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Excerpts from the Report on the Potsdam Conference (Potsdam Agreement) (August 2, 1945)

The Potsdam Conference between the leaders of the Soviet Union, the United States, and Great Britain was held at Cecilienhof Palace, the home of Crown Prince Wilhelm Hohenzollern, in Potsdam, Germany, from July 17 to August 2, 1945. The Soviet Union was represented by Josef Stalin; the U.S. was represented by President Harry S. Truman, who had only been in office for a few months, having succeeded Franklin Delano Roosevelt on April 12, 1945. Winston Churchill represented Great Britain at the start of the conference, but after the Labor Party won the elections of July 27, 1945, he was replaced by the new prime minister, Clement R. Attlee, who signed the agreement on behalf of Great Britain on August 2, 1945.

The agreement reached by Stalin, Truman, and Attlee formed the basis of Allied occupation policy in the years to come. The provisions with the most far-reaching consequences included those concerning borders. It was agreed, for example, that the Oder-Neisse line would be established as Poland’s provisional western boundary, meaning that Poland would undergo a “western shift” at the expense of German territories in Pomerania, Silesia, and Eastern Prussia. It was also agreed that the territory around East Prussian Königsberg would be ceded to the Soviet Union. In addition, the conference settled upon the “transfer” of Germans from the new Polish territories and from Czechoslovakia and Hungary. These measures constituted an essential basis for the division of Germany and Europe.

Politically, Germany was to be demilitarized and denazified. The bureaucracy, the judiciary, and the educational system were to be cleansed of Nazi influences and rebuilt on the basis of democratic principles. Economically, Germany was to be treated as a single entity. This was difficult to reconcile, however, with the stipulation that the Allies were to take reparations from their respective zones, with the Soviet Union being entitled to additional deliveries from the Western zones. Finally, the signatories agreed to establish a council of foreign ministers, which would meet regularly and coordinate further steps.

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On 17 July 1945, the President of the United States of America Harry S. Truman, the Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, Generalissimo J. V. Stalin, and the Prime Minister of Great Britain, Winston S. Churchill, together with Mr. Clement R. Attlee, met in the Tripartite Conference of Berlin. They were accompanied by the foreign secretaries of the three Governments, Mr. James F. Byrnes, Mr. V. H. Molotov, and Mr. Anthony Eden, the Chiefs of Staff, and other advisers.

There were nine meetings between 17 July and 25 July. The Conference was then interrupted for two days while the results of the British general election were being declared.

On 28 July Mr. Attlee returned to the Conference as Prime Minister, accompanied by the new Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Ernest Bevin. [ . . . ]

II. Establishment of a Council of Foreign Ministers
The Conference reached an agreement for the establishment of a Council of Foreign Ministers representing the five principal Powers to continue the necessary preparatory work for the peace settlements and to take up other matters which from time to time may be referred to the Council by agreement of the Governments participating in the Council.

The text of the agreement for the establishment of the Council of Foreign Ministers is as follows:—

1. There shall be established a Council composed of the Foreign Ministers of the United Kingdom, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, China, France and the United States.

2. (I) The Council shall normally meet in London which shall be the permanent seat of the joint Secretariat which the Council will form. Each of the Foreign Ministers will be accompanied by a high-ranking Deputy, duly authorized to carry on the work of the Council in the absence of his Foreign Minister, and by a small staff of technical advisers.

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