Would Potsdam have ended differently had Roosevelt and Churchill been there?

Would the Potsdam Conference and indeed, the Cold War have had different results if Churchill had been re-elected and Roosevelt lived? I am reading The Deal by Charles L. Mee, and he paints a bleak picture of Truman and Attlee.

Doubtful. The U.S. pretty much got what it wanted (zones for Germany rather than occupation by one country, and an agreement from stalin to declare war on Japan) and, to put it quite cynically, I think Roosevelt and/or Churchill would have rolled over on Poland just as much.

Besides, wasn’t Yalta supposed to be the root of all Cold War evil?

Mees touts Potsdam as the USA and the USSR dividing up Europe, ignoring the wishes of Great Britain, and agreements from Potsdam having fine print that allowed “the Big Two” to change their minds, or at least change the intent of agreements they signed at Potsdam.

Here’s what FDR said about Stalin at an earlier point:

Does that sound like FDR would have been tougher in negotiations with Stalin than Truman was?

Source: quoted in the wiki article on the Potsdam Conference.


FDR was a Wilsonian idealist at heart. Churchill was a racist imperialist Victorian. There is no way they could have agreed on post war settlements; they disagreed on most things as it was, but the exigencies of war buried them. Yalta just caused them to be illustrated.

Its basically a good thing that Truman (more conservative than FDR) and Attlee (saner than Churchill) got into position then.

One wonders how Churchill knew what an evil bastard Stalin was, and Roosevelt did not.

Takes one to know one.

The National Archives has Truman’s personal diary from the time Truman met Stalin for the first time. I think the entry goes something like this:

“They say Stalin is a real son of a bitch, but I think I can handle him.”

I’ve got nothing else to add, but I don’t think history gets much more frank than that.

Mees ends the book with a sailor on the ship going back to the USA asking Truman what he thinks of Stalin.

A sailor has a conversation with the President?

Truman responds, “I think he’s a son of a bitch. But he probably thinks the same of me.”