Dwight David Eisenhower and American Power

By William B. Pickett | Go to book overview
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The Road to the
White House

With the collapse of Nazi Germany in April 1945 there came the serious question of how long Allied cooperation would continue. Even during the war the Allied strategic coordination had been tempered by distrust, including worries about Russia reaching a possible separate peace with the Nazis because of Western delay in establishing a second front, suspicion over the 1940 massacre in the Katyn Forest of 15,000 Polish officers who were prisoners of the Red Army, and unhappiness with the Soviets' delay in the liberation of Warsaw, which resulted in the city's demolition by Nazi SS stormtroopers.

In the months that followed the German surrender, Eisenhower, as military governor of the American zone of Germany, was now burdened with the responsibility, more diplomatic than military, for which precedent was either nonexistent or unclear. The demilitarization and de-Nazification of Germany had indeed been the Allies' wartime goal, but who would define and implement that objective now? The provisions of the Yalta agreement (the February 1945 meeting in the Soviet Crimea on the Black Sea in which Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin decided upon postwar arrangements for the defeated Germany) were for an Allied control commission to make these decisions, but this would have required a


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