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  Library Correspondence Harry S. Truman: Conversation, July 24, 1945

Conversation on the Existence of the Bomb
From: Harry S. Truman, President of the United States of America
To: Generalissimo Stalin, Mr. Pavlov
Date: July 24, 1945

Truman Tells Stalin About the Bomb

Truman gives the following account of the conversation in Year of Decisions, page 416: "On July 24 I casually mentioned to Stalin that we had a new weapon of unusual destructive force. The Russian Premier showed no special interest. All he said was that he was glad to hear it and hoped we would make 'good use of it against the Japanese.'"

Byrnes gives the following information on the conversation in Speaking Frankly, page 263: "At the close of the meeting of the Big Three on the afternoon of July 24, the President walked around the large circular table to talk to Stalin. After a brief conversation the President rejoined me and we rode back to the 'Little White House' together. He said he had told Stalin that, after long experimentation, we had developed a new bomb far more destructive than any other known bomb, and that we planned to use it very soon unless Japan surrendered. Stalin's only reply was to say that he was glad to hear of the bomb and he hoped we would use it."

Leahy's account is as follows (I Was There, page 429): "At the plenary session on July 24, Truman walked around to Stalin and told him quietly that we had developed a powerful weapon, more potent than anything yet seen in war. The President said later that Stalin's reply indicated no especial interest and that the Genaralissimo did not seem to have any conception of what Truman was talking about. It was simply another weapon and he hoped we would use it effectively."

Churchill, who was also an eye-witness to the conversation, gives the following information (Triumph and Tragedy, pages 669-670): "Next day, July 24, after our plenary meeting had ended and we all got up from the round table and stood about in twos and threes before dispersing, I saw the President go up to Stalin, and the two conversed alone with only their interpreters. I was perhaps five yards away, and I watched with the closest attention the momentous talk. I know what the President was going to do. What was vital to measure was its effect on Stalin. I can see it all as if it were yesterday. He seemed to be delighted.... As we were waiting for our cars I found myself near Truman. 'How did it go?' I asked. 'He never asked a question,' he replied."

July 24, 1945, 7:30 P.M

Editor's Note.--No official record of this conversation has been found.

Source: Foreign Relations of the United States: Conference of Berlin (Potsdam), vol. 1, 378.

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Timeline 1945 
The Decision 
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Manhattan Project