|The "Big Three" at the Tehran Conference Left to right: Joseph Stalin, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill.|
|November 28, 1943 (1943-11-28) to December 1, 1943 (1943-12-01)|
|Soviet Embassy, Tehran, Iran|
|Winston Churchill (Prime Minister: Great Britain), Franklin D. Roosevelt (President: United States) Joseph Stalin (Premier: Soviet Russia)|
|Consensus to open a second front against Nazi Germany by 1 May 1944|
The Tehran Conference (codenamed Eureka) was a strategy meeting held between Joseph Stalin, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Winston Churchill from 28 November to 1 December 1943. It was held in the Soviet Embassy in Tehran, Iran and was the first of the World War II conferences held between all of the "Big Three" Allied leaders (the Soviet Union, the United States, and the United Kingdom). It closely followed the Cairo Conference and preceded both the Yalta and Potsdam Conferences. Although all three of the leaders present arrived with differing objectives, the main outcome of the Tehran Conference was the commitment to the opening of a second front against Nazi Germany by the Western Allies. The conference also addressed relations between the Allies and Turkey and Iran, operations in Yugoslavia and against Japan as well as the envisaged post-war settlement. A separate protocol signed at the conference pledged the Big Three's recognition of Iran's independence.Contents
As soon as the German-Soviet war broke out, Churchill offered assistance to the Soviets and an agreement to this effect was signed on 12 July 1941. Delegations had traveled between London and Moscow to arrange the implementation of this support and when the United States joined the war, the delegations included Washington in their meeting venues. A Combined Chiefs of Staff committee was created to coordinate British and American operations as well as their support to the Soviet Union. The consequences of a global war, the absence of a unified Allied strategy and the complexity of allocating resources between Europe and Asia had not yet been sorted out – and soon gave rise to mutual suspicions between the Western Allies and the Soviet Union. There was the question of opening a second front to alleviate the German pressure on the Soviet Army, the question of mutual assistance – where both Britain and the Soviet Union were looking towards the United States for credit and material support and there was ceaseless tension between the United States and Britain since Washington had no desire to prop-up the British Empire in the event of an Allied Victory. Also, neither the United States nor the British were prepared to give Stalin a free hand in his dealings with Eastern Europe and lastly, there was no common policy on how to deal with Germany after Hitler. Communications regarding these matters between Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin took place by telegrams and via emissaries – but it was evident that direct negotiations were urgently needed.
Stalin obsessively wished to control everything in Moscow and was unwilling to risk journeys by air, while Roosevelt was physically disabled and found travel grueling. Churchill was an avid traveler and had met with Roosevelt on two previous occasions in the United States and had also held two prior meetings with Stalin in Moscow. In order to engineer this urgently needed meeting, Roosevelt tried to persuade Stalin to travel to Cairo. Stalin turned down this offer and also an offer to meet in Baghdad and in Basra – finally agreeing to meet in Tehran in November 1943.Proceedings of the Conference Main Conference Footage from the Cairo and Teheran conferences
The conference was scheduled to convene at 16:00 on 28 November 1943. Stalin arrived well before the scheduled time, followed by Roosevelt who was wheeled in, in his wheelchair from his accommodation adjacent to the venue. Roosevelt, who had traveled 7,000 miles to attend and whose health had already started deteriorating, was met by Stalin; this being the first time that they had met. Churchill, walking with his General Staff from their accommodations near-by, arrived half an hour later.
The main objective of the United States and Great Britain was to ensure full cooperation and assistance from the Soviet Union for their war policies. Stalin agreed, but at a price: Roosevelt and Churchill would have to support his reign and the Yugoslav Partisans, and also agree to move the border between Poland and the Soviet Union west. Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin then moved on to other matters, namely the cross-channel invasion of occupied France by the Western Allies (Operation Overlord) and general war policy. Operation Overlord was scheduled to begin in May 1944, in conjunction with a Soviet attack on Germany's eastern border.
Roosevelt gave Stalin a pledge that he had been waiting for since June 1941: that the British and the Americans would open a second front in France in the spring of 1944. Churchill up to this point had been seeking a joint United Kingdom, United States and Commonwealth forces initiative through the Mediterranean that would have secured British interests in the Middle East and India. Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin agreed that the nations in league with the Axis powers would be divided into territories to be controlled by the Soviet Union, the US, and the UK.
Iran and Turkey were discussed in detail. Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin all agreed to support Iran's government, as addressed in the following declaration:
The Three Governments realize that the war has caused special economic difficulties for Iran, and they all agreed that they will continue to make available to the Government of Iran such economic assistance as may be possible, having regard to the heavy demands made upon them by their world-wide military operations, and to the world-wide shortage of transport, raw materials, and supplies for civilian consumption.
In addition, the Soviet Union was required to pledge support to Turkey if that country entered the war; Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin agreed that it would also be most desirable if Turkey entered on the Allies' side before the year was out.
Despite accepting the above arrangements, Stalin dominated the conference, using the Soviet victory at the Battle of Kursk and military might, as well as key positions on the German front, to get his way. Roosevelt attempted to cope with Stalin's onslaught of demands, but was able to do little except appease Stalin. Churchill mostly argued for his Mediterranean plan instead of Operation Overlord, to the annoyance of diplomats and officials. These weaknesses and divisions played into Stalin's hands.
One of Roosevelt and Churchill's main concessions concerned post-war Poland. Stalin wished for an area in the eastern part of Poland to be added to the Soviet Union, and for the border to be lengthened elsewhere in the country. Roosevelt and Churchill agreed to this demand, and Poland's borders were declared to lie along the Oder and Neisse rivers and the Curzon line, despite protests of the Polish government-in-exile in London. Churchill and Roosevelt also consented to the Soviet Union setting up puppet communist governments in Poland, Czechoslovakia, the Baltic states, Romania, and other Eastern European countries which would result in a loss of freedom by these countries for the next fifty years and would be the genesis of the Cold War. After the conference it was agreed that military leaders of the three countries would meet together often, for further discussion.
One remarkable thing that was also decided at the Tehran Conference was the way in which the Allies would deal with Finland, a free democratic country which cooperated with Germany after Soviet aggression and one that had not signed the Tripartite Pact, and had not declared war on any free Allied countries. Their decision stipulated that Finland could negotiate its own peace treaty with the Soviet Union rather than being subject to the unconditional surrender that faced the Germans and Japanese.Tripartite dinner meetingWithout American production the United Nations could never have won the war. — Joseph Stalin during the dinner at the Tehran Conference
Before the Tripartite Dinner Meeting of November 29, 1943 at the Tehran Conference, Churchill presented Stalin with a specially commissioned ceremonial sword (the "Sword of Stalingrad", made in Sheffield) commemorating the victory in the battle of Stalingrad, as a gift from King George VI to the citizens of Stalingrad and the people of the Soviet Union. When Stalin received the sheathed sword, he took it with both hands, kissed the scabbard, and handed it to Marshal Kliment Voroshilov, who mishandled it causing the sword to fall to the ground.
During the dinner, Stalin who, according to the US report, continuously needled Churchill for his perceived "affection" for the Germans, proposed executing 50,000–100,000 German staff officers. Roosevelt joked that perhaps 49,000 would do. Churchill denounced the idea of "the cold blooded execution of soldiers who fought for their country." He said that "war criminals must pay for their crimes and individuals who had committed barbarous acts, and in accordance with the Moscow Document, which he himself had written, they must stand trial at the places where the crimes were committed." He objected vigorously, however, "to executions for political purposes". He declared that he would rather be taken outside and shot rather than agree to Stalin's proposal of summary executions for German officers. He stormed out of the room but was brought back in by Stalin who convinced him that he wasn't serious.Decisions reached
The declaration issued by the three leaders on conclusion of the conference on 1 December 1943, recorded the following military conclusions:
The Yugoslav Partisans were given full Allied support, and Allied support to the Yugoslav Chetniks was halted (they were believed to be cooperating with the occupying Germans rather than fighting them). The Communist Partisans under Tito took power in Yugoslavia as the Germans retreated from the Balkans.
Turkey did not declare war against Germany until February 1945, and then did not participate in any military operations (the Balkans had been liberated by this time). Bulgaria was out of the war by the time that Turkey went to war so the decision to have the Soviet Union declare war on Bulgaria did not become relevant.
The invasion of France was slightly delayed until 6 June 1944, but otherwise took place as planned, and the supporting invasion of southern France also took place (Operation Dragoon). The Soviets launched a major offensive against the Germans 22 June 1944 (Operation Bagration).Alleged assassination plot against the Big Three Main article: Operation Long Jump
According to Soviet intelligence, German intelligence planned to kill the Big Three leaders at the Tehran Conference. The existence of the plot was dismissed by Western intelligence from the start. According to the Soviets the plot was called off while still in the planning stage.
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