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20 But Stalin was now emboldened and he also demanded that the Allies abandon the Polish government-in-exile and recognise his puppet ‘Lublin’ government. 22 Stalin also demanded the return of any Soviet citizens who found themselves in the west at the end of the war, either because they were POWs or because they had escaped westwards from the communists. Britain caved in easily on this point, perhaps because they couldn’t face having to resettle the estimated 2 million Soviet citizens who might refuse to go back to their homeland.

Churchill passed a piece of paper to Stalin on which he had scribbled that ‘Russia’ could dominate 90 per cent of Romania, while Britain and the US would have a 90 per cent stake in Greece. Yugoslavia and Hungary would be split 50/50 and Bulgaria 75/25, but there was no attempt to arbitrarily split influence in the real problem areas of Poland, Austria or Italy. What seems a cynical document was, in fact, Churchill’s reaction to sudden news. He had heard, via ULTRA, that the Germans were about to evacuate Athens and there was an immediate risk that the vacuum would be filled by communist partisans.

50 Churchill despaired at Western impotence, declaring to Roosevelt that ‘at present all entry into Poland is barred to our representatives. ’51 As lists of Western-sponsored representatives for the provisional Polish government were submitted to Stalin, he rejected them and new names had to be submitted. The weeks dragged on. At last it became clear to Churchill what Stalin was up to. 53 There were other Poles whom Stalin wished to take out of circulation. To this end Colonel Pimenov of Marshal Zhukov’s 1st Byelorussian Front had already approached the Polish underground to discuss ‘security problems in the rear of the Red Army’.

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