March 1, 1945 – President Roosevelt – Address to Congress on Yalta Conference – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
The Yalta Conference, also known as the Crimea Conference and codenamed Argonaut, held 4–11 February 1945, was the World War II meeting of the heads of government of the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union to discuss the postwar reorganization of Germany and Europe. The three states were represented by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and General Secretary Joseph Stalin, respectively.
Yalta was the second of three major wartime conferences among the Big Three. It was preceded by the Tehran Conference in November 1943 and was followed by the Potsdam Conference in July 1945. It was also preceded by a conference in Moscow in October 1944, not attended by Roosevelt, in which Churchill and Stalin had spoken of European Western and Soviet spheres of influence.
President Roosevelt: “At Teheran, a little over a year ago, there were long-range military plans laid by the Chiefs of Staff of the three most powerful Nations. Among the civilian leaders at Teheran, however, at that time, there were only exchanges of views and expressions of opinion. No political arrangements were made—and none was attempted.
At the Crimea Conference, however, the time had come for getting down to specific cases in the political field.
There was on all sides at this Conference an enthusiastic effort to reach an agreement. Since the time of Teheran, a year ago, there had developed among all of us a—what shall I call it?—a greater facility in negotiating with each other, that augurs well for the peace of the world. We know each other better.
I have never for an instant wavered in my belief that an agreement to insure world peace and security can be reached.
There were a number of things that we did that were concrete—that were definite. For instance, the lapse of time between Teheran and Yalta without conferences of civilian representatives of the three major powers has proved to be too long-fourteen months. During that long period, local problems were permitted to become acute in places like Poland and Greece and Italy and Yugoslavia.
Therefore, we decided at Yalta that, even if circumstances made it impossible for the heads of the three Governments to meet more often in the future, we would make sure that there would be more frequent personal contacts for the exchange of views, between the Secretaries of State and the Foreign Ministers of these three powers.
We arranged for periodic meetings at intervals of three or four months. I feel very confident that under this arrangement there will be no recurrences of the incidents which this winter disturbed the friends of world-wide cooperation and collaboration.
When we met at Yalta, in addition to laying our strategic and tactical plans for the complete and final military victory over Germany, there were other problems of vital political consequence.
For instance, first, there were the problems of the occupation and control of Germany—after victory—the complete destruction of her military power, and the assurance that neither the Nazis nor Prussian militarism could again be revived to threaten the peace and the civilization of the world.
Second—again for example—there was the settlement of the few differences that remained among us with respect to the International Security Organization after the Dumbarton Oaks Conference. As you remember, at that time, I said that we had agreed ninety percent. Well, that’s a pretty good percentage. I think the other ten percent was ironed out at Yalta.
Third, there were the general political and economic problems common to all of the areas which had been or would be liberated from the Nazi yoke. This is a very special problem. We over here find it difficult to understand the ramifications of many of these problems in foreign lands, but we are trying to.
Fourth, there were the special problems created by a few instances such as Poland and Yugoslavia.
Days were spent in discussing these momentous matters and we argued freely and frankly across the table. But at the end, on every point, unanimous agreement was reached. And more important even than the agreement of words, I may say we achieved a unity of thought and a way of getting along together.
Of course, we know that it was Hitler’s hope—and the German war lords’—that we would not agree—that some slight crack might appear in the solid wall of Allied unity, a crack that would give him and his fellow gangsters one last hope of escaping their just doom. That is the objective for which his propaganda ma- chine has been working for many months.
But Hitler has failed.
Never before have the major Allies been more closely united—not only in their war aims but also in their peace aims. And they are determined to continue to be united with each other-and with all peace-loving Nations—so that the ideal of lasting peace will become a reality.”
Here is that complete address as it was delivered by all the networks on March 1, 1945.
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