History of the Second World War, Volume 4

The Tehran Conference November 1943 Although they had been Allies in the 'crusade against the Axis for over two years, there had been little contact or understanding between the Western Allies and Russia. Their wars ran separately with little interaction. Now at last at Tehran the three great leaders who personified their countries and controlled their wars to a remarkable extent were to come face to face. But their aims and the results of the conference were both extremely vague —although it was certain that they would all continue the war until final victory it became obvious that this was the only thing that held them together and in spite of much brave talk they would almost certainly differ once this link had ended. Here we present a survey of the political situation as seen and interpreted by one of the most controversial modern historians A. J. P. Taylor On November 281943 three men and their professional advisers met in remote Tehran: Winston Churchill Prime Minister of Great Britain Franklin Delano Roosevelt Presi­dent of the United States and Joseph Stalin, Prime Minister of the Soviet Union secre­tary of the Soviet Communist party and for all practical purposes Soviet dictator. Be­tween them they represented the greatest accumulation of armed power the world has ever known though much hard conflict still lay ahead before they imposed Unconditional Surrender on all their enemies. Neverthe­less it was already clear that they would bethe victors in the Second World War. The unity which they achieved at Tehran seemed to promise a happy future for the world and the later fading of this unity now makes the spirit of Tehran appear as moreno than a mirage. How real was their unity? What did these three men desire for their countries and for mankind? And how far could their separate streams of policy run into a common current? Tehran was in many ways a strange meeting. The capital of Persia was for one thing a strange place to choose: a country theoretically neutral though in fact occupied by British and Soviet forces. No American President had ever travelled so far from home before while in office. Stalin had not been on foreign soil since the Bolshevik revolution. During the revolution Churchill had been the most strenuous advocate of intervention against the Bolsheviks. The United States had not recognised Soviet Russia until 1933 and even after that the recognition had not been much more than nominal until both countries were drawn into the Second World War. The Soviet leaders had patronised Communist revo­lution in both Great Britain and the United States. And now Great Britain and Soviet Russia had a formal alliance. The United States was legalistically merely the associ­ate of both though this was now dressed up in the more impressive phrase of 'the United Nations. Despite this union they were still largely fighting separate wars. The Soviet Union was engaging the bulk of the German land forces and had been for more than two years. Great Britain and the United States had been fighting Italy in the Mediterranean. Great Britain had been attacking Germany, somewhat ineffectually in the air. The United States and to a lesser extent Great Britain was fighting Japan. The meeting at Tehran was intended to pull these separate wars together. It also began the attempt to 1513
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