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How did the Potsdam Conference impact the relations

between US and Russia?

The Potsdam Conference was held from July 17th to August 2nd 1945
and is considered as the last of the Big Three conferences during
World War Two. The meeting was attended by Harry Truman, who
was the new American president, Premier Joseph Stalin of the Soviet
Union and Winston Churchill of Great Britain (replaced by Clement
Atlee on July 28th, who defeated Churchill in the post-war elections).
(1) The Potsdam Conference has created further tension between
the US and Russia. This is because of the death of Roosevelt, the
atomic bomb held by the Americans and the disagreements on
reparations. All of these reasons combined with other issues
resulted in to a much tenser relationship between Truman and
Stalin.

The death of Franklin Roosevelt impacted the Cold War relations


between US and Russia. Before Truman replaced Roosevelt in time
of his death, Roosevelt believed he had a special and personal
relationship with Stalin. For example, during the Tehran Conference,
Roosevelt supported Stalin and nearly ignored Churchill completely.
Roosevelt has stated that, I just have a hunch, that Stalin doesn't
want anything but security for his country, and I think that if I give
him everything I possibly can and ask nothing from him in return, ...
he wouldn't try to annex anything and will work with for a world of
democracy and peace. This quote displays Roosevelts
understanding of Stalins actions as an act to protect his country
and nothing else. However, when Truman replaced Roosevelt, this
bond and understanding has been broken as Truman was strongly
anti-communist and according to him, he was sick of babying the
Soviets. Truman and Stalin had different ideologies. Truman
believed in capitalism and Stalin believed in democracy, therefore
adding on to the tension of America and USSRs relationship. (2) In
result, there was no more personal trust and understanding between
the US and USSR thus the tension levels has risen during the
Potsdam Conference, especially when Truman had confirmed that
existence of the atomic bomb.

The atomic bomb had destroyed any trust left between America and
Russia. Truman was convinced that the atomic was the ultimate
weapon and the master card in the Potsdam Conferences. He had
hoped to receive any signs of fear from Stalin, however when
Truman had informed him of the atomic bomb, there was no
particular interest shown. This is because Stalin was well informed
of the bomb and had ordered his scientists to develop their own
bomb. Stalin was fearful when he was first informed of the atomic
bomb (by spies and spying technology) because the weapon gave
the Americans the ability to demolish entire cities without chancing
a single American life. This gave the American tremendous power

By: Nurul Zahidah 11C


and in result, Stalin had lost any trust with Truman and was on
guard to protect his country, therefore adding more tension to their
already strained relationship. (3) Additionally, there were arguments
on Germanys amount of reparations.

Truman and Stalins aim of Germanys fate after World War two were
different; Truman wanted reconstruction and Stalin wanted to
destroy Germany completely by inflicting hefty reparations on
Germany. There were various reasons for Stalins desire, but it was
mainly due to the fact of the Germans invading Russia and killing
more than 10 million soldiers during World War one and two,
therefore Stalins aim was to destroy Germany in order to avoid any
chance of the Germans rearming and stabilizing. Truman however
wanted Germany to reconstruct because he believed that destroying
Germany completely would result in another World War because of
how the previous treatment of Germanys punishments after Word
War one had created a reason of revenge towards the countries who
inflicted harsh punishments. The arguments of this issue had again
shown the conflicting ideologies between the US and Russia, which
also added on to the other disagreements they had and thus
increasing the tension and mutual dislike of each other. In the end, a
compromise was agreed that each ally would take reparations form
the zone they inhabited. (3)

In conclusion, the Potsdam Conference had increased the tension


between US and Russia because of their constant conflicting
ideologies and distrust of each other. Truman was against Stalin in
fear of Communism spreading and had many disagreements with
Stalin; therefore he created intimidation through the atomic bomb
creation. Stalin was intimidated by the atomic bomb and thus
started to create his own atomic bomb. He was further intimidated
when Truman had dropped the bomb on Hiroshima in order to get
the Japanese to quickly surrender. All of this issues and
disagreements combined created distrust between and put Truman
and Stalin on guard of each other. This eventually led to the Cold
War.

References:
1. "The Potsdam Conference." The Potsdam Conference. N.p.,
n.d. Web. 18 Oct. 2014.
<http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/potsdam_conference.ht
m>.
2. "PERSONALITIES AT THE CONFERENCES." GCSE Modern World
History. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Oct. 2014.
<http://www.johndclare.net/cold_war4_personalities.htm>.

By: Nurul Zahidah 11C


3. BBC News. BBC, n.d. Web. 18 Oct. 2014.
<http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize/history/mwh/ir2/id
eologicaldifferencesrev2.shtml>.

By: Nurul Zahidah 11C