Today in History: August 13
A Memo From Stalin
On August 13, 1942, Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin drafted a memorandum to British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt opposing their decision not to invade Western Europe at that time.
In the memo, Stalin, whose beleaguered Russian army had been contending with a German invasion for over a year, impressed upon the Americans and the British the necessity of relieving the pressure on Russia's western front. Stalin pressed the Allies to open a second front against Hitler in Europe. Concluding that this action would be militarily unsound for them to attempt in 1942, England and the U.S. chose instead to invade North Africa.
The alliance between Great Britain, the United States, and the Soviet Union began to unravel soon after the German threat was vanquished in 1945. Indications of the depth of the tensions between the allies had surfaced in February of that year at the Black Sea resort of Yalta, where Churchill, Stalin, and Roosevelt met to plan the final defeat and occupation of Nazi Germany.
Also on the agenda was the question of how to deal with the defeated or liberated countries of Eastern Europe. Roosevelt was later criticized for failing to take greater measures at this meeting to prevent Stalin from seizing former German territory in Eastern Europe.
Learn more about World War II in American Memory:
- View photographs documenting the U.S. domestic experience of World War II. Browse the America from the Great Depression to World War II: Photographs from the FSA and OWI, ca. 1935-1945 collection, which includes photographs issued by the Office of War Information to rally support for the war effort among the American people.
- Search on World War II, Churchill, Stalin, or Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the Prints & Photographs Online Catalog to view items such as images, posters, and cartoons, as well as buildings related to war production.
- A Guide to World War II Materials links to World War II-related resources on the Library’s Web site including American Memory historical collections, online exhibitions, Journeys and Crossings presentations, and external Web sites. See, for example, Gen. George S. Patton's diary entries for March 1943.
- Scroll sideways to see the presentation 10th Mountain Division in History of the American West, 1860-1920: Photographs from the Collection of the Denver Public Library. The 10th Mountain Division trained in the Colorado Rocky Mountains in order to fight in the mountains of Northern Italy during WWII.
- Visit the Library of Congress online exhibitions Women Come to the Front: Journalists, Photographers, and Broadcasters During WWII and For European Recovery: The Fiftieth Anniversary of the Marshall Plan.
- See also Revelations from the Russian Archives, an online exhibit that includes information on the WWII wartime alliance between the Soviet Union and the U.S.
- Search the Today in History Archive on World War II to retrieve relevant features including the founding of the USO, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the Allied invasion at Normandy, and the Japanese surrender of Okinawa.