February 4, 1945 - The Yalta Conference (right) begins in the waning days of World War II. Meeting at the Black Sea resort of Yalta, the "Big Three" of Winston Churchill, Franklin Roosevelt, and Joseph Stalin gathered to discuss issues regarding postwar Europe and the war in the Pacific. During the meeting Stalin was able to secure Allied permission for his desired territorial changes in Poland while agreeing to hold free elections in that country. He also agreed to enter the war against Japan in exchange for US recognition of Mongolian independence from Nationalist China. Before departing the three leaders decided on an occupation plan for Germany and Stalin agreed to Soviet participation in the new United Nations. While initial feelings about the meeting were good, it soon became clear that Stalin had taken advantage of Roosevelt's failing health to secure permission for his activities in Eastern Europe. As a result, it is generally felt that Yalta resulted in Roosevelt and Churchill "selling out" and giving the Soviets a free hand in Eastern Europe and northeastern Asia.
Photograph Courtesy of the US Department of Defense