Today in History

Today in History: August 13

A Memo From Stalin

On August 13, 1942, Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin drafted a memorandum to British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt opposing their decision not to invade Western Europe at that time.

In the memo, Stalin, whose beleaguered Russian army had been contending with a German invasion for over a year, impressed upon the Americans and the British the necessity of relieving the pressure on Russia's western front. Stalin pressed the Allies to open a second front against Hitler in Europe. Concluding that this action would be militarily unsound for them to attempt in 1942, England and the U.S. chose instead to invade North Africa.

The alliance between Great Britain, the United States, and the Soviet Union began to unravel soon after the German threat was vanquished in 1945. Indications of the depth of the tensions between the allies had surfaced in February of that year at the Black Sea resort of Yalta, where Churchill, Stalin, and Roosevelt met to plan the final defeat and occupation of Nazi Germany.

Memo From Stalin
Memo from Stalin,
Aide memoire in Russian,
August 13, 1942.
American Treasures of the Library of Congress

Also on the agenda was the question of how to deal with the defeated or liberated countries of Eastern Europe. Roosevelt was later criticized for failing to take greater measures at this meeting to prevent Stalin from seizing former German territory in Eastern Europe.

Roosevelt, Stalin, and Churchill on portico of Russian Embassy in Teheran
Roosevelt, Stalin, and Churchill on portico of Russian Embassy in Teheran, during conference—Nov. 28 - Dec. 1, 1943,
By Popular Demand: Portraits of the Presidents and First Ladies, 1789-Present

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