Sunday, February 5, 2012
This weekend is the 67th anniversary of the Yalta Conference, which was held February 4th through 11th of 1945, between Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin. The (ostensible) purpose of the conference was to decide the shape of the postwar world.
"Boring, Possum, boring...", you say, "that was a long fucking time ago".
Yes, it was a few years ago, but the world we live in today was shaped by the decisions taken at Yalta.
For example, it was at Yalta that the agreement was formed for the structure of the United Nations, in particular the existence of the Security Council, and the provision of permanent seats on that council for the major powers, and the veto power which those with permanent seats would wield. And the only substantial change in the Security Council between then and now has been the addition of the People's Republic of China as a permanent member.
It was at Yalta that Roosevelt and Stalin agreed that part of the "reparations" to be paid to the USSR by Germany would be in the form of forced labor. This was an appallingly cruel decision on the part of the Western leaders, one which doomed tens of thousands of German POWs to years of destructive labor under inhuman conditions. Many of those POW's died or were murdered by their Soviet captors. Read the memoirs of Hans von Luck for a detailed description of what I'm talking about.
It was also at Yalta that the entirety of Eastern Europe was condemned to half a century of Russian occupation, a decision that was made in spite of the fact that not one single representative of any of those Eastern European nations was present.
As an example of how incredibly naive Roosevelt was about Stalin, let me offer you this quote -
I just have a hunch that Stalin is not that kind of a man. ... and I think that if I give him everything I possibly can and ask for nothing from him in return, noblesse oblige, he won't try to annex anything and will work with me for a world of democracy and peace.
It's enough to make you shake your head in utter disbelief.
And that, dear reader, is our history lesson for the day. Additional reading here