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  Library Correspondence Harry S. Truman: Letter, December 31, 1952

Response to Letter to Attain Historical Clarity (Draft)
From: Harry S, Truman
To: James L. Cate, Professor at the University of Chicago
Date: December 31, 1952

Dec. 31, 1952

My dear Professor Cate:

Your letter of Dec. 6th 1952 has just now been delivered to me. When the message came to Potsdam that a successful atomic explosion had taken place in New Mexico, there was much excitement and conversation about the effect on the war then in progress with Japan.

The next day I told the Prime Minister of Great Britain and Generallissimo Stalin that the explosion had been a success. The British Prime Minister understood and appreciated what I'd told him. Prime Minister Stalin smiled and thanked me for reporting the explosion to him but I'm sure he did not understand its significance.

I called a meeting of the Sec. of State, Mr. Byrnes, the Sec. of War, Mr. Stimson, Adm. Leahy, Gen. Marshall, Gen. Eisenhower, the Sec. of the Navy, Adm. King and some others to discuss what should be done with this awful weapon.

I asked Gen. Marshall what it would cost in lives to land on the Tokio plain and other places in Japan. It was his opinion that 1/4 million casualties would be the minimum cost as well as an equal number of the enemy. The other military and naval men present agreed.

I asked Sec. Stimson which cities in Japan were devoted exclusively to war production. He promptly named Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

We sent an ultimatum to Japan. It was ignored. 

I ordered atomic bombs dropped on the two cities named on the way back from Potsdam when we were in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

Dropping the bombs ended the war, saved lives and gave the free nations a chance to face the facts.

When it looked as if Japan would quit, Russia hurried into the fray (nine days) before the surrender so as to be in at the settlement. No military constitution was made by the Russians toward victory over Japan. Prisoners were surrendered and Manchuria occupied as was Korea north of the 38th parallel. 

[Russia in Asia has been a great liability since].

Original available at Whistlestop.org

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