Superpower relations 2

The Conferences of the ‘Big Three’

The Grand Alliance

The Grand Alliance was set up in 1941. It consisted of 3 countries which were sometimes known as ‘the big three‘. They were: USA, USSR, and Britain. Their aim was simple – to defeat Germany and win WWII.

1941 was an important year in the war as it was when both the USA and this USSR joined. Germany had invaded the USSR in the summer of 1941, and Japan attacked America at Pearl Harbor in December. This meant that the big three, even with their ideological differences (capitalism and communism) were united.

The Grand Alliances had 3 main meetings (conferences) which you will look at today
1. Tehran – 1943
2. Yalta – February 1945
3. Potsdam – July/August 1945

Your task

For your work today you need to pick out 3 things for each Conference:
1. Give the names of the leaders of the USA, USSR and Britain at that conference
2. Give at least 2 things that were agreed at that conference
3. Were there any disagreements or things that caused tension at each conference?

If you get stuck there are some answers at the bottom

Where to get your information - I would recommend just the top one from each as it's bbc bitesize
Tehran - follow any of the following links (remember you only need to find out 3 things)
Yalta- follow any of the following links (remember you only need to find out 3 things)
Potsdam- follow any of the following links (remember you only need to find out 3 things)
Some answers if you were unsure – you might have slightly different ones (click to reveal)
  • CONFERENCE: Tehran
  • LEADERS: USA – Roosevelt; USSR – Stalin; Britain – Churchill
  • AGREEMENTS: The USA and Britain would help USSR in the war by opening a ‘second front’ (attacking Germany from the West); the USSR would help USA to defeat Japan once Germany had been beaten
  • TENSION: the big three mainly got on well, there was some concerns about the threat of the British Empire as Roosevelt was against empires
  • LEADERS: USA – Roosevelt; USSR – Stalin; Britain – Churchill This is the same as Yalta, that’s important as these leaders worked well together
  • AGREEMENTS: After the war Germany would be split into 4 zones; a United Nations (UN) was to be set up); Stalin agreed that there would be free elections after the war in Eastern Europe
  • TENSION: this is often seen as the most successful conference however there was a big question mark on what would happen to Poland after the war. Should it be communist or capitalist? The reason Poland was so important was because Stalin was constantly worried about invasion. Poland was where enemies entered the USSR.

In between Yalta and Potsdam there were 3 key changes: a) new leaders b) Germany was defeated in May 1945 c) scientists in the USA had developed an atomic bomb

  • CONFERENCE: Potsdam
  • LEADERS: USA – Truman; USSR – Stalin; Britain – Attlee (he replaced Churchill part way through) What is crucial here is that Roosevelt was replaced by Truman. Roosevelt had died. Truman was quite inexperienced but he was also very anti-communist. Stalin and Truman did not get on.
  • AGREEMENTS: Germany would be divided into 4 zones; Berlin would be divided into 4 zones; USSR could take reparations (payments) form the area it controlled in Germany, and 10% from the other sections of Germany
  • TENSION: lots of things were left uncertain – what was going to happen to Europe now? Stalin’s Soviet army were still in Eastern Europe and didn’t seem to be moving . Free elections (as promised at Yalta didn’t seem to be happening.

The situation by August 1945

The Grand Alliance had started well and lots of agreements had been made at Tehran and then Yalta. However by August 1945 the war against Germany was over, there were new leaders of the big three who didn’t trust one another. There didn’t seem any need for the Grand Alliance.
The alliance very quickly broke apart and the world soon entered a Cold War.

Well done you have completed this lesson!