Did the post war settlement lead to the division of Europe?

Authors Avatar

Did the post war settlement lead to the division of Europe?

This Essay will look at the question of post war settlement and whether it led to the division of Europe. In trying to answer this question, I will try to explain if there was such a thing as post war settlement and also offer other reasons for the division of Europe. The post war settlement were formed of  two conferences held by the big three to decide the future of Germany, Eastern Europe and the many questions left open by the ending of world war two. The two conferences held were the Yalta and Potsman conferences. The main conclusions reached at these conferences, was that Germany was to be split into four zones, free elections were to be held in Eastern Europe, and that the united nations would be replace the failed league of nations. There is the argument that post war settlement was responsible for the division of Europe, as the western powers accepted to a certain extent Russian occupation of Eastern Europe. Also this acceptance of Russian control was further reinforced by the fact that the west had separate spheres of influence which the Soviet Union could not interfere in. The precedent set prior to Yalta through Italy where Russia had no power reinforced Russia’s right to have hegemony over Eastern European countries. The post war settlement to a certain extent accepted the separate spheres of influence, which later developed into east and west Europe. Others argue that the division of Europe may explained by the affect of soviet expansionism and the affect that it had on the west, the imbalance of power and the fear this caused. Explanations regarding the aims of the Marshall plan and the atomic bomb developed by the USA may also offer insights into why the division of Europe occurred.

            Many argue that the post war settlement led to the division of Europe, in the sense that the conferences in Yalta and Potsman were unable to solve the questions of post war Europe. From the beginning the post war settlement was an uneasy alliance between the winners of world war two. The grand alliance at best was fragile unity, which had through necessity been preserved. After the war differences begun to emerge between the soviets and the west regarding the questions of Germany, and Eastern European countries. The allies each wanted different things, as illustrated by the fact that the west gradually begun to accept that a stronger Germany who was rehabilitated into Europe was better then a repressed Germany. While the soviets were against this because Germany had twice invaded them. They feared a stronger Germany would again be a threat in the future. The failure of the post war settlement to find common grounds between the soviets and the west, and also to accommodate each others fears led to the subsequent breakdown of co operation between the USSR and the west lead to the hardening of Eastern European boundaries.

Join now!

            There is also a belief that the division of Europe was exacerbated due to misunderstanding between Stalin and Truman. There seems to be confusion of misinterpretation on the part of the USSR at the Yalta conference where they believed that the conference gave them free hand in parts of Eastern Europe, which they had saved from the Germans. The agreement to hold free elections in Eastern European countries was thought by Stalin a façade, which was there to help the American president, Roosevelt, face critics regarding co operation with a communist country. Harry Truman ...

This is a preview of the whole essay