The Swallow's Nest (Ukrainian: Ластівчине гніздо, Lastivchyne hnizdo)[nb 1] is a decorative castle near Yalta on the Crimean peninsula in southern Ukraine. It was built between 1911 and 1912 near Gaspra, on top of 40-metre (130 ft) high Aurora Cliff, to a Neo-Gothic design by the Russian architect Leonid Sherwood.[nb 2] The castle overlooks the Cape of Ai-Todor of the Black Sea and is located near the remnants of the Roman castrum of Charax. Swallow's Nest is one of the most popular visitor attractions in Crimea, becoming the symbol of Crimea's southern coastline.
Argonaut Ship Seaside Restaurant on Yalta's Seaside Boulevard
Livadia Palace where Prime Minister Churchill,President Franklin Roosevelt and
Joseph Stalin conducted the Yalta Conference
Premier Stalin refused to travel farther West than the Black Sea resort of Yalta, in the Crimea because he could not fly. Each leader had an agenda for the Yalta Conference: Roosevelt asked for Soviet support in the U.S. Pacific War against Japan, specifically invading Japan proper; Churchill pressed for free elections and democratic governments in Eastern Europe (specifically Poland); and Stalin demanded a Soviet sphere of political influence in Eastern Europe, as essential to the USSR's national security.
Moreover, all three leaders were trying to establish an agenda for governing post-war Germany. In 1943, William Bullitt's thesis prophesied the “flow of the Red amoeba into Europe”—Stalin's only weakness—given that the Red Army physically controlled most of Eastern Europe and had penetrated the Third Reich's eastern borders, while the Allies were occupied with invading France. At the time of the Conference, Marshall Georgy Zhukov was forty miles from Berlin. Moreover, Roosevelt hoped for Stalin's commitment to participate in the United Nations. Concerning the first item of the Soviet agenda—Eastern Europe—Poland immediately arose; Stalin stated the Russian case so:
For the Russian people, the question of Poland is not only a question of honour, but also a question of security. Throughout history, Poland has been the corridor through which the enemy has passed into Russia. Poland is a question of life and death for Russia.
Accordingly, Stalin stipulated some of his Polish demands were not negotiable: the Russians would keep the territory from eastern Poland, and Poland was to compensate for that by extending its Western borders, thereby forcing out millions of Germans. Stalin promised free elections in Poland despite the recently-installed Communist puppet government. However the Western Powers soon saw that Stalin would not honour his free elections promise. The elections, held in January 1947 resulted in Poland's official transformation to a socialist state by 1949; they were considered rigged to favour pro-Soviet political parties.
Roosevelt was concerned about the USSR entering the Pacific War with the Allies. One Communist precondition for said declaration of war against Japan was a USA–USSR recognition of Mongolian independence from China. The agreement was effected without diplomatic negotiations with China. Some six months after the Yalta Conference, the USSR formally declared war against Japan and the Red Army seized northern parts of the Japanese archipelago. Later this was disputed between Russia and Japan; Russia did not sign the San Francisco Peace Treaty with Japan and no separate peace treaty had been signed between Russia and Japan as of 2007.
Painting of Roosevelt and Stalin at Livadia Palace
Roosevelt met Stalin's price hoping the USSR could be dealt via the United Nations Later, right-wing Americans considered the agreements effected in the Yalta Conference as a 'sellout' for encouraging Soviet expansion of influence to Japan and Asia and because Stalin eventually violated the agreements in forming the Soviet bloc. Furthermore the Soviets had agreed to join the United Nations, given the secret understanding of a voting formula with a veto power for permanent members of the Security Council, thus ensuring that each country could block unwanted decisions. It is possible that Roosevelt's failing health (Yalta was his last major conference before dying of cerebral hemorrhage) was partially to blame for such poor judgment. At the time the Red Army occupied and held much of Eastern Europe with military three times greater than U.S. General Dwight D. Eisenhower's forces.
The Big Three had ratified previous agreements about the postwar division of Germany: three zones of occupation, one for each dominant nation (France later received one when the USA and the UK ceded parts of their zones). Berlin itself, although in the Russian zone would also be divided into three sectors (and eventually became a Cold War symbol because of the division's realization via the Berlin Wall, built and manned by the Soviet-backed East German government).
Also, the Big Three decided that all original governments would be restored to the invaded countries and that all civilians would be repatriated. Democracies would be established and all countries would hold free elections and European order restored per this statement:
The establishment of order in Europe, and the rebuilding of national economic life, must be achieved by processes which will enable the liberated peoples to destroy the last vestiges of Nazism and fascism and to create democratic institutions of their own choice.
Key points of the meeting are as follows:
There was an agreement that the priority would be the unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany. After the war Germany would be split into four occupied zones with a quadripartite occupation of Berlin, prior to unification of Germany.
Stalin agreed to let France have the fourth occupation zone in Germany and Austria carved out from the British and American zones. France would also be granted a seat in the Allied Control Council.
The Polish eastern border would follow the Curzon Line, and Poland would receive substantial territorial compensation in the west from Germany, although the exact border was to be determined at a later time.
Citizens of the Soviet Union and of Yugoslavia were to be handed over to their respective countries, regardless of their consent.
Roosevelt obtained a commitment by Stalin to participate in the United Nations once it was agreed that each of the five permanent members of the Security Council would have veto power. Churchill lobbied heavily to get France in the Security Council.
Stalin agreed to enter the fight against the Empire of Japan within 90 days after the defeat of Germany. The Soviet Union would receive the southern part of Sakhalin and the Kurile islands after the defeat of Japan.
A "Committee on Dismemberment of Germany" was to be set up. The purpose was to decide whether Germany was to be divided into several nations, and if so, what borders and inter-relationships the new German states were to have.
Yalta was the last great conference before the end of the war in Europe and the death of President Roosevelt, and the last trip Roosevelt took abroad. To observers he appeared already ill and exhausted. Arguably, his most important goal was to ensure the Soviet Union's participation in the United Nations, which he achieved at the price of granting veto power to each permanent member of the Security Council. Another of his objectives was to bring the Soviet Union into the fight against Japan, as the effectiveness of the atomic bomb had yet to be proven. As a reward, Soviet Union was allowed to seize the southern part of Sakhalin and Kuril Islands, which used to be under Japanese sovereignty, and some other privileges in colonial China remained intact.
The Red Army had already removed Nazi forces from most of Eastern Europe, so Stalin obtained his goals: a significant sphere of influence as a buffer zone. In this process, the freedom of small nations was sacrificed for the sake of stability, which meant that the Baltic countries of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia would continue to be occupied by USSR.
Allegations about Yalta would play a significant role in United States politics during the Cold War. American conservatives alleged that decisions reached at Yalta were a betrayal of the Eastern European nations that resulted in their domination by the Soviet Union. During the McCarthy period, Yalta was a centerpiece of accusations that the Democrats were "soft on communism."
The alternative opinion is that there was little Roosevelt or Churchill could have done to prevent Stalin from dominating the Eastern European nations short of war with the Soviet Union, since the Red Army already controlled those Eastern European territories. With the war in the Pacific theater continuing, and the atomic bomb still two months from completion, Roosevelt likely wanted to improve his negotiating position once the atomic bomb was introduced. Stalin had agreed at Yalta to the principle of a liberated Europe, which stated that liberated peoples would have the right to democratic self government. Stalin also agreed that Poland would hold democratic, free elections as soon as feasible. In the alternative opinion, the problem was not the Yalta Conference Agreement itself, but rather Stalin's violation of the Yalta Conference Agreement. The western countries violated Yalta when in 1946 they refused to provide reparations to the Soviet Union from their occupation zone of Germany. The currency reform and the unification of American, British, and French occupation zones violated Yalta.
Yalta has often been assessed with hindsight. Historians have often commented that Stalin had shown himself to be immoral, as demonstrated in his purge of the Soviet army in the 1930s and, more recently, his reluctance to help the insurrection in 1944 Warsaw Uprising, and therefore could not have been trusted. However in October 1944 Stalin and Churchill had agreed in the Percentages Agreement how to divide their respective spheres of influence. Stalin would keep to the majority of this agreement including, most profoundly, denying Soviet support for communist guerrillas in Greece, which Stalin had agreed was part of the British sphere of influence in that agreement. There was also the fact that, at the end of the day, Stalin could have chosen not to allow the Allies into Berlin. It was well within Soviet territory, and he could have said no if he wanted to. The argument that he did so because he wanted to avoid war is flawed, since there was a much greater chance of a war between the Soviet Union and the Western Allies over Poland. Therefore, at the time, there was nothing to suggest for certain that the situation would turn out the way it did.