Go to Home Page
  Library Correspondence Diary: Henry Stimson

Secretary of War Henry Stimson's Diary

Stimson Diary Entry July 24, 1945

I then spoke of the importance which I attributed to the reassurance of the Japanese on the continuance of their dynasty, and I had felt that the insertion of that in the formal warning was important and might be just the thing that would make or mar their acceptance, but that I had heard from Byrnes that they preferred not to put it in, and that now such a change was made impossible by the sending of the message to Chiang. I hoped that the President would watch carefully so that the Japanese might be reassured verbally through diplomatic channels if it was found that they were hanging fire on that one point. He [Truman] said that he had that in mind, and that he would take care of it.


Source: Michael B. Stoff, et al., eds., The Manhattan Project: A Documentary Introduction to the Atomic Age (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1991), 214. 
Thank you Paul Priest (priest@u.washington.edu) for providing this page.

 

Stimson Diary Entries on the Connection between S-1 (atomic bomb) and Foreign Relations - Russia in Particular

Monday, May 14, 1945

[Extract]

At twelve o'clock Anthony Eden, the British Foreign Minister, came in. I had about forty-five minutes with him on general matters but especially S-1. He brought me messages of congratulation from the Prime Minister and said that he would be very glad to convey to him anything that I wanted to tell him about S-1 in which he was deeply interested. I then outlined to him the progress which we have made and the timetable as it stood now, and told him my own feeling as to its bearing upon our present problems of an international character. After that we had lunch with Marshall and McCloy coming in to share it with us. There we had a talk in general about matters in Europe and particularly Germany and the complications which are being made by Russia's difficulties.... I told him [McCloy] that my own opinion was that the time now and the method now to deal with Russia was to keep our mouths shut and let our actions speak for words. The Russians will understand them better than anything else. It is a case where we have got to regain the lead and perhaps do it in a pretty rough and realistic way. They have rather taken it away from us because we have talked too much and have been too lavish with our beneficences to them. I told him this was a place where we really held all the cards. I called it a royal straight flush and we musn't be a fool about the way we play it. They can't get along without our help and industries and we have coming into action a weapon which will be unique. Now the thing is not to get into unnecessary quarrels by talking too much and not to indicate any weakness by talking too much; let our actions speak for themselves.

Tuesday, May 15, 1945

At 9:30 we went into our meeting of the Committee of Three, --Grew, Forrestal and myself being present with McCloy as recorder. Averill Harriman, the Ambassador to Russia, came with Grew; also William Philips, formerly Under Secretary of State years ago. Forrestal brought major Correa. We had a pretty red hot session first over the questions which Grew had propounded to us in relation to the Yalta Conference and our relations with Russia. They have been entered in the diary here so I will not repeat them. I tried to point out the difficulties which existed and I thought it was premature to ask those questions; at least we were not yet in a position to answer them. The trouble is that the President has now promised apparently to meet Stalin and Churchill on the first of July and at that time these questions will become burning and it may be necessary to have it out with Russia on her relations to Manchuria, and Port Arthur and various other parts of North China and also the relation of China to us. Over any such tangled wave of problems the S-1 secret would be dominant and yet we will not know until after that time probably, until after that meeting, whether this is a weapon in our hands or not. We think it will be shortly afterwards, but it seems a terrible thing to gamble with such big stakes in diplomacy without having your master card in your hand. The best we could do today was to persuade Harriman not to go back until we had had time to think over these things a little bit harder.

May 16, 1945

[Extract]

Early proposals for the treatment of Germany provided for keeping Germany near the margin of hunger as a means of punishment for past misdeeds. I have felt that this was a grave mistake. Punish her war criminals in full measure. Deprive her permanently of her weapons, her General staff, and perhaps her entire army. Guard her governmental action until the Nazi educated generation has passed from the stage - admittedly a long job. But do not deprive her of the means of building up ultimately a contented Germany interested in following non-militaristic methods of civilization. This must necessarily involve some industrialization, for Germany today has approximately thirty million excess population beyond what can be supported by agriculture alone. The eighty million Germans and Austrians in central Europe today necessarily swing the balance of that continent. A solution must be found for their future peaceful existence and it is to the interest of the whole world that they should not be driven by stress of hardship into a non-democratic and necessarily predatory habit of life.

All of this is a tough problem requiring coordination between the Anglo-American allies and Russia. Russia will occupy most of the good food lands of central Europe while we have the industrial portions. We must find some way of persuading Russia to play ball.

Wednesday, June 6, 1945

[Extract]

I then took up the matters on my agenda, telling him [Truman] first of the work of the Interim Committee meeting last week. He said that Byrnes had reported to him already about it and that Byrnes seemed to be highly pleased with what had been done. I then said that the points of agreement and views arrived at were substantially as follows: That the greatest complication was what might happen at the meeting of the Big Three. He told me he had postponed that until the 15th of July on purpose to give us more time. I pointed out that there might still be a delay and if there was and the Russians should bring up the subject and ask us to take them in as partners, I though that our attitude was to do just what the Russians had done to us, namely to make the simple statement that as yet we were not quite ready to do it.

Sunday, 22 July 1945.

[Extract]

At ten forty Bundy and I again went to the British headquarters and talked to the Prime Minister and Lord Cherwell for over an hour. Churchill read Groves' report in full. He told me that he had noticed at the meeting of the three yesterday, Truman was evidently much fortified by something that had happened, and that he stood up to the Russians in a most emphatic and decisive manner, telling them as to certain demands that they absolutely could not have, and that the United States was entirely against them. Churchill said he now understood how this pepping up had taken place and that he felt the same way. His own attitude confirmed this admission. He now not only was not worried about giving the Russians information of the matter, but was rather inclined to use it as an argument in our favor in the negotiations. The sentiment of the four of us was unanimous in thinking that it was advisable to tell the Russians at least that we were working on that subject, and intended to use it if and when it was successfully finished.

Monday, July 23, 1945

At eleven o'clock I went down to the "Little White House" to try to see the President or Byrnes. I am finding myself crippled by not knowing what happens in the meetings in the late afternoon or evening. This is particularly so now that the program for S-1 is tying in what we are doing in all fields. When I got there I found Byrnes out, and I asked for the President who saw me at once....He told me that he had the warning message which we prepared on his desk, and had accepted our most recent change in it, and that he proposed to shoot it out as soon as he heard the definite day of the operation. We had a brief discussion about Stalin's recent expansions and he confirmed what I have heard. But he told me that the United States was standing firm and he was apparently relying greatly upon the information as to S-1.

Source: Microfilm edition of Henry L. Stimson Diaries (New Haven: Yale University Library), reel 9.

Thank you Paul Priest (priest@u.washington.edu) for providing this page!

 

Stimson Diary Entry December 31, 1944

While we were on the question of troubles with Russia, I took occasion to tell him [President Roosevelt] of Deane's [Major General John R. Deane, Commanding General, U.S. Military Mission to the Soviet Union] warning to us in the Department [of War] that we would not gain anything at the present time by further easy concessions to Russia and recommending that we should be more vigorous on insisting upon a quid pro quo [i.e., get something in return for something]. And in this connection I told him of my thoughts as to the future of S-1 in connection with Russia; that I knew they were spying on our work but that they had not yet gotten any real knowledge of it and that, while I was troubled about the possible effect of keeping from them even now that work, I believed that it was essential not to take them into our confidence until we were sure to get a real quid pro quo from our frankness. I said I had no illusions as to the possibility of keeping permanently such a secret but that I did not think it was yet time to share it with Russia. He said he thought he agreed with me.



Stimson Diary Entry January 3, 1945

I had a talk with Stettinius,[Special Assistant to the Sec. of War Harvey] Bundy being present, on the subject of S-1. This was done pursuant to my talk with the President last Saturday in which I told him that I wanted to have permission to take Stettinius into the secret because we are face to face with problems that will come up in regard to it and which will also involve other nations. In fact that already is upon us. We had a very good talk. With Bundy's help I outlined what the project was and how intensely important it was and the various elements of it, and I think that Stettinius was very much impressed. 

 

Stimson Diary Entry February 13, 1945

The Yalta conference had just ended. This meeting between the leaders of the U.S., Great Britain, and Russia produced agreements which seemed to point to a positive post-war collaboration between the three nations and which "delighted" Bush. The first meeting of the United Nations was scheduled for 4/25/45.

I talked with Harvey Bundy about ...S-1 and its possible connection with the Russians. [Director of the Office of Scientific Research and Development Vannevar] Bush is so delighted at the news which came this morning of the agreement at Yalta that he is anxious to be very chivalrous to the Russians on this subject, but I am still inclined to tread softly and to hold off conferences on the subject until we have some much more tangible 'fruits of repentance' from the Russians as a quid pro quo for such a communication to them.

 

Stimson Diary Entry February 15, 1945

Bush showed Stimson a letter at their 2/15/45 meeting which Bush later sent to President Roosevelt. The letter looked ahead to the possible international control of nuclear weapons by the United Nations. Bush recommended in his letter:

The Charter of the United Nations, to be drafted at San Francisco in April, should provide for an International Scientific Section...

It should recommend means for policing the scientific activities of aggressor nations to ensure that they do not, in secret, provide for a new aggression by unusual methods. It should provide for full interchange between peace-loving nations on all scientific subjects which have evident military applications, to the end that no nation shall be caused to fear the secret scientific activities of another...

It [the U.N. International Scientific Section] should stand ready to aid should the time come when the United Nations organization may be entrusted with various aspects of the control of excessively powerful weapons of the future... 

Dr. Vannevar Bush came in to talk with me about postwar scientific problems. He is proposing a general pooling among the nations of all scientific research and an interchange of everything that is susceptible of military use. He hopes in this way to prevent secret plans for secret weapons such as Germany has been getting her scientists to do during times of peace. After a talk with him I thought that such a plan was along the right lines but that it would be inadvisable to put it into full force yet until we had gotten all we could in Russia in the way of liberalization in exchange for S-1. After the discussion Bush and I thought that perhaps it would be good to make a start with one form of scientific research and he suggested bacteriological research as probably the most practical one to try.

 

Stimson Diary Entry March 5, 1945

I called in Harvey Bundy who had been anxious to see me as to S-1 and we had a most thorough and searching talk about certain phases of it which we hadn't gone into yet together before. He had done a very good job in reading about them and in preparing his thoughts on the subject. We are up against some very big decisions. The time is approaching when we can no longer avoid them and when events may force us into the public on the subject. Our thoughts went right down to the bottom facts of human nature, morals and government, and it is by far the most searching and important thing that I have had to do since I have been here in the office of Secretary of War because it touches matters which are deeper even than the principles of present government.

After it was over I went in and caught [Army Chief of Staff General George] Marshall just as he was going home and gave him a little talking to on the subject. He is one of the very few men who know about it and I wanted to get him thinking on this postwar set of problems in regard to this matter which are the ones that I was talking with Harvey [Bundy] about.

 

Stimson Diary Entry March 8, 1945

I returned to the Department[of War] in time to get there at a quarter before three and attend a meeting of the Combined Policy Committee of S-1 [representatives of the U.S., Great Britain, and Canada who helped coordinate and advise those three nations on Manhattan Project decisions]. Lord Halifax, Field Marshal Wilson, Sir James Chadwick, Dr. Mackenzie of Canada, Dr. Jim Conant of Harvard, and General Leslie Groves were there besides Harvey Bundy and Dr. Webster, who are the secretaries; and Dr. Rickett of the British Embassy who is coming in to take the place of Webster temporarily. We were in session for two hours and transacted a good deal of business. In fact this matter[the atomic bomb] now is taking up a good deal of my time and even then I am not doing it justice. It is approaching its ripening time and matters are getting very very interesting and serious.

 

Stimson Diary Entry March 15, 1945

I had a talk with George Harrison and Harvey Bundy [Stimson's assistants]. Harrison had just come back from his long illness and thinks that he will be able to go on with the work in regard to S-1, particularly in laying out a plan of operations there, and we discussed that.

I spent part of the morning in getting ready for an interview with the President on this subject of S-1. I had asked Miss Tully [President Roosevelt's personal secretary] to get the date fixed for my talk with him this week which the President had suggested last Saturday that he would have with me. She proposed tomorrow, Friday, or Saturday and I said either one would do. But then at the last minute after half past twelve I got a telephone message from the White House and she told me that the President had suggested that I come over to lunch today [Thursday]. That upset my schedule a little and made me hustle like fury to get ready on the S-1 matter before I went over; but I finally did so and got the papers all ready. When I got there I had to wait half an hour for him because he is lunching nowadays in the main building of the White House and he often gets detained in the Executive Office with tardy appointments. But we sat down at about ten minutes of two.

First I took up with him a memorandum which he sent to me from Jimmy Dunn [an error; actually it was from James Byrnes, then the director of the Office of War Mobilization] who had been alarmed at the rumors of extravagance in the Manhattan project. Jimmy suggested that it might become disastrous and he suggested that we get a body of 'outside' scientists to pass upon the project because rumors are going around that Vannevar Bush and Jim Conant have sold the President a lemon on the subject and ought to be checked up on. It was rather a jittery and nervous memorandum and rather silly, and I was prepared for it and I gave the President a list of the scientists who were actually engaged on it to show the very high standing of them and it comprised four Nobel Prize men, and also how practically every physicist of standing was engaged with us in the project. Then I outlined to him the future of it and when it was likely to come off and told him how important it was to get ready. I went over with him the two schools of thought that exist in respect to the future control after the war of this project in case it is successful, one of them being the secret close-in attempted control of the project by those who control it now, and the other being the international control based upon freedom both of science and of access. I told him that those things must be settled before the first projectile is used and that he must be ready with a statement to come out to the people on it just as soon as that is done. He agreed to that. I told him how I had settled [House Subcommittee on Military Appropriations member Congressman Albert] Engel's rebellion a few weeks ago when he was threatening to make a speech on the subject in the House and I had invited him down to the office and showed him some of the cost figures and tamed him down. Then I told him that I was proposing to lay the project for the same method of treatment before Sam Rayburn, the Speaker of the House, when it comes time for the next big appropriation which will be probably in April. I told him that I thought we would probably propose to send four men of the House through the establishment, namely outside of the buildings, and let them see the construction and generally let them be able to say that they have been through it. On the whole the talk I had with the President was successful.

 

Stimson Diary Entry April 3, 1945

There has been growing quite a strain of irritating feeling between our government and the Russians and it seems to me that it is a time for me to use all the restraint I can on these other people who have been apparently getting a little more irritated. I have myself been in the various crises enough to feel the importance of firm dealing with the Russians but, as Marshall agrees, what we want is to state our facts with perfectly cold-blooded firmness and not show any temper.

 

Stimson Diary Entry April 6-11, 1945

I returned from my trip to Tennessee cheered up and braced up by the change of work and scene. I was there confronted with the largest and most extraordinary scientific experiment in history and was the first outsider to pierce the secrecy of its barricades and to have explained to me the tremendous development which has been going on not only in scientific experiment but in the creation of an orderly and well governed city, in size the fifth largest in the State of Tennessee. General Groves who went with me is the man who has done the job and a marvelous job it is. It has this unique peculiarity: that, although every prophesy thus far has been fulfilled by the development and we can see that success is 99% assured, yet only by the first actual war trial of the weapon can the actual certainty be fixed.


Stimson Diary Entry April 23, 1945

I was plunged into one of the most difficult situations I have ever had since I have been here.

[Sec. of State Edward] Stettinius had gotten into a jam with Molotov, the Foreign Minister of Russia, who arrived yesterday. The subject is Poland. The Russians had apparently flatly refused to permit the agreement at Yalta [the Feb. 1945 conference between Great Britain, Russia, and the U.S.] to be carried out to select a mixed delegation from Poland and they are insisting that the Lublin [Russian dominated] people shall be recognized as the government of Poland. ...we are at loggerheads with Russia on an issue which in my opinion is very dangerous and one which she is not likely to yield on in substance. Furthermore, although at Yalta she apparently agreed to a free and independent ballot for the ultimate choice of representatives of Poland, yet I know very well from my experience with other nations that there are no nations in the world except the U.S. & the U.K. which have a real idea of what an independent free ballot is. I learned that in Nicaragua and in South America, and I was very much alarmed for fear that we were rushing into a situation where we would find ourselves breaking our relations with Russia on the most important and difficult question which we and Russia have got between us. I...told the President that I was very much troubled by it and I pointed out all these difficulties that I have just spoken of. I said that in my opinion we ought to be very careful and see whether we couldn't get ironed out on the situation without getting into a headon collision. He was evidently disappointed at my caution and advice...". "And nobody backed me up until it came round to Marshall who wasn't called until towards the end. Then to my relief a brave man and a wise man spoke; and he said that he, like me, was troubled and urged caution.

You can see that the State Department has got itself into a mess. Contrary to what I thought was the wise course, they have not settled the problems that lie between the United States and Russia and Great Britain and France, the main powers, by wise negotiations before this public meeting [the United Nations first meeting, 4/25/45] in San Francisco, but they have gone ahead and called this great public meeting of all the United Nations, and they have got public opinion all churned up over it and now they feel compelled to bull the thing through...it was a very embarrassing meeting and finally the President said goodbye to [Sec. of the Navy James] Forrestal and myself and Marshall and [Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Ernest] King and said he was going to go on and talk the thing over and try to make up his mind with the others. I have very grave anxiety as a result since then as to what will happen.

I had a conference with General [Leslie] Groves [head of the Manhattan Project] and George Harrison [an assistant to Stimson] in regard to my coming meeting with the President over S-1. They have drawn up a very interesting summary of the whole situation and I read that and talked with them about it.

 

Stimson Diary Entry April 25, 1945

I spent the first part of the morning going over with Harrison and Bundy the brief memorandum on S-1 which I had drafted with Bunder yesterday. I also showed it to [Army Chief of Staff General George] Marshall and to Groves who came in. Finally when we got it approved by all, I set it aside and called it a job.
At twelve o'clock noon I went over for my conference with the President at the White House over S-1. General Groves was to meet me there, but he had to take a secret road around because if the newspaper men, who are now gathered in great numbers every morning in the President's anteroom, should see us both together there they would be sure to guess what I was going to see the President about. So...

...the process and about the problems that are coming up and in fact I think very much interested him. He was very nice about it. He remembered the time that I refused to let him to into this project when he was chairman of the Truman Committee[a Senate committee which investigated military spending] and was investigating it, and he said that he understood now perfectly why it was inadvisable for me to have taken any other course than I had taken.

After three-quarters of an hour with the President, I left the White House.

I had a talk with Bundy and Harrison over my interview this morning and they both seemed to think a great deal had been accomplished. I think so too.

 

Stimson Diary Entry May 1, 1945

At ten o'clock Harvey Bundy and George Harrison brought in to me a paper which Harrison had drawn in reference to S-1 and in reference to the appointment of a commettee to outline a program of action now that we are getting close to the time when something is likely to happen which will require publicity. Harrison had drawn a very good paper. I approved it and I also approved the committee which he proposed that I should propose to the President to cover that. 

I took Harrison's paper to Marshall because I wanted to have him approve it, he being one of the very few men that know about S-1, and he did approve it.

 

Stimson Diary Entry May 2, 1945

My meeting with the President at 11:30 which was on the subject of S-1. I was delayed for about half an hour from getting in to the President by his earlier callers but when I got in we had a very pleasant and satisfactory conference. He told me not to hurry but to take my time as the delay had been his fault. So I had quite a satisfactory talk with him. The following are notes made by me after this meeting with the President:

1. S-1. The President accepted the present members of the Committee and said that they would be suffient even without a personal representative of himself. I said I should prefer to have such a representative and suggested that he should be a man (a) with whom the President had close personal relations, and (b) who was able to keep his mouth shut. The President took our list and said that he would try to think up such a man as I suggested.

 

Stimson Diary Entry May 3, 1945

I had several conferences during the day with George Harrison and Bundy over S-1 and I called up the President to suggest that Jimmy Byrnes would be a good man to put in the position [as the President's representative] on the committee for S-1 that I had told the President about when I saw him yesterday, and late in the afternoon the President called me up himself and said that he had heard of my suggestion and it was fine. He had already called Byrnes up down in South Carolina by telephone and Byrnes had accepted. So my [Interim] committee is now complete. Bundy and Harrison were tickled to death with this Byrnes suggestion and now we can start at work on preparing for the many things that must be planned for S-1.

At one o'clock I had[Supreme Court] Justice [Felix] Frankfurter as my guest. He had asked for the appointment and said it was very important and, when he finally revealed it, by Jingo it was a talk about S-1 which he had learned of from a Danish scientist whom he came in contact with in London and who is here in America now. [Niels Bohr. According to Frankfurter, he learned of the atomic bomb project from "some distinguished American scientists" rather than from Bohr ]. I found that Frankfurter had talked over the question of S-1 with the President [Roosevelt] and knew quite a good deal about it. He was worried on exactly the same subject that I have been at work on for the past two or three days and on which I have finally appointed this [Interim] Committee. He was much relieved to find how well we had the affair in hand.

 

Stimson Diary Entry May 4, 1945

In re S-1. After Cabinet[meeting] I asked the President for the details for the J. F. Byrnes acceptance of membership on my [Interim] committee and he said he accepted; that he was coming here tomorrow, May 5th, would be here over Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday [i.e., thru May 9th]. I told the President that we were at work on the agenda so as to get the thing started as soon as Byrnes was available.

 

Stimson Diary Entry May 8, 1945

At about half past three Justice Byrnes came in and for two hours I talked with him first alone and then bringing in General Groves, Bundy, and Harrison. I first unfolded to him the story of S-1 [of which Byrnes already had knowledge] and then we all discussed the functions of the proposed Interim Committee. During the meeting it became very evident what a tremendous help Byrnes would be as a member of the Committee.

 

Stimson Diary Entry May 9, 1945

At ten minutes to ten my first conference of the Interim Committee which I am appointing in S-1 got under way. Everybody was present except Dr. Conant, viz: Byrnes, Bush, Compton, Bard, Clayton, Groves, Bundy, and Harrison and myself. Several of the members did not know the basic facts in the matter and I explained them to them, and we had a talk over the whole subject until nearly eleven when Harrison and Groves took them off into another room to go further into details.

 

Stimson Diary Entry May 13, 1945

Jack McCloy blew in with a bagful of problems, mostly State Department problems, for we are rapidly getting under the load of matters which ought to be handled by that Department, but as most of them impinge on the War Department I am very glad to get a chance at them.

The first was a message from Joe Grew enclosing a memorandum of problems on which he asked for my comment during the early part of the [upcoming] week in order that we could have another meeting with Ambassador Harriman before he returns to Moscow. The first list of questions were:

(1) Is the entry of the Soviet Union into the Pacific war at the earliest possible moment of such vital interest to the United States as to preclude any attempt by the United States to obtain Soviet agreement to certain desirable political objectives in the Far East prior to such entry?

(2) Should the Yalta decision in regard to the Soviet political desires in the Far East be reconsidered or carried into effect in whole or in part? [at Yalta, an agreement was made to give the Soviet Union certain territory in exchange for their entrance into the Pacific War]

(3) Should a Soviet demand, if made, for participation in the military occupation of the Japanese home islands be granted or would such occupation adversely affect our long term policy for the future treatment of Japan?

Following this was a statement that the Start Department thought it desirable politically to obtain from Russia the following commitments in regard to the Far East prior to any implementation on our part of the Yalta agreement:

(1) The Soviet government should agree to use its influence with the Chinese Communists [who were in a civil war against the Chinese nationalists] to assist this government in its endeavors to bring about the unification of China under the government of [nationalist leader] Chiang Kai-shek. The achievement of Chinese unity on the basis considered most desirable by the United States government should be agreed to by the Soviet Union before the United States should make any approach to the Chinese government on the basis of the Yalta agreement[to encourage China to share control with Russia in several instances of railroad and port rights]. The difficulties in regard to [Russia's past claims to the Chinese province of] Sinkiang should be settled by amicable agreement between the Soviet and Chinese governments.

(2) Unequivocal adherence of the Soviet government to the Cairo declaration regarding the return of Manchuria to Chinese sovereignty and the future status of Korea.

(3) Definite agreement of the Soviet government that immediately [after] Korea is liberated, whether before the final capitulation of Japan or after, it be placed under the trusteeship of the United States, Great Britain, China, and Russia. This agreement should make clear that the four trustees are to be the sole authority for the selection of a temporary Korean agreement.

(4) Before giving approval to the annexation by Russia of the Kurile Islands [from Japan], it might be desirable to receive from the Soviet government emergency landing rights for commercial planes on certain of these islands.

These are very vital questions and I am very glad that the State Department has brought them up and given us a chance to be heard on them. The questions cut very deep and in my opinion are powerfully connected with our success with S-1. Certainly they indicate a good deal of hard thinking 'before the early part of this week' when they are to be discussed.

 

Stimson Diary Entry May 14, 1945

..at twelve o'clock Anthony Eden, the British Foreign Minister, came in. I had about forty-five minutes with him on general matters but especially S-1. He brought me messages of congratulation from the Prime Minister [Winston Churchill] and said that he would be very glad to convey to him anything that I wanted to tell him about S-1 in which he was deeply interested. I then outlined to him the progress which we have made and the timetable as it stood now, and told him my own feeling as to its bearing upon our present problems of an international character. After that we had lunch with Marshall and McCloy coming in to share it with us. There we had a talk in general about matters in Europe and particularly Germany and the complications which are being made by Russia's difficulties.

I talked over with Marshall the list of questions which the State Department had fired at me and which I enumerated in my yesterday's diary and we both decided that they were rather impractical to discuss now with anyone. I had a talk with McCloy about them. I told him to look them over and see what he thought of them; if he thought there was anything serious to answer. I told him that my own opinion was that the time now and the method now to deal with Russia was to keep our mouths shut and let our actions speak for words. The Russians will understand them better than anything else. It is a case where we have got to regain the lead and perhaps do it in a pretty rough and realistic way. They have rather taken it away from us because we have talked too much and have been too lavish with our beneficences to them. I told him this was a place where we really held all the cards. I called it a royal straight flush and we mustn't be a fool about the way we play it. They can't get along without our help and industries and we have coming into action a weapon which will be unique [the atomic bomb]. Now the thing is not to get into unnecessary quarrels by talking too much and not to indicate any weakness by talking too much; let our actions speak for themselves.

 

Stimson Diary Entry May 15, 1945

At 9:30 we went into our meeting of the Committee of Three, -Grew, Forrestal and myself being present with McCloy as recorder. Averill Harriman, the Ambassador to Russia, came with Grew; also William Philips, formerly Under Secretary of State years ago. Forrestal brought major Correa. We had a pretty red hot session first over the questions which Grew had propounded to us in relation to the Yalta Conference and our relations with Russia. They have been entered in the diary here so I will not repeat them. I tried to point out the difficulties which existed and I thought it was premature to ask those questions; at least we were not yet in a position to answer them. The trouble is that the President has now promised apparently to meet Stalin and Churchill on the first of July and at that time these questions will become burning and it may be necessary to have it out with Russia on her relations to Manchuria, and Port Arthur and various other parts of North China and also the relation of China to us. Over any such tangled wave of problems the S-1 secret would be dominant and yet we will not know until after that time probably, until after that meeting, whether this is a weapon in our hands or not. We think it will be shortly afterwards, but it seems a terrible thing to gamble with such big stakes in diplomacy without having your master card in your hand. The best we could do today was to persuade Harriman not to go back until we had had time to think over these things a little bit harder. 

 

Stimson Diary Entry May 16, 1945

Early proposals for the treatment of Germany provided for keeping Germany near the margin of hunger as a means of punishment for past misdeeds. I have felt that this was a grave mistake. Punish her war criminals in full measure. Deprive her permanently of her weapons, her General staff, and perhaps her entire army. Guard her governmental action until the Nazi educated generation has passed from the stage - admittedly a long job. But do not deprive her of the means of building up ultimately a contented Germany interested in following non-militaristic methods of civilization. This must necessarily involve some industrialization, for Germany today has approximately thirty million excess population beyond what can be supported by agriculture alone. The eighty million Germans and Austrians in central Europe today necessarily swing the balance of that continent. A solution must be found for their future peaceful existence and it is to the interest of the whole world that they should not be driven by stress of hardship into a non-democratic and necessarily predatory habit of life.

All of this is a tough problem requiring coordination between the Anglo-American allies and Russia. Russia will occupy most of the good food lands of central Europe while we have the industrial portions. We must find some way of persuading Russia to play ball.

I went over to the White House and was received as usual very promptly and had about twenty to thirty minutes with the President. He was as usual friendly and appreciative. I asked him about my going away, telling him that I was doing so at the command of the doctors for a short rest [the 77 year old Stimson was suffering from heart problems and fatigue]. He was very encouraging and told me to go without any delay whatever and come back fit for the big problems that were ahead. I annex hereto a memorandum which I drew up after my conference with him at his request, going over the matters that I discussed with him.

 

Stimson Diary Entry May 18-27, 1945

On Sunday I called up the President from Highhold. ...I told him that I was planning to confine my work during the following week to S-1 and was trying to arrange a program of matters which I would talk with him about some time during the week. He said he would be glad to see me on that matter.

 

Stimson Diary Entry May 28, 1945

On Monday [5/28/45] we flew back to Washington, reaching there at eleven A.M. For some reason or other I felt used up that day and confined myself to conferences with Bundy, Harrison and Marshall over matters relating to S-1. I have made up my mind to make that subject my primary occupation for these next few months, relieving myself so far as possible from all routine matters in the Department [of War].

 

Stimson Diary Entry May 29, 1945

I had in Joe Grew the Acting Secretary of State, Jim Forrestal of the Navy, Marshall the Chief of Staff, and some assistants of each one of them. This meeting was called by Grew on the suggestion of the President and its purpose was to decide upon an announcement to the Japanese which would serve as a warning for them to surrender or else have something worse happen to them. It was an awkward meeting because there were people present in the presence of whom I could not discuss the real feature which would govern the whole situation, namely S-1 [not everyone present knew of the top secret atomic bomb project]. We had hesitated just before they came in whether we should go on with the meeting at all on account of that feature but decided to let Grew, who was the one who really had gotten it up, go ahead with it. He had brought with him the proposed statement of the Secretary of State to the Japanese which had been drawn up in the[State] Department. He read it and then called for our comment. I told him that I was inclined to agree with giving the Japanese a modification of the unconditional surrender formula and some hope to induce them to practically make an unconditional surrender without the use of those words[i.e., without calling it "unconditional surrender", a phrase that might delay Japan from surrendering]. I told him that I thought the timing was wrong and that this was not the time to do it [the atomic bomb was not yet ready to use as a response should Japan reject the warning to surrender]

After a discussion around the table I was backed up by Marshall and then by everybody else. [Special Counsel to the President Samuel] Rosenman was there, [Assistant Sec. of War John] McCloy, [Director of the Office of War Information] Elmer Davis, Forrestal's legal adviser Mathias Correa, and Eugene Dooman who is the Special Assistant to Assistant Secretary of State [James] Dunn.

After that meeting was over Marshall and McCloy and I stayed and discussed the situation of Japan and what we should do in regard to S-1 and the application of it.

 

Stimson Diary Entry May 30, 1945

Today was the first day that I have succeeded in devoting myself almost wholly to S-1, the subject on which I had expected to devote the whole week. I read some papers all over again [most likely in preparation for the next day's Interim Committee meeting]. I then had in [Harvey] Bundy, [George] Harrison [assistants to Stimson], and General Groves for most of the morning, calling in General Marshall also for part of the time. We talked over the subject very thoroughly of how we should use this implement in respect to Japan. Groves gave me an account of his trip to [the uranium-235 purification plant in Oak Ridge] Tennessee with the five Congressmen and it seems to have been very successful.

They have made themselves our friends in that matter. Given the large expenditures of the secret Manhattan Project, some congressmen had to be told what was going on in order to prevent Congressional investigations of where the money was going.

I then went home to lunch and had a good nap afterwards. I then went back and had a long session with George Harrison who brought me a very important letter in regard to S-1 which had come in from one of the people who were employed on the place.

 

Stimson Diary Entry June 6, 1945

I then took up the matters on my agenda, telling him [Truman] first of the work of the Interim Committee meeting last week. He said that Byrnes had reported to him already about it and that Byrnes seemed to be highly pleased with what had been done. I then said that the points of agreement and views arrived at were substantially as follows: That the greatest complication was what might happen at the meeting of the Big Three. He told me he had postponed that until the 15th of July on purpose to give us more time. I pointed out that there might still be a delay and if there was and the Russians should bring up the subject and ask us to take them in as partners, I though that our attitude was to do just what the Russians had done to us, namely to make the simple statement that as yet we were not quite ready to do it.

 

Stimson Diary Entry July 22, 1945

At ten forty Bundy and I again went to the British headquarters and talked to the Prime Minister and Lord Cherwell for over an hour. Churchill read Groves' report in full. He told me that he had noticed at the meeting of the three yesterday, Truman was evidently much fortified by something that had happened, and that he stood up to the Russians in a most emphatic and decisive manner, telling them as to certain demands that they absolutely could not have, and that the United States was entirely against them. Churchill said he now understood how this pepping up had taken place and that he felt the same way. 

His own attitude confirmed this admission. He now not only was not worried about giving the Russians information of the matter, but was rather inclined to use it as an argument in our favor in the negotiations. The sentiment of the four of us was unanimous in thinking that it was advisable to tell the Russians at least that we were working on that subject, and intended to use it if and when it was successfully finished.

 

Stimson Diary Entry July 23, 1945

At eleven o'clock I went down to the "Little White House" to try to see the President or Byrnes. I am finding myself crippled by not knowing what happens in the meetings in the late afternoon or evening. This is particularly so now that the program for S-1 is tying in what we are doing in all fields. When I got there I found Byrnes out, and I asked for the President who saw me at once....He told me that he had the warning message which we prepared on his desk, and had accepted our most recent change in it, and that he proposed to shoot it out as soon as he heard the definite day of the operation. We had a brief discussion about Stalin's recent expansions and he confirmed what I have heard. But he told me that the United States was standing firm and he was apparently relying greatly upon the information as to S-1.

Printer Friendly



See Also
The Decision
Last Act Main Page