OF SOVIET TOTALITARIANISM
The relative moderation and pragmatism that marked Stalin’s war years ended even before the war itself. As noted in the previous chapter, the cult of Stalin returned in 1943, after a twoyear hiatus, and controls over journalists were also reapplied. Nevertheless, in his dealings with the West, he appeared to be the congenial, pipesmoking “Uncle Joe” who, to be sure, was a hard bargainer when defending the interests of his country but was also a man who could compromise in the interests of world peace. At Yalta, he agreed to allow France to share in the occupation of Germany and to include democrats in the Polish government. At the Potsdam conference, held in July 1945, he also promised to join the war against Japan.
Even before the meeting at Potsdam, however, EastWest relations began to sour as the common fear of Nazi Germany faded. In March 1945, President Roosevelt, growing alarmed at Soviet attempts to Communize Poland, sent Stalin a strongly worded protest. However, neither Roosevelt, nor his successor, Harry Truman, was willing to risk war over Poland. Nevertheless, Stalin’s relations with the West continued to deteriorate in the late 1940s until they reached a low point with the invasion of South Korea by Communist North Korea in 1950.
The causes of this EastWest “Cold War” have been the subject of sometimes bitter disputes among historians. Contemporaries saw it resulting from Stalin’s alleged imperialism and desire to Communize as much of the world as possible. Some later historians claimed that the West, particularly the United States, overreacted to Stalin’s legitimate desire for security in East Central