Facing imminent national U.S. elections, President Franklin D. Roosevelt could not attend. (Churchill had just seen him in Quebec but informed him about this proposal only two days after sending his note to Stalin.) Roosevelt saw the meeting as a preliminary for the forthcoming summit at Yalta and asked that U.S. Ambassador Averell Harriman observe, although in the end, Harriman was not present for some crucial two-man talks.
Stalin agreed to the meeting, and Churchill, Foreign Minister Anthony Eden, and Chief of the Imperial General Staff General Alan Brooke flew to Moscow, where they stayed from 9 to 18 October 1944. British Ambassador Clark Kerr also joined the delegation.
Churchill's primary concern was to gain freedom of action in the difficult Greek political situation, which teetered on civil war. This he proceeded to get. During dinner conversation with Stalin, he produced a half sheet of paper (terming it a "naughty document") and wrote out proposed spheres of postwar influence: Romania, 90 percent Soviet; Greece, 90 percent British; Yugoslavia and Hungary, both to be evenly divided between the USSR and the Western Allies; and Bulgaria, 75 percent Soviet. Stalin checked and approved the page and gave it back to Churchill. Though the numbers may seem somewhat arbitrary at first glance (with the exception of those for Greece, where the issue was very much in doubt), they merely reflected the reality of a surging Red Army and understated it in regard to both Yugoslavia and Hungary. Although Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov and Eden dickered about some of the percentages the next day, nothing was changed. All parties present concurred that they were guidelines for discussion and nothing more.
Churchill and Stalin agreed to put off decisions about Poland until Roosevelt could be present. Still, there was considerable argument over the "London" versus "Lublin" Poles and how they might share power after the war. The head of the London Poles, Stanislaw Mikolajczyk, joined the conference briefly but disagreed with Lublin's representatives and with most of what was proposed as to border adjustments and governance.
Extensive discussions of military plans also took place, and regular reports were sent to Roosevelt in Washington by Churchill and Harriman and to the War Cabinet in London by Churchill. The meeting laid some of the groundwork for the subsequent Yalta Conference, but it also cleared the way for firm British action in Athens in December 1944, designed to put down Greek Communist guerrillas. The Soviets, true to the tolstoy discussions, did not intervene. Christopher H. Sterling
Barker, Elisabeth. Churchill and Eden at War. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1978, pp. 272–285.; Carlton, David. Churchill and the Soviet Union. Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press, 2000.; Feis, Herbert. Churchill, Roosevelt, Stalin: The War They Waged and the Peace They Sought—A Diplomatic History of World War II. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1957.; Gilbert, Martin. Winston S. Churchill. Vol. 7, Road to Victory, 1941–1945. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1986, pp. 989–1010.
Christopher H. Sterling