The Yalta Myth

The Yalta Myth

by Author(s): Conrad Black

In all of the circumstances, the Western leaders did well at Yalta. Germany, which had always been ambivalent about whether it was an eastern or western facing country, joined the West, where it was generously and hospitably received. The war-end arrangements were hard on the Poles, certainly, who were guaranteed a difficult time by geography and the nature of their neighbors. But when one examines with perspective, the Yalta arrangements ended up being a mighty geopolitical bonanza for the West. As historian Ted Morgan has written: "Yalta was a defeat for the Soviets and they so regarded it. What they won at the negotiating table, their armies already possessed. If Yalta was a sell-out, why did [Stalin] go to such lengths to violate the agreement?"9 No president of the United States should ever again compare Yalta to the Nazi diplomatic successes of Munich and Moscow.

Considering how the poor world was gasping in 1940, with Germany, France, Italy and Japan all under dictatorships hostile to the Anglo-American powers, the West finished up the war in an astonishingly good position. British historian A. J. P. Taylor exaggerated when he wrote: "Of the great men at the top, Roosevelt was the only one who knew what he was doing. He made the United States the greatest power in the world at virtually no cost."10 The power of America was ready to emerge, and there was a cost. But Roosevelt and Churchill did well; they were the indispensable men. Neither should be raided by the partisans of the other for the everlasting credit due to both. The West should stop apologizing for Roosevelt's and Churchill's diplomatic successes, which were worthy of the great organizational, moral and military successes which are traditionally conceded to them.


1 Arthur Bryant, Triumph in the West, pp. 400.

2 Charles de Gaulle, War Memoirs, pp. 759, 897, 915, 989.

3 Michael Beschloss, The Conquerors, pp. 22-3; Forrest C. Pogue, George C. Marshall, Vol. III, Organizer of Victory, pp. 250.

4 Sir Alan Brooke, Diaries, pp. 484.

5 Richard M. Nixon, Memoirs, pp. 156.

6 Winston S. Churchill, History of the Second World War, Vol. V, Closing the Ring, pp. 348.

7 Ibid., Vol. VI, Triumph and Tragedy, pp. 227-8.

8 Sir Martin Gilbert, Churchill and America, pp. 331.

9 Ted Morgan, FDR: A Biography, pp. 735.

10 A. J. P. Taylor, Oxford History of England: English History, 1914-1945, pp. 577.

Essay Types: Essay