On July 17, 1945 the three victorious powers of the European theater of the war gathered in Potsdam, Germany to discuss the future. The free governments of the United Kingdom and the United States were weakened before the meeting though. America had lost President Roosevelt (who while in a weakened condition gave concessions to the Soviet Union with guidance from Soviet agent Alger Hiss) and Great Britain had voted Winston Churchill's Conservative Party out of office in favor for an appeasing Labour government.
At the meeting several key geographical changes were made. They included:
- Dividing Germany and Austria into four zones of control.
- Moving the German-Polish border west to the Oder-Neisse line (which was not recognized by West Germany until reunification with the East)
- Transfer of Koenigsberg to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics as part of Russia
- The ethnic cleansing of German colonialists and ethnic Germans from Poland, Czechoslovakia, and elsewhere in Eastern Europe (up to 500,000 Germans were kicked out of the Sudetenland alone)
Along with the first point was the abandonment of Eastern Europe to Communism. The Polish Government, in exile since the start of the war, was ignored and the Soviets installed their own puppet government. The Russians also refused to acknowledge Potsdam's call for one Germany and started the German Democratic Republic (East Germany). Eastern Europe fell under Communism's grasp and it would not be until the 1990s liberation would come.
Potsdam plays a major role in historical geopolitics. The whole Cold War from the Berlin Airlift, to the Hungarian uprising, to the downfall of Yugoslavia all were made possible because of the concessions made at Yalta and Potsdam. The effects are still felt today. Eastern Europe is playing catch-up economically with Western Europe. The Eastern European nations are also more wary of Western European political leaders. Eastern European nations also split with Western Europe in the New versus Old Europe debate.
So on the sixty-second anniversary of the beginning of Potsdam, let us all remember that short term solution can cause long term problems. But more importantly, let us leave no world citizen behind.