Harry S. Truman photo

The President's News Conference

June 01, 1945

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I have got two short statements I want to read to you to start things off with.

[1.] [Reading, not literally]: "Secretary Morgenthau has told me about the shocking cases of tax evasion his men have discovered, and I am thoroughly in sympathy with his plan to enlarge the Bureau of Internal Revenue forces to whatever extent is required to insure full compliance with the law.1

1At this point the statement, as released by the White House, continues as follows: "It will be good business for the Government, because every dollar we spend in collection and enforcement will produce $20 or more in revenue. And much more important is the matter of good morals. We are not fighting this war to make millionaires, and certainly we are not going to allow the black market operators or any other racketeers to be in a favored class, when the men in the armed forces, and our citizens generally, are sacrificing so heavily."

"Yesterday, I acquainted the top officials of the Civil Service Commission with our special tax drive and the necessity for an accelerated program of recruitment. Arrangements have been made with the Civil Service Commission to have placed at every Army discharge center in the United States a qualified recruitment officer from the Civil Service Commission, fully versed in our recruitment requirements, who will steer to us the qualified veterans as they are discharged." 2

2The following final paragraph appears in the White House release of the statement: "The American people understand that sacrifices are necessary. They know the war is still far from being over. The one thing that might break down their will to keep on to complete victory would be a feeling that a few were profiting from the sacrifices of the many. We must see that there is no justification for any such feeling, and that is just what we are going to do."

I think there will be enough discharged veterans, probably, with the qualifications to meet this 10,000-man-program that Mr. Morgenthau is asking for.

It is a crime to--a terrible crime, in my opinion, to find these people who are hoarding money and living off the black markets, and things of that sort, when the sons of the rest of the population are out getting killed to save the country.

And we are going to try to put a stop to it.

I have another short statement I would like to make, with regard to prisoners of war.

[2.] [Reading]: "I wish to express my very deep sympathy for the relatives of those members of our armed forces who have the misfortune still to be held as prisoners of war by the enemy. The welfare of these men is a matter of deep concern to me, and I am determined to do everything possible to help them and to bring about their release as soon as possible.

"To this end, every effort is being made to get relief supplies and mail through to them. At the same time, definitive information is being sought concerning the names of those men who are still held as prisoners of war. The eventual liberation of these prisoners will be the result of the victory of our armed forces, and depends upon unrelenting prosecution of the war effort by every American."

These prisoners, of course, are the ones that are held by the Japanese. There are still a great many of our men who were captured in the Philippines, who are held in Manchuria and other places. We are trying our best to do what we can for them under the circumstances. And I hope we will really get something done for them.

Now, if you have any questions you want to ask, I will try to answer them.

[3.] Q. Mr. President, will you talk to us about universal military training this morning, and your views on it ?

THE PRESIDENT. I have made a--I have had a conference on universal military training with some Members of the House and the Senate, and we are now trying to work out a policy on it. I would rather not discuss it at length this morning, although when I have the thing really in form, I will be glad to give it to you.

And I have got a few views on universal military training of my own, which don't agree with the Army, and don't agree with the Navy, and don't agree with the House or Senate, so I will try to get them in shape so that we will--. I would rather wait for another time and give you a complete statement on that.

[4.] Q. Mr. President, have you been receiving a great deal of mail on the subject of these war prisoners?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, yes. We have received an enormous amount of mail. The House and Senate are receiving a lot of mail, particularly those Members of the House and Senate from the States where the men came from that were in the Philippines at the time the Japs got the Philippines.

[5.] Q. How about the Big Three meeting ? Has it moved along any?

THE PRESIDENT. It is getting closer. It isn't yet definitely decided. But I think I can say definitely that it will take place in the not far distant future.

[6.] Q. Mr. President, you told us that Secretary Wickard's resignation would be effective when he was confirmed as REA Administrator. What will be the situation if the Senate rejects his nomination?

THE PRESIDENT. His term will end when the fiscal year ends, with the others.

[7.] Q. Can you tell us, sir, have you been following in the last 24 hours the Syrian controversy?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes. I have been following it for more than 24 hours.

Q. Have you been in communication with Prime Minister Churchill?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes. By wire.

Q. How recently, sir, could you tell us?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, every day. I had a message from him this morning, and a message I sent to him this morning; and yesterday, and the day before, and the day before that. We are in constant communication all the time.

Q. Does that mean by telephone?

THE PRESIDENT. No, no. By cable.

Q. Mr. President, have you any word that the French have agreed to Mr. Churchill's request?

THE PRESIDENT. The French have ceased firing as a result of the message which Mr. Churchill sent to De Gaulle, with the approval of the American Government.

Q. Have we had any message from the French?

THE PRESIDENT. None whatever. But the firing ceased, so I am reliably informed.

Q. Sir, has the American Government also given approval to the proposal for a tripartite meeting in London, to discuss this Syrian question?

THE PRESIDENT. No. I have not--

Q. Sir, some rather informal responses were given to us yesterday at the State Department, indicating that we would be interested in such a meeting.

THE PRESIDENT. I think we would, but there has been no arrangement for such a meeting officially. Not to me, at any rate.

Q. Mr. President, could you tell us what effect this Syrian crisis may have had on your plans to meet with General de Gaulle?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I don't think they have had any effect. There has been no definite date set for General de Gaulle's meeting.

[8.] Q. Mr. President, have you heard from Mr. Hopkins or Mr. Davies as to when they are likely to return?1

THE PRESIDENT No. I haven't any definite date on that.

1On May 23 the White House announced that the President had requested Harry Hopkins and Joseph E. Davies to undertake special missions for him. Mr. Hopkins, it was stated, would proceed to Moscow for conversations with Marshal Stalin on matters in discussion between the Governments of the Soviet Union and the United States. Mr. Davies, it was announced, would go to London to discuss with Prime Minister Churchill and other members of the British Government certain matters of common interest to the United States and Great Britain arising out of the war.

Q. Do you expect them soon?


Q. Could you--

THE PRESIDENT. But don't know just yet, of course,--

Q. That's what I was going to ask.

THE PRESIDENT.--how soon; but I could say within a week or 10 days they will be back, I am sure.

[9.] Q. Was it planned for Justice Jackson to return at this time, or is it--his return a result of the fact that--

THE PRESIDENT. No. He expected to return at this time to finish up some--wind up some of his own business. He went over there for a preliminary meeting. He is expecting to return.

[10.] Q. Mr. President, have you had any conference with the leaders up on the Hill on the unemployment benefit program?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I haven't. No, I haven't.

Q. Do you expect to do anything of that kind?

THE PRESIDENT. I have had a conference with the Leaders of the House and Senate every Monday morning, and we will do it next Monday.

[11.] Q. Mr. President, there are reports from the Coast that indicate that the United Nations Conference might run on for a while yet. Do you--can you give us any light on that ?

THE PRESIDENT. No. I don't think it will be unduly prolonged. I have been looking for it to end within the next 10 days.

[12.] Q. Mr. President, when Mayor Kelly of Chicago and Mayor LaGuardia of New York left Monday, they told us you talked about the civilian defense material that is around this country.

THE PRESIDENT. They talked to me about it. I have been giving it some consideration. We are trying to work out a policy and a plan for its disposal.

Q. That hasn't come to its conclusion?

THE PRESIDENT. That hasn't been worked out as yet. I think it will be worked out very shortly.

[13.] Q. Can you tell us about the resignation of Mr. Gillette from the Surplus Property office?

THE PRESIDENT. One of the first callers I had, after I came down here, was Senator Gillette; and he told me that he was not happy in his position and wanted to quit the Surplus Property Board. I asked him to stay on until I got more familiar with the situation, and he came up yesterday and told me that he would like to quit within the next month; in fact, not later than July 15.

[14.] Q. Mr. President, is it possible that the Big Three meeting will become a Big Four, or even a Big Five meeting?

THE PRESIDENT. The only meeting I have ever discussed has been a Big Three meeting.

Q. Is it possible, Mr. President, it may be held in this country?

THE PRESIDENT. There is a possibility, but I don't think it's very probable. [Laughter]

[15.] Q. Mr. President, despite your assertion last week regarding the State Department, there are persistent reports that we will have a new Secretary of State. Could you say anything on that?

THE PRESIDENT. I can't make it any more emphatic than I did last week.

[16.] Q. Mr. President, can you tell us whether you will support, or are in sympathy with the Wagner-Dingell bill that was introduced, to expand social security ?

THE PRESIDENT. I am in favor of the principal parts of it. In fact, I think I was one of the authors of that bill in the last Congress. I haven't studied the present draft of the bill, and I am not familiar with its details, but in principle I am for it.

[17.] Q. Mr. President, getting back to the Big Three and the United Nations meeting, would a delay of a couple of weeks in concluding the United Nations Conference affect your plans for the Big Three meeting?

THE PRESIDENT. No. Not the slightest.

[18.] Q. Mr. President, could you give--provide any more details about Mr. Hopkins's mission to Russia?

THE PRESIDENT. I will give you more details when Mr. Hopkins comes home.

Reporter: Thank you, Mr. President.

[The President recalled the newsmen as they started to leave and continued the news conference.]

THE PRESIDENT. Oh--Oh--I have got an announcement to make--Voices: Just a minute--just a minute!

[19.] THE PRESIDENT. I forgot something. I have persuaded Sam Rosenman to stay with me for another year, and I am very happy that he is going to do it.

Q. What will be his job?

THE PRESIDENT. The same as he has always had.

Q. Special Assistant, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. Special Assistant to the President.

Q. Thank you.

[20.] THE PRESIDENT. Oh, yes. I am releasing a message to the Congress this morning, which will have--[laughter]--a summary on the war. It will be released at noon. Read that summary very carefully. You can't read the message, it's too thick! [Laughter]

Note: President Truman's ninth news conference was held in his office at the White House at 10:40 a.m. on Friday, June 1, 1945.

Harry S Truman, The President's News Conference Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/232262

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