Conferences After WWII Essay

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Conferences after WWII

Enter stage: President H. Truman, Secretary of State J. Byrnes and H. Vaughan. All three sit on chairs center stage.

Byrnes: I'm not feeling very good about that meeting. Stalin is out of control.

Truman: For one, I am not surprised. Stalin has his own agenda. The Eastern Front was critical to success and now he wants payback. I can see through his shenanigans -- he's scared of us and that makes him lash out. Like a school bully, nothing more. He's trying to puff himself up so we give in to his demands.

Byrnes: We can't do that, though. I don't see what good it does anybody to replace fascism with Communism. It's swapping one problem for another.

Truman: It is. But in this case, we're not at war with them. And quite frankly, I don't think anybody has the stomach to jump into another war. We need to find solutions we can live with. What do you think, Harry?

Vaughan: He's going to want to keep all that land he just got. I don't like that. That's all of Eastern Europe. I think after the atrocities those people deserve better. From what we know of how he likes to operate, there is going to be a lot of bloodshed. And those are independent nations -- would he even leave them that way?

Byrnes: Right now it's chaos in Europe. We need to instill order, or we could have even bigger problems than Stalin.

Truman: What would we let him have, then?

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Vaughan: It should be less than what he has now, I think. We should split Germany up, he can keep part of it but I'd like to see a pullback from the Soviets. He can't keep all of Berlin, either. Besides, if we divide Germany maybe we won't see this type of thing happening again. I think that division has to start in the capital.

Essay on Conferences After WWII Assignment

Byrnes: If Stalin held part of Germany, who holds the rest? The British certainly. The French probably want a buffer zone at this point. But I think we should be there as well. That's twice we've been dragged into this continent's problems. Maybe if we have a presence on the ground we can keep this sort of thing from happening again.

Truman: That's a good idea, James. We can split Germany. Stalin won't retreat any further than he wants to, so we'll have to let the East go. We'll keep a presence in Germany, bring in the British and the French, and take it from there.

Byrnes: And Berlin? Stalin has the east of Germany right now. We're sitting in his territory. I don't think that should be the case -- we need checks and balances and I think Berlin in key to that.

Truman: You've both made that point. It makes sense to me. I don't know what Stalin will think of that, but we should keep part of Berlin just to make sure that we have control over Germany. If we controlled Potsdam and the western part of Berlin, that would make some sense.

Vaughan: I could give up Potsdam if necessary -- as long as we have an airport in case something goes wrong.

Truman: Ok, we'll discuss the partition of Germany and of Berlin with Churchill and see what he has to say about it. What about the atrocities? Some of the things our boys saw were truly horrific.

Vaughan: Post-conflict reconstruction is going to have to start with justice. There is a lot of bitterness and resentment on this continent, a lot of people with a lot of issues. And even with Hitler dead, a lot of his men are still alive. We cannot let them go unpunished, or the people will always be looking to the past, never to the future. We need to put the past behind us.

Byrnes: Trials. That's the basis of justice in our system. Stalin can do whatever he wants with any Nazi he finds over there, but we should impose our system on the Europeans to show how well it works. Have an inquiry. Make the people see what justice looks like -- it doesn't look like giant Nazi rallies and the demonization of minorities. It looks like gathering the facts, holding trials and punishing the perpetrators.

Truman: I agree, James. If we want to really send a message, we should hold the trials in a very symbolic place -- Munich or Nuremburg -- to show that the Nazis are finished, and that we are taking that message right to their heartland.

Vaughan: This cannot be a show trial -- well in part it can but we need to ensure that the worst people are tried. We need the people of Europe to see punishment for these atrocities. It's the only way they will move on. I like Nuremburg myself. Right in the heartland of Bavaria, in the heart of power. Some of the biggest rallies were there. Overlooking the rubble of that city, the trials will be a powerful reminder of the devastation that is caused by toxic ideology and send a clear message that no such behavior shall ever be tolerated by civilized society.

Byrnes: Should the Russians be there?

Vaughan: I don't know. They fought the Nazis as we did, but I think for myself that I would prefer they were not involved. This is our form of justice, not theirs, and we want the world to see that our justice is the only kind that can be effective against this type of evil. Stalin wouldn't know a fair trial if it smacked him upside the head.

Byrnes: As for the Germans themselves, shouldn't they pay?

Vaughan: As in reparations? I can see the point of that -- they destroyed Europe, again. They should pay for that.

Truman: But was not that part of the problem? After Versailles, the reparations destroyed what was left of Germany. With no hope, they turned to madness.

Vaughan: That doesn't mean we should let them get off scot free. Besides, the French and the British will insist. They have a lot of rebuilding to do over there.

Truman: They do. And we can help with that. But if we stick it to the Germans again, we could be inviting more of the same. We are going to have to work with the German people to forge a new future, and I don't know if we can build any kind of trust if we stick it to them with more massive reparations.

Byrnes: Back to Stalin for a moment. We know he doesn't want to give up all this land he's now sitting on. And he's being rather truculent. But even if we get some of Germany and Berlin, what about the rest? Those are independent nations -- would he just absorb them into the U.S.S.R.

Truman: He might. That's a very real risk. He's unstable -- we should do our best to dissuade him from any further conflict, but quite frankly none of the Allies is too concerned with that part of Europe, not compared to the German question. What do you think, Harry? How much trouble is Stalin really?

Vaughan: Well he's a huge mess. He's nutty as Hitler, and just as dangerous. He's full of himself, too, now that he's won out against the jerries. Stalingrad, St. Petersburg -- those were tough victories. No matter what we might want to do, we can't push him too far back.

Byrnes: But a buffer zone, Harry? Mr. President, if Stalin is as crazy as we think he is, the man is just as big a threat to this world as Hitler was. If we give him land, and people, we'll just make him stronger.

Truman: We're not at war with the U.S.S.R., James. We cannot simply chase him back to Moscow at the point of a gun.

Byrnes: We can convince him that we mean business, though. Give him something to think about when we're bargaining. Remember that in a couple of days the bargaining power will be very much in our favor.

Truman: James, I don't doubt that what we're going to do to Japan will send a message to Stalin, and to anybody else. But we cannot think of such tactics as anything other than a last, desperate measure. I will not use that option just to send a message. If Stalin receives the message we're sending to Hirohito. And we are only sending that message because he has left us no choice. He refused our offer of peace that we made here just last week.

Vaughan: I hope Stalin takes the hint, then. We cannot end one war only to start another one over the burned-out spoils. But I still think, if we are going to talk about reparations and setting things right over here, that Stalin's buffer zone idea runs counter to that. That's not justice for the Poles, the Estonians, the Hungarians…it's not… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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