Potsdam Conference

The Potsdam Conference (German: Potsdamer Konferenz) was held at Cecilienhof, the home of Crown Prince Wilhelm in Potsdam, occupied Germany, from 17 July to 2 August 1945. (In some older documents, it is also referred to as the Berlin Conference of the Three Heads of Government of the USSR, USA, and UK.[2][3]) The participants were the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States, represented respectively by Communist Party General Secretary Joseph Stalin, Prime Ministers Winston Churchill[4] and Clement Attlee,[5] and President Harry S. Truman.

Stalin, Churchill, and Truman gathered to decide how to administer Germany, which had agreed to unconditional surrender nine weeks earlier on 8 May (Victory in Europe Day).[6] The goals of the conference also included the establishment of postwar order, peace treaty issues, and countering the effects of the war.

Potsdam Conference
L to R, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, President Harry S. Truman, and Soviet leader Josef Stalin in the... - NARA - 198958
The "Big Three" at the Potsdam Conference, Winston Churchill, Harry S. Truman and Joseph Stalin.
Host country Germany
Date17 July – 2 August 1945
CitiesPotsdam, Germany
ParticipantsSoviet Union Joseph Stalin
United Kingdom Winston Churchill
United States Harry S. Truman
FollowsYalta Conference
Joseph Stalin and Harry Truman meeting at the Potsdam Conference on 18 July 1945. From left to right, first row: Premier Joseph Stalin; President Harry S. Truman, Soviet Ambassador to the United States Andrei Gromyko, Secretary of State James F. Byrnes, and Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov. Second row: Brigadier General Harry H. Vaughan, Truman's confidant and military aide, Russian interpreter Charles Bohlen, Truman naval aide James K. Vardaman, Jr., and (partially obscured) Charles Griffith Ross.[1]
Potsdam conference 1945-8
Sitting (from left): Clement Attlee, Harry S. Truman, Joseph Stalin, and behind: Fleet Admiral William Daniel Leahy, Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin, Secretary of State James F. Byrnes, and Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov
Cecilienhof in Potsdam
Cecilienhof, site of the Potsdam Conference, pictured in 2014

Relationships among the leaders

A number of changes had taken place in the five months since the Yalta Conference which greatly affected the relationships among the leaders. The Soviet Union was occupying Central and Eastern Europe; the Red Army effectively controlled the Baltic states, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria, and Romania, and refugees were fleeing from these countries. Stalin had set up a puppet Communist government in Poland, and he insisted that his control of Eastern Europe was a defensive measure against possible future attacks, claiming that it was a legitimate sphere of Soviet influence.[7]

Second, Britain had a new Prime Minister. Conservative Party leader Winston Churchill had served as Prime Minister in a coalition government; his Soviet policy since the early 1940s had differed considerably from President Roosevelt's, as Churchill believed Stalin to be a "devil"-like tyrant leading a vile system.[8] A general election had been held in the UK on 5 July; but with results delayed to allow the votes of armed forces personnel to be counted in their home constituencies. The outcome became known during the conference when Labour leader Clement Attlee became the new Prime Minister.

Third, President Roosevelt had died on 12 April 1945, and Vice President Harry Truman assumed the presidency; his succession saw VE Day (Victory in Europe) within a month and VJ Day (Victory in Japan) on the horizon. During the war and in the name of Allied unity, Roosevelt had brushed off warnings of a potential domination by Stalin in part of Europe. He explained, "I just have a hunch that Stalin is not that kind of a man." "I think that if I give him everything I possibly can and ask for nothing from him in return, 'noblesse oblige', he won't try to annex anything and will work with me for a world of democracy and peace."[9]

Truman had closely followed the Allied progress of the war. George Lenczowski notes that, "despite the contrast between his relatively modest background and the international glamour of his aristocratic predecessor, [Truman] had the courage and resolution to reverse the policy that appeared to him naive and dangerous", which was "in contrast to the immediate, often ad hoc moves and solutions dictated by the demands of the war".[10] With the end of the war, the priority of allied unity was replaced with the challenge of the relationship between the two emerging superpowers.[10] The two leading powers continued to sustain a cordial relationship to the public, but suspicions and distrust lingered between them.[11]

Truman was much more suspicious of the Communists than Roosevelt had been, and he became increasingly suspicious of Soviet intentions under Stalin.[10] He and his advisers saw Soviet actions in Eastern Europe as aggressive expansionism which was incompatible with the agreements that Stalin had committed to at Yalta the previous February. In addition, Truman became aware of possible complications elsewhere when Stalin objected to Churchill's proposal for an early Allied withdrawal from Iran, ahead of the schedule agreed at the Tehran Conference. The Potsdam Conference was the only time that Truman met Stalin in person.[12][13]

At the Yalta Conference France had been granted an occupation zone within Germany, France had been a participant in the Berlin Declaration, and France was to be an equal member of the Allied Control Council. Nevertheless, at the insistence of the Americans, General de Gaulle was not invited to Potsdam, as he had too been denied representation at Yalta; a diplomatic slight which was a cause of deep and lasting resentment.[14] Reasons for the omissions included the longstanding personal mutual antagonism between Roosevelt and De Gaulle, ongoing disputes over the French and American occupation zones and anticipated conflicts of interest over French Indochina; [15] but also reflected the judgement of both the British and Americans that French aims in respect of many items on the Conference agenda were likely to be at variance with Anglo/American agreed objectives.[16]

Agreements made between the leaders at Potsdam

Potsdam Agreements

Demographics map used for the border discussions at the conference
The Oder–Neisse line (click to enlarge)

At the end of the conference, the three Heads of Government agreed on the following actions. All other issues were to be answered by the final peace conference to be called as soon as possible.


  • The Allies issued a statement of aims of their occupation of Germany: demilitarization, denazification, democratization, decentralization, dismantling and decartelization.
  • Germany and Austria were each to be divided into four occupation zones (earlier agreed in principle at Yalta), and similarly each capital, Berlin and Vienna, was to be divided into four zones.
  • It was agreed that Nazi war criminals would be put on trial.
  • All German annexations in Europe were to be reversed, including Sudetenland, Alsace-Lorraine, Austria, and the westernmost parts of Poland.
  • Germany's eastern border was to be shifted westwards to the Oder–Neisse line, effectively reducing Germany in size by approximately 25% compared to its 1937 borders. The territories east of the new border comprised East Prussia, Silesia, West Prussia, and two thirds of Pomerania. These areas were mainly agricultural, with the exception of Upper Silesia which was the second largest centre of German heavy industry.
  • "Orderly and humane" expulsions of the German populations remaining beyond the new eastern borders of Germany were to be carried out; from Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary, but not Yugoslavia.[17]
  • War reparations to the Soviet Union from their zone of occupation in Germany were agreed. It was also agreed that 10% of the industrial capacity of the western zones unnecessary for the German peace economy should be transferred to the Soviet Union within 2 years. Stalin proposed and it was accepted that Poland was to be excluded from division of German compensation, to be later granted 15% of compensation given to Soviet Union.[18]
  • It was to be ensured that German standards of living did not exceed the European average. The types and amounts of industry to dismantle to achieve this was to be determined later (see Allied plans for German industry after World War II).
  • German industrial war-potential was to be destroyed, through the destruction or control of all industry with military potential. To this end, all civilian shipyards and aircraft factories were to be dismantled or otherwise destroyed. All production capacity associated with war potential, such as metals, chemical, machinery etc., were to be reduced to a minimum level which was later determined by the Allied Control Commission. Manufacturing capacity thus made "surplus" was to be dismantled as reparations or otherwise destroyed. All research and international trade was to be controlled. The economy was to be decentralized (decartelization). The economy was also to be reorganized with primary emphasis on agriculture and peaceful domestic industries. In early 1946 agreement was reached on the details of the latter: Germany was to be converted into an agricultural and light industry economy. German exports were to be coal, beer, toys, textiles, etc. – to take the place of the heavy industrial products which formed most of Germany's pre-war exports.[19]

France, having been excluded from the Conference, resisted implementing the Potsdam agreements within its occupation zone. In particular, the French refused to resettle any expelled Germans from the east. Moreover the French did not accept any obligation to abide by Potsdam agreements in the proceedings of the Allied Control Council; in particular resisting all proposals to establish common policies and institutions across Germany as a whole, and anything that they feared might lead to the emergence of an eventual unified German government.[20]


Curzon line en
Poland's old and new borders, 1945. Territory previously part of Germany is identified in pink
  • A Provisional Government of National Unity recognized by all three powers should be created (known as the Lublin Poles). When the Big Three recognized the Soviet controlled government, it meant, in effect, the end of recognition for the existing Polish government-in-exile (known as the London Poles).
  • Poles who were serving in the British Army should be free to return to Poland, with no security upon their return to the communist country guaranteed.
  • The provisional western border should be the Oder–Neisse line, defined by the Oder and Neisse rivers. Silesia, Pomerania, the southern part of East Prussia and the former Free City of Danzig should be under Polish administration. However the final delimitation of the western frontier of Poland should await the peace settlement (which would take place 45 years later at the Treaty on the Final Settlement with Respect to Germany in 1990)
  • The Soviet Union declared it would settle the reparation claims of Poland from its own share of the overall reparation payments.

Potsdam Declaration

William D. Leahy's Role

One person who was at the Potsdam Conference, but is not mentioned often is William D. Leahy. Leahy was Fleet Admiral in the U.S. Navy and stood as advisor to President Roosevelt during the Yalta Conference and to President Truman during the Potsdam Conference. Leahy had lengthy military background as he served as the senior-most United States military officer on active duty during WWII. He said in his book, I Was There: The Personal Story of the Chief of Staff to Presidents Roosevelt and Truman Based on His Notes and Diaries Made at the Time, that the Potsdam Conference was one of the most frustrating out of all the conferences, due to hostile relations between The Soviet Union and the United Kingdom and The United States. Throughout his work, he refers to the conference as its code name, Terminal. Later in his book he discusses a tour of Berlin which he takes with President Truman, and describes this experience as "I never saw such destruction. I don’t know whether they learned anything from it or not."

Bundesarchiv Bild 183-14059-0016, Potsdamer Konferenz, Molotow, Byrnes, Eden
The Foreign Ministers: Vyacheslav Molotov, James F. Byrnes, and Anthony Eden, July 1945

In addition to the Potsdam Agreement, on 26 July, Churchill, Truman, and Chiang Kai-shek, Chairman of the Nationalist Government of China (the Soviet Union was not at war with Japan) issued the Potsdam Declaration which outlined the terms of surrender for Japan during World War II in Asia.


Truman had mentioned an unspecified "powerful new weapon" to Stalin during the conference. Towards the end of the conference, the United States gave Japan an ultimatum to surrender or meet "prompt and utter destruction", which did not mention the new bomb[21] but promised that "it was not intended to enslave Japan". The Soviet Union was not involved in this declaration, as it was still neutral in the war against Japan. Prime minister Kantarō Suzuki did not respond,[22] which was interpreted as a declaration that the Empire of Japan should ignore the ultimatum. Then the United States dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima on 6 August and Nagasaki on 9 August 1945. The justification was that both cities were legitimate military targets, to end the war swiftly, and to preserve American lives.

When Truman informed Stalin of the atomic bomb, he said that the United States "had a new weapon of unusual destructive force",[23] but Stalin had full knowledge of the atomic bomb's development due to Soviet spy networks inside the Manhattan Project,[24] and he told Truman at the conference to "make good use of this new addition to the Allied arsenal".[25]

The Soviet Union converted the other countries of eastern Europe into satellite states within the Eastern Bloc, such as the People's Republic of Poland, the People's Republic of Bulgaria, the People's Republic of Hungary,[26] the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic,[27] the People's Republic of Romania,[28] and the People's Republic of Albania.[29]

Previous major conferences

See also


  1. ^ Description of photograph, Truman Library.
  2. ^ "Avalon Project – A Decade of American Foreign Policy 1941–1949 – Potsdam Conference". Avalon.law.yale.edu. Retrieved 20 March 2013.
  3. ^ Russia (USSR) / Poland Treaty (with annexed maps) concerning the Demarcation of the Existing Soviet-Polish State Frontier in the Sector Adjoining the Baltic Sea 5 March 1957 (retrieved from the UN Delimitation Treaties Infobase, accessed on 18 March 2002)
  4. ^ "Potsdam Conference". Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. 10 July 2018. Retrieved 4 September 2018.
  5. ^ "BBC Fact File: Potsdam Conference". Bbc.co.uk. 2 August 1945. Archived from the original on 29 June 2012. Retrieved 20 March 2013.
  6. ^ Attlee participated alongside Churchill while awaiting the outcome of the 1945 general election, and then replaced him as Prime Minister after the Labour Party's defeat of the Conservatives.
  7. ^ Leffler, Melvyn P., "For the South of Mankind: The United States, the Soviet Union and the Cold War, First Edition, (New York, 2007) pg 31
  8. ^ Miscamble 2007, p. 51
  9. ^ Miscamble 2007, p. 52
  10. ^ a b c George Lenczowski, American Presidents and the Middle East, (1990), pp. 7–13
  11. ^ Hunt, Michael (2013). The World Transformed. Oxford University Press. p. 35. ISBN 9780199371020.
  12. ^ Harry S. Truman, Memoirs, Vol. 1: Year of Decisions (1955), p.380, cited in Lenczowski, American Presidents, p.10
  13. ^ Nash, Gary B. "The Troublesome Polish Question." The American People: Creating a Nation and a Society. New York: Pearson Longman, 2008. Print.
  14. ^ Reinisch, Jessica (2013). The Perils of Peace. Oxford University Press. p. 53.
  15. ^ Thomas, Martin (1998). The French Empire at War 1940-45. Manchester University Press. p. 215.
  16. ^ Feis, Hebert (1960). Between War and Peace; the Potsdam Conference. Princeton University Press. p. 138.
  17. ^ Alfred de Zayas Nemesis at Potsdam, Routledge, London 1977. See also conference on "Potsdamer Konferenz 60 Jahre danach" hosted by the Institut für Zeitgeschichte in Berlin on 19. August 2005 PDF Archived 20 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine Seite 37 et seq.
  18. ^ "Potsdam Conference | World War II". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 20 September 2018.
  19. ^ James Stewart Martin. All Honorable Men (1950) p. 191.
  20. ^ Ziemke, Earl Frederick (1990). The US Army and the Occupation of Germany 1944–1946. Center of Military History, United States Army. p. 345.
  21. ^ "How The Potsdam Conference Shaped The Future Of Post-War Europe". Imperial War Museums. Retrieved 12 February 2018.
  22. ^ "Mokusatsu: One Word, Two Lessons" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 6 June 2013. Retrieved 20 March 2013.
  23. ^ Putz, Catherine (18 May 2016). "What If the United States Had Told the Soviet Union About the Bomb?". The Diplomat. Retrieved 8 July 2016.
  24. ^ Groves, Leslie (1962). Now it Can be Told: The Story of the Manhattan Project. New York: Harper & Row. pp. 142–145. ISBN 0-306-70738-1. OCLC 537684.
  25. ^ Nichols, Tom (12 April 2016). "Simply No Other Choice: Why America Dropped the Atomic Bomb on Japan". National Interest.org. Retrieved 21 April 2016.
  26. ^ Granville, Johanna, The First Domino: International Decision Making during the Hungarian Crisis of 1956, Texas A&M University Press, 2004. ISBN 1-58544-298-4
  27. ^ Grenville 2005, pp. 370–71
  28. ^ The American Heritage New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2005.
  29. ^ Cook 2001, p. 17


  • Cook, Bernard A. (2001), Europe Since 1945: An Encyclopedia, Taylor & Francis, ISBN 0-8153-4057-5
  • Crampton, R. J. (1997), Eastern Europe in the twentieth century and after, Routledge, ISBN 0-415-16422-2
  • Miscamble, Wilson D. (2007), From Roosevelt to Truman: Potsdam, Hiroshima, and the Cold War, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0-521-86244-2
  • Roberts, Geoffrey (Fall 2002). "Stalin, the Pact with Nazi Germany, and the Origins of Postwar Soviet Diplomatic Historiography". Journal of Cold War Studies. 4 (4): 93–103.
  • Wettig, Gerhard (2008), Stalin and the Cold War in Europe, Rowman & Littlefield, ISBN 0-7425-5542-9
  1. D., Leahy, William (1979). I was there : the personal story of the Chief of Staff to Presidents Roosevelt and Truman based on his notes and diaries made at the time. Arno. OCLC 314294296.

Further reading

  • Michael Beschloss. The Conquerors: Roosevelt, Truman, and the destruction of Hitler's Germany, 1941–1945 (Simon & Schuster, 2002) ISBN 0684810271
  • Ehrman, John (1956). Grand Strategy Volume VI, October 1944-August 1945. London: HMSO (British official history). pp. 299–309.
  • Farquharson, J. E. "Anglo-American Policy on German Reparations from Yalta to Potsdam." English Historical Review 1997 112(448): 904–926. in JSTOR
  • Feis, Herbert. Between War and Peace: The Potsdam Conference (Princeton University Press, 1960) OCLC 259319 Pulitzer Prize; online
  • Gimbel, John. "On the Implementation of the Potsdam Agreement: an Essay on U.S. Postwar German Policy." Political Science Quarterly 1972 87(2): 242–269. in JSTOR
  • Gormly, James L. From Potsdam to the Cold War: Big Three Diplomacy, 1945–1947. (Scholarly Resources, 1990)
  • Mee, Charles L., Jr. Meeting at Potsdam. M. Evans & Company, 1975. ISBN 0871311674
  • Naimark, Norman. Fires of Hatred. Ethnic Cleansing in Twentieth-Century Europe (Harvard University Press, 2001) ISBN 0674003136
  • Neiberg, Michael. Potsdam: the End of World War II and the Remaking of Europe (Basic Books, 2015) ISBN 9780465075256
  • Thackrah, J. R. "Aspects of American and British Policy Towards Poland from the Yalta to the Potsdam Conferences, 1945." Polish Review 1976 21(4): 3–34. in JSTOR
  • Zayas, Alfred M. de. Nemesis at Potsdam: The Anglo-Americans and the Expulsion of the Germans, Background, Execution, Consequences. Routledge, 1977. ISBN 0710004583

Primary sources

  • Foreign Relations of the United States: Diplomatic Papers. The Conference of Berlin (Potsdam Conference, 1945) 2 vols. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1960

External links

Allied-occupied Germany

Upon defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II, the victorious Allies asserted joint authority and sovereignty over 'Germany as a whole', defined as all territories of the former German Reich west of the Oder–Neisse line, having declared the destruction of Nazi Germany at the death of Adolf Hitler (see 1945 Berlin Declaration). The four powers divided 'Germany as a whole' into four occupation zones for administrative purposes, under the United States, United Kingdom, France and the Soviet Union respectively; creating what became collectively known as Allied-occupied Germany (German: Alliierten-besetztes Deutschland). This division was ratified at the Potsdam Conference (17 July to 2 August 1945). The four zones were as agreed in February 1945 by the United States, United Kingdom and Soviet Union meeting at the Yalta Conference; setting aside an earlier division into three zones (excluding France) proposed by the London Protocol.

At Potsdam, the United States, United Kingdom and the Soviet Union approved the detachment from 'Germany as a whole' of the German eastern territories east of the Oder–Neisse line; with the exact line of the boundary to be determined at a final German Peace Treaty. This treaty was expected to confirm the "shifting westward" of Poland's borders, as the United Kingdom and the United States committed themselves to support in any future peace treaty the permanent incorporation of former eastern German territories into Poland and the Soviet Union. From March 1945 to July 1945, these former eastern territories of Germany had been administered under Soviet military occupation authorities, but following the Potsdam Conference they were handed over to Soviet and Polish civilian administrations and ceased to constitute part of Allied-occupied Germany.

In the closing weeks of fighting in Europe, United States forces had pushed beyond the agreed boundaries for the future zones of occupation, in some places by as much as 320 km (200 miles). The so-called line of contact between Soviet and American forces at the end of hostilities, mostly lying eastward of the July 1945-established inner German border, was temporary. After two months in which they had held areas that had been assigned to the Soviet zone, U.S. forces withdrew in the first days of July 1945. Some have concluded that this was a crucial move that persuaded the Soviet Union to allow American, British and French forces into their designated sectors in Berlin, which occurred at roughly the same time (July 1945), although the need for intelligence gathering (see Operation Paperclip) may also have been a factor.


Bielsko [ˈbjɛlskɔ] (listen) (German: Bielitz, Czech: Bílsko) was until 1950 an independent town situated in Cieszyn Silesia, Poland. In 1951 it was joined with Biała Krakowska to form the new town of Bielsko-Biała. Bielsko constitutes the western part of that town.

Bielsko was founded by the Cieszyn Piast dukes in the late 13th century on the grounds of village later called Stare Bielsko (Old Bielsko), on the Biała River. It was first mentioned in a written document in 1312. Originally settled by Germans, it became the largest German-language center (Deutsche Sprachinsel Bielitz) in the Duchy of Teschen, and remained so until the end of World War II. In 1572 it gained autonomy as the Duchy (State) of Bielsko. During the 18th century a rapid development of textile industry occurred, and at the beginning of the 19th century more than 500 weavers worked in the town. After the 1920 division of Cieszyn Silesia between Poland and Czechoslovakia it became, despite the protests of local Germans, a part of Poland.

According to the Austrian census of 1910 the town had 18,568 inhabitants. The census asked people for their native language: 15,144 (84.3%) were German-speaking, 2,568 (14.3%) were Polish-speaking and 136 (0.7%) were Czech-speaking. Jews were not allowed to declare Yiddish, and most of them thus declared German as their native language. The most populous religious groups were Roman Catholics with 10,378 (55.9%), followed by Protestants with 4,955 (26.7%) and the Jews with 3,024 (16.3%). The vast majority of the Jews were exterminated by Nazis during World War II, and the German population was expelled by the Soviets after the war under the terms demanded by Stalin at the Potsdam Conference.

Three well-known Holocaust survivors from Bielsko are Kitty Hart-Moxon, Roman Frister and Gerda Weissmann Klein. All three have written autobiographies and other works about their experiences during the Second World War. The ancestors of the British peer Christopher Tugendhat, Baron Tugendhat, are also from what was Bielitz.


Cecilienhof Palace (German: Schloss Cecilienhof) is a palace in Potsdam, Brandenburg, Germany built from 1914 to 1917 in the layout of an English Tudor manor house. Cecilienhof was the last palace built by the House of Hohenzollern that ruled the Kingdom of Prussia and the German Empire until the end of World War I. It is famous for having been the location of the Potsdam Conference in 1945, in which the leaders of the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom and the United States made important decisions affecting the shape of post World War II Europe and Asia. Cecilienhof has been part of the Palaces and Parks of Potsdam and Berlin UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1990.

Eastern Neisse

The Eastern Neisse, also known by its Polish name of Nysa Kłodzka (German: Glatzer Neiße, Czech: Kladská Nisa), is a river in southwestern Poland, a left tributary of the Oder, with a length of 188 km (21st longest) and a basin area of 4,570 km² (3,742 in Poland).Prior to World War II it was part of Germany. During the Yalta Conference it was discussed by the Western Allies as one possible line of the western Polish border. Attempts were made to negotiate a compromise with the Soviets on the new Polish-German frontier; it was suggested that the Eastern Neisse be made the line of demarcation. This would have meant that (East) Germany could have retained approximately half of Silesia, including most of Wrocław (formerly Breslau). However the Soviets rejected the suggestion at the Potsdam Conference and insisted that the southern boundary between Germany and Poland be drawn further west, at the Lusatian Neisse.

European Advisory Commission

The formation of the European Advisory Commission (EAC) was agreed on at the Moscow Conference on 30 October 1943 between the foreign ministers of the United Kingdom, Anthony Eden, the United States, Cordell Hull, and the Soviet Union, Vyacheslav Molotov, and confirmed at the Tehran Conference in November. In anticipation of the defeat of Nazi Germany and its allies this commission was to study the postwar political problems in Europe and make recommendation to the three governments, including the surrender of the European enemy states and the machinery of its fulfillment. After the EAC completed its task it was dissolved at the Potsdam Conference in August 1945.

Expulsion of Germans from Czechoslovakia

The expulsion of Germans from Czechoslovakia after World War II was part of a series of evacuations and deportations of Germans from Central and Eastern Europe during and after World War II.

During the German occupation of Czechoslovakia, the Czech resistance groups demanded the deportation of ethnic Germans from Czechoslovakia. The decision to deport the Germans was adopted by the Czechoslovak Government-in-Exile which, beginning in 1943, sought the support of the Allies for this proposal. The final agreement for the expulsion of the German population however was not reached until 2 August 1945 at the end of the Potsdam Conference.

In the months following the end of the war "wild" expulsions happened from May until August 1945. Czechoslovak President Edvard Beneš on 28 October 1945 called for the "final solution of the German question" (Czech: konečné řešení německé otázky) which would have to be solved by deportation of the ethnic Germans from Czechoslovakia.The expulsions were carried out by order of local authorities, mostly by groups of armed volunteers. However, in some cases it was initiated or pursued with the assistance of the regular army. Several thousand died violently during the expulsion and more died from hunger and illness as a consequence. The expulsion according to the Potsdam Conference proceeded from 25 January 1946 until October of that year. An estimated 1.6 million ethnic Germans were deported to the American zone of what would become West Germany. An estimated 800,000 were deported to the Soviet zone (in what would become East Germany).The expulsions ended in 1948, but not all Germans were expelled; estimates for the total number of non-expulsions range from approximately 160,000 to 250,000.The West German government in 1958 estimated the ethnic German death toll during the expulsion period to be about 270,000, a figure that has been cited in historical literature since then. Recent research by a joint German and Czech commission of historians in 1995 found that the previous demographic estimates of 220,000 to 270,000 deaths to be overstated and based on faulty information, they concluded that the actual death toll was at least 15,000 persons and that it could range up to a maximum of 30,000 dead if one assumes that some deaths were not reported. The Commission statement also said that German records show 18,889 confirmed deaths including 3,411 suicides. Czech records indicated 22,247 deaths including 6,667 unexplained cases or suicides.The German Church Search Service was able to confirm the deaths of 14,215 persons during the expulsions from Czechoslovakia (6,316 violent deaths, 6,989 in internment camps and 907 in the USSR as forced laborers).

Flight and expulsion of Germans from Poland during and after World War II

The flight and expulsion of Germans from Poland was the largest of a series of flights and expulsions of Germans in Europe during and after World War II. The German population fled or was expelled from all regions which are currently within the territorial boundaries of Poland, including the former eastern territories of Germany and parts of pre-war Poland.

During World War II, expulsions were initiated by Nazi Germany in occupied Poland. The Germans deported 2.478 million Polish citizens from the Polish areas annexed by Nazi Germany, murdered another 5.38–5.58 million Poles and Polish Jews and resettled 1.3 million ethnic Germans in their place.

Around 500,000 Germans were stationed in Poland as part of its occupation force; these consisted of people such as clerks, technicians and support staff.The German population east of Oder-Neisse was estimated at over 11 million in early 1945. The first mass flight of Germans followed the Red Army's advance and was composed of both spontaneous flight driven by rumours of Soviet atrocities, and organised evacuation starting in the summer of 1944 and continuing through to the spring of 1945. Overall about 1% (100,000) of the German civilian population east of the Oder–Neisse line perished in the fighting prior to the surrender in May 1945. In 1945, the eastern territories of Germany as well as Polish areas annexed by Germany were occupied by the Soviet Red Army and Polish Communist military forces. German civilians were also sent as "reparations labor" to the USSR. The Soviet Union transferred former German territories in the east of the Oder–Neisse line to Poland in July 1945. In mid-1945, 4.5 to 4.6 million Germans remained on the territories under Polish control. Early expulsions in Poland were undertaken by the Polish Communist military authorities even before the Potsdam Conference ("wild expulsions"), to ensure the later integration into an ethnically homogeneous Poland as envisioned by the Polish Communists. Between seven hundred and eight hundred thousand Germans were affected. By early 1946, 932,000 had been verified as having Polish nationality. In the February 1946 census, 2,288,000 persons were listed as Germans and 417,400 became subject to verification aiming at the establishment of nationality. From the spring of 1946 the expulsions gradually became better organised, affecting the remaining German population. By 1950, 3,155,000 German civilians had been expelled and 1,043,550 were naturalised as Polish citizens. Germans considered "indispensable" for the Polish economy were retained; virtually all had left by 1960. Some 500,000 Germans in Poland, East Prussia, and Silesia were employed as forced labor in communist-administered camps prior to being expelled from Poland. Besides large camps, some of which were re-used German concentration camps, numerous other forced labour, punitive and internment camps, urban ghettos, and detention centres sometimes consisting only of a small cellar were set up.The attitude of Polish civilians, many of whom had experienced brutalities during the preceding German occupation, was varied. There were incidents when Poles, even freed slave labourers, protected Germans, for example by disguising them as Poles. The attitude of the Soviet soldiers was ambivalent. Many committed numerous atrocities, most prominently rapes and murders, and did not always distinguish between Poles and Germans, often mistreating them alike. Other Soviets were taken aback by the brutal treatment of the Germans and engaged in their protection. According to the West German Schieder commission of 1953, the civilian death toll was 2 million. However, in 1974 the German Federal Archives estimated a death toll of about 400,000..

West German government figures of those evacuated, migrated, or expelled by 1950 totaled 8,030,000. (6,981,000 former German territories; 290,800 from Danzig, 688,000 pre-war Poland and 170,000 Baltic Germans resettled in Poland during the war). Gerhard Reichling, a researcher employed by West German government, put the figure of Germans emigrating from Poland from 1951 to 1982 at 894,000; they are also considered expellees under German Federal Expellee Law.

Herbert Feis

Herbert Feis (June 7, 1893 – March 2, 1972) was an American Historian and economist. He was the Economic Advisor for International Affairs to the U.S. Department of State in the Hoover and Roosevelt administrations.

Feis wrote at least 13 published books and won the annual Pulitzer Prize for History in 1961 for one of them, Between War and Peace: The Potsdam Conference (Princeton University Press, 1960). It features the Potsdam Conference and the origins of the Cold War.


Kwitajny [kfiˈtai̯nɨ] (German: Quittainen) is a village in the administrative district of Gmina Pasłęk, within Elbląg County, Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship, in northern Poland. It lies approximately 10 kilometres (6 mi) east of Pasłęk, 28 km (17 mi) east of Elbląg, and 53 km (33 mi) north-west of the regional capital Olsztyn.

The village of Quittainen was a part of East Prussia. The estate of the same name was held by the East Prussian noble family Dönhoff until 1945, when its last overseer, Marion Gräfin Dönhoff, fled from the advancing Red Army on horseback. Ms. Dönhoff, who had been active in the conspiracy against Hitler, eventually became publisher of the liberal weekly Die Zeit.

The village, like the rest of southern East Prussia, was awarded by the winning coalition in World War II to Poland and taken from Germany following the Potsdam Conference, and its name was Polonized as Kwitajny. The village has a population of 253.

List of Allied World War II conferences

This is a list of World War II conferences of the Allies of World War II. Conference names in boldface indicate the conferences at which the leaders of the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union were all present. For the historical context see Diplomatic history of World War II.

In total Churchill attended 16 meetings, Roosevelt 12, Stalin 7.

For some of the major wartime conference meetings involving Roosevelt and later Truman, the code names were words which included a numeric prefix corresponding to the ordinal number of the conference in the series of such conferences. The third conference was TRIDENT, the fourth conference was QUADRANT, the sixth conference was SEXTANT, and the eighth conference was OCTAGON. The last wartime conference was code-named TERMINAL.


Mrzeżyno [mʐɛˈʐɨnɔ] (German: Deep, or Treptower Deep, after 1930 often Regamünde) is a village with a fishing seaport in Gryfice County. This is also a health resort with a lots of pensions, campsites and spa. It is located near the estuary of the Rega river. The village has a popular beach. Every year in July and August, Mrzeżyno is visited by many Polish and German tourists. The right riverside is more developed than left, where there is only one settlement. The population numbers 1,727(2009). The village is situated by a special area of the conservation of nature according to the European Union's program Natura 2000. It lies approximately 10 kilometres (6 mi) north of Trzebiatów, 27 km (17 mi) north of Gryfice, and 94 km (58 mi) north-east of the regional capital Szczecin.

In the 1920s Lyonel Feininger often came to the Treptower Deep to paint and reside.

The first postwar Poland's Wedding to the Sea was performed in Mrzeżyno on 17 March 1945, as Regamünde became part of Poland, according to the Potsdam Conference which ceded most of the German province of Pomerania to the People's Republic of Poland.

Oder–Neisse line

The Oder–Neisse line (German: Oder-Neiße-Grenze, Polish: granica na Odrze i Nysie Łużyckiej) is the basis of the international border between Germany and Poland. It runs mainly along the Oder and Lusatian Neisse rivers and meets the Baltic Sea in the north, just west of the ports of Szczecin and Świnoujście (Former German names: Stettin, Swinemünde).All prewar German territories east of the line and within the 1937 German boundaries – comprising nearly one-fourth (23.8 percent) of the (pre-Nazi) Weimar Republic – were annexed under border changes promulgated at the postwar Potsdam Conference, with most becoming part of Poland. The small remainder, consisting of northern East Prussia with the German city of Königsberg (now renamed Kaliningrad), was allocated to the Soviet Union as the Kaliningrad Oblast of the Russian SFSR (today Russia). Nearly all of the German population in these territories – estimated at approximately 12 million as of autumn 1944 – fled or later were forced to leave.

The Oder–Neisse line marked the border between East Germany and Poland from 1950 to 1990. Communist East Germany agreed to the border with Communist Poland in 1950, while West Germany, after a period of refusal, adhered to the border (with reservations) in 1970.After the revolutions of 1989, the newly reunified Germany and the newly democratic Republic of Poland definitively accepted the line as their border in the 1990 German–Polish Border Treaty.

Pańska Dolina

Pańska Dolina no longer exists. The village was liquidated during the Polish population transfers after World War II, when the Kresy macroregion was formally incorporated into the Soviet Union (as agreed at the Potsdam Conference of 1945). Pańska Dolina used to be located in Gmina Młynów, Powiat Dubno (county), of the Wołyń Voivodeship, before the Nazi German and Soviet invasions of Poland in September 1939. Its former location can be found near Mlyniv in Dubno Raion of present-day Ukraine.

Potsdam Declaration

The Potsdam Declaration or the Proclamation Defining Terms for Japanese Surrender was a statement that called for the surrender of all Japanese armed forces during World War II. On July 26, 1945, United States President Harry S. Truman, United Kingdom Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and Chairman of the Nationalist Government of China Chiang Kai-shek issued the document, which outlined the terms of surrender for the Empire of Japan as agreed upon at the Potsdam Conference. This ultimatum stated that, if Japan did not surrender, it would face "prompt and utter destruction".

Territorial changes of Poland immediately after World War II

The territorial changes of Poland immediately after World War II were very extensive, the Oder–Neisse line became Poland's western border and the Curzon Line its eastern border. In 1945, after the defeat of Nazi Germany, Poland's borders were redrawn in accordance with the decisions made first by the Allies at the Tehran Conference of 1943 where the Soviet Union demanded the recognition of the military outcome of the top secret Nazi–Soviet Pact of 1939 of which the West was unaware.

The same Soviet stance was repeated by Joseph Stalin again at the Yalta Conference with Roosevelt and Churchill in February 1945, but a lot more forcefully in the face of the looming German defeat. The new borders were ratified at the Potsdam Conference of August 1945 exactly as proposed by Stalin who already controlled the whole of East-Central Europe. Harry Truman remembered:

I remember at Potsdam, we got to discussing a matter in eastern Poland, and it was remarked by the Prime Minister of Great Britain that the Pope would not be happy over the arrangement of that Catholic end of Poland. And the Generalissimo, the Prime Minister of Russia leaned on the table, and he pulled his mustache like that, and looked over to Mr. Churchill and said: Mr. Churchill, Mr. Prime Minister, how many divisions did you say the Pope had?

Poland lost large territories to the Soviet Union (today those areas are located in Lithuania, Belarus and Ukraine). Poland was instead given the Free State of Danzig and the German areas east of the rivers Oder and Neisse. The ethnic cleansing of both Polish and Germans 1945-46 included many millions of people. The Polish territory 1919-1939 covered an area of 386,418 square kilometres (149,197 square miles). But from 1947, Poland's territory was reduced to 312,679 square kilometres (120,726 square miles), so the country lost 73,739 square kilometres (28,471 square miles) of land. This difference amounts almost to the size of the Czech Republic, although Poland ended up with a much longer coastline on the Baltic Sea compared to its 1939 borders.

War trophy

In ancient Greece and ancient Rome, military victories were commemorated with a display of captured arms and standards. A trophy (from the Greek tropaion) was originally a war memorial assembled from such items on a battlefield. The Roman triumph also displayed these items as well as cultural objects, which later came to be called war trophies. Body parts of slain enemies have sometimes served as trophies since antiquity, in a practice called human trophy collecting. The recovery of Roman eagles taken as trophies by enemy forces sometimes inspired years of added warfare.

In more recent times, it has been common for soldiers to return home with souvenirs, such as enemy weapons and flags, while larger military items captured in battle, particularly weaponry such as machine guns and artillery pieces, became the property of the state to which the soldiers responsible for the capture belonged.In the 20th century, the victorious alliance states removed large quantities of property, including cultural objects. After the First World War, the Treaty of Versailles authorized the removal of large amounts of property from Germany, which it termed "reparations".

After the Second World War, the Potsdam Conference authorized the removal of certain property from Germany, such as the merchant marine fleet. Germany, during the war, had removed large quantities of property from the countries that it had occupied. In some cases, for example the Soviet "trophy brigades", official looting was euphemised as the taking of "trophies".

Yalta Conference

The Yalta Conference, also known as the Crimea Conference and code-named the Argonaut Conference, held from February 4th to the 11th 1945, was the World War II meeting of the heads of government of the United States, the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union for the purpose of discussing Germany and Europe's postwar reorganization. The three states were represented by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Premier Joseph Stalin, respectively. The conference convened near Yalta in Crimea, Soviet Union, within the Livadia, Yusupov, and Vorontsov Palaces.

The aim of the conference was to shape a post-war peace that represented not just a collective security order but a plan to give self-determination to the liberated peoples of post-Nazi Europe.The meeting was intended mainly to discuss the re-establishment of the nations of war-torn Europe. However, within a few short years, with the Cold War dividing the continent, Yalta became a subject of intense controversy.

Yalta was the second of three major wartime conferences among the Big Three. It was preceded by the Tehran Conference in November 1943, and was followed by the Potsdam Conference in July 1945. It was also preceded by a conference in Moscow in October 1944, not attended by President Roosevelt, in which Churchill and Stalin had carved up Europe into Western and Soviet spheres of influence. The Potsdam Conference was to be attended by Stalin, Churchill (who was replaced halfway through by the newly elected British prime minister Clement Attlee) and Harry S. Truman, Roosevelt's successor after his death.

General Charles de Gaulle was not present at either the Yalta or Potsdam conferences; a diplomatic slight that was the occasion for deep and lasting resentment. De Gaulle attributed his exclusion from Yalta to the longstanding personal antagonism towards him by Roosevelt, although the Soviet Union had also objected to his inclusion as a full participant. But the absence of French representation at Yalta also meant that extending an invitation for De Gaulle to attend the Potsdam Conference would have been highly problematic; as he would then have felt honor-bound to insist that all issues agreed at Yalta in his absence would have had to be re-opened.

Declarations and treaties
Frozen conflicts
Foreign policy
See also
and politics
Crimes, repressions,
and controversies
Criticism and
Stalin's residences
Legacy and

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