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Who Said It (July 17, 2020)

"I can deal with Stalin."

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.

Soviet Prime Minister Josef Stalin, President Harry S. Truman, and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill pose for the first time before the opening of the Potsdam Conference. PHOTO SOURCE: National Archies and Records Administration Harry S. Truman Library, cataloged under the National Archives Identifier (NAID) 198797.

“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 (sic). 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

Source: The National Archives “Eyewitness”

Truman’s “dynamite” was the revelation of the atomic bomb. He told the Soviet dictator about the atomic bomb which had been tested successfully in New Mexico the day before. The president was 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. Read about Hiroshima in this post.

This meeting and the events leading up to it are detailed in my book The Hidden History of America At War.

Now In paperback THE HIDDEN HISTORY OF AMERICA AT WAR: Untold Tales from Yorktown to Fallujah

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