November 01, 2008

The Tehran Conference

November 1943 

Whenever I think of the Tehran Conference, I always imagine dreary November weather — darkness and rain. In fact, everything was probably quite different in Iran at the time. For all I know, a warm sun was shining. But to me, it still seems that, at that moment, everything was dark and depressing, neither a golden autumn nor a snowy December, although the meeting of the Big Three did fall on the last days of November and the first day of December. That is just how I imagine the gloom and horror of the World War that stretched across several continents. Although the turning point had already come, and the allies meeting in Tehran understood that they were on the road to victory, the world was a horrible place back then, and so much horror still lay in store for mankind.

During those November days of 1943, when Stalin, Roosevelt, and Churchill flew to neutral Tehran, the fronts were generally quiet. The brutal Soviet offensive to retake Ukraine was over. Two months of harrowing battles had allowed them (those who survived the meat grinder) to advance across the Dnieper. General Zhukov then fed thousands more needless victims into a new meat grinder so that he could free Kiev by November 6th – a gift to Stalin on the anniversary of the revolution. By the end of November, Kiev had been in Soviet hands for almost a month. The troops had already marched up the decimated Khreshchatyk, Kiev’s main thoroughfare, and the remains of more than 100,000 Jews had been found, exterminated at Babi Yar.

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