President Harry S. Truman, diary entry (July 17, 1945) describing meeting Soviet dictator Josef Stalin at the Potsdam Conference after Germany was defeated in World War II.
Truman had become president when Franklin D. Roosevelt died on April 1945. He met Stalin for the first time on July 17, 1945 at a meeting of the “Big Three” victorious allies in the war against Hitler’s Germany –The Soviet Union, Great Britain, and the United States.
With the war against Germany over, Truman wanted Stalin’s aid in defeating Japan.
“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. . . . 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 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. . . . I can deal with Stalin. He is honest—but smart as hell.”
—From President Truman’s Diary
Truman’s “dynamite” was the revelation of the atomic bomb. He told the Soviet dictator about the atomic bomb, unaware that Stalin’s spies had already gotten much of the information about the “Manhattan Project” that developed the bombs later dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945.
This meeting and the events leading up to it are detailed in my book The Hidden History of America At War.