Truman Papers

No. 1275
The Joint Chiefs of Staff to the President1
top secret

Memorandum for the President

The Joint Chiefs of Staff feel that the Russian Chiefs of Staff should have the opportunity of holding conversations with the United States Chiefs of Staff as early in the Terminal Conference as they may desire. It would be desirable that this opportunity be offered them by the President in the course of his first conversations with Marshal Stalin.

The United States Chiefs of Staff have presented no agenda to the Russians. We have advised them that we would be pleased to discuss with them the exchange of liaison parties and intelligence on the Japanese situation, and that we are ready to discuss any other problems which the Russians may wish to present.2 In view of this fact, the suggestion of a meeting should properly originate with Marshal [Page 1324] Stalin. Failing such suggestion from Marshal Stalin, however, it would be in keeping with our proposed procedure insofar as the Russians are concerned if the President should suggest to Marshal Stalin that his Chiefs of Staff are here and are prepared to discuss these and any other matters which the Russian Chiefs of Staff may wish to present.3

For the Joint Chiefs of Staff:
William D. Leahy
Fleet Admiral, U. S. Navy,
Chief of Staff to the Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy.
  1. Attached to this memorandum is the following manuscript memorandum by Leahy: “President ask Marshal Stalin[:] When will Soviet Staff officers meet with the American Staff.” For Truman’s endorsement, see ante, p. 183.
  2. See vol. i, documents Nos. 171 and 185.
  3. Stimson’s diary contains the following passages relating to arrangements for a Soviet-American military meeting and to broader aspects of the Soviet relationship to the war against Japan:

    “[July 23:] After lunch and a short rest I received Generals Marshall and Arnold, and had in McCloy and Bundy at the conference. The President had told me at a meeting in the morning that he was very anxious to know whether Marshall felt that we needed the Russians in the war or whether we could get along without them, and that was one of the subjects we talked over. Of course Marshall could not answer directly or explicitly. We had desired the Russians to come into the war originally for the sake of holding up in Manchuria the Japanese Manchurian Army. That now was being accomplished as the Russians have amassed their forces on that border, Marshall said, and were poised, and the Japanese were moving up positions in their Army. But he pointed out that even if we went ahead in the war without the Russians, and compelled the Japanese to surrender to our terms, that would not prevent the Russians from marching into Manchuria anyhow and striking, thus permitting them to get virtually what they wanted in the surrender terms. Marshall told us during our conference that he thought thus far in the military conference they had handled only the British problems and that these are practically all settled now and probably would be tied up and finished tomorrow. He suggested that it might be a good thing, something which would call the Russians to a decision one way or the other, if the President would say to Stalin tomorrow that ‘inasmuch as the British have finished and are going home, I suppose I might as well let the American Chiefs of Staff go away also’ that might bring the Russians to make known what their position was and what they were going to do, and of course that indicated that Marshall felt as I felt sure he would that now with our new weapon we would not need the assistance of the Russians to conquer Japan. …

    “[July 24:] At nine-twenty I went to ‘The Little White House’ and was at once shown into the President’s room where he was alone with his work, and he told me about the events of yesterday’s meeting with which he seemed to be very well satisfied. I then told him of my conference with Marshall and the implication that could be inferred as to his feeling that the Russians were not needed. I also told the President of the question which Marshall had suggested might be put to Stalin as to the Americans going home, and he said that he would do that this afternoon at the end of the hearing [i. e., the plenary meeting], but he told me that there had been a meeting called by Leahy of the Military Staffs to meet either this afternoon or I think tomorrow morning. ...”

    For subsequent accounts of Truman’s own attitude, at the time of the Berlin Conference, with respect to Soviet entry into the war against Japan and the opinions of his other principal advisers at Berlin on this subject, see Truman, Year of Decisions, pp. 314–315, 322–323, 387, 411; Byrnes, Speaking Frankly, p. 208; Byrnes, All in One Lifetime, pp. 297–298; Leahy, I Was There, p. 422; Dwight D. Eisenhower, Crusade in Europe (Garden City, 1948), pp. 441–442.

  4. The original bears only a typed signature.