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IB HL History Response

Chris Wong
To what extent were Roosevelt and Churchill guilty of having
"sold out" Poland at the Yalta conference? What other choice
did they have?
The Yalta Conference was held on the southern coast of the
Crimea on the Black Sea in Tsar Nicholas IIs former holiday home, the
Livadia Palace. On February 1945, the defeat of Adolf Hitler, the Fhrer
of the Nazis, was just in sight and the big three, Joseph Stalin,
Winston Churchill, and the ill Franklin Roosevelt met to discuss the
political order of the post-war Europe. Despite the conflict between the
western worlds democratic ideology and the Soviet Unions
Communist ideology, both Churchill and Roosevelt recognized that the
sacrifice of the Soviet Union was much greater compared to Britain and
France, and by signing away Poland to Stalin, many historians debate
whether or not Roosevelt and Churchill sold out their wartime ally,
Poland. However, Roosevelt and Churchill were not guilty of having
sold out Poland at the Yalta Conference because they were
militaristically and politically unable to regain control of Poland from
the Soviet Union.
Roosevelt and Churchill had no choice either than to give Poland
to the Soviet Union as both Britain and France was militaristically
exhausted from the Second World War and the removal of the Red
Army from Poland would require militaristic means.
During the Yalta Conference, the Soviet Unions Red Army had already
controlled almost all of Eastern Europe and was preparing to advance
to the location of Hitler, Berlin. Despite the high amounts of casualties
of the Soviet Union, Stalin knew that this fact would play a big role at
the post-war conferences. According to historian Andrew Roberts, both
Roosevelt and Churchill knew that for four out of every five Germans
who died on the battlefield are killed on the Eastern front. Stalin was
also clever in occupying the majority of Poland and knew full well that
the removal of the Red Army from Poland would mean that Britain and
France would have to start another war; a war that they had almost no
chance of winning. Arguably, there was nothing militaristically that
Roosevelt and Churchill could have done.
Roosevelt and Churchill are not guilty of signing away Poland to
Stalin because theoretically, Stalin would establish the Polish
Provisional Government of National Unity in Poland with the inclusion of
democratic leaders of Poland and Poles from Europe; however, Stalin
had no intentions of upholding the Declaration on Poland and instead
established a Communist regime, which was not intended and was out
of the control of Roosevelt and Churchill. In the Yalta Declaration, the
Soviet Union committed to hold free and unfettered elections, as
stated in the Declaration on Poland document. Aforementioned, the
Soviet Union did not and never had any intentions of honoring their

IB HL History Response
Chris Wong
agreement. Taking into perspective the Red Armys occupation of
Poland, there was little or nothing that the Western European powers
could do to influence the Soviet Unions decisions, and going to war
was not an option as Roosevelt rhetorically asked, Do you expect me
to go to war with Stalin over the Baltics? As stated by historian Robert
Dallek, the declarations of international peace and freedom was purely
rhetoric and that reality is what dictates. Roosevelt and Churchills
visions were, as previously mentioned, solely rhetoric and had no
substantial influence on Stalins actions in Poland despite the clearly
delineated agreements on paper.
Roosevelt and Churchill were not guilty of having sold out
Poland at the Yalta Conference, as they had no militaristic or political
power. Stalin was also decisive in occupying the majority of Eastern
Europe, which left Roosevelt and Churchill with no option but to either
fight an impossible war or appease Stalin. Arguably better than any
other totalitarian leader, Stalin understood the concept that might
brings right and that the agreements made at Yalta were futile.