Stimson Papers

Memorandum by the Secretary of War (Stimson)

Conference With Generalissimo Stalin 25 July 1945[,] 1225 to 1243 at Schloss Cecilienhof, Potsdam, Germany

I stated to Stalin that I was very grateful for the privilege of paying my respects to him; that I was sorry that my duties in the United States called me away from the Conference before its conclusion. I said that there was another reason for my being grateful to the Generalissimo—I had followed during the course of the war the records of the Conferences at Teheran and Yalta, and in that respect I greatly appreciated the help and attitude which the Generalissimo had taken regarding a project I was greatly interested in, namely, the crossing of the Channel as well as the landings in southern France. I distinctly remembered the Generalissimo’s language—it was terse and clear—that he distinguished between a supporting action and an action which was a mere diversion. I considered that the position he had taken contributed to our success—not only to the success in France, but also later, in Germany.

Stalin stated that this was an epochal war unparallelled in history. He greatly appreciated what I had said, and continued saying that he was afraid that he had said less at Teheran and Yalta than he should have said, especially with respect to the Channel operations. This was unparallelled in history. Now we were faced with the Japanese War—also unparallelled in history.

I said that I was particularly interested in the Pacific war. My experiences when I was Governor General in the Philippines made me familiar with the terrain and people in the Pacific.

At this point Stalin again interjected that the Pacific war was unparallelled in history because of its magnitude. I agreed and continued, saying that I hoped that the combination of the forces of the Soviet Union, the United States and the United Kingdom, would bring a speedy victory—not only complete, but short.

Stalin stated that we all would operate on the same field of battle—it was high time for this.

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I said that I hoped our common effort would not only bring success, but bring it promptly. Stalin said that Three Power intervention in the Pacific would surely speed up victory. This was a good thing for the entire world as it would reduce losses. I stated this was one thing we were anxious to have for all.

I stated that I was familiar with history and that I had taken great satisfaction in knowing that the two countries—Russia and the United States—had had no issues or differences during the time of the existence of my Government. Stalin said that that was our great fortune. I continued that this was largely because we had no reasons for dispute, and that our natural objectives were the same. The Generalissimo stated that the Russians and the Americans easily understood each other—more so than in the case of the Russians and the British or the Russians and the French. Russians and Americans had something in common. I stated that I hoped that that was so. I continued that I would do everything in my power to follow that line. I stated that I had noticed, as doubtless the Generalissimo had, that our soldiers encountered no difficulty in working together. I therefore thought that it was important that our commanders should make every effort to live together like our soldiers. Stalin appeared to be entirely in agreement with this view.