• Members of the conference: Churchill, Truman and StalinMembers of the conference: Churchill, Truman and Stalin
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Potsdam conference

After the German capitulation in 1945 the victorious powers of the world war gathered at the Potsdam conference to decide on political and geographic rearrangements in Germany. Those attending were the American president TrumancustomHarry S. Truman was the president of the United States from 1945 to 1953, the Russian general secretary StalincustomJoseph Stalin was the leader of the Soviet Union until 1953 and the British Prime Minister ChurchillcustomWinston Chuchill was the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1940 to 1945 and from 1951 to 1955; all accompanied by consultants and general staffs. One has to keep in mind that the French government was not invited to attend the conference even though France was among the victorious powers of the war.

Fundamental aims

The victorious powers agreed to temporarily deprive Germany of its political and military power, to prohibit the danger of a new war commenced by Germany. Those goals are commonly known as the 5D’s: demilitarisation, denazification, decentralisation, demolition and democratisation. According to this the war industry was demolished completely, the military was disarmed and national socialistic war criminals were imprisoned. This in turn led to the Nuremberg TrialscustomThe Nuremberg trials were a series of military tribunals, held by the Allied forces after World War II, most notable for the prosecution of prominent members of the political, military, and economic leadership of Nazi Germany in 1946 in which most culprits were sentenced to a life-long jail sentence. Politically Germany and Berlin were divided into four occupied areas. From then on the Allied Control CouncilcustomThe Allied Control Council was a military occupation governing body of the Allied Occupation Zones in Germany after the end of World War II in Berlin decided over all political changes1.


The gradual transition from cooperation to confrontation first presented itself concerning the question whether the Oder-Neiße-linecustomThe Oder-Neiße-line is the border between Germany and Poland which was drawn in the aftermath of World War II to Poland should remain. Furthermore the Soviet Union claimed costly reparations while the mistrust against the Russian policies grew among the Western powers (USA, France, Great Britain) as the Soviet Union founded several, politically dependant client states all over Europe from 1945 onwards. In response to this Us-President Harry Truman pursued a containment policycustomContainment was a United States policy to prevent the spread of communism abroad and passed the Truman doctrinecustomThe Truman Doctrine was a US policy to stop Soviet expansion during the Cold War. Truman impelled the US to support any nation with both military and economic aid if its stability was threatened by communism or the Soviet Union in order to repress the economic influence of the Soviets in Europe. Due to supply bottlenecks in Germany from 1946 until 1947 the USA offered economic aid to all European countries – including the Soviet Union – with the so called Marshall plancustomThe Marshall plan was the American support to help rebuild European economies after the end of World War II in order to prevent the spread of Soviet Communism. As the Soviets rejected this plan the British and the American occupants merged their realm to a bizonecustomThe Bizone was the combination of the American and the British occupation zones in 1947. Germany could no longer be reined unitarily due to the growing confrontations: democracy and capitalism could not correspond with socialism and controlled economy2.

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