Dear Trusty Book Club Members,
As we are wrapping up our final thoughts about Winston Groom's book, "The Allies," I reflect upon the many World War II books that we have read and discussed. I am grateful to have had this background knowledge, because it gave me the insight to understand and pull together the vast amount of information, both personal and professional that Groom presented in this historical account of Churchill, Roosevelt, and Stalin.
There is no single writing, not one stand alone film, nor one recording of any kind that can capture the many facets of the World War II Era. Therefore, as I was completing "The Allies," I reflected most on what I learned from the meetings that Stalin, Churchill, and Roosevelt had together. Author, Winston Groom was able to reveal a great deal about each of the three-their leadership style, their character, and their personality.
Churchill deeply distrusted Stalin, and Stalin, known to be paranoid, didn't trust anyone. From the beginning, Roosevelt found himself in the middle-calming Churchill's fears of a Communist takeover of Europe, and leading Stalin to believe that the Soviet Union could make their way to becoming a political and economic power.
Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin met together for the first time in November of 1943 during the historic Tehran Conference. In Tehran, the Americans and the British committed to a massive 1944 invasion of coastal France, "Operation Overload" in return for Stalin's promise to join the fight against Japan. While in Tehran, Roosevelt also met privately with Stalin to discuss the Soviet Union's central role in a post-war United Nations. Roosevelt conveyed to Stalin that America was willing to negotiate directly with the USSR to serve their mutual interests. This of course all changed upon Roosevelt's death.
The second and final time the three leaders met was at the Yalta Conference in February of 1945. This meeting was very different from Tehran. Roosevelt was visibly ill, and an Allied victory over Germany was in view. Roosevelt called for the conference at Yalta-his primary concern was the post-war formation of the United Nations. Roosevelt believed that Germany was going to try once more to rule the world. At Yalta, the three men agreed to a number of topics discussed that eventually led to historic consequences. After the war, the Soviets would retain control over part of Germany, and the USSR would also have free reign to influence the governments of Eastern Europe and their Asian neighbors.
There were hopes that the Grand Alliance would persist after WWII, but with Roosevelt's death only two months after Yalta, and one month prior to Germany surrendering, the political dynamics changed dramatically. The United States, now under the command of Harry Truman presented itself with an entirely different "playbook."
Winston Churchill survived for two additional decades after the death's of Roosevelt and Stalin. One of Churchill's biographers, Paul Johnson wrote the following words, "Churchill was remarkably free from any grudges, let alone malice" Lord Beaverbrook, a newspaper tycoon and friend to Churchill wrote these words, "Winston is never vindictive" For all of his long life, Churchill had lived by a simple dictum: "In war, resolution. In defeat, defiance. In victory, magnanimity. In peace, goodwill" - and he sincerely meant it.
Our next assignment..."To America, Personal Reflections Of An Historian," written by Stephen E. Ambrose. Looking forward to learning your thoughts on another excellent read!
All the best-