Yalta Conference – how was Poland treated by the Western allies 75 years ago?

February 4, 2020

The Yalta Conference began on February 4th 1945 and finished one week later. It was the second of three major wartime conferences among the “Big Tree” (preceded by the Teheran Conference and fallowed by the Potsdam Conference). In Poland is considered as a betrayal of our country by the Western allies. The world’s leaders – the Prime Minister of the UK Winston Churchill, the President of the US Franklin D. Roosevelt, and the leader of the USSR Joseph Stalin, discussed post-WW2 shape of Europe and divided it in 2 “spheres of influence”. Stalin had the strongest negotiating position. At the Conference the Soviet leader got everything he wanted – and shaped global politics for decades. Poland and many other European countries were placed under Soviet control and rule for decades. 

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In February 1945, Polish Armed Forces in the West were still fighting to deal the 3rd Reich the final blow. The war in Europe was coming to an end and many soldiers felt that the Polish independence, which they’d fought for, was threatened. All hope was lost after the Yalta Conference.

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Polish Government in Exile (which at that time was still a legal representation of the German-occupied nation), opposed the  Conference’s resolutions, stressing that the Allies’ approval of Stalin’s demands can’t be recognised by the Polish government and would be considered as another partition of Poland – the West’s faithful ally from the beginning to the end of WW2.

Poland was the first item on the Soviet agenda. Stalin stated that “the Soviet Union is interested in the creation of a mighty, free and independent Poland.” Poland lost nearly half of its territory – the Eastern Borderlands (Stalin refused to leave Lviv to Poland), in return was compensated for that by extending its western borders at the expense of Germany.

As a result of the decisions made at the Yalta conference, Poland was left in the Soviet sphere of influence for several decades. It resulted in the terror and enslavement. Some soldiers couldn’t even return to their homes, as parts of eastern Poland no longer belonged to their country and because of the Communist repressions. At that time, over 200,000 soldiers of the Polish Armed Forces in the West were serving under the high command of the British Army. Those who dared to get back to Poland were often killed or imprisoned by the Communist authorities. The fate of millions was decided.

Wasn’t the price paid at Yalta for peace and stability in western Europe too high?

Natalia Jasińska 

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