Percentages agreement

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Churchill's copy of his secret agreement with Stalin[1]

The Percentages agreement was an agreement between Soviet premier Joseph Stalin and British prime minister Winston Churchill during the Fourth Moscow Conference on October 1944, about how to divide various European countries into spheres of influence. The agreement was made public by Churchill. The US ambassador, who was supposed to represent Roosevelt in these meetings, was excluded from this particular discussion.[2][3]

The agreement[edit]

Winston Churchill (not Stalin) proposed the agreement, under which the UK and USSR agreed to divide Europe into spheres of influence, with one country having "predominance" in one sphere, and the other country would have "predominance" in another sphere.[3] According to Churchill's account of the incident, Churchill suggested that the Soviet Union should have 90 percent influence in Romania and 75 percent in Bulgaria; the United Kingdom should have 90 percent in Greece; and they should have 50 percent each in Hungary and Yugoslavia. Churchill wrote it on a piece of paper which he pushed across to Stalin, who ticked it off and passed it back.[4][2][5][6][7][8] The result of these discussions was that the percentages of Soviet influence in Bulgaria and, more significantly, Hungary were amended to 80 percent.

Churchill called it a "naughty document".[6]

A draft document of the agreement, which was yet to be made in 1944, appeared under strange circumstances when it was supposedly intercepted in 1943 and fell into the hands of Spanish dictator Francisco Franco's secret service. This was mentioned by General Jordana, in a famous speech he gave in April 1943 in Barcelona.[9]

Historian Gabriel Kolko has argued:

There is little significance to the memorable and dramatic passage in Churchill's autobiography recalling how he and Stalin divided Eastern Europe ... Stalin's "tick," translated into real words, indicated nothing whatsoever. The very next day Churchill sent Stalin a draft of the discussion, and the Russian carefully struck out phrases implying the creation of spheres of influence, a fact Churchill excluded from his memoirs. Eden assiduously avoided the term, and considered the understanding merely as a practical agreement on how problems would be worked out in each country, and the very next day he and Molotov modified the percentages in a manner which Eden assumed was general rather than precise.[10]

However Henry Butterfield Ryan notes that "Eden and Molotov haggled over these quantities as though they were bargaining over a rug in a bazaar, with Molotov trying, eventually successfully, to trim Britain’s figures."[2]

Geoffrey Roberts says similarly of the agreement: "It's a good story but, like so many of Churchill's tales, the lily was somewhat gilded."[11]

Stalin did keep to his promise about Greece, but did not keep his promise for Romania, Bulgaria, and Hungary, which became one-party communist states with no British influence. Yugoslavia became a non-aligned communist state with very limited Soviet or British influence. Britain supported the Greek government forces in the civil war but the Soviet Union did not assist the communist guerrillas.[12]

Countries Soviet Union Percentages UK/USA Percentages
 Bulgaria 75% 25%
 Greece 10% 90%
 Hungary 50% 50%
 Romania 90% 10%
 Yugoslavia 50% 50%

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The document is contained in Britain's Public Record Office, PREM 3/66/7 (169).
  2. ^ a b c Ryan, Henry Butterfield. The Vision of Anglo-America: The US-UK Alliance and the Emerging Cold War, 1943–1946. p. 137. 
  3. ^ a b Holmes, Leslie (2009). Communism: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press Inc. p. 25. ISBN 978-0-19-955154-5. 
  4. ^ Resis, Albert (1978). "The Churchill-Stalin Secret ‘Percentages’ Agreement on the Balkans, Moscow, October 1944". American Historical Review 83 (2): 368–387. JSTOR 1862322. 
  5. ^ Roberts, Geoffrey. Stalin's Wars: From World War to Cold War, 1939–1953. pp. 217–218. 
  6. ^ a b Rasor, Eugene L. Winston S. Churchill, 1874–1965: A Comprehensive Historiography and Annotated Bibliography. p. 269. 
  7. ^ Rose, Norman. Churchill: The Unruly Giant. p. 383. 
  8. ^ Cassimatis, Louis P. American Influence in Greece, 1917–1929. p. 240. 
  9. ^ This letter—that Stalin no doubt intentionally put into circulation—fell into the hands of general Franco and was used by his Foreign Minister, general Jordana, in the famous speech he gave in April 1943 in Barcelona. It was a desperate cry against Roosevelt's concessions to Bolshevism... in, Nicolas Baciu: L'Europe de l'Est trahie et vendue: les erreurs tragiques de Churchill et Roosevelt: les documents secrets accusent, Pensée universelle, 1984, p. 49].
  10. ^ Kolko 1990, p. 145.
    See also Tsakaloyannis 1986.
  11. ^ Roberts 2006, p. 218.
  12. ^ Bell, P. M. H. (2001). The World Since 1945: An International History. ISBN 0-340-66235-2. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]