To remember the things that were discussed at each conference, use the mnemonic PEER At the Potsdam meeting, the most pressing theme was the fate of post-war Germany. The Soviets wanted a united Germany, but they also insisted that Germany be completely disarmed. Truman, along with a growing number of American officials, had a deep distrust of Soviet intentions in Europe. The massive Soviet army already occupied much of Eastern Europe. A strong Germany could be the only obstacle to Soviet domination over all of Europe. In the end, the Big Three agreed to divide Germany into three zones of occupation (one for each nation) and postpone discussions on German reunification to a later date. The other remarkable subject in Potsdam was almost unspoken. When he came to the conference, Truman was informed that the United States had successfully tested the first atomic bomb. Hoping to use the weapon as a lever for the Soviets in the post-war world, Truman Stalin incidentally mentioned that America was now in possession of a weapon of monstrous destructive violence. The president was disappointed when the Soviet head of state simply replied that he hoped the United States would use it to quickly end the war with Japan. The main objective of the Potsdam conference was to put an end to the post-war period and to put into practice all that had been agreed in Yalta.
While the Yalta meeting was rather friendly, the Potsdam conference was marked by differences of opinion that were the result of some important changes since the Yalta conference. The Potsdam meeting was the third conference of heads of state and government of the three major nations. The Soviet Union was represented by Joseph Stalin, Great Britain by Winston Churchill and the United States by President Harry S. Truman. It was Truman`s first meeting with the Big Three. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who died in April 1945, participated in the first two conferences – in Tehran in 1943 and in Yalta in February 1945. Remember, you still have to learn what was decided (or was not decided!) In Potsdam, little real progress has been made, beyond an agreement on fulfilling the commitments made in Yalta. The Potsdam Conference, held from 17 July to 2 August 1945 near Berlin, was the last of the three major meetings of the Second World War.
The conference brought together the President of the Soviet Union, the new US President Harry S. Truman and the British Prime Minister Winston Churchill (replaced on 28 July by his successor Clement Attlee). On 26 July, the Heads of State and Government issued a statement calling for Japan`s “unconditional surrender” and hiding the fact that they had privately agreed to let Japan retain its emperor. For the rest, the conference revolved around post-war Europe. A Council of Foreign Ministers, composed of the Big Three, China and France, was agreed. The german military administration was set up with a central allied supervisory board (the requirement that access decisions be unanimous would prove crippling at a later date). The heads of state and government have reached various agreements on the German economy, with a focus on the development of agriculture and non-military industry. The institutions that controlled the Nazi economy had to be decentralized, but all of Germany would be treated as a single economic entity. War criminals would be brought to justice. Stalin`s request to define the German-Polish border was pushed back to the peace treaty, but the conference accepted his transfer from the country east of the Oder and the Neisse from Germany to Poland. With regard to repairs, a compromise was drawn up on the basis of an exchange of capital equipment from the western zone for eastern raw materials.