Item #006608 An original Second World War U.S. Army Signal Corps photograph featuring British Prime Minister Winston S. Churchill waving his hat to U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, each man aboard their respective warships on 2 February 1945, as they rendezvous off the coast of Malta en route to the Yalta Conference
An original Second World War U.S. Army Signal Corps photograph featuring British Prime Minister Winston S. Churchill waving his hat to U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, each man aboard their respective warships on 2 February 1945, as they rendezvous off the coast of Malta en route to the Yalta Conference

An original Second World War U.S. Army Signal Corps photograph featuring British Prime Minister Winston S. Churchill waving his hat to U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, each man aboard their respective warships on 2 February 1945, as they rendezvous off the coast of Malta en route to the Yalta Conference

Malta: U.S. Army Signal Corps, released for publication by the U.S. War Department Bureau of Public Relations, 2 February 1945. Photograph. This is an original Second World War U.S. Army Signal Corps photograph featuring British Prime Minister Winston S. Churchill waving his hat to U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, each man aboard their respective warships on 2 February 1945, as they rendezvous off the coast of Malta en route to the Yalta Conference.

The image is poignant; few relationships between world leaders proved as genuinely warm and truly world-defining as the relationship between Roosevelt and Churchill. Yalta proved the last time they saw one another before Roosevelt’s death on 12 April 1945.

The gelatin silver print on photo paper measures 8.125 x 10 inches (20.64 x 25.4 cm). Condition is very good, the image clear, the paper clean, with only superficial scratches visible under raking light and trivial wear confined to the white perimeter margin. The image's lower left features the circular emblem of “SIGNAL CORPS U.S. Army” embedded in the negative, as well as an image identification number (“199723”) on the lower right. The verso features a prominent black ink stamp reading “SIGNAL CORPS PHOTO | PLEASE CREDIT | RELEASED FOR PUBLICATION | BY BUREAU OF PUBLIC RELATIONS | WAR DEPARTMENT”. Blue caption print at the upper left of the verso sets the location as “Crimean Conference” and reads “Malta Meeting of the Combined Chiefs of Staff. Prime Minister Winston Churchill of England on a British warship, (in foreground) greets President Franklin D. Roosevelt, standing on the bridge of a U.S. Warship as they pass each other. 2 February 1945.” Hand-written notation reads “YALTA (on the way: the Yalta Conf. was from 4/11 Feb., ’45).”

“At about 9:30 on the morning of February 2 President Roosevelt arrived at Malta in the cruiser Quincy. As the ship steamed slowly past HMS Orion, the two leaders waved to each other across the water.” Hours later, Churchill went aboard the Quincy “to greet Roosevelt, and to stay for luncheon.” As referenced in the verso caption on this photograph, “As Churchill and Roosevelt began their luncheon, the Combined Chiefs of Staff met to co-ordinate their strategic plans, for presentation to Churchill and Roosevelt that evening.” (Gilbert, Vol. VII, p.1167) In the days following this warm greeting and consultation would come the difficulties, compromises, and lingering disappointments of Yalta.

The Yalta Conference, also known as The Crimea Conference, was held at the Livadia Palace near Yalta in the Crimea from 4-11 February 1945. This conference proved a geopolitically defining event of the 20th Century, fundamentally shaping the postwar world and drawing the battle lines of the long Cold War to come. A conventional perspective is that Roosevelt - terminally ill and trusting - viewed massive concessions to Stalin as a hopeful path to lasting peace. By contrast, Churchill deeply distrusted Stalin's character and motivations, but had little power to resist the tide of Roosevelt's rash concessions and groundless optimism. Perhaps better informing this simplified characterization, “The central, ever-present fact lying behind everything was that Stalin had an army of more than six million men in eastern Europe, including by then in every region of Poland. The Western Allies thought they needed Russia to declare war against Japan once the German war was over, as they could not be certain that the atomic bomb – which for obvious reasons was not mentioned – actually worked.”

Another constraining imperative was that “Churchill and Roosevelt wanted the Russians to engage meaningfully in the United Nations”. In sum, “There was idealism at Yalta as well as Realpolitik, but there was also lethal decision-making” and, for better and worse, the “Big Three... remade the world in eight days”. There continue to be many ways to regard the competing imperatives and unsavory compromises of Yalta.

The next time Churchill visited his friend and wartime comrade was 12 March 1946 when he stood at FDR's grave at Hyde Park, New York. Item #006608

Price: $550.00

See all items in Winston Churchill