Daughters of Yalta: a story of love and war

The Daughters of Yalta: The Churchills, Roosevelts, and Harrimans: A Story of Love and War

Daughters of Yalta: a story of love and war

Katherine Grace Katz on the Women’s Factor of the Yalta Conference

Many books and studies have been written about the Yalta Conference, which took place in February 1945 and determined the post-war future of Europe and the world. New book by Catherine Grace Katz looks at the Big Three Summit (Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin) from a slightly unexpected angle.

Fragment of the book cover.

The book is called The Daughters of Yalta: The Churchill, Roosevelt and Harriman Families. A Story of Love and War ”(The Daughters of Yalta: The Churchills, Roosevelts, and Harrimans. A Story of Love and War) and examines the relationship between the daughters of Roosevelt, Churchill and Averell Harriman, whom their fathers took with them to Yalta. The book was published last fall by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

The maelstrom of history

Historians have long described in detail all the dramatic collisions of negotiations between the leaders of the anti-Hitler coalition, when the polar ideological attitudes and pragmatic goals of Stalin, on the one hand, and his Western allies Roosevelt and Churchill, on the other, fully manifested themselves. “The Daughters of Yalta” is an absolutely amazing story of fathers and their daughters who fell with them into the main whirlpool of world history, ”said Alexander Cooley, director of the Harriman Institute, Professor of Barnard College, in his opening remarks, preceding the online presentation of the book. … – Their uneasy relationship developed against the background of global changes in the world. In Katherine (Katz )’s book, the famous facts of 20th century history are given a new and unexpected human dimension thanks to three outstanding, intelligent, strong-willed and charming young women. “.

Churchill’s daughter Sarah (Sarah Churchill), an actress who became an officer of the British military aviation, was in a very trusting relationship with her father, often acting as an adviser on important issues.

As for the President of the United States, Roosevelt, this time he preferred to take on a trip to the conference not his wife Eleanor or one of his sons, but his only daughter Anna (Anna Roosevelt).

Kathleen Harriman, daughter of the then American ambassador to the Soviet Union, Averell Harriman, was a war correspondent and champion skier..

As Professor Cooley emphasized, the story of Kathleen Harriman is of particular interest to him and his colleagues, since the institute where they work bears the name of her father, the outstanding American diplomat and statesman Averell Harriman. In 1982, the Russian Institute at Columbia University was renamed the Harriman Institute.

Katherine Grace Katz. Photo from the monitor.

Catherine Grace Katz is a writer and historian based in Chicago. She graduated from Harvard University with a BA in History. She defended her dissertation on modern European history at the Christ College of the University of Cambridge. She worked in finance in New York. He is currently attending doctoral studies at Harvard Law School. “Daughters of Yalta” – her first book.

“It so happened that I was ordered an article about Sarah Churchill,” said Catherine Katz. – One thing caught the other, and I followed the chain of events that mentioned, sometimes in passing, sometimes in more detail, about the women’s factor of the conference. It so happened that two Western leaders and the American ambassador to the USSR took their adult daughters with them to the most important meeting for the fate of the world. And they did not let them down. In fact, they became very useful assistants for their fathers in a wide range of matters – from confidential diplomatic consultations “outside the protocol” to household chores, for example, to rid the Livadia Palace, where the American delegation lived, from bedbugs. “.

As Katz emphasized, the daughters of the leaders gave a full account of the importance of the conference, which discussed, among other issues, the future partition of Germany, the status of the countries of Europe freed from Nazism, the sovereignty of Poland, the participation of the USSR in the war with Japan and the creation of the UN.

Fire in the hearth

Catherine Katz displays a famous photograph of Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin sitting in the Italian courtyard of the Livadia Palace. In a variation of this photo, Sarah Churchill and Kathleen Harriman can be seen in the background. Another picture taken on the cover of the book captured the two of them with Anna Roosevelt..

Daughters of Yalta: a story of love and war

; Big three and; daughters of Yalta

Anna, the oldest of them, was 38 years old, she was already the mother of three children. As Katz notes, Anna turned out to be less informed about current politics than the other daughters. She lived with her husband and children in Seattle, where her husband worked as an editor for a local newspaper. She asked her father, who was paralyzed and moved in a wheelchair, to take her with him on trips abroad, but the president preferred to take one of his sons with him. But during World War II, Anna turned out to be, along with her wife Eleanor, the closest family member to the president. She is one of the few who knew about his new serious health problems, and insisted that she would accompany him to Yalta (Roosevelt died in April 1945 of a cerebral hemorrhage. – OS).

“President Roosevelt believed that the main purpose of women in his family was to keep the hearth on fire,” Katz said. – It is interesting that Churchill asked Roosevelt whether he was taking his daughter Anna with him to Yalta, and if the American president confirms this intention, the British prime minister intends to take his daughter Sarah with him. And so it happened “.

The author of the book believes that 30-year-old Sarah was ideally suited to the role of assistant, secretary and confidant of the British Prime Minister. She understood her father perfectly. As an actress, she was able to conduct difficult conversations with a variety of people. Well versed in political intricacies and military strategy as an officer in the Royal Air Force (RAF).

“Having studied the evidence of Churchill’s very trusting and warm relationship with his wife Clementine and his three daughters, I can call him a feminist,” said the author of the book. – It turned out to be important for him to have a person next to him in Yalta who could keep a chronicle of events for future memoirs. It is no coincidence that in November-December 1943 he took Sarah with him to the Tehran conference “.

Daughters of Yalta: a story of love and war
Daughters of Yalta: a story of love and war

The youngest of the “daughters of Yalta” is 27-year-old Kathleen Harriman, who, over time, also became an irreplaceable companion of her father, a prominent diplomat. In particular, he took her with him on a trip to London to negotiate a Lend-Lease. Later, when Averell Harriman was appointed US ambassador to the Soviet Union, she joined her father in Moscow, where she learned Russian and studied the style and psychology of the Soviet leadership well..

The Churchill and Harriman families became very good friends. They spent weekends together at Churchill’s country estate. Kathleen was friendly with Pamela, the wife of Randolph, son of Churchill. They corresponded animatedly, and quotes from their letters are given in the book. Averell Harriman was carried away by the spectacular Pamela, and this romance proceeded in front of Kathleen. Pamela and Randolph later divorced, and Harriman married Pamela.

Brooch from Svetlana

Katherine Katz was asked why, unlike the other two leaders, Stalin did not take his 19-year-old daughter Svetlana with him from Yalta.?

“Stalin did not allow his wayward daughter to communicate with foreigners; in general, their relations at that time deteriorated markedly,” Katz said. – But when earlier, during one of Churchill’s visits to Moscow, Stalin invited the British leader to have dinner in an informal setting at his Kremlin apartment, he introduced Svetlana to the distinguished guest, apparently, he wanted to show that the Bolsheviks also live a family life. As a gift to Sarah, Svetlana sent her a brooch, and she proudly wore it over her uniform during the Yalta conference. “.

“I have been collecting materials for the book for a year and a half,” said Katherine Katz. – It’s so incredibly interesting to delve into archival materials. Actually, I do not call it work, it is pleasure. And I caught myself on the fact that I sympathize with the “daughters of Yalta”, root for them “.

“Katherine Grace Katz paints a detailed, detailed picture,” says the New York Times Book Review. “She artfully distributes diaries, letters, oral stories and memoirs to substantiate her thesis that wartime pressure has changed natural family relationships. It changed so seriously that the relationship of the coalition leaders with their daughters began to resemble more the relationship of business partners than parents and children. “.

It is possible that we will see the visual embodiment of the “daughters of Yalta” on the movie screen. As Katherine Katz said at the end of the presentation, Amy Pascal, a major producer who for many years directed the production of films at Sony Corporation, showed a practical interest in the film adaptation of the book..

“Intimate and voluminous, Katherine Grace Katz’s book tells a compelling story about a little-known story set against a backdrop of global events,” Amy Pascal wrote in a review on Amazon. “A very meticulous study, but at the same time excitingly emotional.”.

  • Oleg Sulkin

    Journalist, film critic, correspondent for the Russian Voice of America Service in New York.

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