The Grand Alliance


The 'Big Three' discussed Europe's Future at Tehra

  • In 1943, the Grand Alliance (Britain, the USA and the USSR) held the Tehran Conference, where the talks mainly focused on plans to defeat the Nazis.  The Allies also started to discuss what would happen to Europe and Germany after the war
  • Britain and the USA were very different politically from the USSR and there were tensions between the three allies.  These were put aside during the war as they focused on Germany (the common enemy)
  • Churchill and Roosevelt agreed the USSR could claim a 'sphere of influence' in Eastern Europe after the war was over.  Eastern European countries would be subject to Soviet policies and ideas
  • The Grand Alliance made more decisions about the future of Europe at the Yalta Conference in February 1945.  These were: free elections would be held in previously occupied countries in Eastern Europe and the UN would replace the failed League of Nations
  • The Allies had different interpretations of 'free elections'.  To the USA and Britain it meant lots of political parties competing for votes, but Stalin believed only communist parties should run in elections as they were the only parties that truly represented the people
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Potsdam revealed the first cracks in the Grand All

  • After Germany surrendered in May 1945, the allied leaders met again at Potsdam over July and August, where they wanted to work on the details of their plans for Germany and Europe
  • At Potsdam: the new boundaries of Poland were agreed, the 'big three' plus France would divide Germany and Berlin between them and Nazi leaders would be tried for war crimes at Nuremberg
  • Some things remained undecided: Germany would be divided into four zones, but the Allies didn't decide if, or when, the zones could rejoin and form a country again
  • Tensions were high, as Truman had succeeded Roosevelt, who was more suspicious of the USSR and less willing to compromise
  • Britain and the USA were alarmed by Stalin's actions in Poland, as he has installed a government of only pro-communist members.  Britain and the USA felt this went against the Yalta agreement
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Different Ideologies

  • The tension between the two superpowers was partly caused by their different beliefs and fearing each other's intentions- the USA was capitalist but the USSR was communist
  • Communism meant state control of industry and agriculture, whereas the US valued private enterprise
  • The USSR only allowed one political party- the Communist Party, but the USA valued political freedom
  • Communism aimed at world revolution, and so it was seen by the USA as a threat to their democracy.  However, communists also feared worldwide American influence
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