SETTING ON FRONTS
As is known, in accordance with the agreements reached at the Tehran Conference between the partners in the anti-Hitler coalition to open a second front in France in May-June 1944, on June 6, US and British troops landed in Normandy. Operation Overlord, as indicated by the US-British invasion of France, began.
However, by the end of 1944, the American and British forces in Europe unexpectedly faced a very difficult situation on the German front. In mid-December 1944, German troops suddenly struck a powerful blow in the Ardennes, which put the Anglo-American allies in an extremely difficult position.
Only thanks to the Red Army, which, at the request of the leaders of the United States and England 12 January 1945, two weeks ahead of schedule, launched an offensive against Germany in Poland, the Ardennes disaster was avoided. The German command was forced to abandon the offensive in the Ardennes and to transfer the liberated divisions to the East. US-British troops on the Western Front were rescued and soon resumed the offensive. It became clear to the whole world that the war was coming to an end and the defeat of Germany was inevitable.
There is an urgent need for urgent coordination of the further actions of the countries of the anti-Hitler coalition for the final defeat of Germany and Japan and speeding up the end of the Second World War. Demanded careful study and problems of post-war device in Europe. The representatives of the USSR, the United States and Great Britain agreed on the next meeting of the leaders of the “Big Three”. Yalta was elected its venue, shortly before this liberated by the Red Army from the Nazi occupation.
ON THE EVE OF CONFERENCE IN YALTA
On the eve of the Yalta (Crimean) conference of the heads of government of the three powers - participants of the anti-Hitler coalition, which took place near Yalta from February 4 to 11, 1945, a representative meeting of the heads of the NKGB intelligence, the people's commissariats of defense and the naval was held in Moscow fleet. On the first day, it was chaired by the head of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff of the Red Army, Lieutenant General Philip Golikov. The second day of the meeting was chaired by Lawrence Beria. Only one question was discussed: an assessment of Germany’s potential for resistance to the allies.
After a thorough analysis of the available information of military and political intelligence services, the meeting concluded that the war in Europe would last no more than three months. Intelligence agencies also analyzed the goals and intentions of the allies at the upcoming conference. The meeting participants agreed that the Americans and the British would make significant concessions to the Soviet Union because of the extreme interest in the Soviet Union entering the war with Japan.
As the results of the Yalta conference showed, these predictions came true completely, which in itself meant the high efficiency of the Soviet intelligence work during the war years, its ability to extract the necessary secret information and analyze it correctly.
22 January 1945 President Franklin Delano Roosevelt secretly left the United States and headed for Yalta. The American government circles prepared for him a special “Memo”, the content of which became the property of Soviet intelligence in Washington. In particular, it said: “We need the support of the Soviet Union to defeat Germany. We desperately need the Soviet Union for a war with Japan at the end of the war in Europe. "
The Committee of the Chiefs of Staff of the United States on the eve of the Yalta Conference confirmed the findings of the “Memo.” In his note addressed to the President of the United States, received by the Washington residency and reported to the Center to Stalin, it was noted that “after the defeat of Japan, only the USSR and the USA will remain powerful military powers. Although the United States can transfer its armed forces to many areas of the world, it is nevertheless obvious that the military power and geographical location of these two powers preclude the possibility of military defeat in a mutual conflict, even if one of them joins the United Kingdom. ”
EXPLORATION COLLECTING INFORMATION
The statement by Western experts of the increased military and economic power of the Soviet Union, turning it into a great power has since not haunted the cold war troubadours who demanded a revision of the Yalta accords after the war. These agreements were attributed to the "division" of Europe between the USSR and the USA, although in reality it was only about plans for a post-war settlement in Europe and the Far East, and Stalin, as is well known, did not even think about "Sovietization" of Eastern Europe at that time.
The information of Soviet intelligence on the eve and during the Yalta Conference was very extensive. The Soviet delegation was quite large. Unlike the Teheran Conference, at which our country was represented by only three statesmen (Stalin, Molotov and Voroshilov), the official Soviet delegation at the Yalta Conference consisted of 53 people. And the Allies sent about 7 thousand people to Yalta, including service personnel and security. Among these persons were, of course, the sources of Soviet foreign intelligence. In addition, secret information about the positions of the United States and Britain on the most important post-war issues in Europe was actively received from London and Washington: from members of the Cambridge Five, from Soviet intelligence sources at the US Department of State, the Office of Strategic Services and other US departments. The information necessary for the Soviet delegation was also received on the eve of the Yalta Conference from the residency of the NKGB in Stockholm, Istanbul, Sofia, Tehran and China.
By the beginning of the conference of the "big three" Allied troops liberated Paris, a significant part of France, Belgium, entered the territory of Germany. The Soviet troops, liberating Poland, Romania, Hungary and Yugoslavia, stood on the outskirts of Vienna. The war against Nazi Germany entered the final stage.
SOME RESULTS OF YALTA
The first official meeting of the Yalta Conference opened on February 4 at five o'clock in the evening in the Livadia Palace. It was agreed on the final hostilities of the Allies, which were to complete the unconditional surrender of the enemy. The directions of the political efforts of the victorious countries against the defeated Germany, the need to establish allied control over it, and the destruction of the forces of militarism and fascism are outlined. The conference participants also agreed to divide Germany and Austria into four occupation zones and agreed on their future borders.
On the eve of 27 on January 1945, the NKGB’s foreign intelligence officers reported to Stalin the contents of the memorandum obtained by the agents of the British Foreign Office for the British delegation at the Yalta Conference of the leaders of the three Allied Powers.
The document detailed the position of England at a conference on issues relating to the future structure of Germany, relations with Poland, raised the issue of reparations to the Soviet Union. Stalin, knowing the content of this document, firmly defended the interests of the USSR and its Eastern European allies, especially in the Polish question.
Indeed, the most pressing issue at the conference was the future of Poland. Great controversy erupted over its borders, especially the western. Stalin insisted that this border pass along the rivers Oder and Neisse. Britain and the United States recognized the need to expand the territory of Poland, but did not want to undertake specific obligations.
In the end, Roosevelt agreed that the western border of the USSR would pass along the so-called Curzon Line, and Poland would receive compensation at the expense of Germany’s eastern and northeastern territories, including Danzig and the Danzig Corridor.
Disagreements among the leaders of the "big three" arose when discussing the issue of reparation requirements for Germany and its allies. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill objected to the fact that the total amount of reparations from Germany amounted to 20 billion dollars, despite the fact that the USSR’s total losses from Hitler’s aggression exceeded 1 trillions of pre-war rubles. Churchill feared that these payments would weaken Germany, which the British prime minister expected to use after the war for armed struggle against the USSR.
Roosevelt, on the contrary, supported the demands of the Soviet side, realizing that they were minimal. After the February 5 meeting, he spoke privately with the former Soviet ambassador to London, Deputy Commissar for Foreign Affairs Ivan Maisky, who was surprised by the modesty of the Soviet side, which suffered such huge losses and destruction. In his opinion, the USSR had the right to demand at least 50 billion dollars.
Of great importance were issues related to the completion of the preparatory work for the creation of the United Nations. Its charter was tentatively drafted earlier at a meeting of representatives of the foreign affairs agencies of the allied countries in Dumbarton Oaks (USA). However, one point remained inconsistent: the procedure for voting by the permanent members of the UN Security Council. This issue was settled in the Crimea: agreed to adhere to the principle of unanimity between the great powers in voting. At the same time, an agreement was reached on the inclusion of Ukraine and Belarus in the number of countries - founders of the UN. The participants at the Yalta Conference determined that 25 on April 1945 of the year in San Francisco (USA) will convene a conference of the United Nations, which will approve the final text of the UN Charter.
During the Yalta Conference, the “Agreement of the Three Great Powers on the Far East” was adopted, providing for the Soviet Union to enter the war against Japan after the surrender of Germany and the end of the war in Europe. The agreement stated, in particular, that at the end of the war the USSR would return the southern part of Sakhalin Island and all the islands adjacent to it, as well as the Kuril Islands. In other words, the Western allies of the USSR in the anti-Hitler coalition agreed on the need to restore Russia's rights in the Far East, lost as a result of Japan’s treacherous attack on Japan in the 1904 year.
In the final statement on the results of the Yalta conference, the leaders of the Big Three specifically noted: "Our uncompromising goal is to destroy German militarism and fascism and to create guarantees that Germany will never again be able to break the peace of the whole world."
At the initiative of Stalin, President Roosevelt was acquainted with the destruction caused by Yalta and other cities during the period of Hitler’s occupation of the Crimea. 1 March, returning to the United States and speaking to Congress with a report on the Yalta Conference, he stated, in particular, the following: “I witnessed the frenzied, senseless rage and horrific destruction resulting from German militarism. I read about Warsaw, Lidice and Rotterdam, but I saw Sevastopol and Yalta! And I know that German militarism and Christian propriety cannot exist simultaneously on earth. ”
The benevolent attitude of the President of the United States to the Soviet Union was dictated primarily by the military interests of his country in Europe and the Far East. However, it did not suit British Prime Minister Churchill, who feared that in the postwar period both superpowers would be able to agree among themselves and solve, at least partially, their problems at the expense of the British Empire. In the spring of 1945, when it became clear to everyone in the world that the Red Army would soon enter Berlin, Churchill’s hostility towards the Soviet Union increased even more. The London residency of the NKGB sent the following information to the Center at that time:
“According to the Cambridge Five, the British government will strive to deprive the USSR of the fruits of victory after the defeat of Germany and prevent its participation in solving European affairs. London is deeply concerned about the fact that England can move from the position of a leading power to the role of junior partner in the “big three”.
This document reflected the true sentiments of Prime Minister Churchill, who openly called himself an imperialist and had repeatedly publicly stated that his main goal in the war was "the preservation of the British Empire."
At the same time, the residency in London received information about the secret order of Prime Minister Churchill, which he gave to the command of the British army in March 1945. It instructed to "carefully assemble the German weapon and combat equipment and store them so that it would be easy to re-distribute this weaponry to the German units, with which we would have to cooperate if the Soviet offensive continued. " In fact, this meant that the Second World War, according to the plans of London, had to gradually develop into a third one with the task of "total defeat of the Soviet Union and its destruction as a multinational community." Stalin was once again convinced that after the war, there was probably no question of any cooperation with London.
Joseph Stalin, the new US President Harry Truman and the new British Prime Minister Clement Attlee during the Potsdam Conference. July 1945 of the year.
2 May 1945, the Soviet troops stormed Berlin. On May 7, Colonel General Alfred Jodl signed a document on the unconditional surrender of Germany in Reims. From the winners, the ceremony was attended by the Supreme Commander of the Allied and Expeditionary Forces in Europe, the US Army General Eisenhower and the head of the Soviet military mission at his headquarters, Major General Susloparov. All German armed forces, which were under German control, capitulated. The armed resistance of the Wehrmacht in the West ceased, but it continued in the East, especially in the region of Courland and the Curonian Spit.
Initially, Jodl intended to sign an act of surrender only in front of the United States and Britain and continue to resist in the East. However, Eisenhower opposed this. He invited Susloparov to sign the act as well. Having no direct connection with Moscow, the latter immediately sent a telegram to the Headquarters, but no reply was received. Then Susloparov put his signature on the document. Soon, an answer came from Moscow that categorically forbade it. It was decided to consider the surrender at Reims as preliminary.
The final act of the unconditional surrender of Germany was signed on May 8 1945 in the capital of the defeated Third Reich, in the Karlshorst district of Berlin, the least affected by the bombings. On behalf of Germany, it was signed by Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel.
It should be emphasized that at the ceremony in Karlshorst there was a prominent Soviet intelligence officer, Colonel Alexander Korotkov, whom Deputy Commissar of the USSR NKGB Ivan Serov ordered to lead a group of security officers of the German delegation.
At midnight on the night of 8 on 9 in May, the ceremony of signing the Act on the unconditional surrender of the German armed forces began in the officer’s canteen of the military school in Karlshorst. On the 43 minute, Marshal of the Soviet Union Georgy Zhukov said:
- The German delegation may be free.
Now, in order to address the extremely important issues directly connected with the post-war structure in Europe, it was necessary to hold a regular conference of the leaders of the allied states that had won the war against fascism. The representatives of the United States, Britain and the USSR agreed to hold such a conference in Potsdam with 17 July 1945.
We have already noted that the information received from Soviet foreign intelligence by the country's leadership in the last months of the war revealed the main directions of the policies of the Western powers in relation to the USSR for the post-war period. Intelligence warned in advance that it expects our country after the end of the war, what pressure it will experience from its yesterday’s allies, who set themselves the goal of minimizing the authority and influence gained by the USSR in the fight against fascism.
Towards the end of the war, foreign intelligence began to receive more and more information testifying to the concern of the ruling circles of Britain and the United States about the increasing political weight of the Soviet Union as a result of the defeat of Hitler Germany.
In one of the intelligence messages of Winston Churchill, harvested to the newly elected new US president Harry Truman (US president Franklin Roosevelt died 12 on April 1945), British Prime Minister almost in panic terms painted the danger that Soviet forces advance into Germany deeply in panic terms , the liberation of Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Romania. He recommended that the American president not withdraw allied troops from their positions beyond the line of demarcation of the occupation zones established at the Yalta Conference and take a firm line of conduct against the Russians.
In June 1945 of the year, shortly before the opening of the Potsdam Conference of the leaders of the Allied powers, the committee of the chiefs of staff of the British General Staff - at that time the country's highest military-strategic and political-political planning body - sent a report entitled "Security of the British Empire" to the government. Foreign Intelligence received a summary of this document, and then the entire document.
The authors of the report officially declared the Soviet Union "the main opponent of Great Britain and the entire Western world in the post-war period" and called on the British government to carry out a series of foreign policy and military activities against the USSR. In particular, British military strategists recommended that the country's leadership strengthen “special” relations with the United States in order to connect them to the defense of Western Europe and create military-political blocs and a network of military bases around the USSR with the active participation of the United States. They also pointed to the need to isolate the USSR by creating a system of regional organizations and using the interests of the West for the UN and other international organizations.
Such were the plans of the western allies of the USSR, obtained by intelligence at the time when the results of World War II were not yet summed up. It was a long-term strategy and tactics for dealing with the Soviet Union.
17 July 1945 year in Potsdam in the palace Cecilienienhof opened the next conference of the "big three". It lasted over two weeks. The agenda of the conference included postwar issues in Europe.
Potsdam was chosen for the conference due to the fact that the German capital during the war was heavily damaged by the Allied bombing aviation.
The outward unanimity of the conference participants, demonstrated in the press, did not reflect the real picture. Negotiations were quite difficult for both the Soviet and other delegations. For each question was a tense struggle. And the fact that the state interests of the USSR were adequately taken into account by the allies is hardly worth explaining by their disinterestedness. For the interests of the Soviet Union was not only the power of the country, victoriously ending the war, but also the precise work of its intelligence. Suffice it to say that all the documents of the governments of the USA and England prepared before the conference were reported in advance to Stalin and Molotov. So, 5 July 1945, they received a message from the Soviet intelligence on the agreed positions of England and the United States on the agenda. It followed from the document that the main battle was to be endured on the question of Poland.
The Soviet delegation at the conference was headed by Joseph Stalin, who arrived in Potsdam on the eve of a special train. The American delegation was led by the new president, Harry Truman, and the British delegation, by Winston Churchill, who was replaced on 28 in July by Labor’s leader Clement Attlee, who became British Prime Minister as a result of parliamentary elections in which the conservatives were defeated. At the same time, Churchill remained a member of the British delegation and actively participated in the work of the conference.
The main issue on the conference agenda was German. The heads of delegations agreed to conduct a coordinated policy during the occupation of this country, divided into four zones. Its essence was formulated in the form of the principles of demilitarization, democratization and denazification of the country. At the same time, measures were envisaged for the dissolution of the Nazi Party and all adjacent organizations so that they would not be revived in any form.
16 July 1945, on the eve of the opening of the Potsdam Conference, Truman received an encrypted telegram from the head of the Manhattan Project (this code name received works on the creation of American atomic weapons) by General Leslie Groves. It said: “The child was born. Childbirth was successful. " This meant that in the United States, at the nuclear site near Alamagordo (New Mexico), the first atomic bomb was successfully tested. Turning to his advisers, Truman said: “Finally, I got a good baton for these guys!” It was, of course, about the Soviet Union. He shared the news of the successful testing of the atomic bomb with the Prime Minister of England, Churchill. Both leaders decided to inform about this in general terms of Stalin.
July 17 Truman, in the presence of Churchill, informed Stalin that a new weapon of unprecedented destructive power had been successfully tested in the USA. Stalin's reaction was restrained. He showed neither surprise nor fright, on which the American president was counting. Stalin only thanked Truman for the information. Churchill and Truman even had the impression that the Soviet leader did not understand anything, as Truman himself did not understand the explanation of his minister of war on this subject in his time. However, this was not the case: from the reports of Soviet intelligence, Stalin was aware of the ongoing work in the United States on the development of atomic weapons. In the 1943 year, when Truman himself was still unaware of the Manhattan Project, Stalin ordered that such work be started in our country. He also knew the coming test of the first explosive device in the USA. From intelligence reports, he also knew that the United States did not have any significant stock of nuclear bombs and, therefore, were not yet ready for their combat use.
At the same time, the Soviet Union had the most powerful army in the world, which actually controlled the whole of Eastern and Southeastern Europe and in the event of an armed conflict here, as the British prime minister dreamed of, was able to reach the Channel in two weeks. In addition, from the Soviet intelligence reports, Stalin also knew that the US military command seriously counted on the participation of the Red Army in defeating militarist Japan and, therefore, Truman would be forced to make serious concessions in Potsdam.
Returning after meeting with Truman and Churchill at the residence of the Soviet delegation, Stalin shared with Molotov and Marshal Zhukov. newsreceived from the President of the United States. After a short exchange of views, it was decided not to succumb to US atomic blackmail and to firmly defend the interests of the Soviet Union at a conference. However, on the same day, Stalin telephoned Igor Kurchatov, the head of the Soviet atomic project, and asked him to speed up work on the creation of atomic weapons.
The so-called Polish question provoked a heated discussion at the conference. After a heated debate as a result of the tough stance of Stalin and the Soviet delegation, the Potsdam Conference defined the western borders of Poland along the Oder-Neisse line. The Polish state also included part of the territory of the former East Prussia. A national unity government was formed in the country, which, along with the Communists, included moderate representatives of the Polish émigré government. During the discussion of this issue, the borders of the USSR and Poland were also identified with the transfer of Koenigsberg to the Soviet Union (now Kaliningrad, the center of the Kaliningrad region).
The United States and Britain once again raised the issue of the Soviet Union entering the war against Japan. 26 July 1945, they published the so-called Potsdam Declaration, joined by China. She demanded that Japan surrender unconditionally. The Soviet Union, which had diplomatic relations with Japan, did not sign this declaration at that moment. At the same time, Stalin reaffirmed the readiness of the Soviet Union to fulfill its obligations at the Yalta Conference and enter the war against Japan in exchange for the restoration of the legitimate rights of the USSR in the Far East.
8 August 1945, the Soviet Union joined the Potsdam Declaration of July on 26, and on August 9 declared war on Japan. 2 September 1945 Japan signed the Unconditional Surrender Act, accepting all the requirements of the Potsdam Declaration.
The Potsdam Conference of the Big Three completed its 2 August 1945 work. Stalin and the Soviet delegation as a whole managed to defend their positions on all issues of post-war settlement in Europe. The Soviet intelligence, which regularly and thoroughly informed the country's leadership on the positions of the United States and Britain on various issues, contributed significantly to the successful completion of the conference. Concluding the conference, Truman expressed the hope that this meeting of the “Big Three” would not be the last. In response, Stalin remarked: "God forbid!". He well knew that the United States and Britain intend to unilaterally destroy the anti-Hitler coalition and are already considering the Soviet Union as their opponent.