The Potsdam Conference was a meeting of representatives of the victorious Allies of World War II from July 17 to August 2, 1945. It took place at the Cecilienhof, the confiscated home of Crown Prince Wilhelm von Hohenzollern, in Potsdam, outside ruined Berlin, in the Soviet Zone of occupation.
The participants were the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The three nations were represented by General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union Joseph Stalin, Prime Minister Winston Churchill, President Harry S. Truman, and their foreign ministers. Following the victory of the socialists in the United Kingdom's July 1945 General Election, Clement Attlee replaced Churchill as Prime Minister at the conference on July 26th.
At the Potsdam Conference the plutocratic Western Allies were presented with Stalin's fait accompli awarding Soviet-occupied Poland the river Oder as its western border, placing the entire Soviet Occupation Zone east of it including Pomerania, most of East Prussia (with the exception of the Kaliningrad Oblast (enclave), and Danzig, which had never in history been legal constituent sovereign parts of Poland (although periodically invaded by them), under so-called "Polish administration" (as opposed to being part of Poland).
The German population who had their homes and farms there for up to 800 years and who had not fled, were now often raped, ruthlessly expelled and/or murdered, their entire properties stolen and occupied. President Truman and the British delegations protested at these actions. Byrnes wrote "we specifically refrained from promising to support at the German Peace Conference any particular line as the western frontier of Poland." In the east of Poland 180,000 square kilometers of territory [ancient provinces of Lithuania] was annexed by the Soviet Union.
In addition appalling murders and atrocities against civilians were being carried out in all the other Soviet occupied countries.
It was a conference only, and therefore ended with the issuing of a Protocol of "understanding" subject to a future Peace Conference. The Protocol clearly declared: "The three heads of government reaffirm their opinion that the final delimitation of the western frontier of Poland should await the [final] peace settlement." Byrnes continues: "In the light of this history, it is difficult to credit with good faith any person who asserts that Poland's western boundary was fixed by the conferences, or that there was a promise that it would be established at some particular place."
The Protocol of the Potsdam Conference suggested continued harmony among the Allies, but the deeply conflicting aims of the Western democracies on the one hand and the Soviet Union on the other in fact meant that Potsdam was to be the last Allied summit conference.
- Potsdam Conference, Encyclopaedia Britannica
- Speaking Frankly by James F. Byrnes, New York & London, 1947, p.79-81. Byrnes, a Judge and former State Governor, served as a close adviser to President Truman and became US Secretary of State in July 1945. In that capacity, Byrnes attended the Potsdam Conference and the Paris Conference.
- Meeting at Potsdam by Charles L. Mee, New York, 1975.
- Schnieder, Professor Theodor, et al, The Expulsion of the German Population from the Territories East of the Oder-Neisse-Line, FDR Ministry for Expellees, Refugees and War Victims, Bonn, West Germany, 1954.
- Krokow, Count Christian von, Hour of the Women, Germany 1988, USA 1991, London 1992, ISBN 0-571-14320-2
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- A Terrible Revenge by Professor Alfred Maurice de Zayas, Palgrave-Macmillan, New York, 1993/4, reprint 2006, ISBN 978-1-4039-7308-5
- Weeds Like Us by Gunter Nitsch, Author House, Bloomington, IN., USA, ISBN 978-3-4389-3312-2
- Byrnes, 1947, p.80.
- Byrnes, 1947, p.81.
- Documents on the Expulsion of the Sudeten Germans compiled by Dr. Wilhelm K. Turnwald, Munich, 1953. (German-language edition 1951.)
- The Expulsion of the German Population from Czechoslovakia, edited by Professor Theodor Schieder, et al, Federal Ministry for Expellees, Refugees and War Victims, Bonn, West Germany, 1960, Band IV, 1 and IV, 2.