Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum

Pages from President Truman's diary, July 17, 18, and 25, 1945

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July 17, '45

Just spent a couple of hours with Stalin. Joe Denis called on Maiski and made the date last night for noon today. Promptly a few minutes before twelve I looked up from the desk and there stood Stalin in the doorway. I got to my feet and advanced to meet him. He put out his hand and smiled. I did the same, we shook, I greeted Molotov and the interpreter and we sat down. After the usual polite remarks we got down to business. I told Stalin that I am no diplomat but usually said yes or no to questions after hearing all the argument. It pleased him. I asked him if he had the agenda for the meeting. He said he had some more questions to present. I told him to fire away. He did and it is dynamite--but I have some dynamite too which I'm not exploding now. He wants to fire Fianco, to which I wouldn't object and divide up the Italian colonies and other mandates, some no doubt that the British have Then he got on the Chinese situation told us what agreements had been reached and what was in abeyance. Most of the big points are settled. He'll be in the Jap War on August 15th. Fini Japs when that comes about. We had lunch, talked socially, put on a real sham drinking toasts to everyone, then had pictures made in the back yard. I can deal with Stalin. He is honest--but smart as hell.

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July 18 [19] 45

Ate breakfast with nephew Harry, a sergeant in the Field Artillery. He is a good soldier and a nice boy. They took him off Queen Elizabeth at Glasco and flew him here. Sending him home Friday. Went to lunch with P.M., at 1:30 walked around to British Hqrs. Met at the gate by Mr. Churchill. Guard of honor drawn up. Fine body of men Scottish Guards. Band played Star Spangled Banner. Inspected Guard and went in for lunch. P.M. and I ate alone. Discussed Manhattan (it is a success). Decided to tell Stalin about it. Stalin had told P.M. of telegram from Jap Emperor asking for peace. Stalin also read his answer to me. It was satisfactory. Believe Japs will fold up before Russia comes in.

I am sure they will when Manhattan appears over their homeland. I shall inform Stalin about it at an opportune time. Stalin's luncheon was a most satisfactory meeting. I invited him to come to the U.S. Told him I'd send the Battleship Missouri for him if he'd come. He said he wanted to cooperate with U.S. in peace as we had cooperated in war but it would be harder. Said he was grossly misunderstood in U.S. and I was misunderstood in Russia. I told him that we each could help to remedy that situation in our home countries and that I intended to try with all I had to do my part at home. He gave me a most cordial smile and said he would do as much in Russia.

We then went to the conference and it was

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my job to present the Ministers proposed agenda. There were three proposals and I banged them through in short order, much to the surprise of Mr. Churchill. Stalin was very much pleased. Churchill was too after he had recovered. I’m not going to stay around this terrible place all Sunday just to listen to speeches. I’ll go home to the Senate for that.

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July 20, '45

Jim Blair now Lt. Col. came in for breakfast. Harry left for Paris & N.Y. Sure hated to see him go. Discussed German situation with Jim. He had been in command of clean up detail which prepared the area for American occupation especially for our conference delegation. Said it was the filthiest place imaginable. No sanitary arrangement whatever. Toilets all full and all stopped up. Basements used as outdoor toilets. Said the sewer system evidently hadn't worked for months. Same all over town. Said Germans are sore and sullen. That we would not treat them rough enough. Russians treated 'em too rough and too kindly. Anyway its a hell of a mess any way it's taken.

Saw Gen. Omar Bradley about taking over the Vets. bureau. Will take over Aug. 15th. Talked to Gen. Eisenhower about government of Germany along same lines as I'd talked to Gen. Clay. Got a concrete program to present.

Raised a flag over our area in Berlin. It is the flag raised in Rome, North Africa and Paris. Flag was on the White House when Pearl Harbor happened. Well be raised over Tokyo.

Uncle Joe looked drawn and tired today and the P.M. seemed lost. I told 'em U.S. had ceased to give away it's assets without returns.

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July 25 1945

We met at 11 A.M. today. That is Stalin, Churchill, and the U.S. President. But I had a most important session with Lord Mountbatten and General Marshall before that. We have discovered the most terrible bomb in the history of the world. It may be the fire distruction [destruction] prophesied in the Euphrates Valley Era, after Noah and his fabulous Ark. Anyway we think we have found the way to cause a disintegration of the atom. An experiment in the New Mexican desert was startling--to put it mildly. Thirteen pounds of the explosive caused the complete disintegration of a steel tower 60 feet high, created a crater 6 feet deep and 1200 feet in diameter, knocked over a steel tower 1/2 mile away and knocked men down 10,000 yards away. The explosion was visible for more than 200 miles and audible for 40 miles and more.

This weapon is to be used against Japan between now and August 10th. I have told the Sec. of War, Mr. Stimson to use it so that military objectives and soldiers and sailors are the target and not women and children. Even if the Japs are savages, ruthless, merciless and fanatic, we as the leader of the world for the common welfare cannot drop this terrible bomb on the old Capitol or the new.

He and I are in accord. The target will be a purely military one and we will issue a warning statement asking the Japs to surrender and save lives. I'm sure they will not do that, but we will have given them the chance. It is certainly a good thing for the world that Hitler's crowd or Stalin's did not discover this atomic bomb. It seems to be the most terrible thing ever discovered, but it can be made the most useful.

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At 10:15 I had Gen. Marshall come in and discuss with me the tactical and political situation. He is a level headed man--so is Monuntbalten.

At the conference Poland and the Bolshiriki land grant came up. Russia liked herself to a slice of Poland and gave Poland a nice slice of Germany taking also a good slice of East Prussia for herself. Poland has moved in up to the Oder and the west Nilsse, taking Stettin and Silesia as a fact accomplished. My position is that according to commitments made at Yalta by my predecessor. Germany was to be divided into four occupation zones, one each for Britain, Russia and France and the U.S. If Russia chooses to allow Poland to occupy a part of her zone I am agreeable but title to territory cannot and will not be settled here. For the fourth time I've stated my position and explained that territorial sessions had to be made by treaty and ratified by the Senate.

We discussed reparations and movement of populations from East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Austria, Italy and elsewhere. Churchill said Maisky had so defined war booty as to include the German fleet and Merchant Marine. It was a bomb shell and sort of paralyzed the Ruskies, but it has a lot of merit.

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July 16 1945

Last night talked to Gen. Somersville on time for universal military training. Regular Army wants a straight year. I am very sure it cannot be put into effect. Talked to Mc Caffery about France. He is scared stiff of Communism, the Russian society which isn't communism at all but just police government pure and simple. A few top hands just take clubs, pistols and concentration camps and rule the people on the lower levels.

The Communist Party in Moscow is no different in its methods and actions toward the common man than were the Czar and the Russian Noblemen (so called: they were anything but noble) Nazis and Facists were worse. It seems that Sweden, Norway, Denmark and perhaps Switzerland have the only real peoples government on the Continent of Europe. But the rest are as bad lot from the standpoint of the people who do not believe in tyrany.

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July 30, 1945

Sent Capt. Vardaman to ship at Portsmouth, Eng. to get ready for departure to US some day soon. Secretary of Navy Joe Forestal came to breakfast with me and we discussed universal military service after the war and navy policy on office training etc.Gen. Eisenhower and son were also at breakfast with us. His boy is a nice fellow. Adm. Cochran and several other naval officers were present.

Conference is delayed. Stalin and Molotov were to call on me yesterday to discuss Polish question and Reparations. Molotov came but no Stalin. Said he is sick. No big three meeting yesterday and none today as a result of Stalins indisposition. Send him a note expressing regret at his illness. Sent Churchill a note of consolation, telling him we regreted his failure to return and wishing him a long and happy life.

If Stalin should suddenly cash in it would end the original Big Three. First Roosevelt by death, then Churchill by political failure and the Stalin. I am wondering what would happen to Russia and central Europe if Joe suddenly passed out. If some demagogue on horse back gained control of the efficient Russian military machine he could play havoc with European peace for a while. I also wonder if there is a man with the necessary strength and following to step into Stalin's place and maintain peace and solidarity at home. It isn't customary for dictators to train leaders to follow them in power. I've seen no one at this Conference in the Russian line up who can

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July 30 '45

do the job. Molotov is not able to do it. He lacks sincerity. Vishinsky same thing and Maisky is short on honesty. Well we shall see what we shall see. Uncle Joe's pretty tough mentally and physically but there is an end to every man and we can't help but speculate.

We are at an impass on Poland and its western boundary and on Reparations Russia and Poland have agreed on the Oder and West Niesse to the Czechoslovakian border. Just a unilateral arrangement without so much a by your lease. I don't like it. Roosevelt let Maisky mention twenty billions as reparations -- half for Russia and half for everybody else. Experts say no such figure is available.

I've made it plain that the United States of America does not intend to pay reparations this time. I want the German war industry machine completely dismantled and far as U.S. is concerned the other allies can divide it up on any basis they choose. Food and other necessities we send into the restored countries and Germany must be first lein on export before reparation. If Russian strip country and carry off population of course there'll be no reparations.

I have offered a waterway program and a suggestion for free intercourse between Central European nations which will help keep future peace. Our only hope for good from the European War is restored prosperity to Europe and future trade with them. It is a sick situation at best.