Memorandum by the Special Assistant to
the Secretary of State (Bohlen)
Subject: Meeting of President Truman with Generalissimo Stalin at Stalin’s Villa, 3 p.m., July 18, 1945, on the occasion of the President’s courtesy call on Stalin
Present: President Truman, Secretary of State Byrnes, Mr. Bohlen; Generalissimo Stalin, Foreign Commissar Molotov, Mr. Pavlov
The opening remarks recorded in my longhand notes on this meeting1 refer to the President’s comment on the scenery from the balcony of Stalin’s villa, which overlooked the lake, with dark trees in the background.
Stalin said that the Soviet Union had received a communication from the Japanese, and he handed to the President a copy of a note from Sato, the Japanese Ambassador at Moscow, with a message from the Emperor.2 Secretary Byrnes then referred to something which Harry Hopkins had told him following Hopkins’ return from Moscow in June 1945.[Page 1588]
Stalin inquired of the President whether it was worth while answer this communication. The President replied that he had no respect for the good faith of the Japanese. Stalin pointed out that the Soviet Union was not at war with Japan and that it might be desirable to lull the Japanese to sleep, and possibly a general and unspecific answer might be returned, pointing out that the exact character of the proposed Konoye mission was not clear. Alternatives would be that they might ignore it completely and not answer, or send back a definite refusal.
The President said that he thought the first course of action would be satisfactory. Molotov pointed out that it would be completely factual, since it was not entirely clear what the Konoye mission would have to offer.3
Secretary Byrnes observed that it was possible that this Japanese move had been inspired by fear of what the Soviets intended to do. Molotov said that he was sure the Japanese could guess, and Stalin remarked that they had observed Soviet forces and tanks, etc., moving in the Far East. There seems to have been a discussion here of previous Japanese peace feelers not only to the U. S. S. R. but also to the Allied powers, and the President mentioned that the United States had had some indication via Sweden.4