Views on Yalta are all relative

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MAASTRICHT: The grandsons of World War II leaders Joseph Stalin, Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill met yesterday for a debate, 60 years after their grandfathers' wartime meeting at the Yalta Conference.
The three grandsons differed sharply about the war and what happened at Yalta, the Ukrainian resort town where the leaders met in February 1945.

Yalta divided Europe into what quickly became postwar spheres of influence for Western powers and the communist bloc.

"My grandfather had the highest regard for your grandfather as a wartime leader," British author and politician Winston S. Churchill told Yevgeny Dzhugashvili, Stalin's grandson, a retired colonel and military historian.

The meeting occurred at Maastricht in The Netherlands at a conference looking at Europe's progress in the 60 years since World War II.

But Churchill "was concerned what would be the fate of Europe with the Red Army on its doorstep and at its throat", his grandson said.

Mr Dzhugashvili said the three grandfathers were friendly personally, but in fact Stalin viewed the US and Britain as implacable enemies.

"They didn't have allies, only colonial interests," he said. "Danger united them. As soon as the war was over, Churchill wanted to start a war against the Soviet Union."

Curtis Roosevelt, the grandson of Franklin D. Roosevelt, said the decisions made at Yalta were mostly about realpolitik after the late entry of the US into the war.

"Nobody got what they wanted from Yalta except the Russians, who were in a position to get it," said Mr Roosevelt, a former UN diplomat.

"FDR had failed in his effort to get America behind the war effort until Pearl Harbour, although he was convinced Hitler had to be confronted. What he thought was: 'If Britain goes down, we're next,"' he said.

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