Czecho-slovakia, Yalta & Beyond

Czecho-slovakia, Yalta & Beyond

“Yalta initiated the era of Soviet domination of Eastern Europe, which lasted
until the end of the Cold War and left bitter memories of Western betrayal
and Soviet dominance in the collective memory of the region.”

My husband Charles wrote his memoir to tell his personal story. He also wrote to tell the story of his homeland, the small Czechoslovakian nation before and after World War II. Charles believed that Czechoslovakia was a pawn on the European chessboard in

The “Big Three” at Yalta

Munich, Yalta, and Teheran. “My country was bartered to the Soviets after the war. I saw it as another sell-out, another ‘Munich Peace Treaty’ that Hitler, Chamberlain and Daladier signed in Munich in 1938. Stalin, Churchill and Roosevelt signed the Yalta and Teheran Treaty in 1945. Stalin devastated Eastern Europe and part of Asia just as Hitler had done in Europe. I couldn’t free my mind from these confusing issues.”

This week we are reminded of the events Charles mentions about Yalta. Sixty-eight years

Yalta in Crimea

ago a major meeting of the “Big Three” Allied leaders during World War II (1939-1945) was held to plan the final defeat of Nazi Germany and to plan the peace that would follow the war. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and Premier Joseph Stalin met from February 4-11, 1945, at Yalta, a Black Sea resort in the Crimea. When the meeting began, the Soviets held the strongest European military position. Their armies occupied much of Eastern Europe, and they were preparing to enter Berlin.

The three leaders agreed on the key points that follow. Later, critics said that Roosevelt had “sold out” Eastern Europe and had given too much to the Soviet Union.

Key points :

  • Accept the structure of a world peacekeeping organization that would become the United Nations.
  • Reestablish order in Europe and help the defeated countries create democratic governments. The Allied leaders also developed the Declaration on Liberated Europe, in which they pledged to hold democratic elections in countries freed from the control of Germany and its allies. The Soviet Union failed, however, to keep this agreement and Czechoslovakia fell under Soviet rule. In Border Crossings: Coming of Age in the Czech Resistance, Charles Novacek states that “Communism took over the [Czechoslovakian] government, and people were exposed to the same persecution as they were under the Nazis, perhaps worse. The nation didn’t know what had happened. It became a frustrated western democracy without a future.”
  • Divide Germany into four zones to be occupied by Britain, the United States, the Soviet Union, and France.
  • Support the Soviet-backed government and hold free elections in Poland and extend the Soviet Union’s territory into Poland.
  • Force Germany to give the Soviet Union equipment and other resources to make up for Soviet losses. The Soviet Union also agreed to enter the war against Japan in exchange for control of the Kuril Islands, the southern half of Sakhalin Island, and two strategic ports.

World War II left Czechoslovakia politically and psychologically devastated. Divided people began to search for their identities in the ashes scattered in the ravaged land. The nation besieged by Germans rose after the war and slowly began to realize that these times should be the after war shocks full of happiness and freedom. Instead, the ideology of the Soviet Union segregated the people and destroyed their economy.

Czechoslovakia would remain a communist dictatorship for four decades.

What blame (if any) do you think Czechoslovakia should take for its fate?

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