Sunday, April 22, 2012

May Book Club Presentation - Josh Botts

The Yalta Conference
Josh Botts, Ph.D.
May 15, 2012, 7 p.m.

On Tuesday May 15, 2012 Josh Botts, Ph.D.,  a senior member of the Historical Division of the State Department, will present a  lecture to the New Jersey World War II Book Club about the most important, and clearly the most controversial, war time military conference of World War II, the famous Yalta Conference. The lecture is open to the public.

Dr. Botts has devoted many years to studying, lecturing and writing about the Yalta Conference, and is one of the most knowledgeable historians on this subject in the State Department. He is intimately familiar with the background and all the documentation related to the conference.  In February 1945 President Franklin D. Roosevelt traveled to Yalta, a remote location in the Crimea to meet with Joseph Stalin, General Secretary of the USSR, and Prime Minister Winston Churchill. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss Europe's post-war reorganization. They met at the Livadia Palace, former summer home of the Russian Tsars.

In 1945, President Roosevelt was a sick man and died two months after the conference, on April 12, 1945.  Hundreds of books have been written about the Yalta Conference. Historians have debated for years whether Roosevelt -  because of his ill health, lack of preparation, his determination to get Russia into the war against Japan, and convince Stalin to join with the major powers in the creation of the United Nations - made too many concessions to Stalin. This group of historians claim Russian aid was not needed against Japan, already a beaten foe in the spring of 1945, and with the United States in possession of the atom bomb. Consequently, the reasoning goes, the United States should have taken a stronger stand against Stalin and not permitted him to invade Manchuria and aid the Chinese Communists.  These events, they say, led to the "loss of China", the Korean and Vietnam war and the beginning of the Cold War. Others argue that Japan was not beaten in the spring of 1945, and that an invasion of the Japanese homeland would have been necessary, an operation that military experts predicted could cost up to a million American lives. To save American lives it was necessary to have Russian support. They further claim that Roosevelt's agreements with Stalin were not "concessions", but necessary agreements made after hard bargaining in order to reach laudable goals, and that China's drift to Communism,  the Korean and Vietnam wars were due to Russian perfidy not American errors.

The Book club has been in existence for 3 years and presents monthly lectures by authors and historians interested in World War II.  Anyone interested in more information about the Book Club or its next lecture presentation can contact Dr. John J. McLaughlin, Moderator of the New Jersey World II Book Club at 973-467-3313 or

Lila Levinson Lecture

What an extraordinary evening it was this past Tuesday at the Millburn Public Library as a full house listened to Ms. Levinson's description of life as the daughter of a concentration camp liberator.  Ms. Levinson's father was an army surgeon who participated in the liberation of the camp at Nordhausen, also known as Dora-Mittelbau.  Her book, Gated Grief: Gated Grief: The Daughter of a GI Concentration Camp Liberator Discovers a Legacy of Trauma, explores her relationship with her father, whose photographs she found in his army trunk upon his death.  It was a riveting story, as evidenced by the number of questions and comments posed by the audience.  View pictures from the lecture, courtesy of Sharon Austin >>