The Allied powers who defeated Nazi Germany in World War II divided the country west of the Oder–Neisse line into four occupation zones for administrative purposes. This was formally approved at the Potsdam Conference (17 July to 2 August 1945). In autumn 1944 the three powers (still without France) had agreed upon the zonal make-up by the London Protocol. In the closing weeks of fighting in Europe, United States forces had pushed beyond the agreed boundaries for the future zones of occupation, in some places by as much as 200 miles (320 km). The line of contact between Soviet and American forces at the end of hostilities was temporary. After two months in which they had held areas that had been assigned to the Soviet zone, U.S. forces withdrew in the first days of July 1945. Some have concluded that this was a crucial move that persuaded the Soviet Union to allow American, British, and French forces into their predesignated sectors in Berlin, which occurred at roughly the same time (July 1945), although the need for intelligence gathering (see Operation Paperclip) may also have been a factor.
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