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Origins of the Cold War, Part One,1917-1945

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16                         p.8

July 1-22, 1944

Representatives from 44 nations meet for a financial conference at Bretton Woods, New Hampshire. They agree to form an International Monetary Fund (IMF) and an International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (World Bank). [This represented a victory for FDR who believed that postwar prosperity for the US was dependent on open markets abroad, and also that the consequent rise in living standards worldwide would prevent future wars. Britain's agreement was secured because of their dependence on American aid to win the current war. The Soviet Union, angry about the Anglo-American refusal to publicly guarantee its new western boundaries, refused to participate despite Secretary of the Treasury Morgenthau's best efforts and the promise of a large postwar reconstruction loan. (28)]

August 2, 1944

Prime Minister Winston Churchill to Parliament: "It is the Russian Army that has done the main work of ripping the guts out of the German Army . . . In the air and on the ocean and the seas we can maintain ourselves, but there was no force in the world which could have been called into being except after several more years that would have been able to maul and break the German Army and subject it to such terrible slaughter and manhandling as has fallen upon the Germans but the Russian Soviet Armies." [This was a typical remark; it was only after the Cold War got under way that politicians and the media started minimizing the role of the Red Army in the defeat of Nazi Germany.]

August 4, 1944

FDR's Executive Committee on Economic Foreign Policy approves a plan for a "moderate peace" in the postwar treatment of Germany: restitution and reparations for Germany's victims, prohibition of manufacture of armaments and elimination of "German economic domination in Europe", but integration of the defeated Reich into the world economy with a decent standard of living and retention of her industrial capacity. [This document and other efforts for a "soft peace" provoked a reaction from Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morgenthau, Jr, who advocated eliminating Germany's industrial plant completely, turning the country into a primarily agricultural nation. FDR was initially much in favor of the Morgenthau Plan: "I see no reason for starting a WPA, PWA or a CCC for Germany when we go in with our Army of Occupation . . . . The German people as a whole must have it driven home to them that the whole nation has been engaged in a lawless conspiracy against the decencies of modern civilization." A distorted version of the Morgenthau Plan was leaked to the press in late September, resulting in public disapproval and FDR's disavowal. Basic attitudes toward the Soviet Union colored the split in the differing opinions on postwar treatment of Germany. I. F. Stone charged the proponents of a "soft peace" with wanting to rebuild Germany quickly as a "bulwark against Bolshevism". (29) Dorothy Thompson, the erstwhile castigator of Hitler's regime, was one of the earliest opponents of a "Carthaginian peace" for Germany, thus garnering much criticism from many who had been her stalwart admirers before. (30)]

September 5, 1944

The Soviet Union declares war against Bulgaria which, up until this time has been at war only with Britain and the US and has been attempting to negotiate a surrender to British and American officials in Cairo. [The Red Army then occupied the country without resistance, and Bulgaria declared war against its old ally, Germany. The Soviet Union excluded Britain and the US from any control in the surrender negotiations, citing as precedent the exclusion of the Soviet Union from any decision-making in Italy the year before. (31)]

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