vrijdag 17 juli 2015

Harry S. Truman -- 17 juli 1945

Harry S. Truman (1884-1972) was president van de Verenigde Staten van 1945-1953. Meteen aan het begin van zijn ambtstermijn moest hij een beslissing nemen over het inzetten van de atoombom tegen Japan. Hij hield in die periode een dagboek bij.

7/17/45 Diary Entry:
"I told Stalin that I am no diplomat but usually said yes & 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 and that 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'll [Stalin and Russia] be in the Jap War on August 15th. Fini Japs when that comes about."
[Did this mean that Truman thought Russia would be the final element in bringing Japan's defeat? Or Russia plus the atomic bomb? Truman did not receive word of when the first atomic bomb would be ready for use on Japan until July 22nd.]

[7/18/45: Truman received another brief message confirming the success of the a-bomb test. Later that day he wrote his wife a letter.]

7/18/45 Letter to Bess Truman:
"...I've gotten what I came for - Stalin goes to war [against Japan] August 15 with no strings on it. He wanted a Chinese settlement [in return for entering the Pacific war, China would give Russia some land and other concessions] - and it is practically made - in a better form than I expected. [Chinese Foreign Minister] Soong did better than I asked him. I'll say that we'll end the war a year sooner now, and think of the kids who won't be killed! That is the important thing."

7/18/45 Diary Entry:
"P.M. [Prime Minister Winston Churchill] & I ate alone. Discussed Manhattan [atomic bomb] (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." [The closest Truman came to doing that was on 7/24/45 when "I casually mentioned to Stalin that we had a new weapon of unusual destructive force." (Harry Truman, "Memoirs, 1945", pg. 416). No mention was made by Truman that the weapon was an atomic bomb.]

[A positive response or inquiry to Japan regarding their request for peace was avoided on the grounds that the purpose of Japan's request was not "clear", as Stalin put it. For the request, see U.S. Dept. of State, "Foreign Relations of the U.S., The Conference of Berlin (Potsdam) 1945, vol. 1", pg. 875-876 and 879-880. For Stalin's response to Japan, see U.S. Dept. of State, "Foreign Relations of the U.S., The Conference of Berlin (Potsdam) 1945, vol. 2", pg. 1250-1251 and 1587-1588.]

[The following diary entry is not found in "Off the Record". It appears to refer to the meeting between Truman and Stalin on 7/17/45 at the Potsdam Conference. It may have been written by Truman in the Fall of 1951 for his aide Eben Ayers (Gar Alperovitz, "The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb", pg. 558-559).]

7/19/45 Diary Entry:
"Stalin was a day late in arriving. It was reported that he was not feeling up to par. He called on me as soon as he arrived. It was about 11 A.M. He, Molotov, Vishinski and Pavlov stayed for lunch. We had a most pleasant conference and Stalin assured me that Russia intended to carry out the Yalta agreements and to enter the war against Japan in August." (William Hillman, "Harry S. Truman: In His Own Words", pg. 123).

7/20/45 Letter to Bess Truman:
"I have to make it perfectly plain to them [Russia and Great Britain] at least once a day that so far as this President is concerned Santa Claus is dead and that my first interest is U.S.A., then I want the Jap war won and I want 'em both in it. Then I want peace - world peace and will do what can be done by us to get it."

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