The Yalta Conference

Ask a number of historians when the Cold War began, and you would get a number of different answers.

A common idea is that the Cold War began near the end of World War II. Although both the United States and the Soviet Union were on the same side in the war, tensions and mistrust began to rise in the final years of the war.

In February of 1945, the leaders of Great Britain, The United States and the Soviet Union met for a conference regarding post-war aims in the Black Sea city of Yalta.  They were known as the "Big Three:" Winston Churchill, the Prime Minister of Great Britain; Franklin Roosevelt the President fo the United States; Joseph Stalin, the Premier of the Soviet Union.

Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin at the Yalta Conference, February 1945.
(Public domain)

At issue at this conference was what to do with Europe after the defeat of Nazi Germany. In particular, the three men bickered over what was to happen to Poland.  At the time, Stalin's army was in full control over Poland, and much of Eastern Europe for that matter.

Churchill and Roosevelt believed that Poland should be allowed to create its own government. But Stalin had other plans.

Although he eventually promised that Poland would have free elections in the future, this was not to be. After the war, Stalin took complete control over Poland and all of Eastern Europe and put it under his control. The Yalta Conference marks the beginning of decades of mistrust between the United States and the Soviet Union that would be the cornerstone of the Cold War.  

By the time the conference was over, the seeds of the Cold War had been planted.