FDR attends Tehran Conference

FDR attends Tehran Conference


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On November 28, 1943, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt joins British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Soviet leader Joseph Stalin at a conference in Iran to discuss strategies for winning World War II and potential terms for a peace settlement.

Tehran, Iran, was chosen as the site for the talks largely due to its strategic importance to the Allies. The United States was able to get supplies to the Soviets through Iran when Germany controlled most of Europe, the Balkans and North Africa, and German U-boat attacks on Allied shipping in the Atlantic Ocean and North Sea made transport treacherous. When first lady Eleanor and the couple’s daughter Anna expressed a desire to accompany Roosevelt to Iran, he flatly refused, saying there would be no women allowed at the preliminary conference between himself and Churchill in Cairo or at the Tehran meeting. Eleanor and Anna were incensed to find out later that Churchill’s wife and Madame Chiang Kai Shek from China had made the trip.

READ MORE: FDR, Churchill and Stalin: Inside Their Uneasy WWII Alliance

Roosevelt was in his third term as president in 1943. According to biographer Doris Kearns Goodwin, instead of feeling trepidation about the dangers of a secret trip through war zones, Roosevelt was eager to meet again with his friend Churchill. He also expressed excitement at the prospect of meeting Stalin for the first time and relished the challenge of bringing the stern, forbidding Soviet leader into the Pacific war against Japan. The “Big Three,” as the leaders were known, discussed ways to defeat Nazi Germany and agreed upon an invasion of Normandy, codenamed Operation Overlord, which was launched in June 1944. In return for America’s help in defeating Germany on the eastern front, Stalin promised to help the United States win its war against Japan. The meeting was so friendly that Churchill later expressed unease at Roosevelt’s extraordinary effort to charm and accommodate Stalin. Churchill would have preferred an indirect assault on Germany to Overlord, and mistrusted the Soviet leader. For his part, Stalin wanted a territorial buffer between the Soviet Union and Germany, made up of the former Baltic nations, Poland and part of Germany, to be part of any post-war peace settlement.

In a joint declaration issued December 1, Churchill, Stalin and Roosevelt recognized “the supreme responsibility resting upon us and all the United Nations to make a peace which will command the goodwill of the overwhelming mass of the peoples of the world and banish the scourge and terror of war for many generations.” After the Tehran meeting, Roosevelt and Churchill traveled back to Cairo, where they discussed who would lead Operation Overlord. After some discussion, they agreed upon General Dwight D. Eisenhower, who in 1953 would become the 34th president of the United States.


The Tehran Conference, 1943

The Tehran Conference was a meeting between U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt , British Prime Minister Winston Churchill , and Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin in Tehran, Iran, between November 28 and December 1, 1943.

During the Conference, the three leaders coordinated their military strategy against Germany and Japan and made a number of important decisions concerning the post World War II era. The most notable achievements of the Conference focused on the next phases of the war against the Axis powers in Europe and Asia. Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin engaged in discussions concerning the terms under which the British and Americans finally committed to launching Operation Overlord, an invasion of northern France, to be executed by May of 1944. The Soviets, who had long been pushing the Allies to open a second front, agreed to launch another major offensive on the Eastern Front that would divert German troops away from the Allied campaign in northern France. Stalin also agreed in principle that the Soviet Union would declare war against Japan following an Allied victory over Germany. In exchange for a Soviet declaration of war against Japan, Roosevelt conceded to Stalin’s demands for the Kurile Islands and the southern half of Sakhalin, and access to the ice-free ports of Dairen (Dalian) and Port Arthur (Lüshun Port) located on the Liaodong Peninsula in northern China. The exact details concerning this deal were not finalized, however, until the Yalta Conference of 1945.

At Tehran, the three Allied leaders also discussed important issues concerning the fate of Eastern Europe and Germany in the postwar period. Stalin pressed for a revision of Poland’s eastern border with the Soviet Union to match the line set by British Foreign Secretary Lord Curzon in 1920. In order to compensate Poland for the resulting loss of territory, the three leaders agreed to move the German-Polish border to the Oder and Neisse rivers. This decision was not formally ratified, however, until the Potsdam Conference of 1945. During these negotiations Roosevelt also secured from Stalin his assurance that the Republics of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia would be reincorporated into the Soviet Union only after the citizens of each republic voted on the question in a referendum. Stalin stressed, however, that the matter would have to be resolved “in accordance with the Soviet constitution,” and that he would not consent to any international control over the elections. Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin also broached the question of the possible postwar partition of Germany into Allied zones of occupation and agreed to have the European Advisory Commission “carefully study the question of dismemberment” before any final decision was taken.

Broader international cooperation also became a central theme of the negotiations at Tehran. Roosevelt and Stalin privately discussed the composition of the United Nations. During the Moscow Conference of the Foreign Ministers in October and November of 1943, the United States, Britain, China, and the Soviet Union had signed a four-power declaration whose fourth point called for the creation of a “general international organization” designed to promote “international peace and security.” At Tehran, Roosevelt outlined for Stalin his vision of the proposed organization in which the future United Nations would be dominated by “four policemen” (the United States, Britain, China, and Soviet Union) who “would have the power to deal immediately with any threat to the peace and any sudden emergency which requires action.”

Finally, the three leaders issued a “Declaration of the Three Powers Regarding Iran.” Within it, they thanked the Iranian Government for its assistance in the war against Germany and promised to provide it with economic assistance both during and after the war. Most importantly, the U.S., British, and Soviet Governments stated that they all shared a “desire for the maintenance of the independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity of Iran.”

Roosevelt secured many of his objectives during the Conference. The Soviet Union had committed to joining the war against Japan and expressed support for Roosevelt’s plans for the United Nations. Most importantly, Roosevelt believed that he had won Stalin’s confidence by proving that the United States was willing to negotiate directly with the Soviet Union and, most importantly, by guaranteeing the opening of the second front in France by the spring of 1944. However, Stalin also gained tentative concessions on Eastern Europe that would be confirmed during the later wartime conferences.


The Teenage Spy

Gevork Vartanian was born in 1924 to Armenian parents near Rostov, in southern Russia. His father worked for the NKVD &ndash predecessor of the KGB and today&rsquos FSB and SVR. In 1930, Gevork&rsquos family moved to Iran, where his father, under the guise of an Armenian businessman, spent the next 23 years working as a Soviet intelligence agent. The son followed in his father&rsquos footsteps, and in 1940, 16 year old Gevork was recruited by the senior Vartanian into the NKVD. Gevork started off as a recruiter, signing up Iranians and foreign residents as Soviet agents and assets. He proved an excellent recruiter, notwithstanding his youth.

In 1941, the USSR was thrust into WWII when the Germans launched a devastating surprise attack, Operation Barbarossa, that came close to completely overwhelming the Soviet Union. The Red Air Force was all but annihilated in the opening days of the onslaught, and Red Army formations along the USSR&rsquos western border were shattered or bypassed, to be encircled and mopped up later. Within weeks, German armored columns had penetrated hundreds of miles into Soviet territory, and Soviets casualties rapidly rose into the millions.

Soon, the Soviets were hanging on by the skin of their teeth, at the brink of collapse at any moment. In that dire summer of 1941, running low on everything as their stockpiles were destroyed and their factories overrun or hurriedly evacuated to keep them out of German hands, the Soviets were in desperate need of any assistance. It was against that backdrop that Iran, on the USSR&rsquos southern border, took on special importance as a secure route through which to funnel supplies to the hard pressed Soviets. Accordingly, the Soviets and British jointly invaded Iran in August of 1941 to secure its oilfields, and ensure that an Allied supply route to the USSR through Iranian territory was kept open. The invaders deposed the Iranian ruler, or Shah, and replaced him with his more pliant son. Iran was then divided between the British and Soviets.

&lsquoThe Big Three&rsquo of Stalin, FDR, and Churchill, at the Tehran Conference. Pintrest

Understandably, the invasion and occupation did not sit well with a majority of Iranians, and the affections of many gravitated towards Germany, the enemy of the foreigners occupying their country. German intelligence had a field day recruiting in Iran, as the numbers of German sympathizers exploded. Gevork Vartanian&rsquos workload increased, and his assignments were expanded from recruitment to include counterintelligence as well.

The teenager proved himself a counterintelligence prodigy, and a veritable Pac Man at sniffing out and busting enemy spooks. By early 1942, Gevork&rsquos team of seven intelligence operatives had identified over 400 German agents in the Soviet zone, all of whom were then rounded up by Soviet troops and security personnel. In 1943, Gevork was given a new assignment: ensure the security of the upcoming Tehran Conference by identifying and nipping in the bud any enemy plans to disrupt the Big Three&rsquos meeting.


2. The Hard Part Was the Easy Part

Stalin’s main objective was to get the others to open a second front against the Axis in western continental Europe. He’d been trying to persuade Churchill on this since 1941, but Churchill knew that it would have been hard to do with the Mediterranean and northern Africa in play. However, FDR told Stalin early in the conference that he intended to set a target date to open a second front with a mainland invasion of France in May of 1944.That invasion,code-named Operation Overlord, or, as it became known, D-Day, would ultimately be carried out on June 6. Stalin, knowing that his long-desired second front was in the works, also assented the Soviet Union would enter the war against Japan as soon as Germany was beaten.


FDR attends Tehran Conference on Nov. 28, 1943

On this day in 1943, President Franklin Roosevelt joined British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Soviet leader Joseph Stalin at a conference in Tehran that cemented the prospect of an Allied second front against Nazi Germany in Western Europe.

The leaders, known as the Big Three, chose the Iranian capital as the site for their parley, largely at Stalin’s behest. When first lady Eleanor Roosevelt and Roosevelt's daughter Anna voiced a desire to accompany the president, he said no women would be present. Subsequently, they were incensed to find that Churchill’s wife, Clementine, and Madame Chiang Kai-shek of China had made the trip.

According to biographer Doris Kearns Goodwin, instead of feeling any trepidation about the dangers of a secret trip through war zones, Roosevelt was not only eager to meet again with his friend Churchill but also excited at the prospect of meeting Stalin for the first time.

Roosevelt promised Stalin that the Americans and the British would invade France, crossing the English Channel, in the spring of 1944. Until that point, Churchill favored a joint strike through the Mediterranean, pushing eastward through the Balkans. That would have supposedly secured British interests in the Middle East and India, a strategy that Roosevelt opposed. FDR sought to break up the British Empire, and his concessions to Stalin served that purpose.

The leaders agreed that the Soviet Union would fight against Japan once the Nazis were beaten. They also promised to offer postwar economic assistance to Iran and guaranteed that nation’s independence and territorial integrity.

Their discussions about a postwar peace settlement were tentative at best. Nevertheless, they voiced their desire to cooperate after what they believed would be an inevitable German defeat. The meeting proved so friendly that Churchill, who mistrusted Stalin, later voiced concern about Roosevelt’s efforts to woo the Soviet leader.

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The Search for the Truth About the Nazi Plot to Assassinate FDR

R eporters crammed into a tight semi-circle in the Oval Office, facing President Franklin D. Roosevelt as he sat in his wheelchair behind the walnut-veneered desk that had once been Herbert Hoover&rsquos. It was Dec. 17, 1943, and the press had come to hear about the secret conference in Tehran where, just over two weeks earlier, FDR, Churchill and Stalin had met for the first time. As he discussed the meeting, about World War II strategy and plans for the post-war world, Roosevelt also disclosed something surprising &mdash that, as the New York Times reported, the Russians had told him that there &ldquowas a plot endangering his life in Tehran, the knowledge of which caused him to move his residence from the American Legation to the Soviet Embassy.&rdquo

&ldquoIn a place like Tehran there are hundreds of German spies, probably, all around the place,&rdquo FDR told the reporters. &ldquoI suppose it would make a pretty good haul if they could get all three of us going through the streets.&rdquo

After saying we wasn&rsquot going to get into details, the president laughed his hearty, booming laugh, and the press, as can be heard on a recording of the session, joined in, too. There were no follow-up questions from the supportive war-time press corps. The president quickly moved on, talking about China.

And as the years, then the decades, passed, the actual events surrounding Operation Long Jump, as the Nazi assassination mission that targeted the Tehran Conference was known, remained a deeply buried official secret. The archives of the Wehrmacht, the Nazi military, omitted specific references to incidents, like the proposed killing of Allied leaders, that would be indictable offenses at post-war tribunals &ldquothe very destruction of the fact, of the factuality of the fact,&rdquo was how one writer described the careful German practice. For details of how the plot unfolded during five days in Tehran in 1943, one had to consult memoirs (primarily by FDR and Churchill&rsquos bodyguards) and journalistic accounts &mdash some persuasive, others less so &mdash that included postwar interviews with several of the participants in the events. But it was an exercise in battling through a swamp of half-truths, rumors and outright fabrications.

Then, on Nov. 18, 2003, with a drum roll rarely sounded in any spy headquarters, the Russian foreign intelligence service, the SVR, held a press conference to announce the publication of a new book. Tehran-43: Operation Long Jump, written by Yuri Kuznets, was a detailed account of the Nazi plot to assassinate the Big Three, and how the Soviets foiled the plot. It was based on the gold standard of espionage sources: previously classified Soviet intelligence reports, analytical documents from the Soviet secret police and decoded message traffic. Vladimir Kirpichenko, a former deputy chief of the KGB First Main Directorate (foreign intelligence) who had access to the Moscow Center archival material in the Long Jump files, was trotted out to add additional details about what had occurred in Tehran and to praise the book and its reproduced intelligence reports as &ldquostrictly documentary.&rdquo For further support, Gevork Vartanian, who as a teenager operative had played a key role in thwarting the Nazi plot, spoke and added his eyewitness imprimatur to the descriptions in the previously classified documents.

Historical battle lines have been drawn over Long Jump. At least one writer who has done groundbreaking archival research into the Nazi activities in Iran has dismissed the Russian version of events as mere historical revisionism, designed to make Russia look good and glorify the Stalinist era. On the other hand, an impressive collection of books and monographs published in the West gave accounts of Long Jump that, to varying degrees, matched the Russian version of events.

At the time, having written several books about long-forgotten espionage operations, I suspected the 2003 announcement represented a new opportunity. I could compare the Russian documents to materials in the British, American and German archives &mdash and the archival documents, I soon realized, were pieces in a puzzle that I could assemble.

For example, there were detailed accounts in the German archives (and in memoirs) of commandos being parachuted into Iran. These coincide with both postwar interviews and the descriptions in Russian documents of the aerial insertions from a clandestine base in Crimea that were part of Long Jump. In addition, several of early accounts of the plot refer to a female asset who worked with the Reich intelligence operatives based in Tehran. These versions, however, gave her a pseudonym and spun an often-fanciful yarn. However, after I read recently declassified British and American intelligence assessments, it became clear to me that the asset had in fact existed, and she was a young woman named Lili Sanjari. Even better, the archival transcripts of her interrogations told a more compelling tale then I&rsquod previously imagined and became essential element in what would become my book on Operation Long Jump, Night of the Assassins.

Still, the question of truth in any spy story proves daunting because intelligence assessments are fundamentally political dramas. Biases are proudly blatant. One man&rsquos tale of Russian derring-do is another&rsquos of Stalinist revisionism. The search for truth is, to use Sir Karl Popper&rsquos phrase, the search for the best hypothesis.

It is useful, then, to consider what occurred as the SVR press conference in 2003 was about to conclude. A reporter asked, &ldquoAre there any secrets left concerning the Tehran Conference? And if there are still such secrets in the archives, when will they be disclosed?&rdquo Vladimir Kirpichenko, the former First Directorate chief, let the question float in the room for a long, pregnant moment. Then he answered: &ldquoI don&rsquot think any intelligence service in the world opens up to the last document.&rdquo


The Truth About "The Sick Man At Yalta"

Steven Lomazow is the co-author (with Eric Fettmann) of FDR's Deadly Secret (PublicAffairs, January 2010).

The four years of research involved in writing my recent book with journalist Eric Fettmann, FDR&rsquos Deadly Secret, has brought to light a new degree of insight into the mental status of Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the last year of his life and takes the understanding of his thought processes at Yalta to an entirely new level.

Unequivocally, Roosevelt was suffering from frequent episodic lapses of consciousness known to neurologists as complex partial seizures. They were witnessed and reported by dozens of observers, and our book includes graphic descriptions by the likes of Secretary of Labor Francis Perkins, New York Times editor Turner Catledge and Senator Frank Maloney of Connecticut. Perhaps the most dramatic and historically important of all was only recently discovered in the Walter Trohan papers at the Herbert Hoover Library in Iowa.

A January 5, 1948 memo to the editor of the ChicagoTribune by reporter Orville &ldquoDoc&rdquo Dwyer reports his interview with a Doctor Louis E. Schmidt, a very close friend and confidante of Roosevelt&rsquos daughter Anna (then in her second marriage to reporter John Boettinger):

The doctor told me that from what Anna has outlined to him Franklin D. Roosevelt was for a long time before he died&mdashand particularly when he went to Yalta and Tehran (sic)&mdashsuffering from hemorrhages of the brain. The doctor said he died &ldquofrom a big hemorrhage&rdquo but for several years before his death he had a lot of &ldquolittle hemorrhages,&rdquo small blood vessels bursting in his brain. When these burstings occurred&mdashand they were frequent during his last years&mdashhe would be unconscious (completely out) although sitting up and apparently functioning for periods of from a few seconds to several minutes. Dr Schmidt said he has no doubt from his conversations with Anna that these were occurring regularly at the time he was meeting with Churchill and Stalin and holding other momentous conferences of the utmost importance to the United States. He said the effect would be that he would be cognizant of what was going on, then suddenly lose the thread completely for anywhere from a few seconds to two or three minutes&mdashand that he could not possibly have known what was going on in between.

Through the eyes of a neurologist, this remarkable account tells a dramatic story. First, it is clear that Anna, who was kept in the dark about the whole truth of her father&rsquos health, misinterpreted the seizures as &ldquoburstings,&rdquo what today we would call transient ischemic attacks or TIAs. This misinterpretation was compounded by Trohan when he reported them to Dr. Karl Wold, who created a firestorm by reporting them in a long article in Look Magazine in 1948.

Even more importantly, the Dwyer memorandum accurately reflects the historical importance and true impact of President Roosevelt&rsquos neurological behavior at the end of his life. The report is by no means unique, but it does reflect the observations of one closest of all to &ldquothe boss.&rdquo Perkins describes the seizures (which she also did not recognize as such) as &ldquofrequent&rdquo and occurring for &ldquoa few years.&rdquo

Aside from these frank lapses of consciousness, it is highly probable that less severe episodes had a noticeable yet tangible transitory effect on Roosevelt&rsquos mental performance. This, combined with the panoply of other medical problems he had, explains quite well how certain observers found him lucid and competent while others met with a quite different state of affairs. It also explains a globally diminished ability to multitask, quite significant in a man who prided himself as the ultimate &ldquohub of the wheel&rdquo in virtually every important matter of policy. Also to be factored into the equation is a greatly diminished ability to read due to a rapidly expanding malignant brain tumor.

With the preceding in mind, the proceedings and aftermath of Yalta can be considered in an entirely new context. It is unlikely that FDR gave away very much at all with respect to Western Europe at Yalta. The Curzon Line had been established as the eastern border of Poland at Teheran, and, by the time of Yalta, Stalin had already recognized the Lublin puppet government. Churchill had been talking to Stalin for months about &ldquospheres of influence&rdquo in the Balkans and his report to Parliament upon his return from the Crimea was equally or more optimistic than that of Roosevelt&rsquos address to congress on March 1. Roosevelt&rsquos blind spot for the (non-cancerous) malignancy of &ldquoUncle Joe&rdquo far predated any mental compromise.

Where Roosevelt&rsquos health did have a significant impact at Yalta was with respect to China. On February 8, 1945 at 3:30 pm, Joseph Stalin walked into a private meeting with Roosevelt and in thirty minutes, without the knowledge or consent of its leader, took everything that China had spent fourteen years and over twenty million lives fighting for. It is unlikely that a mentally intact president would have agreed to such an accommodation. The implications with respect to future American/Chinese/Soviet relations were monumental.

In October 1943, Stalin informed Secretary of State Cordell Hull that the Soviets would enter the war against Japan as soon as Germany was defeated and asked for nothing in return, reaffirming this promise at Teheran a few weeks later. Despite this, a secret agreement, specifically excluded from the final communiqué, was drafted and signed by the heads of the three Yalta participants, with the consent of American General George Marshall, Admirals King and Leahy, but over the objection of British Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden:

  1. The status quo in Outer Mongolia shall be preserved:
  2. The former rights of Russia violated by the treacherous attack of Japan in 1904 shall be restored, viz: (a) the southern portion of Sakhalin as well as all the islands adjacent to it be returned to the Soviet Union, (b) the commercial port of Dairen shall be internationalized, the pre-eminent interests of the Soviet Union in this port being safeguarded and the lease of Port Arthur as a naval base of the U.S.S.R. restored, (c) the Chinese-Eastern Railroad and Southern Manchurian Railroad which provides an outlet to Dairen shall be jointly operated by the establishment of a joint Soviet-Chinese Company it being understood that the pre-eminent interests of the Soviet Union shall be safeguarded and that China shall retain full sovereignty in Manchuria
  3. The Kurile Islands shall be handed over to the Soviet Union.

As Don Lohbeck succinctly underscores:

By this agreement &ldquoRoosevelt and Churchill signed to the Soviet Union not only &ldquopre-eminent interests&rdquo in the great Manchurian port of Dairen and full control of the naval base which protects it, but also &ldquopre-eminent interests&rdquo in the railroads which lead from the Soviet Union to Dairen and split Manchuria from the northwest to the south.

Stalin&rsquos intentions about Manchuria were quite clear, evidenced by the statement &ldquothe President [sic] will take measures in order to obtain this concurrence on advice from Marshall [sic] Stalin,&rdquo that refers directly to a delay, agreed to by Roosevelt (on the pretense of a possible security leak in the Chiang Government), in even informing Chiang of the agreement until after the Soviets had transferred twenty-five divisions to the Manchurian border. These troops would ultimately serve to secure the surrender of Japanese war materiel to Communist forces, directly contrary to the American policy that only the Nationalists should receive them.

The China agreement was excluded from the final official protocol of the conference. Likewise, no mention of it, or China whatsoever, was made by Roosevelt in his March 1 report to Congress, despite its having the most radical and long-standing influence upon the future of the world of any decision made at Yalta. Roosevelt instead cryptically announced:

I think the Crimean Conference &hellip ought to spell the end of the system of unilateral action the exclusive alliances the spheres of influence, the balances of power and all the other expedients that have been tried for centuries &ndash and have always failed.

The exact opposite was the case. Worse yet, the two Americans with the greatest understanding of the long-term consequences of the agreement, Ambassador to China Patrick Hurley and Chiang&rsquos chief of staff, General Albert C. Wedemeyer, were not present or previously consulted! It was also withheld from Douglas MacArthur, the military commander of the Pacific theatre.

Aware of it were Averill Harriman, who facilitated the negotiations, translator and future Ambassador Charles &ldquoChip&rdquo Bohlen, State Department advisor (and later convicted Soviet spy) Alger Hiss, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, including George Marshall, who had demanded Soviet entry into the Pacific war at any price. It was also soon known to pro-communist and pro-imperialist members of the State Department. Roosevelt&rsquos close advisor at Yalta and future secretary of state in the Truman administration, James F. &ldquoJimmy&rdquo Byrnes, was kept completely in the dark.

After getting wind of the agreement, Hurley set out for Washington. The State Department &ldquotold him that no such agreement had been made&rdquo (emphasis in text). With his characteristic Oklahoma cowboy panache, &ldquowith my ears back and my teeth skinned, to have a fight about what had been done,&rdquo he went to the White House. He had not seen Roosevelt for over six months and was taken aback by the president&rsquos physical condition. &ldquoWhen the President [sic] reached up that fine, firm, strong hand of his to shake hands with me, what I found in my hand was a very loose bag of bones&hellip the skin seemed to be pasted down on his cheek-bones and you know, all the fight I had in me went out.&rdquo

At first, Roosevelt flatly denied that any agreement had been made. Hurley refused to blame his leader for the blunder:

The sickness of death was already upon President Roosevelt when he attended the Yalta Conference&hellip I am certain that he believed he was telling the truth when he said that no secret agreement such as I described had been entered into at Yalta.

Afterwards, he met with continued resistance from the pro-communist elements in the State Department, claiming that by accepting British and Soviet spheres of influence, FDR had repudiated the principles of the Atlantic Charter and being &ldquotaken advantage of [in] (his) physical and mental condition, just as he had been imposed at Yalta (emphasis in text).&rdquo

On into March, Hurley continued to press the issue, finally prevailing upon Roosevelt to allow him to examine the records from Yalta, in turn discovering the secret &ldquoAgreement Regarding Japan&rdquo that he perceived as &ldquosecretly sabotaging, setting aside and cancelling every principle and objective for which the United States professed to be fighting World War II. He questioned the right of America to give away portions of territory of another sovereign nation.&rdquo

The president admitted that Hurley&rsquos fears appeared justified and gave him a special directive to go to London and Moscow to speak with Churchill and Stalin to &ldquoameliorate the betrayal of China and return to the traditional American policy in the Far East.&rdquo

In a letter to Atlantic Monthly on September 28, 1950, Hurley wrote:

There is a tendency now to charge the Yalta Secret Agreement to President Roosevelt. President Roosevelt is dead, but I can say that he is not guilty. He was a very sick man at Yalta,* and the surrender of China to the Communists in the Secret Agreement of Yalta was engineered by the officials of the American State Department under the brilliant leadership of a young American, Alger Hiss.

Wedemeyer had a similar experience. Accompanying Hurley on his return from China in February, after stopping en route to meet with MacArthur in Manila, he arrived in Washington in March to meet with his commander-in-chief. Like Hurley, he was &ldquoshocked&rdquo at Roosevelt&rsquos physical appearance and demeanor. Catching the president in the midst of one of his frequent seizures:

His color was ashen, his face drawn and his jaw drooping. I had difficulty in conveying information to him because he seemed in a daze. Several times I repeated the same idea because his mind did not seem to retain or register.

As Roosevelt&rsquos mind began to clear, conversation turned to active support of independence of Indochina from the French, then to China itself. The president mentioned that Chiang had sent communications in praise of Wedemeyer&rsquos efforts and Wedemeyer, in turn, expressed confidence that Chiang had been most cooperative in supporting Chinese participation in the war effort. When he raised the issue that the Communists would undoubtedly cause problems as soon as the war ended, he noted &ldquo(Roosevelt) did not seem to understand what I was talking about.&rdquo

Shortly afterwards, Wedemeyer met over lunch with Secretary of War Stimson, reassuring him of Chiang&rsquos sincerity in restoring order to China despite a less than optimal knowledge of modern military techniques. He also signed off on Ambassador Hurley&rsquos efforts to remove certain (pro-communist) members of his staff at the embassy. The secretary then pressed him for his opinion on Roosevelt&rsquos health, to which he replied that he was &ldquoshocked to find that the President [sic] seemed to be in Never-Never land&rdquo most of the time he spent with him, picking nervously at his food and going off on tangents. Then, &ldquothe Secretary admonished me not to mention the President&rsquos [sic] physical condition to anyone.&rdquo

Even the staunch Roosevelt supporter Robert Sherwood, while unabashedly defending Roosevelt&rsquos decisions at Yalta concerning Poland and the United Nations, admitted:

Only at the end of seven days of long meetings, covering a wide range of tremendous subjects, did he make a concession which, in my belief, he would not have made if he had not been tired out and anxious to the negotiations relative to Russia&rsquos entry into the war with Japan.

He further sustained the objection of diplomat Sumner Welles, quoting him directly:

[T]he restoration to Russia of the right formerly possessed by the Imperial Russian Govermnents to dominate Manchuria through control of the Chinese Eastern and Southern Manchurian railroads, and the lease of Port Arthur as a naval base&hellip.make it altogether impossible for a new unified China to exercise full sovereignty within Manchuria, all the more objectionable in view of China&rsquos absence from the conference table where they were decided.

Sherwood cited the statement &ldquothe heads of the Three Great Powers have agreed that these claims of the Soviet Union shall be unquestionably fulfilled after Japan has been defeated,&rdquo as &ldquothe most assailable point in the entire Yalta record,&rdquo noting &ldquoif China had refused to agree to any of the Soviet claims, presumably the U.S. and Britain would have been compelled to join in enforcing them.&rdquo

An enhanced knowledge of Franklin Roosevelt&rsquos health is essential to the understanding of the processes of his decision making. Nowhere is this more evident than with the events that occurred at and following Yalta.

*This is the first use of the term &ldquoSick Man at Yalta&rdquo, which Hurley later publicly reiterated in his 1951 testimony before a committed of the House of Representatives. Hurley deserves full credit for coining this ignominious term.


Tehran: How One World War II Super Summit Changed History Forever

At their private meeting on the afternoon of November 28, Roosevelt told Stalin, “I am glad to see you. I have tried for a long time to bring this about.” The Soviet leader admitted that he was partly responsible for the delay, being “very occupied with military matters.” Accompanied by their interpreters, the two chiefs discussed the Eastern Front and the global situation and agreed that France should be punished for collaborating with Germany. Both overlooked Stalin’s eager alliance with Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler in 1939-1941. Roosevelt advised Stalin not to discuss the question of India with Churchill and made it clear that he had ideas about the conduct of the war and its aftermath that differed from those of the British leader.

Sensing that Roosevelt wanted to appear independent of Churchill’s influence, Stalin proceeded to encourage it. He started by proposing that FDR should chair all sessions. On leaving the meeting, Roosevelt said he appreciated the opportunity to meet the Soviet leader in “informal and different circumstances.”

The Conference Begins

At 4 pm on November 28, the three Allied leaders and their aides sat in the conference room of the Soviet Embassy for their first plenary session. The meeting represented “the greatest concentration of power that the world had ever seen,” Churchill reported. For him, the Tehran talks were the last time he was able to confer with FDR and Stalin on equal terms. In more than four years of war, British manpower and resources had been severely strained.

Churchill pointed out that the three men held the future of mankind in their hands, and Stalin agreed, “History has given us a great opportunity. Now let us get down to business.” General Alan Brooke said of the Sunday afternoon session, “This was the first occasion during the war when Stalin, Roosevelt, and Winston sat around a table to discuss the war we were waging together. I found it quite enthralling looking at their faces and trying to estimate what lay behind.” He decided that Stalin, unlike many other World War II leaders, possessed “a military brain of the highest caliber.” Alan Brooke said later, “Never once in any of his statements did he make any strategic error, nor did he ever fail to appreciate all the implications of a situation with a quick and unerring eye.”

Taking the chair, President Roosevelt announced that the three chiefs would talk “with complete frankness on all sides, with nothing that was said to be made public.” He was confident of the success of the talks, that the three nations would cooperate in prosecuting the war, and that they would “also remain in close touch for generations to come.”

Decisions on the European and Pacific Theaters

Roosevelt reported on operations in the Pacific Theater and stressed the American effort to keep China in the war, which did not interest Churchill and was opposed by Stalin. The Soviet dictator had excluded Chiang Kai-shek from the Tehran conference.

Turning to the European Theater, Roosevelt explained that a shortage of sea transport, particularly landing craft, had prevented the setting of a date for Operation Overlord. At Quebec, he and Churchill had tentatively agreed on May 1, 1944, as the date for the invasion. Stalin and General George C. Marshall, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, had pressed for a second front as early as 1942. Stalin wanted pressure taken off his armies on the Eastern Front, while Marshall, though a brilliant organizer, was a flawed strategist. The necessary manpower, shipping, and other resources were simply not available in 1942 or even in 1943.

Churchill, who reported experiencing nightmares of Allied bodies piled high on French beaches in a premature invasion as shown in the ill-fated Dieppe raid, advocated an assault against the Balkans, the “soft underbelly of Europe.” For this, he was accused by Stalin and others of stalling and lacking conviction in Overlord.

Harry Hopkins, the frail but tireless international security surrogate for both FDR and Churchill, vigorously opposed operations in the Balkans. The prime minister wanted Overlord launched only under the most favorable circumstances. He had served in the Western Front trenches during World War I when a generation of British manhood was sacrificed, and he knew that his country could not endure another such bloodbath.

During the first plenary session in Tehran, Stalin promised that once Germany was conquered he would help Britain and America defeat Japan. He dismissed Italy and the Balkans as bases for launching assaults against Germany and agreed, “Northern France is still the best.” He thus threw his support behind the U.S. Chiefs of Staff, much to their delight.

Churchill stated that the North African and Italian campaigns were clearly secondary, but the best that could be managed in 1943. With the fall of Rome, he said, Allied troops would be available for use in a planned invasion of southern France, code named Operation Anvil. Interested only in the invasion of northern France, Stalin maintained that the dispersal of Allied forces in the Mediterranean area would not aid Overlord. He wanted the Normandy assault launched, and soon. Churchill returned to the question of drawing Turkey into the war, but FDR and Stalin offered no encouragement, and the session ended.

Establishing the Postwar Order

On the evening of November 28, Roosevelt hosted Churchill and Stalin at dinner in his quarters. The Soviet dictator argued that France deserved no special treatment, “had no right to retain her empire,” and should not play a significant role in the affairs of the postwar world. Roosevelt concurred in part, with only Churchill defending the nation and voicing his hope for a “flourishing and lively France.” Stalin then said that Germany, once defeated, must be kept weak so that she could never again plunge the world into war. Churchill suggested disarmament measures, but the Soviet leader dismissed them as inadequate and said he had no faith in the reformation of the German people.

Then arose the question of Poland, the invasion of which had precipitated the war. Stalin said he thought the Poles should have the Oder River for their western frontier, while Churchill proposed the Curzon Line as the postwar Soviet-Polish border, with Poland receiving territorial compensation from Germany. Named after Lord George Curzon, the British foreign secretary in 1920, the line was advocated at the 1919 Paris Peace Conference as the eastern boundary of Poland. When Roosevelt suggested international control of the approaches to the Baltic Sea, the Soviet leader declared curtly, “The Baltic states had, by an expression of the will of the people, voted to join the Soviet Union, and this question was not therefore one for discussion.”

After FDR went to bed, Churchill and Stalin again discussed postwar Germany. The latter suggested restraints on German industry, while the British leader said he believed that the German people could be re-educated within a generation. Stalin was pessimistic, but history would prove Churchill right. The prime minister stressed the British intention to reestablish a strong and independent Poland, and Stalin insisted that he did not want Poland but would be satisfied with some German territory. On that note, they parted for the evening.

“The Four Policemen”

Churchill asked for a private meeting with Roosevelt on the morning of November 29, but it was refused because the president did not want to arouse Soviet suspicions. Instead, Roosevelt continued to meet privately with Stalin. The prime minister had become the odd man out at Tehran, but he stood firm while his patience and customary good humor were under siege.

Roosevelt was determined to establish a personal bond with Stalin, who had initially appeared “correct, stiff, solemn, not smiling, nothing to get hold of,” so he made a point of teasing Churchill during the conference. “Winston is cranky this morning,” Roosevelt whispered to Stalin at one point. “He got up on the wrong side of the bed.” When FDR needled the prime minister about his cigars, habits, and British attitudes, Stalin smiled. Roosevelt continued until Stalin was laughing and Churchill scowling. The prime minister had been forewarned, but he failed to see any humor in Roosevelt’s remarks. The president persisted until it ceased to be amusing, but he claimed later that teasing Churchill made his relations with Stalin more personal.

On the afternoon of November 29, in their second private meeting, Roosevelt presented to Stalin his idea of an executive committee—the United Nations Organization—to maintain world order after the war. It would comprise the United States, the Soviet Union, Great Britain and the Commonwealth, China, two European countries, a South American nation, and countries in the Middle East and Far East. “The Four Policemen”—America, Britain, Russia, and China—would deal with any threat to peace. Stalin opposed the inclusion of China.

The Second Session in Tehran: Discussing Operation Overlord

The conference’s second plenary session was convened later on the afternoon of November 29. The British and American military advisers were present, and Marshal Stalin was accompanied by his hard-bitten, stammering foreign minister, Vyacheslav Molotov, and incompetent Marshal Klimentii Voroshilov. Alan Brooke and Marshall reported on a morning meeting of the military staffs and briefed the Big Three on preparations for the invasion of Normandy. Stalin asked who would command Operation Overlord, but Roosevelt replied that no one had been chosen. “Nothing should be done to distract attention from that operation,” urged the Soviet leader, adding that the date should be set and also an invasion of southern France mounted.


Tehrān Conference

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Tehrān Conference, (November 28–December 1, 1943), meeting between U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin in Tehrān during World War II. The chief discussion centred on the opening of a “second front” in western Europe. Stalin agreed to an eastern offensive to coincide with the forthcoming Western Front, and he pressed the western leaders to proceed with formal preparations for their long-promised invasion of German-occupied France.

Though military questions were dominant, the Tehrān Conference saw more discussion of political issues than had occurred in any previous meeting between Allied governmental heads. Not only did Stalin reiterate that the Soviet Union should retain the frontiers provided by the German-Soviet Nonaggression Pact of 1939 and by the Russo-Finnish Treaty of 1940, but he also stated that it would want the Baltic coast of East Prussia. Though the settlement for Germany was discussed at length, all three Allied leaders appeared uncertain their views were imprecise on the topic of a postwar international organization and, on the Polish question, the western Allies and the Soviet Union found themselves in sharp dissension, Stalin expressing his continued distaste for the Polish government-in-exile in London. On Iran, which Allied forces were partly occupying, they were able to agree on a declaration (published on December 1, 1943) guaranteeing the postwar independence and territorial integrity of that state and promising postwar economic assistance.

The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica This article was most recently revised and updated by Michael Ray, Editor.


Decisions

The declaration issued by the three leaders on conclusion of the conference on December 1, 1943, recorded the following military conclusions:

  1. The Yugoslav Partisans should be supported by supplies and equipment and also by commando operations.
  2. It would be desirable for Turkey to enter war on the side of the Allies before the end of the year.
  3. The leaders took note of Stalin’s statement that if Turkey found herself at war with Germany and as a result Bulgaria declared war on Turkey or attacked her, the Soviet Union would immediately be at war with Bulgaria. The Conference further noted that this could be mentioned in the forthcoming negotiations to bring Turkey into the war.
  4. The cross-channel invasion of France (Operation Overlord) would be launched during May 1944 in conjunction with an operation against southern France. The latter operation would be as strong as availability of landing-craft permitted. The Conference further noted Joseph Stalin’s statement that the Soviet forces would launch an offensive at about the same time with the object of preventing the German forces from transferring from the Eastern to the Western Front.
  5. The leaders agreed that the military staffs of the Three Powers should keep in close touch with each other in regard to the impending operations in Europe. In particular, it was agreed that a cover plan to mislead the enemy about these operations should be concerted between the staffs concerned.

1 Answer 1

Most information is from John Grigg's "1943". This book details the politics of World War II, specifically during 1943, in great detail. The book is highly critical of Churchill, but contains good answers to the question you have asked.

From the front of the book

Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data Grigg, John. 1943, the victory that never was. Bibliography: p. Includes index. 1. World War, 1939-1945--Diplomatic History. I. Title. D748.G76 1980 940.54'012 79-22417

The conference was agreed to while at Quebec and the details were settled by a meeting in Moscow. This meeting was in August of 1943. The Tehran conference was in late November 1943. So there was a little over 2 months to figure out everything.

The first obstacle was getting everyone together.

Until a late stage there were doubts that the conference would ever take place. Teheran was as far outside Russia as Stalin would consent to go, but Roosevelt was reluctant to travel such a distance from Washington

Stalin tried to wriggle out of attending it himself, suggesting that Molotov go

President Roosevelt had his obligations as president, namely the signing of bills. It was only barely possible for bills to be transported to the area and back to the District of Columbia within the time period allotted by the Constitution of the United States.

Stalin simply did not want to leave Russia. After the victory in the civil war, Stalin maintained his power via cruelty and his cult of personality. For example, the critic Trotsky was executed at Stalin's orders after he fled the Soviet Union. Thanks to Khrushchev's secret speech given after Stalin's death, the political climate in the Soviet Union finally allowed criticism of Stalin's methods. Stalin did not want to attend the conference, because there was a very real chance that he would no longer be in power after returning to the Soviet Union. By using force to maintain his power, it required the near constant presence of Stalin himself to maintain his position. Although attempting a coup while he was present would be suicide, it would be possible while Stalin was absent. When you take into consideration what a cruel leader Stalin was, it is easy to gain backing for a coup. It would be hard for a coup to result in someone in power that was actually worse than Stalin.

I selected one passage from the book to support the notion of Stalin's barbarity, although many exist in just this text. From page 33

1942 was the only year of his wartime premiership when Churchill's position seemed less than secure. Despite his immense personal reputation, he was more vulnerable than either of his two partners in the exclusive club known as the Big Three. Roosevelt, after the 1940 Presidential election, was virtually irremovable except by death--until the completion of his unprecedented third term. And Stalin, quite simply, was irremovable except by death, having no elections to bother about and having either killed all possible rivals or reduced them to a state of quivering terror.

I can find no evidence that Churchill objected to Teheran as the conference venue.

Churchill had traveled to Cairo on the HMS Renown from Plymouth. This ship was actually a World War I battlecruiser, but saw no combat according to Wikipedia. This ship was likely one of the more secure methods for Chuchill to reach Cairo. It certainly would be more secure from air attack than a civilian boat, although it was still vulnerable to German U-Boats.

It is more likely that security was achieved for Churchill by spreading disinformation of his whereabouts and through the use of numerous doubles. This isn't from the book, and is mostly speculation of my part.

Roosevelt traveled on the legendary USS Iowa to Cairo. This was one of the largest battleships to ever see combat.

Roosevelt and Churchill traveled to Teheran via air. They took of from Cairo. This would have been relatively safe at the time, given that the German forces had been expelled from North Africa. It is again likely that numerous decoys and disinformation would have been used to achieve security. History leaves us no concrete information as to the Luftwaffe's ability in the airspace at the time. But a lone transport would have been an appealing target. It was likely simply mixed in with various other routing flights from Cairo to Tehran.

From "Spearhead for the Blitzkrieg", the following quote on page 97

Once the Allies had built up their air forces, it became impossible for the Luftwaffe to establish air supremacy

To protect army units from air attack, the available fighters were shared among the major army formations. Usually a fighter Geschwader with three or four Gruppen operated within the command zone of each group. It came under the command of the air fleet or air corps headquarters responsible for air operations in that zone. During friendly or enemy offensives, or if the air situation became critical, these forces sometimes received temporarily assigned reinforcements. After 1943, however, this was usually only possible at the expense of other sectors on the front.

The "air forces" of the United States at the time were just the Army. There was no separate USAF during World War II. Operation Torch had allowed the ground forces to push out the German forces of North Africa in late 1942.

This source indicates that the Luftwaffe was barely able to operate in sufficient capacity to support the German ground forces by 1943. Even with good intelligence, conducting a mission to intercept the flight of a high profile target like Churchill would have been difficult.

From the front of that book, no cataloging data provided.

Once in Tehran, actual security was easy. From page 178 of "1943"

Persia was, like Egypt, nominally independent, but in fact under foreign control. The twenty-two-year-old Shah had been brought to the throne in 1941, when his pro-German father had been forced to abdicate. The country was then occupied by British and Russian troops, and later American troops as well.

The army from each respective delegation was present in the country already. They would have conducted preliminary assessments of the security of the air, as well as provided intelligence to the normal security details of each delegate.

Furthermore, specific consideration was given to Roosevelt's security

Churchill stayed at the British legation and Stalin at the Russian embassy, which were close together. But the American legation, where Roosevelt was at first accommodated--having declined the Shah's offer of a palace--was about a mile away. Stalin then suggested that Roosevelt move to the Russian embassy, for the sake of security, and after some hesitation Roosevelt agreed.

Roosevelt actually stayed at the Russian embassy so he could be nearby and for security reasons. Given the attitude of the US & USSR in the Cold War towards one another, this seems almost like a fantasy. But Stalin deeply needed the military and materiel support of the Allies. Regardless of any political or ideological differences, it was in his best interest to be friendly toward Roosevelt. Any possible harm coming to Roosevelt by any source would jeopardize the American support for the Soviet Union. Without the steady supplies coming from the US, the Eastern front would have been much more difficult battle to win.

Of course I must note that on the same page can be found this quote:

For Stalin it was an early triumph, not least in that it put Roosevelt under twenty-four-hour surveillance by the N.K.V.D.

The NKVD was the police of the Communist party at the time. Roosevelt an his entourage were not fools. They likely restricted there conversations at the time to matter's pertaining to the conference only.



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