The Iron Curtain Descends

The Cold War

Europe 1946.0419

The Iron Curtain Descends

The Cold War in Europe (19 April 1946)

Historical Map of Europe & the Mediterranean

By the time the Allies met at Potsdam in September 1945, it was clear that Stalin intended to retain tight control over the eastern European countries Soviet armies had occupied during the War. Western distrust grew with Soviet insistence on pushing Poland westward into lands containing millions of Germans not to mention increasing communist activity in Iran, Greece and on the Italo-Yugoslav border.

Main Events

Potsdam Conference

On July 17, 1945, the heads of government of the United States, United Kingdom, and Soviet Union met to determine how postwar Germany would be administered. The Yalta agreement on occupation zones in German and Austria were confirmed, as well as the prosecution of Nazi war criminals and reestablishment of the Polish government.

At the insistence of Poland and the Soviet Union, the provisional eastern boundary of occupied Germany was moved west to the Oder and Neisse rivers, with the Soviet Union annexing northern East Prussia; and Poland annexing southern East Prussia, East Pomerania, Silesia, Danzig, and part of Brandenburg while ceding much of its eastern territory to the Soviets. The new border was ratified by Poland and East Germany in 1950.

Jewel Voice Broadcast

Japanese Emperor Hirohito read out the Imperial Rescript on the Termination of the War in a radio broadcast, announcing to the people of Japan that their government had accepted the Potsdam Declaration and agreed to unconditional surrender. The speech was the first time the Emperor had spoken to the common people.

Azerbaijan People's Government

With the support of the Soviet Union, the Azerbaijan National Assembly declared the creation of the Azerbaijan People's Government in Tabriz, in Soviet-occupied northwest Iran.

Allied withdrawal from Italy

By the end of 1945, the Allies had withdrawn from Italy, except for the British Commonwealth forces in Udine and Venezia Giulia, and Yugoslav forces in the disputed territory of Istria. Shortly after the withdrawal, Italy voted by public referendum to become a Republic.

Syrian Independence

Under pressure from Syrian nationalists, the United Kingdom, and the United States, France completed its military withdrawal from Syria on 15 April 1946. Two days later, Syrian President Shukri al-Quwatli declared the independence of the Syrian Republic.

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