Potsdam Conference, meeting of the heads of government of the United States, the USSR, and the United Kingdom, following the unconditional surrender of Germany in World War II. It was held in Potsdam, near Berlin, from July 17 to August 2, 1945. The purpose of the conference was the implementation of decisions reached previously at the Yalta Conference. The U. S. was represented by President Harry S. Truman and the USSR by Premier Joseph Stalin.
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The United Kingdom was represented at first by Prime Minister Winston Churchill and later by the new prime minister, Clement Richard Attlee. A communiqu issued at the close of the conference, and known as the Potsdam Agreement, contained the decisions reached by the participants. The principal decisions related to Germany. Administration of the country, until the establishment of a permanent new government, was transferred to the military commanders of the U. S. he USSR, the United Kingdom, and France, in their zones of occupation, and a four-power Allied Control Council was created to resolve questions pertaining to Germany as a whole.
Pending definitive settlement in a peace treaty, all lands east of the Odra (Oder) and Neisse rivers were placed under Polish and Soviet jurisdiction. It was agreed that the four occupying powers of Germany should take reparations from their respective zones of occupation; but, because the USSR had suffered greater loss than any of the other major powers, provision was made for additional compensation to the USSR.
Rigid measures of control were decided on in the Potsdam Conference to prevent Germany from ever again becoming a threat to world peace. The conferees determined to disarm the country and prevent remilitarization; to outlaw the National Socialist (Nazi) Party that had been led by Hitler; to decentralize the economy and reorganize it with emphasis on agriculture; and to encourage democratic practices.
On July 26, the U. S. British, and Chinese governments issued an ultimatum, called the Potsdam Declaration, to the Japanese government, confronting Japan with a choice between unconditional surrender and total annihilation; the USSR was not then at war with Japan and was not a party to the ultimatum. The representatives at the conference also set up a Council of Foreign Ministers to draft peace treaties and confirmed their intention to try Axis war criminals.