Welcome to Yalta - It's February 1945...

26.9.2022 13.42
Etis student's role playing the Yalta conference
Kuva: David Crawford

So begins a role-play with IB2 students in history as we set to recreate conditions in the final months of WWII. Auschwitz has recently been liberated. The Red Army is breaking into Germany. The Allied offensive in the West is stalling after the Ardennes counter-attack. The Big Three assemble in Yalta to attempt to settle some thorny issues – how much should Germany have to pay? Can free and fair elections be held in Poland? When will the Soviets join the war against Japan? What sort of post-war order can be constructed around the projected United Nations? We can be sure that disagreements will arise but the Grand Coalition must be kept intact at all costs.

First three delegations are created. Each delegation chooses a leader – Stalin, Churchill and Roosevelt. Other roles are allocated. The negotiating position for each delegation is outlined.  Now we are ready to begin..

Students go into role as Stalin welcomes delegates to Yalta, until recently still in Nazi hands. Discussions range over the issues at hand, with give and take required to reach a workable compromise. Sometimes it gets sticky. Stalin refuses to commit himself on “free and fair” elections in Poland. Churchill won´t budge over a French zone of occupation in Germany. Roosevelt is so desperate to get Soviet involvement in the Pacific war that he will turn a blind eye to Soviet demands for the Kurile Islands. Dinner is served, toasts are made and the hard bargaining goes on. Only after the main issues have been discussed does the press step forward to capture the Big Three sat side by side in apparent accord.

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