Issues involving Germany remained unresolved until the last days of the Yalta Conference, as S.M. Plokhy writes in Yalta: The Price of Peace.
Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin faced off on the issues of French membership in the Allied Control Commission, which would run Germany, and the Soviet request for $10 billion in reparations from Germany. Franklin Roosevelt did not have strong opinions on either issue.
Harry Hopkins did favor the British position on France and urged FDR to do the same. When Roosevelt took a position favoring French participation in the control commission, he informed Stalin privately, and Stalin relented. Plokhy notes that Stalin kept his word and that he intended to use his support for Roosevelt’s position on France as a bargaining chip to gain Roosevelt’s support for German reparations.
Stalin and Churchill later discussed reparations and did not reach agreement. During the plenary session later on February 10, FDR took Churchill’s side in opposing setting a dollar figure for reparations. Stalin replied that the $10 billion amount was mainly the value of German industrial equipment that the Soviets wanted to remove. Stalin made an emotional appeal for the reparations, which he said the Soviet Union deserved as the nation that had suffered most at German hands.
Roosevelt then changed to Stalin’s side, expressing concern only with the word “reparations.” FDR thought that the American public might interpret reparations to mean cash payments from Germany. Stalin and Churchill finally agreed to leave the amount to the reparations commission, and FDR agreed, too.
Plokhy points out that in both of these issues, FDR mainly was trying to act as an honest broker between the Soviets and British. While he did not feel strongly either way on the German issues, he did want agreement among the Big Three.
The next chapter deals first with the Declaration on Liberated Europe, an American document that Plokhy notes received little attention at Yalta despite its prominence during the Cold War.
The document originated in the U.S. State Department as a preamble to a document creating a European Commission to oversee liberated areas. FDR, however, opposed the creation of such a commission, as he thought that it would complicate the formation of the world organization. James Byrnes, speaking for Roosevelt, persuaded Secretary of State Edward Stettinius to drop the idea of a commission. Instead, Alger Hiss modified the document to make the individual Allied governments responsible for taking joint action to achieve their goals.
Stalin actually raised the issue of the Declaration on Liberated Europe, which led FDR to introduce it into the Yalta discussion. While Churchill agreed with the language of the declaration, he wanted it to follow his interpretation of the Atlantic Charter. Churchill never fully accepted the Atlantic Charter’s promise of national self-determination.
Plokhy then describes British actions in Greece to install a government favorable to them. While this was resolved by the time of Yalta, Stalin kept reminding Churchill of British actions in Greece as a way to obtain a quid pro quo for Soviet influence in Poland.
Plokhy notes that the Declaration on Liberated Europe failed to include a mechanism for implementing its principles. Still, it seemed a success because it committed the United States to nothing while placing responsibility on the British and the Soviets for behaving according to its principles.