Editor’s Note

—No official record of the substance of this conversation has been found. Stimson’s diary entry for July 22 contains the following summary:

“At ten-forty Bundy and I again went to the British headquarters and talked to the Prime Minister and Lord Cherwell for over an hour. Churchill read Groves’ report1 in full. He told me that he had noticed at the meeting of the Three yesterday that Truman was evidently much fortified by something that had happened and that he stood up to the Russians in a most emphatic and decisive manner, telling them as to certain demands that they absolutely could not have and that the United States was entirely against them. He said ‘Now I know what happened to Truman yesterday. I couldn’t understand it. When he got to the meeting after having read this report he was a changed man. He told the Russians just where they got on and off and generally bossed the whole meeting’. Churchill said he now understood how this pepping up had taken place and that he felt the same way. His own attitude confirmed this admission. He now not only was not worried about giving the Russians information on the matter but was rather inclined to use it as an argument in our favor in the negotiations. The sentiment of the four of us was unanimous in thinking that it was advisable to tell the Russians at least that we were working on that subject and intended to use it if and when it was successfully finished.”

This conversation is apparently the one referred to in Churchill, Triumph and Tragedy, page 638.

According to Bundy (“Remembered Words”, The Atlantic, March 1957, page 57), Churchill exclaimed after learning the contents of the report of the first atomic test: “Stimson, what was gunpowder? Trivial. What was electricity? Meaningless. This atomic bomb is the Second Coming in Wrath.”