POTSDAM SHOCK - CHURCHILL VOTED OUT (Illustration) Russian Studies Awesome Radio - Narrated Stories Biographies Cold War Disasters Famous Historical Events Famous People Social Studies World History World War II

Daniel Bishop created this image of Churchill, following his defeat in the UK’s 1945 elections. Churchill received the shocking news when he was meeting in Potsdam with other Allied leaders. Entitled “Dropping the Pilot,” Bishop based his illustration on another famous cartoon, by Sir John Tenniel, of Kaiser Wilhelm II dismissing German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck. Online via the Library of Congress.


Midway through the seventeen-day meeting, nearly everyone was stunned when Winston Churchill - Britain’s war leader who assumed the reins of power on May 10, 1940 - was voted out of office.

Clement Atlee, the new prime minister, took over negotiations on behalf of the United Kingdom while Churchill went into seclusion for months. One can readily understand if the chemistry between the Allied leaders had changed. One can also understand Churchill's reaction to his loss.

During the mid-1930s, as Hitler greatly increased his power, Winston was nearly alone in his worries about the ultimate intentions of the Nazi leader.  As Britain pursued a policy of appeasement with Hitler, Churchill gave speeches and wrote articles warning about such an approach

Thinking it folly to even consider Hitler and his regime as the ascendant power in Europe, Churchill was alarmed by Germany's rearmament.  "The Gathering Storm," as Churchill dubbed events leading to war, ultimately resulted in Winston regaining a position he'd held during World War I - First Lord of the Admiralty.  Eight months later, he replaced Neville Chamberlain as prime minister. 

Believing it was his destiny to lead Britain during a time of great trouble, Churchill led his country to victory.  But those who were inspired by his leadership, during the conflict, wanted a different approach, now that war in Europe was over.   At 70 years of age, Churchill had to reassess what came next for him.

Harry Truman also had important decisions to make.  Attending his first war conference as president of the United States, Truman had an issue weighing heavily on his mind. The day before Potsdam discussions began, the American government had successfully tested a new weapon: the atomic bomb.

Joseph Stalin, the one leader who spoke for his country at every Allied conference, also harbored a secret. He never planned to remove his troops from the central-and-eastern-European countries they had liberated.  In some of those lands, like Bulgaria, forced labor camps already existed.

Historians trace seeds of the Cold War to the Yalta and Potsdam Conferences. To learn why, let’s step back in time to examine decisions made during the summer of 1945.

We’ll begin our journey in Berlin, the bombed-out German capital soon to become a city divided unto itself.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5197stories and lessons created

Original Release: Nov 01, 2007

Updated Last Revision: May 08, 2020

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"POTSDAM SHOCK - CHURCHILL VOTED OUT" AwesomeStories.com. Nov 01, 2007. May 25, 2020.
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