Eastern Europe in the Post-War World

By Hubert Ripka | Go to book overview

CHAPTER III
Soviet Rule over East Central Europe

SPHERES OF INFLUENCE

Hitler wanted to drive the Russian Bolsheviks far back into the steppes of Asia, but he merely helped them to settle in Central Europe. Nazism was a remarkable return to the paganism and expansionism of the primitive Germans, and it ended as miserably as the German Empire of the seventh century. From the Crimea, which they had penetrated in the fourth century, the Germans were driven back to the Elbe and the Saale. 'L'hitlerisme, en ramenant le germanisme à ses origines, . . . ne réussira finalement qu'a provoquer le retour des Slaves jusqu'au bassin de l'Elbe.'1

The United States and Britain could have prevented the expansion of Russian power had they recognized in time that he who holds East Central Europe has the predominant position in Europe. Western statesmen failed to realize the danger of allowing Russian Communists to dominate East Central Europe.

Winston Churchill tried to lessen the dangers he foresaw by suggesting to Stalin a division of spheres of interest in the individual countries of Central and Balkan Europe. Washington diplomatists, shocked by such 'imperialist' bargaining, had to agree at Yalta to Soviet Russia's having the decisive influence in East Central Europe.

It would not appear from available documents that either Roosevelt or Churchill expressly relinquished this area to the Communists. The Yalta Declaration on Liberated Europe promised on February 11, 1945, 'the earliest possible establishment through free elections of governments responsive to the

____________________
1
René Grousset, Bilan de l'Histoire, Paris, 1946.

-55-

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