chapter  7
6 Pages

Captive Nations

World War II transitioned almost seamlessly into the Cold War in Europe and Asia, in several phases. The rapid advance of the Red Army in the closing days of the war together with the Yalta postwar occupation agreement (February 11, 1945) gave Stalin control over eastern Germany and much of central and southeast Europe.1 The reality on the ground May 7-9, 1945 was equivocal. On one hand, war-weary Soviet troops wanted to be demobilized. On the other hand, Stalin had good reasons to linger. Denazification was a priority; he worried about returnee ideological reliability, and sought hefty reparations from Hitler’s successors. Perhaps, most importantly, opportunities abounded for expanding Moscow’s reach. This might have included territorial annexations beyond those sanctioned by the Yalta agreement, but the atom bombing of Hiroshima Monday August 6, 1945 scotched any such ambitions, if Stalin harbored them. VJ Day August 15, 1945 widened horizons to encompass Manchuria (Manchukuo), North Korea, Outer Mongolia and most of the Kuril Island chain (already secretly settled at Yalta).