Potsdam Conference, part one

Potsdam Conference table

“Operation Iceberg,” the invasion of Okinawa began on 1 April 1945 and would basically end on 22 June. Many are unaware that small skirmishes continued even after the 11th Airborne Division landed on that island. But … as we enter into July, others matters begin to develop.

Harry S. Truman did not have the outstanding record that most people look for in a president. He had poor eyesight and was unable to complete a 4-year college. Later, he failed as the owner/operator of a small mining and oil business, as a farmer and then as a haberdasher. (In my opinion, that only left politics as an option.) HST was elected to the Senate with the assistance of the corrupt Thomas J. Pendergast and proved to be an unimportant legislator. His only military achievement was in successfully tightening up the discipline of the rag-tag outfit he was given. He was chosen as the Vice-Presidential candidate because southern democrats liked him and FDR needed those votes. (I’m afraid these facts were located during research, they are not my own thoughts – unless specified.)

Potsdam page

This was the man sent to Germany, sailing on the “Augusta” with Secretary of State, James Byrnes and Admiral Leahy to attend the Potsdam Conference to begin on 17 July 1945. The primary agenda for the massive meeting dealt with the revision of the German-Soviet-Polish borders and the expulsion of several million Germans from the disputed territories. The code name for this conference was “Terminal,” with Stalin, Churchill and Truman representing the three major powers.

16 July was significant in that the Atomic bomb was successfully tested, exploding the equivalent of 20,000 tons of TNT and a blast point of 750 degrees F. Oppenheimer would then prepare the test results for his report to Henry Stimson in Potsdam. Truman confided the news to Churchill and the two rulers instantly decided that at least two bobs would be dropped on Japan. This decision was made despite the arguments of Adm. Leahy, General “Hap” Arnold and Gen. Dwight Eisenhower who strongly spoke against it’s use, calling it completely unnecessary. Many of the scientists that worked on the Manhattan Project felt that such a dramatic scientific discovery should not be used. The petition, “…the liberated forces of nature for the purpose of destruction … open the door to an era of devastation …,” was signed by 57 scientists. They had the foresight to visualize the nuclear problems that we face today, but their qualms went unheeded.

Potsdam, continued

The Potsdam Proclamation demanded the unconditional surrender of Japan, but did not make mention of two clearly important issues – (1) that the atomic bomb was is existence and (2) whether or not the Emperor would retain his seat in the palace. Both of these provisions would have clarified the true situation for the Japanese Army. Many, on-site at Potsdam, believe that the Japanese were purposely and maliciously misguided.

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Military Humor – WWI Style – 

“A BOLT FROM THE BLUE – WITH LOVE FROM YOURS TRULY”

“SAY WHEN !”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Paul Aubry – Saratoga Springs, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, radar repair

Thomas Austin Sr. – Greenville, SC; US Army, WWII, ETO, 12th Armored Division

Ellery Engell – Erie, PA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Sea Bees

William W. Fitz – Dedham, MA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

David A. Gockowski Sr. – Bellevue, NE; US Air Force, CMSgt. (Ret.), WWII, Korea, Vietnam

Hilda (Morrison) Harned – Hodgenville, KY; US Navy, WWII, nurse

Gordon Kemp – Peterborough, NH; US Navy, WWII, PTO radar repair

William Nichols – Lima, OH; US Navy, WWII, ETO & PTO

Robert H. Reilly – NYC, NY; USMC, WWII & Korea, 1st Lt.

Elizabeth Alexandra Mary (Windsor) – Mayfair, London; Auxiliary Territorial Service, WWII  / 70 year British Monarch

Thaddeus Zawilinski – Amsterdam, NY; US Army, West Point Academy

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About GP

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GP is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on September 12, 2022, in SMITTY, Uncategorized, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 123 Comments.

  1. Oorlogen gaan steeds over geld,politiek en geloof.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The ugly truth about politics. Sigh! We don’t seem to learn from anything about our past mistakes and yet another war is ongoing today.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Just my personal thought, but I believe anyone who ordered the dropping of those bombs was haunted for the rest of their days. I just can’t imagine.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. How interesting! I applaud your opinion that after Truman’s failed academics and jobs, politics was the only option. I’m sorry that it is still true today. I look forward to Part 2.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I’ve read that the fire-bombing of Japan led by Gen Lemay , etc. was even more devastating in lost civilian lives than the A-bombs , although , of course , over a longer time span . Lots of issues to consider in this history .

    Liked by 3 people

  6. War is hell and more so when politicians are involved.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. You find more and more points of interest about this era, GP. I hope you’ve had a good week. Hugs on the wing.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. An ad hominem argument against use of the atomic bomb against Japan with Truman as the target is inappropriate.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. This is so interesting and sigh/ politics can be so layered !!

    Liked by 3 people

  10. Politicians always end up doing what will be profitable for them either in fame or fortune. Sadly, they are all similar after they have been in the game for a while. Too bad they couldn’t have talked with Japan and negotiated a more peaceful settlement.

    Liked by 3 people

  11. I’ve always been fascinated by the Pendergast machine, and Truman’s relationship to him. This is a short but fascinating account that includes Truman’s own response to those who felt his association with Pendergast was, shall we say, less than on the up-and-up. My mother’s side of the family lived in Kansas City, and my uncle had some stories to tell. Some of them I never heard, because the children always were sent away when the stories were told — in hushed tones. I saw David McCullough’s bio of Truman mentioned; it really is a masterpiece.

    Liked by 4 people

  12. The biography of Harry Truman by David McCullough is a masterpiece. It gives a full account of Truman’s contributions and decisions. As senator, Truman introduced critical accountability in the US war machine, saving billions of dollars and limiting graft and waste. I agree the Japanese were misled, but perhaps mostly by their own generals who fed to the emperor hyperbole about Japanese victories and capabilities. Ultimately, all parties to war suffer deceit, error, massive human suffering, and unintended consequences. And ultimately Naziism did not take over the world. Thanks for your research and perspectives.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I appreciate yours as well, Roger. I did cover the part about the Japanese misleading the Emperor, etc, but back in other posts. I am guilty of of not repeating it here. Thank you for that contribution.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. It was surprising to learn that the heads of the armed forces were against dropping the A-bombs because their use likely saved hundreds of thousands of military casualties. I don’t disagree with the decision, but political considerations may have outweighed military ones. If Japan had developed A-bombs first and used them against American cities but still lost the war, I bet the U.S. would have deemed their use to be a war crime. Your posts are always interesting and enlightening.

    Liked by 3 people

  14. A sobering account of the end of WWII. I had no idea Truman’s background was so lackluster.

    Liked by 3 people

  15. Such an enlightening post, GP

    Liked by 2 people

  16. It is the most grotesque and barbaric indictment of the U.S. political system that a college dropout and failed businessman had the power to mass murder 300,000 human beings, many if not most innocent civilians, women and children, and for which Truman never expressed any regret. Many argue it was the only way to stop the Japanese. Call me an unrealistic humanitarian (and correct me if I’m wrong) but there had to be another way.

    Liked by 4 people

    • The Japanese did attempt to negotiate, but they had been ignored. In an alternative history scenario, who knows what would have transpired.

      Like

      • I shouldn’t comment further because I haven’t studied the details, but, again, if, as you say, U.S. politicians ignored all ‘Japanese attempts at negotiations,’ the blame for the carnage falls back in the lap of the bloody politicians. The horror of dropping those two atom bombs should have haunted the corrupt Truman to his grave at 88, but that was not the case.

        Liked by 1 person

        • No, it definitely was not. I copied quotes from him in a much earlier post – “In a 1958 interview, Truman was asked about the soul-searching decision he went through to decide on dropping the bomb. He replied, “Hell no, I made it like _ (snapped his fingers) _ that!” One year later at Columbia University, he said, “The atom bomb was no great decision.” He likened it to a larger gun.

          Like

  17. There will always be a debate on the pros and cons of dropping Atomic bombs. But with the Japanese mentality of fighting to the end, there was no other way we could end the war without dropping the bombs.

    Liked by 3 people

  18. Despite a very unimpressive portfolio, he became the right man for the right time to secure a successful post war strategy.

    Liked by 3 people

  19. I can always rely on you for well researched posts on the events of that period. Many thanks.

    Liked by 3 people

  20. An excellent report of the fact, GP. The bombs were horrific and the alternatives even more so.

    Liked by 3 people

  21. It never ceases to amaze me how much communist USSR distorted history. This is not what we learned at school. Thank you for the truth, GP.

    Liked by 3 people

  22. It is a horrible thought; however, given the extensive damage already inflicted with the B-29 firebombings, the Japanese refusal to cease hostilities, and the unthinkable casualties resulting from invading, only continued B-29 raids may have caused them to surrender, with incalculable damage and loss of life. Note this article: https://www.historyonthenet.com/bombing-of-tokyo
    Therefore, use of the Atomic bombs was the only solution.

    Liked by 3 people

  23. Thank you, GP, for this enlightening post. You do a great job.

    Liked by 4 people

  24. Nice to see a farewell mention for WW2 service of Queen Elizabeth, then a young Princess.

    Liked by 3 people

  25. Racism seems to have reared its ugly head. On the plus side it may have helped save Smitty’s life… There are better and worse alternatives, but rarely perfect alternatives. Good ‘toons.

    Liked by 2 people

  26. A very interesting blogpost and thank you for sharing it with us. Everybody always seems to get hot under the collar about the dropping of those two atomic bombs but why do they not bother about the use of napalm on Japanese civilians in 1945, carried out under the command of Curtis LeMay. One description was that “the US firebombing campaign destroyed 180 square miles of 67 cities, killed more than 300,000 people and injured an additional 400,000, figures that exclude the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.”
    As far as I am concerned, the atomic bombs themselves saved a huge number of Allied lives and were therefore entirely justified.
    A final point. Don’t forget that there are those who believe that we always forget the role of the Soviets who joined the war around this time. There is no way the Japanese would have wanted the red godless hordes to be on the sacred soil of Japan and, God forbid, to lay hands on the Emperor. THey would rather have surrendered…..

    Liked by 3 people

  27. GP, I have always been fascinated with the events leading up to this earth-changing decision. Everyone at the table – then or now – has their own political agenda, individual ego, and moral code. And certainly, individuals also can land on both sides of the “sacrificing some for the greater good” rationale. Looking forward to your next post on this.

    Liked by 3 people

  28. Yes, but there are estimates that the US would have lost 1 million men and at least 2 million Japanese would have been killed if we invaded the main islands. Probably not an exaggeration given the fanatic “fight-to-the-death” mentality of the Japanese army and the willingness of civilians to kill themselves rather than be captured by the “devil” Americans. It is also interesting to note that the Japanese civilian deaths from the fire-bombing of Japanese cites in the months before dropping the atomic bombs exceeded the deaths from the atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined.

    Liked by 3 people

  29. Thank you, GP, for the remainder of the important events in history.

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  30. In these days when some reinvent history it is good to get the hard facts. Thanks GP.

    Liked by 2 people

  31. The power of such a failure, at this pivot, and yet, would we be here, if not for that despicable decision?

    Liked by 5 people

  32. Dear GP
    Thank you very much for enlightening us about Truman and about the dropping of the atomic bomb. We had no idea about this background. We love your history lessons. At the same time, it makes us realise how little we know about recent history. and how little we were told about it in German schools.
    Keep healthy and happy and many thanks again
    The Fab Four of Cley
    🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

    Liked by 5 people

  33. There must have been many sleepless nights for scientists and powerful individuals grappled with the atomic bomb quandry. There is still heated debate about the use of those bombs to destroy two cities.

    Liked by 5 people

  34. Probably the hardest thing to deal with is the lack of understanding of the collective intent of the people gathered at that table. We know what we were told. I know what my father believed. I don’t think I know the whole story, and I’m not sure I ever will. The other thing we don’t know is what the alternate timeline would have been had we not dropped those two bombs. I look forward to Part-2, GP.

    I love your line about, “that only leaves politics.”

    Liked by 4 people

    • Thank you, Dan for your fine comment, and I agree that we will probably never know the whole story.
      I believe that line about politics still applies to today, haha. What would the members of our government actually do for a living otherwise?

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Pingback: Potsdam Conference, part one - A Little TOO Picture Imperfect

  2. Pingback: Potsdam Conference, part one | Ned Hamson's Second Line View of the News

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