked her.’

Here is that address as given by Anthony Eden on January 4, 1942.

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