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  Library Correspondence Kenneth Hechler: Memorandum, January 5, 1953

Memorandum on the Potsdam Conference
From: Kenneth W Hechler,
To: David D Lloyd
Date: January 5, 1953

January 5, 1953


Dr. Winnacker called regarding the dropping of the atomic bombs, and said that all his records show are that General Groves reported on the effectiveness of the bomb test in New Mexico, reporting on July 21, and Secretary Stimson and others at Potsdam conferred daily with the President on July 22, July 23, and July 24. Presumably Secretary of the Navy Forrestal was not present at the conference to which the President refers inasmuch as he did not arrive at Potsdam until July 28 at 5:00 P.M. The only other information which Dr. Winnacker has is that the operation, initially scheduled for August 3, was postponed on two occasions (presumably due to weather).

Dr. Winnacker says that Admiral Dennison has all of the Potsdam papers, which Winnacker believes it will be necessary for us to look at in order to get a conclusive answer to the questions raised by the President’s note.

Roberta Barrows says that the President left Washington for Potsdam on July 6 at 11:00 P.M., arrived on July 15, departed on the return trip on August 2 at 8:00 P.M., and arrived in Washington, D.C., on August 8 at 10:50 P.M. The Potsdam Conference actually lasted during the days July 17 to August 2, 1945.


January 5, 1953


Supplementing my previous note on the conversation with Dr. Winnacker, Gordon Arneson of the Department of State (an adviser on atomic energy) states that the order from General Handy to General Spaatz was necessary because orders had to be cut in advance and the wheels had to be set in motion, even though the final decision on dropping the bomb was necessarily in the hands of the President.

Arneson does not have a full list of the participants in the meeting at Potsdam, but he feels that Harvey Bundy, special assistant to Secretary Stimson on atomic matters, was present. Winnacker feels that McCloy may have been present, but he has no way of checking.

Arneson is sure that the President made the decision to drop the bomb at the last minute, on the way back from Potsdam.

He has no information on the selection or elimination of targets at the Potsdam meeting other than what Stimson says in his book about the elimination of Kyoto.

Bundy may have some information on this according to Arneson; Bundy is now with the law firm of Chote, Hall and Stewart in Boston.


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See Also
Hiroshima and Nagasaki Documents