U.S. President Harry Truman, Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill (replaced on July 26 by Prime Minister Clement Attlee), met in Potsdam, Germany, from July 17 to August 2, 1945, to negotiate terms for the end of World War II. After the Yalta Conference of February 1945, Stalin, Churchill, and U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt had agreed to meet following the surrender of Germany to determine the postwar borders in Europe. Germany surrendered on May 8, 1945, and the Allied leaders agreed to meet in July. While the Allies remained committed to fighting a joint war in the Pacific, they had difficulties reaching consensus concerning postwar reconstruction on the European continent.
The major issue at Potsdam was the question of how to handle Germany. At Yalta, the Soviets had pressed for heavy postwar reparations from Germany, half of which would go to the Soviet Union. However, President Truman and his Secretary of State, James Byrnes, were determined to mitigate the treatment of Germany by allowing the occupying nations to exact reparations only from their own zone of occupation. Truman and Byrnes encouraged this position because they wanted to avoid a repetition of the situation created by the Treaty of Versailles, which had exacted high reparations payments from Germany following World War I.
One of the most controversial matters addressed at the Potsdam Conference dealt with the revision of the German-Soviet-Polish borders and the expulsion of several million Germans from the disputed territories.
Furthermore, the United States, Great Britain, and China released the “Potsdam Declaration,” which threatened