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Digital Archive International History Declassified

February 04, 1945

The Yalta Conference, which lasted until February 11th, 1945, was a major meeting between the three primary powers of the Allied Forces: the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union. Topics debated at the conference included the design of occupied Germany and Poland's reluctant admittance into the Soviet sphere by the Western Allies, two prominent issues which would come to bear in the Cold War.

Key documents

April 12, 1945

President since 1933, FDR died of a stroke in office this day, only a few weeks before the ultimate surrender of Germany. He was replaced by Harry Truman, who would finish the war against Japan and then become the first President of the United States in the Cold War.

May 07, 1945

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Admiral Karl Donitz (leader of Germany since Hitler’s suicide), authorized General Alfred Jodl to conclude an armistice with the Western Allies on May 6 in order to continue the war with Russians. Eisenhower demanded full and unconditional surrender, which the Germans were forced to agree to. On May 7, 1945 at Rheims, France General Jodl signed the document on behalf of the German government. The armistice took effect the next day at 11:00 PM.

Key documents

July 04, 1945

When the war ended in May, the only Allied soldiers in Berlin were the Soviet forces that had fought their way in at the end of April 1945. Under the terms of the Yalta Agreement, Berlin was to be divided into four occupation zones (US, British, French, and Soviet) under the control of the Allied Control Council. American forces officially arrived on July 4 at a ceremony on the grounds of the former Prussian Military Academy. The US Army would remain in Berlin until 1994.


July 17, 1945

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Harry Truman, Winston Churchill (later Clement Atlee), and Josef Stalin met in the German city of Potsdam to discuss the future of Europe. It had earlier been determined at the Yalta Conference that a meeting between the “Big Three” would be held following the surrender of Germany. Several agreements emerged from Potsdam that would confirm the occupation of Germany, matters pertaining to War Criminals, and territorial issues in Eastern Europe.

August 06, 1945

President Truman approves the world’s first use of an atomic weapon, to bomb Hiroshima, Japan, in an attempt to end the ongoing war in the Pacific. The bombing confirmed the United State's resolve to end the war and also demonstrated it's technological achievements.

August 08, 1945

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President Truman authorizes the world’s second and final military use of an atomic bomb on Nagasaki, Japan, to help bring about Japan’s unconditional surrender.

August 10, 1945

In August of 1945 the Soviet Union and the United States agreed to divide Korea along the 38th parallel in order to accept the surrender of Japanese forces. The two armies occupied Korea, effectively dividing it into North and South zones. When the peninsula was partitioned in 1945 it was never intended to be a permanent division, but it was assumed that Korea would be unified under one freely formed government.

Key documents

August 15, 1945

In Korea, the end of World War II brought both U.S. and Soviet forces into the Korean peninsula as occupying powers. The occupation of the country took place with a minimum of friction between the two forces. It soon became apparent, however, that the 38th parallel, intended only as a temporary military demarcation line, was considered by the Soviets to be a political boundary.

September 02, 1945

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Japan surrenders unconditionally to the US on the battleship USS Missouri, ending the Second World War. This event ended the most brutal war in human history.

September 05, 1945

Igor Gouzenko, a clerk at the Soviet embassy in Ottawa, Canada, defects and gives proof of a Soviet spy ring in the west. This event is one of the first provocative public events for Western civilians in the early Cold War.