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FDR, Churchill and Stalin: Inside Their Uneasy WWII Alliance

June 12, 2020 in History

By Dave Roos

To defeat Hitler, the ‘Big Three’ entered into a tense three-way shotgun marriage.

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There was no such easy social rapport between FDR and Stalin, a Communist dictator who actively purged all political opposition, even if it meant killing or imprisoning people in the highest ranks of the Soviet government and military. Yet Roosevelt recognized early the political benefits of a positive relationship between the U.S, and the USSR, particularly as a buffer against the Japanese. In fact, in his first year as president, FDR took action to recognize the existence of the Soviet Union and normalize diplomatic relationships with the Kremlin.

Through 1940 and most of 1941, the U.S. remained neutral even as German bombers pummeled British cities in nightly “blitz” attacks against both military and civilian targets. During that same period, Hitler reneged on his non-aggression pact with Stalin and invaded the USSR on June 22, 1941, rekindling war between the Nazi and Communist nations. FDR’s primary response in both cases was to extend lend-lease agreements to Churchill and Stalin for U.S.-built weapons and supplies.

Then, on December 7, 1941, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, forcing the U.S. to declare war on Japan. Germany and Italy, the two other Axis powers, declared war on America on December 11. The U.S. had entered WWII, like it or not.

The Grand Alliance: a three-way shotgun marriage

On January 1, 1942, less than a month after Pearl Harbor, the U.S,, Great Britain and the USSR signed the “Declaration by United Nations,” a legally non-binding document that nevertheless yoked the Big Three in a grand alliance for their mutual survival. None of the three great powers could defeat Hitler on their own, but together they plotted to divide and weaken the seemingly unstoppable German forces.

Churchill deeply distrusted Stalin, and Stalin, famously paranoid, didn’t trust anyone. From the start, FDR found himself in the middle, assuaging Churchill’s fears of a Communist takeover of Europe while feeding Stalin’s aspirations for the Soviet Union’s entry into the upper echelons of political and economic power.

In a private message to Churchill at the beginning of the tense three-way marriage, FDR recognized the British prime minister’s apprehensions, while making a case for bringing the Soviet Union into the circle of …read more

Source: HISTORY