The Grand Alliance - Origins and Tensions
Early tension between East and West
- The USA entered World War Two against Germany and Japan in 1941, creating a Grand Alliance of the USA, Britain and the USSR. This uneasy alliance would ultimately break down into the Cold War.
- The alliance of the USA and the USSR brought together two sides that were divided by their political ideologies. The political and economic systems of the USA and Britain were based on capitalism, while since its foundation after the 1917 Russian Revolution the USSR had based its economy on communism.
- However, the actions of Nazi Germany and its ally, Japan, in World War Two had driven these two political enemies together Britain had been at war with Germany since Germany’s invasion of Poland in 1939.
- Despite the fact that Stalin had carved up and invaded Poland in 1939 alongside Hitler, the USSR allied itself with Britain in 1941 when Germany began to invade its territories.
- In December 1941, Germany’s ally, Japan, launched a surprise attack on the US naval base at Pearl Harbor on the island of Oahu, Hawaii. This action brought the USA into World War Two on the same side as Britain and the USSR.
- Given that the war had been on-going since 1939 it’s interesting that the leaders, known as the Big Three, didn’t actually meet until the Conference in Tehran, Persia in November 1943.
- To discuss the group’s planned invasion of Nazi occupied France. Stalin, the leader of the USSR, was keen to see this happen, as at this point the Soviet Red Army was the only army fighting the Nazis on land.
- the USA and Britain would invade France by May 1944
- the USSR would join the USA and Britain in the war against Japan, once Nazi Germany was defeated
Wartime alliance tensions - The alliance of the USA and the USSR during World War 2 was threatened by a number of issues:
- the USA delayed opening a second front in France until 1944 - sparking fears the Soviets might seek a separate peace deal with Germany
- the USSR refused to support the Polish army during the Warsaw Uprising of August 1944
- British and US officials excluded the Soviets from secret talks with the Germans to secure the surrender of their troops in Italy