The last meeting of the “Big Three” occurred at Potsdam in July 1945, where the tension that would erupt into the cold war was evident. Despite the end of the war in Europe and the revelation of the existence of the atomic bomb to the Allies, neither President Harry Truman, Roosevelt’s successor, nor Clement Attlee, who mid-way through the conference replaced Churchill, could come to an agreement with Stalin on any but minor issues.
The most significant agreement was the issuance of the Potsdam Declaration to Japan, demanding an immediate and unconditional surrender and threatening Japan with destruction if they did not comply. With the Axis forces defeated, the wartime alliance soon devolved into suspicion and bitterness on both sides.
The Big Three—Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill (replaced on July 26 by Prime Minister Clement Attlee), and U.S. President Harry Truman—met in Potsdam, Germany, from July 17 to August 2, 1945, to negotiate terms for the end of World War II. After the Yalta Conference of February 1945, Stalin, Churchill, and U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt had agreed to meet following the surrender of Germany to determine the postwar borders in Europe. Germany surrendered on May 8, 1945, and the Allied leaders agreed to meet over the summer at Potsdam to continue the discussions that had begun at Yalta. Although the Allies remained committed to fighting a joint war in the Pacific, the lack of a common enemy in Europe led to difficulties reaching consensus concerning postwar reconstruction on the European continent.