From Potsdam to the Moscow Council of Foreign Ministers, July to December 1945
The second chapter analyses the transformation of British policy over the second half of 1945. As Anglo-Soviet relations became increasingly strained, the new Labour foreign secretary, Ernest Bevin, sought to extricate the Polish issue in order to limit the points of contention with the Soviet Union. Bevin’s own belief in the importance of maintaining sound Anglo-Soviet relations—particularly when the future of American involvement in Europe seemed very likely to be short-lived—was reinforced by the expectation on the part of both the Cabinet and the party that the Labour government would pursue closer relations with the Soviet Union on the basis of shared socialist principles. This chapter analyses the effect of this convergence of pressures on Bevin’s policy, arguing that Bevin’s short-term decision not to press the Polish question with the Soviet Union inadvertently marked the beginning of British disengagement from Poland.