October 10, 1944. Moscow is wearing its white veils and snow has covered every corner … The hasty passers run to find warmth near a wood stove and some every now and then take out of their heavy coat pockets the small flask of vodka that burns and warms their insides.
At the airport with much trouble the British prime minister’s plane has landed and Stalin welcomes Churchill with hugs and kisses … In a split of a second they disappear. Unnatural and perhaps mystical. All night they were the two of them … In the most historic and decisive meeting that determined the future of Europe and perhaps of humanity for decades.
It is the evening when the Western and the Soviet spheres of influence were designed. And confirmed and signed a few months later, from 4 to 11 February 1945 in Yalta.
- October. Germans collapse. Already the Soviet Army has entered Poland, Romania and Bulgaria and the Western forces liberate France and march also towards Berlin.
Both Churchill and Stalin know that it is a matter of a few months for the complete collapse of the Wehrmacht. And they judge that the time has come to discuss the issues of postwar physiognomy of Europe.
The start is being done by the British Foreign Minister, Eden, who opened the discussion with his Soviet counterpart Molotov.
A detail that became known much later: Before initializing the diplomatic channels between Great Britain and the Soviet Union, Churchill goes to the US and discusses the whole issue with President Roosevelt.
So, that night of October 10 that he arrived in icy Moscow he knew very well what to give, what to claim and what to keep.
Stalin on the other side, surprised Churchill saying that once the war is over he will attack Japan!
Churchill himself wrote in his memoirs that Stalin that evening was “in a euphoric state” … the Vodka you see …
A few months later, what the two leaders discussed became known.
They had a brief discussion on the possibility of cooperation with the exiled in London – from Moscha- Government of Poland and said almost simultaneously that is a matter that will be resolved by the foreign ministers.
And then, when they passed to the Balkans. Churchill “took the ball at his feet.” He said that we should agree to divide Europe into influence areas. Other for the Soviet Union and others to Great Britain.
And to enhance the proposal, he said that he is leaving Romania in the sphere of influence of the Soviet Union, which already had been invaded by the Soviet army. And that in return he asks for Greece, in line with US wishes. He even said: “Britain will be the dominant force in the Mediterranean” … Stalin did not react … And the Briton continued, Hungary and Yugoslavia are equal 50-50 in both spheres, Romania will be 90% to Soviet sphere and 10% in the realm of Western, while Bulgaria will fall by 75% in the Soviet sphere of influence and by 25% in the western sphere.
As Stalin listened carefully to his translator, Churchill got a white paper that was on the table with pencils, glasses and two bottles of cognac and wrote in tiny letters the countries and rates, as proposed.
He passed the paper to Stalin, who read it carefully, then he took his blue pencil and put a “Check” in the right part of the page.
Since there was no reaction from Stalin, Churchill continued ( «The Moscow Conference 1944: Top Secret», T.B. Tsamperlin) his proposals:
Eastern Prussia was to split in two – one half to pass to the Soviet Union and the other half to Poland – the Germans residents to move into the interior of Germany and Silesia to be given to Poland ‘against the loss of Polish territories taken by the Soviet Union” ….
And somewhere there, after comprehensive discussion that lasted almost six hours, they withdrew to rest.
The following day, 11 October 1944, Churchill sent Stalin a text with what was agreed.
Stalin underlined the parts that fell within the Soviet sphere of influence, he turned the “Soviet” ‘rates of Hungary and Bulgaria at 90-10 and sent the text to Molotov ordering him “to discuss it” with his British counterpart. The meeting of the two ministers did not change anything in the text and in this “Stalinist form” it was later confirmed at the Yalta Conference in February 1945. The division of Europe into spheres of influence was groomed historically as” The Declaration of Yalta. “
What was never known is why Stalin left the bloody fratricidal civil war to evolve in Greece. Why he did not alert the strictly controlled by him, Communist Party to stop the war.
And if he did alert it, who did not take into account that Greece had been given to the Western sphere of influence …
Will we ever learn?