Separated by vast gulfs of political, cultural, and philosophical divergence, the three chief Allied nations of World War II - the United States, the Soviet Union, and Great Britain - attempted to formulate a joint policy through a series of three conferences during and immediately after the conflict. The first meeting took place in Tehran in late 1943, while the fate of World War II still hung in the balance. The fate of World War II hung in the balance in 1943. On the Eastern Front, the opposed juggernauts of the Wehrmacht, army of Adolf Hitler's Third Reich, and the Red Army, the military force of Josef Stalin's Soviet Union, grappled in a nearly apocalyptic battle. Black smoke rose into the steppe air from burning vehicles strewing the landscape, while millions of men maneuvered, fought, and died in a series of brutal encounters. Meanwhile, the Western Allies succeeded in ousting the Germans from North Africa, then took Sicily with Operation Husky and landed in Italy. There, the tough, hardened warriors of the German military turned the Italian peninsula into a vast fortress; these seasoned fighters made the determined Anglo-American forces pay a bitter price for each mountain ridge, river crossing, and stony valley swept by cunningly-placed gun emplacements. Adolf Hitler's Third Reich had scant time remaining when the "Big Three" met at the Yalta Conference in February 1945 to discuss the future of Germany, Europe, and the postwar world as a whole.
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