Harry S. Truman photo

The President's News Conference

May 15, 1945

THE PRESIDENT. I am very sure that the first thing you are principally interested in is the free press in Germany. I would like to read a little statement here, and if you want to ask me some questions about it, I will try to answer them.

Q. Will you read slowly, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. I will read it very slowly.

[1.] "General Eisenhower has advised me that he has issued no policy or order dealing with the importation of publications into Germany. The General has expressed the personal opinion that a free press and a free flow of information and ideas should prevail in Germany in a manner consistent with military security.

"General Eisenhower has emphasized, however, that there can be no restoration of a free German press in Germany until the elimination of Nazi and militarist influence has been completed. We are not going to lose the peace by giving license to racialist Pan-Germans, Nazis and militarists, so that they can misuse democratic rights in order to attack Democracy as Hitler did."

Now I agree with General Eisenhower on that.

And if you want to ask me some questions, why fire away.

Q. Mr. President, is that any reversal of the position taken last week by--

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, it is.

Q.--Elmer Davis?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, it is. Mr. Davis was in Europe, in conference with SHAEF on the lower level, and Mr. Davis thought he had reached a policy with them on this. After that was released, I got in touch with General Eisenhower himself, and he informed me of just what I told you. Mr. Davis acted in good faith. Mr. Davis thought he was outlining the policy which had been agreed on. Apparently, from General Eisenhower's statement, there had been no policy agreed on, and it has not yet been agreed on. But as you see, General Eisenhower is for a free press in Germany, when the time arrives to give it to them.

Mr. Davis was acting in good faith, be sure and get that.

[2.] Q. Mr. President, speaking of the military situation, as mentioned in the statement, have you decided what our position is going to be on the handling of the German general staff, and the militarist influences in Germany ?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I haven't. That is in the hands of Mr. Jackson-Mr. Justice Jackson, I should say.

[3.] Q. Mr. President, at your first press conference you said you would give us your views on the repeal of the Johnson Act.

THE PRESIDENT. On that repeal, I will read you a statement of President Roosevelt's as to why it is necessary, if you like.

"At present, our foreign investment programs--" this is direct quotes from the statement issued by President Roosevelt--

"At present our foreign investment programs are impeded by legislation which restricts loans to those countries which are in default on loans arising out of the First World War. For both the International Bank and the Export-Import Bank to operate effectively, as well as to achieve an adequate flow of private investment, it is essential that these restrictions be removed."

That is just as true as it can be. I never was for the Johnson Act in the first place.

Q. Mr. President, is that his Message to Congress--

THE PRESIDENT. I think this--let's see--yes, in the Budget Message to Congress of January 3, 1945--just the recent Budget Message, the one which we are in now.

[4.] Q. Do you plan any early meeting with either Prime Minister Churchill and/or Marshal Stalin?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, Mr. Eden was in to see me yesterday to discuss that question and our hope that there will be a possibility for the three of us to meet and discuss the coming peace program around the table. I can't say anything about the date, or how soon that will be. It depends on business right here. As you know, I am a very busy person.

Q. Mr. President, is it possible that General de Gaulle might be included in this meeting?

THE PRESIDENT. The Big Three will have the meeting.

Q. Is there any possibility that may be at San Francisco, before the present thing breaks up?

THE PRESIDENT. No, there isn't any possibility of its being at San Francisco.

Q. Did you say the Big Three will have the meeting? In other words, there will be a meeting? It's just the--

THE PRESIDENT. I hope so. I am not saying there will be a meeting. I am saying I hope there will be one.

Q. Mr. President, I am not trying to pin you down on the time element, but are you looking into it in terms of soon ?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, it won't be in the very distant future. It won't be immediately. [Laughter]

[5.] Q. Mr. President, can you tell us yet when you will have your press conference on taxes?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I can't. We are still working on that, and we will have one very shortly.

Q. Did you see Senator George's statement this morning?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, I saw Senator George's statement--not this morning, I saw the other the other day--I didn't see the one this morning.

Q. He was foreseeing a 5-year plan for gradual reduction of taxes until they reached the prewar level.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I want it distinctly understood that there can be no reduction in taxes until the war is over. I want that thoroughly understood. There is no possible way to reduce taxes until this war is over, and we still have a war to win in the Pacific. So you can talk about taxes all you want to, but we have got to meet obligations to make the United States of America good, and you can only make them good by taxation. And every man in this country is a partner in the Government of the United States. There are 85 million individual bondholders in the United States, and they must be protected; and in order to protect them, you have got to collect the money to make those bonds good. And that has to be done by taxes. And you can do it no other way.

Does that answer your question? [Laughter]

[6.] Q. Mr. President, there is a report that you were about to shake up the Veterans Administration, and that part of the shakeup will be to appoint Bennett Champ Clark. Do you plan such a shakeup?

THE PRESIDENT. I can't--I didn't hear the question--I am not planning a shakeup, but I didn't know what it was about.

Q. Veterans Administration.

THE PRESIDENT. No, I am not planning any immediate shakeup in the Veterans Administration. The Veterans Administration, of course, will have to be expanded to meet the situation which we will face as soon as the soldiers return in large numbers. And the Veterans Administration, of course, will have to be put on a basis to meet this situation, just as it was put on a basis to meet the situation after the First World War. That will be done. I don't think it necessitates any serious shakeup.

Q. You said you did not see any immediate shakeup?

THE PRESIDENT. That's what I meant.

Q. Can we quote that word immediate?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I wish you wouldn't, for this reason, because I don't want it to appear in any way that I have any intention of immediately discharging anybody. I am trying to get this "mess" to operate, and I want you to be as lenient with me as you possibly can. The Veterans Administration will be modernized; let's put it that way. That should be done as soon as possible, but I can't do it immediately.

Q. The second part of my question, Mr. President, was, do you intend to appoint Bennett Champ Clark

THE PRESIDENT. I do not.

[7.] Q. Mr. President, is it true that you are going to send Dr. R. G. Sproul of the University of California to Moscow on a mission ?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes. He is going with Mr. Pauley. I want to say to you, since you brought that subject up, that I think we have the finest layout here on this reparations thing that has ever been gotten together. It is headed by Mr. Pauley and Dr. Lubin, and we have Dr. Sproul--

Q. What's that first name, sir?

Mr. Daniels: Pauley.

Q. I mean Sproul.

THE PRESIDENT. Robert Gordon. And here is a fellow that must be descended from a Civil War veteran. His name is Jubal R. Parten. [Laughter]

Q. Steve Early!

Q. Steve's relative!

THE PRESIDENT. Jubal Early, as you remember. [Laughter]

Q. What is Parten going to do?

THE PRESIDENT. He is industrial adviser. I am going to give you all this--I think there's a release for you on this, but I will read the last sentence of that release:1

1For the full text of the statement by the President, see Item 32.

"The men chosen for this vital mission should inspire the confidence of all Americans. They are eminently qualified to do the job."

And I believe that, with everything that is in me.

And it's as fine a list as I ever saw. I don't know what we are going to do for experts for the peace conference, if Pauley takes them all. [Laughter]

[8.] Q. Mr. President, can you tell us what further steps are planned in the anthracite strike?

THE PRESIDENT. Whatever steps are necessary to get coal out. Coal is what we want, and coal is what we are going to have. Reporter: Thank you, Mr. President.

Note: President Truman's seventh news conference was held in his office at the White House at 10:50 a.m. on Tuesday, May 15, 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/233390

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