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Truman At Potsdam
His newly discovered diary reveals how the President saw the conference that ushered in the Cold War
June/july 1980 | Volume 31, Issue 4
… I hardly ever look back for the purpose of contemplating “what might have been”: Potsdam brings to mind “what might have been.” … Certainly … Russia had no program except to take over the free part of Europe, kill as many Germans as possible, and fool the Western Alliance. Britain only wanted to control the Eastern Mediterranean, keep India, oil in Persia, the Suez Canal, and whatever else was floating loose.
There was an innocent idealist at one corner of that Round Table who wanted free waterways, Danube-Rhine-Kiel Canal, Suez, Black Sea Straits, Panama all free, a restoration of Germany, France, Italy, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Rumania, and the Balkans, and a proper treatment of Latvia, Lithuania, Finland, free Philippines, Indonesia, Indo-China, a Chinese Republic, and a free Japan.
What a show that was! But a large number of agreements were reached in spite of the setup—only to be broken as soon as the unconscionable Russian Dictator returned to Moscow! And I liked the little son of a bitch. …
Professor Ferrell’s book Off the Record : The Private Papers of Harry S. Truman will be published by Harper and Row next autumn.