This page is to be completed by Rafael, Mark and Ekaterina

Explain the complexity of the situation and possible areas of misunderstandings.


State clearly what was agreed at Yalta

State clearly Stalin's policy in Eastern Europe in the period 1945-47

Did Stalin break agreements? Explain your answer.

Was Stalin defensive or expansionist? Explain your answer.

Rafa, Kate, I started the work. Please make sure you check my part over weekends, so we will have to do less on tuesday. =) Mark.





How did Stalin gain control of Eastern Europe from 1945-1948?


Agreements at Yalta.


When Stalin met Roosevelt at Yalta, he didn't trust anyone, while Roosevelt believed that he could work with Stalin and agree upon many things.


Relations at Yalta were warm overall and this is due to several things:

1) Common enemy - Nazi Germany
2) Roosevelt needed Soviet's help with Japan
3) Stalin needed American loans.
4) Roosevelt believed that he could work with Stalin for better future.

The Leaders agreed upon free elections in Eastern Europe, which will lead to a national self determination. The document, which Stalin signed was called "Declaration on Liberated Europe". (should add all agreements to show how Stalin wanted loans)

Also the Leaders agreed:
- To divide Germany and Berlin into 4 zones - USSR, USA, Britain, France
- To punish Nazis (Denazification)
- USSR will join the war against the Japan when Hitler is defeated
- To set up United Nations

As an oral agreement they agreed that there will be "friendly governments" in Eastern Europe after the elections.


Understanding Stalin want for Eastern Europe:

  • Stalin wanted Eastern Europe to defend USSR in future, so devastation after World War 2 won't repeat.
  • Stalin already had historical experiences in the past:
  1. Soviets lost WW1, and
  2. In WW2 he lost 27 million people including non-military and war continued for 3 years on Soviet's land.

  • Both times he was attacked from the West.
  • Stalin also strongly believed that there will be inevitable war with the West in future (10-15 years) and he wanted to be prepared. ==> Defensive


Why there was a problem with oral agreements?


Oral agreements were hard to prove, no one signed them and there was a misunderstanding between the leaders of USA and USSR - will "friendly governments" mean "communist government" or "simply won't attack"

Interpretations can be made.

So the oral agreement about "friendly governments" lead to some misunderstandings between the leaders.

Stalin knew that the only government that will be friendly would be communist dominated one ===> Stalin rigs elections in Eastern Europe making communist win and at the same time fulfilling his part of agreement with Roosevelt.

Stalin's policy in Eastern Europe

Stalin knew that Truman could do nothing against him controlling Eastern Europe. Stalin had he biggest land army in the world, the Red Army.
At first, Stalin rigged the elections, so that the communist parties controlled the coalition governments.
He also eliminated some opposition, but not all. This gave out a message of warning to anti-communists living in Eastern Europe. But because he didn't eliminate all opposition, it seemed fair. Stalin thought friendly governments meant communist governments.
His Red Army was there to intimidate and control. This maintained the peoples of Eastern Europe under Stalin's Sphere of Influence.
The Secret Police also imprisoned, killed and tortured anyone who opposed to communism and the Soviet Union.
Once it was clear to Stalin that the USA was not going to loan money to the Soviet Union Stalin proceeded to gain TOTAL control over Eastern Europe.
He set the governments to be completely communist. He replaced anyone who wasn't loyal to him, by extreme communist government leaders, who were completely loyal.
He eliminated ALL opposition, he controlled the press, he prohibited free speech, so that no one could criticize the government.
He tortured and killed anyone who was in his way.
In 1947, he set up the Cominform, (Communist Information Bureau), to coordinate the work of communist parties in Eastern Europe. The Cominform usually brought back the communist leaders to Moscow, for briefing. This allowed Stalin to assess them and see if they were completely loyal to him.

All these factors explain Stalin's policy and complete domination over Eastern Europe.

Did Stalin break agreements?


No, he did not.

He acted as he agreed at Yalta. Roosevelt orally agreed on "Friendly Governments", in Stalin's opinion those are Communist government, while in Truman's - those are governments that will not attack. However since Roosevelt died after the Yalta conference it was impossible to identify what exactly was agreed at Yalta orally. At the same time Stalin agreed to give free elections to Eastern Europe. In stead he rigged them in order to get "friendly" Communist governments. He thought the signed document was only a good news for public in America and Britain. When Hitler war defeated Stalin did not hurry up to help USA against Japan as his soldiers were in Eastern Europe and the Potsdam conference took place.


Was Stalin defensive or expansionist?


He was defensive.

In the Second World War USSR lost 27 million people and the country was devastated after 3 years of war on its territories. The Stalin's historical experience was the cause of his altitude towards Western countries. Moreover he believed in inevitable war with the West as Capitalism and Communism are two completely different types of government that can not work together.
However USA believed that Stalin was expanding the Communism and that they had to stop him as the Eastern Europe was the first step for him. These countries have already seen the rie of Hitler and his Nazi Germany, therefore they wanted to prevent any new extremist.