Primary Sources from the Yalta Conference Feb 1945

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Primary Sources from the Yalta Conference Feb 1945

Taken from

(1) William Leahy, chief of staff to the commander in chief of the United States, wrote about Yalta in his autobiography, I Was There (1950)

Stalin then brought up the question of reparations in kind and in manpower, but said he was not ready to discuss the manpower question. The latter, of course, referred to forced labor. Since the Russians were using many thousands of prisoners in what was reported to be virtual slave camps, they had little to gain by discussing the matter. Stalin then had Deputy Foreign Commissar Maisky elaborate on the Russian view of the reparations question.

The proposal in brief was: Reparations in kind should include factories, plants, communication equipment, investments abroad, etc., and should be made over a period of ten years, at the end of which time all reparations would have been paid. The total value of the reparations in kind asked by the Soviet was 10 billion dollars, to be spread over the ten-year period.

The German heavy industries should be cut down and 80 per cent removed in a period of two years after the surrender.

Allied control should be established over German industry, and all German industry that could be used in the production of war material should be under international control for a long period.

Churchill objected to the 10 billion-dollar figure, and he and Roosevelt agreed that a reparations committee should be appointed to study the issue. Roosevelt made it clear that the United States would not make the financial mistakes that followed World War I. He added that America would not want any manpower, any factories, or any machinery. It might want to seize German property in the United States, which at that time was estimated not to exceed 200 million dollars. Reparations presented a very complicated problem, and the appointment of a special commission seemed to be the only possible way to arrive at any kind of recommendation that could be accepted.

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