On This Day

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U.S. Signal Corps
Josef Stalin, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Winston Churchill pictured at the Tehran Conference.

On This Day: Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin Meet at Tehran Conference

November 28, 2011 05:00 AM
by findingDulcinea Staff
On Nov. 28, 1943, Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and Josef Stalin met in Tehran, Iran, to discuss Allied strategy during World War II as well as post-war matters.

The Tehran Conference

The Tehran Conference, codenamed Eureka, was the first time that “Big Three” Allied leaders, U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Soviet leader Josef Stalin, met together.

The central issue of the conference was the military strategy of the Allied forces against Nazi Germany. Roosevelt and Churchill, who had met several times during the war, including just days earlier in Cairo, Egypt, came to Tehran seeking continued cooperation from the Soviet Union. Stalin sought the opening of a “second front” in Western Europe to take pressure of the Soviet military fighting the Nazis on the eastern front.

Stalin had long pushed for a second front, raising the issue in a letter to Churchill in 1941. Soviet diplomats received assurances “concerning the urgent tasks of opening a second front in Europe in 1942” in a June 1942 meeting in Washington, but when Churchill and Stalin met that August—their only meeting prior to Tehran—Churchill explained that a second front wasn’t practical at the time.

At Tehran, Churchill and Roosevelt were at last in a position to guarantee the opening of the western front. They pledged to launch an invasion of France in May 1944 (Operation Overlord, which would begin with the June 6, 1944, Normandy invasion) and asked for the Soviet Union to make an offensive on the eastern front at the same time. Stalin also promised to declare war on Japan once Germany surrendered.

The three leaders also discussed their plans for post-war Europe. Stalin asked for territory in Poland and Finland to be returned to the Soviet Union, and for the Western Allies to support Josip Broz Tito in Yugoslavia. The three touched on the division of post-war Germany and the formation of an international organization that would become the United Nations.

The conference concluded on Dec. 1 with the Declaration of the Three Powers. It stated that “we have concerted our plans for the destruction of the German forces,” that “common understanding which we have here reached guarantees that victory will be ours,” and that “we are sure that our concord will win an enduring Peace.”

Other Allied War Conferences

The “Big Three” would meet on more time, at Yalta in February 1945. Stalin and Churchill would meet with Roosevelt’s successor, Harry Truman, at Potsdam in July 1945. PBS summarizes each meeting between Allied leaders during the war.

Historical Context: World War II

The findingDulcinea Web Guide to World War II links to the most comprehensive and reliable sources on the war.

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