Operation Tolstoy

This was the inter-Allied conference in Moscow (9/19 October 1944).

The conference was organised at the suggestion of Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who was concerned about the progress of events in eastern Europe and thus wished to consult Premier Iosif Stalin about the post-war disposition of Greece and Poland. President Franklin D. Roosevelt declined to accompany Churchill as he was too involved in the US presidential election campaign.

Churchill was accompanied to Moscow by Anthony Eden (the British foreign secretary), General Sir Hastings Ismay (Churchill’s chief-of-staff) and Field Marshal Sir Alan Brooke (Chief of the Imperial General Staff and chairman of the Chiefs-of-Staff Committee). The USA was represented by Averell Harriman, the US ambassador to the USSR. The main Soviet protagonists were Stalin and his foreign minister, Vyacheslav Molotov.

Stalin and Churchill settled to business without delay, and an initial agreement was made about spheres of influence in eastern Europe (Romania: USSR 90% and the others 10%; Greece: UK 90% and the USSR 10%; Yugoslavia: 50% to each side; Hungary: 50% to each side; and Bulgaria: USSR 75% and the others 25%). Eden and Molotov later argued about the percentages, but these problems were minimal compared with those of Poland, which was represented by two governments-in-exile, namely that in London (Prime Minister Stanislas Mikolajzcyk and Foreign Minister Tadeusz Romer) and that in the USSR (the ‘Lublin National Committee’).

The ‘Tolstoy’ conference sought to reach agreement on the eastern frontiers of post-war Poland, and on the formation of a government representing the aspirations of both of the governments-in-exile. Much to the dismay of the Mikolajzcyk faction, Churchill forced a compliance with the previously secret agreement of the 'Eureka' conference at Tehran (that Poland to the east of the Curzon Line, in all some 48% of the pre-war country, should be allocated to the USSR) in the hope of persuading the USSR to agree to a bipartite post-war state in which both eastern and western factions would participate.

It was an abject defeat for the West on Poland, the country on whose behalf the UK had gone to war in 1939.

Other suggestions of the ‘Tolstoy’ conference were for a British and US offensive through Switzerland to outflank the southern end of the ‘Siegfried-Linie’ defences (flatly refused by Churchill), for the movement of 60 Soviet divisions and their support elements to the east for the initiation of hostilities against Japan (fraught with logistic difficulties pointed out by Stalin), recognition of Général de Division Charles de Gaulle’s Fighting French as the government of France (agreed by all parties), and the division of Germany into two parts, Württemberg and Bavaria being allocated to Austria to form a Danubian Confederacy (discussed but not finalised).