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Prime Minister to President Truman
Personal and Top Secret 12.5.45
1. I am very concerned by the situation in Europe.
2. What should we do about Russia? I have always tried to stay on friendly terms with Russia. But I am now worried because of the way they have twisted the decisions made at Yalta, the attitude towards Poland and their power in the Balkans. They use Communist methods to take over countries and they have very large armies. What will happen in a year or two when the British and American armies have disbanded after the war?
3. An iron curtain has come down. We do not know what the Russians are doing in the areas they control. They control large areas of central and Eastern Europe and their control is growing.
PRIME MINISTER’S PERSONAL TELEGRAM SERIAL NO T.895/5 No 44.
PRIME MINISTER TO PRESIDENT TRUMAN No.44
Personal and Top Secret .12.5.45
1. I am profoundly concerned about the European situation as outlined in my No. 41.
2. Meanwhile what is to happen about Russia? I have always worked for friendship with Russia but, like you, I feel deep anxiety because of their misinterpretation of the Yalta decisions, their attitude towards Poland, their overwhelming influence in the Balkans excepting Greece, the difficulties they make about Vienna, the combination of Russian power and the territories under their control or occupied, coupled with the Communist technique in so many other countries, and above all their power to maintain very large armies in the field for a long time. What will be the position in a year or two, when the British and American Armies have melted and the French has not yet been formed on any major scale, when we have a handful of divisions mostly French, and when Russia may choose to keep two or three hundred on active service?
3. An iron curtain is drawn upon their front. We do not know what is going on behind. There seems little doubt that the whole of the regions east of the line Lubeck – Trieste – Corfu will soon be completely in their hands. To this must be added the further enormous area conquered by the American Armies between Eisenach and the Elbe, which will I suppose in a few weeks be occupied, when the Americans retreat, by the Russian power.
A copy of a telegram from Churchill to President Truman, 12 May 1945.
At the end of the war Soviet troops controlled most of Eastern Europe. Everything that had happened since February 1945 had shown, in Churchill's view, that Stalin could not be trusted to keep his promises about Poland and Eastern Europe. Events in Vienna and Austria proved this. To Churchill it looked like the Soviet Union was out to conquer the whole of Europe. Churchill was trying to push Truman into standing up to Stalin in Europe, and forcing Stalin to keep his Yalta promises.
Victory in Europe always meant the bulk of American forces would be transferred to the Pacific to defeat Japan. Britain, like France, had won the war but was deeply in debt to America and could not afford to stand up to Russia alone. Churchill had, in 1944, devised a plan to fight Russia after the defeat of Germany, but it had been declared unfeasible by the military leaders.
Remember we are hoping that this source can be useful to us in investigating why Churchill made the Iron Curtain speech in 1946. Sources usually help historians in two ways:
Which of the inferences below can be made from this source?
|On a scale of 1-5 how far do you agree that this source supports this inference?||Which extract(s) from the source support your argument?|
|Churchill has always worked for friendship with Russia|
|The ‘Iron Curtain’ already exists in May 1945|
|Churchill wants Truman to keep American forces in Europe|
|The Soviets are trying to get total control of Austria|
|Churchill does not trust Stalin to stick to his agreements|
|Churchill does not think Truman will stand up to Stalin|
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