Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Potsdam Conference's Geography of Betrayal

More than fifty million people died in World War II keeping the world free from evil, oppressive governments. So what did the British and Americans do at the end of the war? They gave half of Europe to an evil, oppressive government.

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.

Map of the tragedy which is twentieth-century European geopolitics


Adrian said...

What's your source on your implicit claim that the United States and Britain would have been able to roll the Soviet Union back from Eastern Europe? Saying that the US and UK "gave half of Europe" away implies that they had it to begin with, when it was occupied by millions of soldiers in the Red Army. Potsdam recognized the facts on the ground.

Also during the Cold War historically it was the Soviet Union who wanted a united and neutral Germany - it was the US/UK/NATO who kept Germany divided in order to keep West Germany in the NATO alliance.

Lexington Green said...

"...the abandonment of Eastern Europe to Communism."

What Adrian said.

The Red Army took the place by force of arms. The British were willing to do a "spheres of influence" deal, Churchill's famous "percentages formula", which Stalin checked with his famous blue pencil -- same one he used to check off the execution lists.

FDR and Truman insisted on human rights language and guarantees of democratic elections. This was a forlorn hope, but it was playing the long game. Eventually it worked. Only the USA kept the hope alive.

No scrap of paper was going to roll back the Red Army in 1945.

Catholicgauze said...

I do not make any claim about roll back. However, Patton thought it possible... only with unreasonably high costs. My post is more of an angry rant against the powers of be in the West that abandoned the legitimate pre-War governments-in-exile while thinking Stalin would be a fair overseer.

Anonymous said...

What a numbskull. There is no evidence at all to show that FDR was in a "weakened state" at Yalta, nor did he concede anything. He died of a stroke, for Christ's sake, an event which could take anyone at any time. Nor was Alger Hiss his advisor. Where in God's name did you get that? Hiss was a very junior assistant at Yalta and was in no position to advise the President on anything. And, by the way, every position Hiss did take at Yalta - presented to the Sec. of State - ran firmly counter to Soviet interests. So much for the Soviet agent. Do you get your history from a comic book?

Catholicgauze said...

The long running debate on Roosevelt's health continues [1]. Also, Roosevelt was slowly dying since his last reelection [2].

Hiss was not the adviser to Roosevelt but he was part of the US team concerning the United Nations at the conference.

Firmly counter to the Soviets? Like giving them extra votes at the UN?

Catholicgauze said...

One last note. Does anyone here dispute my final conclusion of "
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."

Adrian said...

No disagreement with learning lessons from Potsdam - I just think we disagree on what those lessons are! If you see Potsdam as a short-term solution with long-term problems, I see it as a short-term failure leading to a long-term success in 1989.

And of course, no disagreement with your last sentence.