The Info List - Potsdam Agreement

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The Potsdam
Agreement (German: Potsdamer Abkommen) was the agreement between three of the Allies of World War II, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the Soviet Union. It concerned the military occupation and reconstruction of Germany, its borders, and the entire European Theatre of War territory. It also addressed Germany's demilitarisation, reparations and the prosecution of war criminals. Executed as a communiqué, the agreement was not a peace treaty according to international law, although it created accomplished facts. It was superseded by the Treaty on the Final Settlement with Respect to Germany signed on 12 September 1990. As De Gaulle had not been invited to the Conference, the French resisted implementing the Potsdam
Agreements within their occupation zone. In particular, the French refused to resettle any expelled Germans from the east. Moreover the French did not accept any obligation to abide by the Potsdam
Agreement in the proceedings of the Allied Control Council; in particular resisting all proposals to establish common policies and institutions across Germany as a whole, and anything that they feared might lead to the emergence of an eventual unified German government.[1]


1 Overview 2 Protocol 3 Aftermath

3.1 Territorial changes 3.2 Expulsions

4 See also 5 References 6 External links

Overview[edit] After the Second World War (1939–45), and the Tehran, Casablanca and Yalta Conferences, the Allies by the Berlin Declaration of June 5, 1945, had assumed supreme authority over Germany. In the Three Power Conference of Berlin (formal title of the Potsdam
Conference) from 17 July to 2 August 1945, they agreed to and adopted the Protocol of the Proceedings, August 1, 1945, signed at Cecilienhof
Castle in Potsdam. The signatories were General Secretary Joseph Stalin, President Harry S. Truman, and Prime Minister Clement Attlee, who, as a result of the British general election of 1945, had replaced Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill
as the UK’s representative. The Provisional Government of the French Republic agreed with reservations on August 4. Protocol[edit]

Territorial evolution of Germany in the 20th century

Pre-World War II

Treaty of Versailles
Treaty of Versailles
(1919) Silesian Uprisings
Silesian Uprisings
(1918–1919) Polish Corridor Return of the Saar Basin (1935) Remilitarization of the Rhineland
Remilitarization of the Rhineland
(1936) Anschluss
with Austria (1938) Munich Agreement
Munich Agreement
(1938) Seizure of Czechoslovakia
(1939) Treaty of the Cession of the Memel Territory to Germany (1939)

World War II

Großdeutschland Polish areas annexed by Nazi Germany Tehran Conference
Tehran Conference
(1943) Yalta Conference
Yalta Conference

Post-World War II

Potsdam Conference
Potsdam Conference
(1945) Dutch annexations (1949) Belgian annexations (1949) Treaty of Zgorzelec
Treaty of Zgorzelec
(1950) Return of Heligoland (1952) Saar Treaty (1956) "Little Reunification" with Saarland (1957) Return of Selfkant (1963) Treaty of Warsaw (1970) Two Plus Four Treaty (1990) German-Polish Border Treaty (1990)


Former eastern territories of Germany

Adjacent countries

Territorial evolution of Poland Territorial changes of the Baltic states

v t e

Territorial evolution of Poland in the 20th century

Post World War I

Greater Poland
Greater Poland
Uprising (1918–19) Treaty of Versailles
Treaty of Versailles
(1919) Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye (1919) Suwałki Agreement
Suwałki Agreement
(1920) Peace of Riga
Peace of Riga
(1921) Silesian Uprisings Polish Corridor

World War II

Polish areas annexed by Nazi Germany Polish areas annexed by USSR Wartime administrative division Tehran Conference
Tehran Conference
(1943) Yalta Conference
Yalta Conference

Post World War II

Potsdam Conference
Potsdam Conference
(1945) Polish–Soviet border agreement of August 1945 Treaty of Zgorzelec
Treaty of Zgorzelec
(1950) Polish-Soviet Border Adjustment Treaty (1951) Treaty of Warsaw (1970) Two Plus Four Treaty (1990) German-Polish Border Treaty (1990)


Wschodnie ("Eastern Borderlands") Kresy
Zachodnie ("Western Borderlands") Recovered Territories Former eastern territories of Germany Zaolzie

Demarcation lines

Curzon Line
Curzon Line
(1920) Oder–Neisse line
Oder–Neisse line

Adjacent countries

Territorial evolution of Germany Territorial changes of the Baltic states

v t e

In the Potsdam
Agreement (Berlin Conference) the Allies (UK, USSR, USA) agree:[2]

Establishment of a Council of Foreign Ministers, tasked the preparation of a peace settlement for Germany, to be accepted by the Government of Germany once a government adequate for the purpose had been established.

See the London Conference of Foreign Ministers and the Moscow Conference which took place later in 1945.

The principles to govern the treatment of Germany in the initial control period.

See European Advisory Commission and Allied Control Council

A. Political principles.

Post-war Germany to be divided into four Occupation Zones under the control of Britain, the Soviet Union, the United States
United States
and France; with the Commanders-in-chief of each country's forces exercising sovereign authority over matters within their own zones, while exercising authority jointly through the Allied Control Council
Allied Control Council
for 'Germany as a whole'. Democratization. Treatment of Germany as a single unit. Disarmament and Demilitarization. Elimination of all Nazi influence.

B. Economic principles.

Reduction or destruction of all civilian heavy-industry with war-potential, such as shipbuilding, machine production and chemical factories. Restructuring of German economy towards agriculture and light-industry.

Reparations from Germany.

This section covered reparation claims of the USSR from the Soviet occupation zone in Germany. The section also agreed that 10% of the industrial capacity of the western zones unnecessary for the German peace economy should be transferred to the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
within two years

Disposal of the German Navy and merchant marine.

All but thirty submarines to be sunk and the rest of the German Navy was to be divided equally between the three powers. The German merchant marine was to be divided equally between the three powers, and they would distribute some of those ships to the other Allies. But until the end of the war with the Empire of Japan
Empire of Japan
all the ships would remain under the authority of the Combined Shipping Adjustment Board and the United Maritime Authority.

City of Königsberg
and the adjacent area (then East Prussia, now Kaliningrad Oblast).

The United States
United States
and Britain declared that they would support the transfer of Königsberg
and the adjacent area to the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
at the peace conference.

War criminals

This was a short paragraph and covered the creation of the London Charter and the subsequent Nuremberg Trials:

The Three Governments have taken note of the discussions which have been proceeding in recent weeks in London between British, United States, Soviet and French representatives with a view to reaching agreement on the methods of trial of those major war criminals whose crimes under the Moscow Declaration
Moscow Declaration
of October 1943 have no particular geographical localization. The Three Governments reaffirm their intention to bring these criminals to swift and sure justice. They hope that the negotiations in London will result in speedy agreement being reached for this purpose, and they regard it as a matter of great importance that the trial of these major criminals should begin at the earliest possible date. The first list of defendants will be published before 1st September.


The government of Austria was to be decided after British and American forces entered Vienna, and that Austria should not pay any reparations.


There should be a Provisional Government of National Unity
Provisional Government of National Unity
recognised by all three powers, and that those Poles who were serving in British Army formations should be free to return to Poland. The provisional western border should be the Oder–Neisse line, with territories to the east of this excluded from the Soviet Occupation zone and placed under Polish and Soviet administration. Poland would receive former German territories in the north and west, but the final delimitation of the western frontier of Poland should await the peace settlement; which eventually took place as the Treaty on the Final Settlement With Respect to Germany in 1990.

Conclusion on peace treaties and admission to the United Nations organization.

See Moscow Conference of Foreign Ministers which took place later in 1945. It was noted that Italy had fought on the side of the Allies and was making good progress towards establishment of a democratic government and institutions and that after the peace treaty the three Allies would support an application from a democratic Italian government for membership of the United Nations. Further

[t]he three Governments have also charged the Council of Foreign Ministers with the task of preparing peace treaties for Bulgaria, Finland, Hungary and Romania. The conclusion of Peace Treaties with recognized democratic governments in these States will also enable the three Governments to support applications from them for membership of the United Nations. The three Governments agree to examine each separately in the near future in the light of the conditions then prevailing, the establishment of diplomatic relations with Finland, Romania, Bulgaria, and Hungary to the extent possible prior to the conclusion of peace treaties with those countries.

The details were discussed later that year at the Moscow Conference of Foreign Ministers and the treaties were signed in 1947 at the Paris Peace Conference By that time the governments of Romania, Bulgaria, and Hungary were Communist.

Territorial Trusteeship

Italian former colonies would be decided in connection with the preparation of a peace treaty for Italy. Like most of the other former European Axis powers the Italian peace treaty was signed at the 1947 Paris Peace Conference.

Revised Allied Control Commission
Allied Control Commission
procedure in Romania, Bulgaria, and Hungary

Now that hostilities in Europe were at an end the Western Allies should have a greater input into the Control Commissions of Central and Eastern Europe, the Annex to this agreement included detailed changes to the workings of the Hungarian Control Commission.

Orderly transfer of German Populations

Main article Flight and expulsion of Germans (1944–50)

The Three Governments, having considered the question in all its aspects, recognize that the transfer to Germany of German populations, or elements thereof, remaining in Poland, Czechoslovakia
and Hungary, will have to be undertaken. They agree that any transfers that take place should be effected in an orderly and humane manner.

"German populations, or elements thereof, remaining in Poland" refers to Germans living within the 1937 boundaries of Poland up to the Curzon line
Curzon line
going East. In theory, that German ethnic population could have been expelled to the Polish temporarily administered territories of Silesia, Farther Pomerania, East Prussia
East Prussia
and eastern Brandenburg. Because the Allied Occupation Zones in Germany
Allied Occupation Zones in Germany
were under great strain, the Czechoslovak government, the Polish provisional government and the control council in Hungary were asked to submit an estimate of the time and rate at which further transfers could be carried out having regard to the present situation in Germany and suspend further expulsions until these estimates were integrated into plans for an equitable distribution of these "removed" Germans among the several zones of occupation.

Oil equipment in Romania Iran

Allied troops were to withdraw immediately from Tehran
and that further stages of the withdrawal of troops from Iran
should be considered at the meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers to be held in London in September 1945.

The international zone of Tangier.

The city of Tangier
and the area around it should remain international and discussed further.

The Black sea straits.

The Montreux Convention
Montreux Convention
should be revised and that this should be discussed with the Turkish government.

International inland waterways European inland transport conference. Directives to the military commanders on allied control council for Germany. Use of Allied property for satellite reparations or war trophies

These were detailed in Annex II

Military Talks

Annex I Annex II

Moreover, towards concluding the Pacific Theatre of War, the Potsdam Conference issued the Potsdam
Declaration, the Proclamation Defining Terms for Japanese Surrender (26 July 1945) wherein the Western Allies (UK, US, USSR) and the Nationalist China of General Chiang Kai-shek asked Japan to surrender or be destroyed. Aftermath[edit] Already during the Potsdam
Conference, on 30 July 1945, the Allied Control Council was constituted in Berlin to execute the Allied resolutions (the "Four Ds"):[3][4]

of the German society to eradicate Nazi influence Demilitarization of the former Wehrmacht
forces and the German arms industry; however, the circumstances of the Cold War
Cold War
soon led to Germany's Wiederbewaffnung including the re-establishment of both the Bundeswehr
and the National People's Army
National People's Army
resp. Democratization, including the formation of political parties and trade unions, freedom of speech, of the press and religion Decentralization
resulting in German federalism, along with disassemblement as part of the industrial plans for Germany. Dismantling was stopped in West Germany
West Germany
in 1951 according to the Truman Doctrine, whereafter East Germany
East Germany
had to cope with the impact alone.

Territorial changes[edit] The northern half of the German province of East Prussia, occupied by the Red Army
Red Army
during its East Prussian Offensive
East Prussian Offensive
followed by its evacuation in winter 1945, had already been incorporated into Soviet territory as the Kaliningrad Oblast. The Western Allies promised to support the annexation of the territory north of the Braniewo– Gołdap
line when a Final German Peace Treaty was held. The Allies had acknowledged the legitimacy of the Polish Provisional Government of National Unity, which was about to form a Soviet satellite state. Urged by Stalin, the UK and the US gave in to put the German territories east of the Oder–Neisse line
Oder–Neisse line
from the Baltic coast west of Świnoujście
up to the Czechoslovak border "under Polish administration"; allegedly confusing the Lusatian Neisse
Lusatian Neisse
and the Nysa Kłodzka
Nysa Kłodzka
(Glatzer Neisse) rivers. The proposal of a Oder-Bóbr- Kwisa
line was rejected by the Soviet delegation. The cession included the former Free City of Danzig
Free City of Danzig
and the seaport of Stettin on the mouth of the Oder
River ( Szczecin
Lagoon), vital for the Upper Silesian Industrial Region. Post-war, 'Germany as a whole' would consist solely of aggregate territories of the respective zones of occupation. As all former German territories east of the Oder-Neisse line were excluded from the Soviet Occupation Zone, they were consequently excluded from 'Germany as a whole'. Expulsions[edit]

Flight and expulsion of Germans during and after World War II

(demographic estimates)


Flight and expulsion of Germans (1944–50) Nazi–Soviet population transfers Potsdam

Wartime flight and evacuation

German evacuation East Prussia

Post-war flight and expulsion

Czechoslovakia Poland (incl. former German territories) Netherlands Romania

Later emigration

Emigration from Poland

Other themes

Wolf children

v t e

Main article: Flight and expulsion of Germans (1944–50) In the course of the proceedings, Polish communists had begun to suppress the German population west of the Bóbr
river to underline their demand for a border on the Lusatian Neisse. The Allied resolution on the "orderly transfer" of German population became the legitimation of the expulsion of Germans from the nebulous parts of Central Europe, if they had not already fled from the advancing Red Army. The expulsion of ethnic Germans by the Poles concerned, in addition to Germans within areas behind the 1937 Polish border in the West (such as in most of the old Prussian province of West Prussia), the territories placed "under Polish administration" pending a Final German Peace Treaty, i.e. southern East Prussia
East Prussia
(Masuria), Farther Pomerania, the New March
New March
region of the former Province of Brandenburg, the districts of the Grenzmark Posen-West Prussia, Lower Silesia
Lower Silesia
and those parts of Upper Silesia
Upper Silesia
that had remained with Germany after the 1921 Upper Silesia
Upper Silesia
plebiscite. It further affected the German minority living within the territory of the former Second Polish Republic
Second Polish Republic
in Greater Poland, eastern Upper Silesia, Chełmno Land
Chełmno Land
and the Polish Corridor with Danzig. The Germans in Czechoslovakia, known as Sudeten Germans
Sudeten Germans
but also Carpathian Germans, were expelled from the Sudetenland
region where they formed a majority, from linguistic enclaves in central Bohemia and Moravia, as well as from the city of Prague. Though the Potsdam
Agreement only refers to Poland, Czechoslovakia
and Hungary, expulsions also occurred in Romania, where the Transylvanian Saxons were deported and their property disseized, and in Yugoslavia. In the Soviet territories, Germans not only were expelled from northern East Prussia
East Prussia
(Oblast Kaliningrad) but also from the adjacent Lithuanian Klaipeda Region
Klaipeda Region
and other lands settled by Baltic Germans. See also[edit]

Territorial changes of Poland after World War II History of Germany (1945–90)


^ Ziemke, Earl Frederick (1990). The US Army and the Occupation of Germany 1944-1946. Center of Military History, United States
United States
Army. p. 345.  ^ Senate Committee on Foreign Relations (1950). A Decade of American Foreign Policy: Basic Documents, 1941-49 (PDF). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.  ^ United States
United States
Department of State (24 May 1949). "Foreign Relations of the United States, 1949, Council of Foreign Ministers; Germany and Austria, Volume III Document 461". Office of the Historian, Bureau of Public Affairs. Retrieved 28 June 2017.  ^ "Denazification". Alliierten Museum. Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media. Retrieved 28 June 2017. 

External links[edit]

Cornerstone of Steel Monday, January 21, 1946 The Road Back Time Magazine, Monday, September 8, 1947 Protocol of the Proceedings of the Berlin Conference Official US text of the Potsdam
protocols; annotated with editing variants and variant readings from the official Soviet