Yalta: World War Two summit that reshaped the world

In February 1945, three men met in a holiday resort to decide the fate of the world.

Nazi Germany was on its knees. Soviet troops were closing in on Berlin, while Allied forces had crossed Germany’s western border. In the Pacific, US troops were steadily but bloodily advancing towards Japan.

As their armies poised for victory, the so-called Big Three – US President Franklin Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Soviet leader Joseph Stalin – agreed to meet in Yalta, a Soviet resort on the Black Sea.

At the end of the bloodiest conflict the world had ever known, 75 years ago, the Allies wanted to stop such devastation from ever happening again.

But both the US and the USSR wanted co-operation on their own terms. Despite the Yalta agreements, within months the stage was set for the Cold War – the struggle between the two new superpowers that split the globe into ideological camps for decades.

Media captionWatch footage of the Big Three at Yalta in 1945

“If the goal at Yalta was to lay the basis for a genuinely peaceful post-war order, then the conference failed,” Prof Andrew Bacevich at Boston University told the BBC. “But given the contradictory aspirations of the US and USSR, that goal was never in the cards.”

What was happening in February 1945?

By the start of 1945 Nazi Germany had lost the…

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