Yalta and the 'voting formula.' (Big Three meeting at pre-United Nations summit) (A Look Back, February 1945)

Author:Fruchtbaum, Harold

Beginning at 11:30 on the night of 2 February 1945, the first of 25 military transport planes took off from the Mediterranean island of Malta. They left at 10-minute intervals, until all were airborne shortly before dawn. The American and British aircraft were carrying nearly 700 passengers, including United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt and United Kingdom's Prime Minister Winston S. Churchill, 1,400 miles east to the Crimea for a week-long summit conference at Yalta with the Soviet Union's Premier, Joseph V. Stalin.

With the end of the ferociously fought war in Europe 13 weeks away, critical military and political decisions had to be made. The heads of Government were accompanied by their foreign ministers, and half or more of the three delegations were high-ranking military officers. High on the agenda were military plans for the defeat of Germany and its occupation, as well as reparations to the Allied countries for damages. Other issues on which agreement among the three leaders was sought included assistance to the peoples of liberated Europe, the political future of Poland and Yugoslavia, and the Soviet's possible role in the war against Japan. Poland would prove to be the most contentious question of the Crimea Conference, one that critics later focused on in their condemnations of the Yalta agreements. They were also displeased with the Yalta solution to the problem of what was known as "the voting formula" for the proposed general international organization--the future United Nations.

At the Dumbarton Oaks Conversations, held in Washington from late August through early October 1944, a working draft of the Charter for the UN was approved by high-level representatives of China, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States. An impasse developed, however, over...

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