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The Potsdam Conference was held at Cecilienhof in Potsdam, Germany, from July 17 to August 2, 1945. The participants were the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States, the three largest and most powerful of the victorious Allies that defeated the Axis Powers in World War II. The three nations were represented by Communist Party General Secretary Joseph Stalin, Prime Minister Winston Churchill and later Clement Attlee, and President Harry S. Truman.
Stalin, Churchill, and Truman—as well as Attlee, who replaced Churchill after the Labour Party's defeat of the Conservatives in the 1945 general election—had gathered to decide how to administer the defeated Nazi Germany, which had agreed to unconditional surrender nine weeks earlier, on May 8 (V-E Day). The goals of the conference also included the establishment of post-war order, peace treaties issues, and countering the effects of war.
- He arrived at the conference a day late, citing "official business" that required his attention, but in fact may have suffered a minor heart attack.
- The results of the British election became known during the conference. As a result of the Labour Party victory over the Conservative Party the Premiership changed hands.
- Joseph Stalin suggested that Truman preside over the conference as the only head of state attending, a recommendation accepted by Churchill.
 Primary results of the conference
 Potsdam Agreement
- Main article the Potsdam Agreement
At the end of the conference, the Three Heads of Government agreed on the following actions:
- Issuance of a statement of aims of the occupation of Germany by the Allies: demilitarization, denazification, democratization and decartelization.
- Division of Germany and Austria respectively into four occupation zones (earlier agreed in principle at Yalta), and the similar division of each's capital, Berlin and Vienna, into four zones.
- Agreement on the prosecution of Nazi war criminals.
- Reversion of all German annexations in Europe after 1937, these included Sudetenland, Alsace-Lorraine, Austria and the westmost parts of Poland
- Germany's eastern border was to be shifted westwards to the Oder-Neisse line, effectively reducing Germany in size by approximately 25% compared to her 1937 borders. The territories east of the new border comprised East Prussia, Silesia, West Prussia, and two thirds of Pomerania. These areas were mainly agricultural, with the exception of Upper Silesia which was the second largest centre of German heavy industry.
- Expulsion of the German populations remaining beyond the new eastern borders of Germany.
- Agreement on war reparations to the Soviet Union from their zone of occupation in Germany. It was also agreed that 10% of the industrial capacity of the western zones unnecessary for the German peace economy should be transferred to the Soviet Union within 2 years. Stalin proposed and it was accepted that Poland was to be excluded from division of German compensation to be later granted 15% of compensation given to Soviet Union (this has never happened).
- Ensuring that German standards of living did not exceed the European average. The types and amounts of industry to dismantle to achieve this was to be determined later. (see The industrial plans for Germany)
- Destruction of German industrial war-potential through the destruction or control of all industry with military potential. To this end, all civilian shipyards and aircraft factories were to be dismantled or otherwise destroyed. All production capacity associated with war-potential, such as metals, chemical, machinery etc were to be reduced to a minimum level which was later determined by the Allied Control Commission. Manufacturing capacity thus made "surplus" was to be dismantled as reparations or otherwise destroyed. All research and international trade was to be controlled. The economy was to be decentralized (decartelization). The economy was also to be reorganized with primary emphasis on agriculture and peaceful domestic industries. In early 1946 agreement was reached on the details of the latter, Germany was to be converted into an agricultural and light industry economy. German exports were to be coal, beer, toys, textiles, etc — to take the place of the heavy industrial products which formed most of Germany's pre-war exports. <ref>James Stewart Martin. All Honorable Men (1950) pg. 191.</ref>
- Creation of a Provisional Government of National Unity recognised by all three powers. Recognition of the Soviet controlled government by the Western Powers effectively meant end of recognition for the existing Polish 'London' government in Exile.
- Poles who were serving in British Army formations should be free to return to Poland. With no security upon their return to the communist country guaranteed.
- The provisional western border should be the Oder-Neisse line, parts of East Prussia and former free City of Danzig should be under Polish administration, but that the final delimitation of the western frontier of Poland should await the peace settlement, which had to await the Treaty on the Final Settlement With Respect to Germany in 1990.
- Polish share of German war reparation to be taken by Soviet Union instead of Poland.
- All other issues were to be answered by the final peace conference to be called as soon as possible.
 Potsdam Declaration
- Main article the Potsdam Declaration
In addition to the Potsdam Agreement, on July 26 the United States, the British Empire and the Republic of China (the Soviet Union was not at war with Japan during the Conference) issued the Potsdam Declaration which outlined the terms of surrender for Japan.
 Other issues
The western allies, and especially Churchill, were suspicious of the motives of Stalin, who had already installed communist governments in the central European countries under his influence; the Potsdam conference turned out to be the last conference among the allied leaders.
During the conference, Truman mentioned to Stalin about an unspecified "powerful new weapon"; Stalin, who knew of its existence long before Truman ever knew through placing spies inside US borders, encouraged the usage of any weapon that would hasten the end of the war. Towards the end of the conference, Japan was given an ultimatum (threatening "prompt and utter destruction", without mentioning the new bomb), and hastily after Japan had rejected it, atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 and August 9, 1945 respectively. Truman made the decision to use atomic weapons to end the war while at the conference.
 The Potsdam Conference was preceded by
- the Yalta Conference, February 4 to February 11, 1945
- the Second Quebec Conference, September 12 to September 16, 1944
- the Tehran Conference, November 28 to December 1, 1943
- the Cairo Conference, November 22 to November 26, 1943
- the Casablanca Conference, January 14 to January 24, 1943
 See also
 External links
- United States Department of State Foreign relations of the United States : diplomatic papers : the Conference of Berlin (the Potsdam Conference) 1945 Volume I Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1945
- United States Department of State Foreign relations of the United States : diplomatic papers : the Conference of Berlin (the Potsdam Conference) 1945 Volume II Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1945
- European Advisory Commission, Austria, Germany Foreign relations of the United States : diplomatic papers, 1945.
- Cornerstone of Steel, Time Magazine, January 21, 1946
- Cost of Defeat, Time Magazine, April 8, 1946
- Pas de Pagaille! Time Magazine, July 28, 1947
- Agreements of the Berlin (Potsdam) Conference
- Interview with James W. Riddleberger Chief, Division of Central European Affairs, U.S. Dept. of State, 1944-47
- "The Myth of Potsdam," in B. Heuser et al, eds., Myths in History (Providence, RI and Oxford: Berghahn, 1998)
- "The United States, France, and the Question of German Power, 1945-1960," in Stephen Schuker, ed., Deutschland und Frankreich vom Konflikt zur Aussöhnung: Die Gestaltung der westeuropäischen Sicherheit 1914-1963, Schriften des Historischen Kollegs, Kolloquien 46 (Munich: Oldenbourg, 2000).
- U.S. Economic Policy Towards defeated countries April, 1946.
- Truman and the Potsdam Conference
- Annotated bibliography for the Potsdam Conference from the Alsos Digital Library
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