Harry S. Truman photo

The President's News Conference

October 31, 1945

THE PRESIDENT. [1.] I thought maybe--I didn't have much to tell you this morning, I said it all last night--but I thought maybe you might be interested in the Hooper rating of the radio situation last night. It was 43.8 percent--32 million listeners. And 98.4 percent of all the radios that were in use were listening to the conversation. I will give you a copy of this, here.

[2.] I have a letter here from General Eisenhower, which is a most interesting document; and I haven't had a chance to have it mimeographed, but will have it mimeographed for you immediately after the conference so you can all have copies. It is dated October 26, and is from the headquarters of the United States Forces in the European theater, and it is addressed to me through the Chief of Staff. I am going to read it to you because it is a very, very interesting document.

Q. Slowly, will you, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. I will read it slowly, but I will have it mimeographed so you can all have copies, if you don't get the gist of it, but I think you will.

[Reading] "You will recall that when you were in Frankfurt, you and I agreed upon the desirability of so organizing the Army's current functions in Europe as to facilitate turning U.S. participation in the government of Germany over to civil authority at the earliest possible moment. It is my understanding that the War Department completely supports this view. Every organizational step we have taken has been accomplished in such a way as to facilitate eventual transfer. Nevertheless, I am quite sure that there is a very widespread lack of realization as to the governing intent along this line, basing this statement upon the frequency with which visitors express astonishment that this purpose exists as a guiding policy.

"Naturally, I am not in position to recommend an exact date on which such transfer should take place, since I have assumed that the four interested governments would first have to agree in principle, and thereafter to make arrangements for simultaneous change from military to civil representatives. Moreover, there may be considerations, important to our government, of which I am unaware. However, from our local viewpoint, other governments could well be asked to agree to the proposal at the earliest date that can be mutually agreed upon, in no event later than June 1, 1946. As quickly as the matter could be agreed in principle, but not before, then actual completion of the American civil organization should be undertaken by whatever civilian you might, at that time, designate as its eventual head. Such things as these require time, but I am confident that we should not allow this detail to obscure, in the mind of any interested person, the clarity of the objective toward which we are striving.

"The matter of civil government of Germany is entirely separate from the occupational duty of the Army, which responsibility will persist as long as our own Government deems necessary. The true function of the Army in this region is to provide for the United States that reserve of force and power that can insure within our zone the prompt enforcement of all laws and regulations prescribed by the Group Council, or in the absence of such law and regulation, the policies laid down by our own Government for the United States zone.

"As you pointed out when here, separation of occupational and governmental responsibility is sound just as soon as there is no longer any military or security reason for holding them together, if for no other reason than because of its conformity to the American principle of keeping the Army as such out of the civil government field. Respectfully, Dwight D. Eisenhower."

I am in agreement with what the General has said. We discussed it while he was in Frankfurt, and eventually it will be carried out.

Q. Mr. President, may I ask you, was that June 1st or June 30th--that date?

THE PRESIDENT. June 1st, 1946.

Q. Mr. President, in other words, he wants to turn over by June 1st, 1946, the--

THE PRESIDENT. The civil government, which in no way affects the occupational forces as occupational forces; but the civil government would be under a civilian.

Q. The American civilian has to be appointed?

THE PRESIDENT. That's right.

Q. Mr. President, have we had any expressions from the other governments on that?

THE PRESIDENT. No. This is since I had the conversation at Frankfurt. This is the first discussion that I have had on it. And the State Department and the War Department and the President are in agreement on this policy.

Q. Will the next step be to see if that can be worked out with the other governments?


Q. Mr. President, will the principle eventually be followed as well in Japan?


Q. Mr. President, would that entail the establishment of a German police force under American command to handle the direct policing--

THE PRESIDENT. Well, that is already in effect.

Q. That would be the general principle of the--

THE PRESIDENT. That is already in effect, and the military forces would be kept there merely as occupational forces to enforce the law, in case the local police could not do it.

Q. Would that government be under the State Department, or would it be a separate organization?

THE PRESIDENT. It would be a direct organization under the President of the United States.

Q. Mr. President, is it in connection with that letter from General Eisenhower that General Clay has now returned to the United States-or is now returning?

THE PRESIDENT. No. It has no connection. General Clay--as I know--is not returning only maybe on leave, or on some business of his own, because General Clay is one of our ablest generals, and we are trying to keep him over there.

Q. He is the military government man, more or less, and I thought he might be working out--

THE PRESIDENT. No. He is still working on the details of the government that is now in force over there.

[3.] Q. Mr. President, it was said in the House of Commons yesterday that President Roosevelt and former Prime Minister Churchill reached a secret agreement at Quebec on the peacetime use of the atom bomb. Do you --

THE PRESIDENT. I don't think that is true. As nearly as I can find out on the atom energy release program, Great Britain, Canada, and the United States are in equal partnership on its development. And Mr. Attlee is coming over here to discuss that phase of the situation with the president of the United States.

Q. Well, Mr. President, are these three countries in equal possession of the knowledge of how we produced that bomb?


Q. Great Britain knows as much about how we produce that as we do?


Q. Is that going to be the only topic that you and Mr. Attlee are going to discuss?

THE PRESIDENT. That is the only topic that has been requested to be discussed.

Q. But that doesn't foreclose the--

THE PRESIDENT. Mr. Attlee can talk to me about anything he chooses, but he is coming over here to talk to me about the atom bomb.

Q. Mr. President a London paper suggested that--I believe the London Herald, a labor paper--suggested that this might be the prelude of a new Big Three conference. Do you feel that way about it, or is there any possibility of that?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't think I can intelligently answer that question, because the next step, after the Governments of Great Britain, Canada, and the United States have agreed on an international policy, will be to discuss the matter with the other governments of the world.

[4.] Q. In connection with this Big Three, have you had any reply from Mr. Stalin from the material presented to him by Mr. Harriman?


Q. Is there anything you can tell us about that reply?

THE PRESIDENT. It was a satisfactory reply.

Q. Does that mean, Mr. President, that you expect Russia will be represented at this Far Eastern Advisory Commission meeting?


Q. Can you say when that reply was received, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. While I was in New York City making a speech on Navy Day.

Q. Mr. Truman, does that also mean that there would be an early convening or reconvening of the Council of Foreign Ministers, possibly?

THE PRESIDENT. I can't answer that question until further developments.

Q. Mr. President, when you say you expect Russia to take part in the meeting now going on here, does that mean that an agreement has been reached on the control council?

THE PRESIDENT. No. This meeting is for the purpose of discussing that program, for the other Allies to join us in the occupation of Japan.

Q. Has direct acceptance or direct indication of Russia's intention to participate been received?

THE PRESIDENT. No, it has not.

Q. But you expect it to come in?


Q. Soon?


Q. Did the letter from--or the answer from Marshal Stalin postulate any specific steps?

THE PRESIDENT. No. It was just a friendly answer to my cation to him.

Q. Is there any reason why it couldn't be made public, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, there is. When the time comes for it to be made public, that will be made public; but the reason has not yet appeared.

[5.] Q. What do you think about the legislation reported out by the House Military Affairs Committee yesterday, on prescribing penalties for breaking no-strike contracts?

THE PRESIDENT. When that comes to me for consideration, I will give you my opinion of it.

Q. Mr. President

Q. Mr. President, do you have any answer from Mr. Attlee on the Palestine question?

THE PRESIDENT. Let the lady ask her question, and then I will answer you.

[6.] Q. Mr. President, would you assent to Congress recessing before it has dealt with the legislation you dealt with last night?

THE PRESIDENT. The Congress has a right to vote its own recess, but I hope the Congress will not recess until the program is finished.

Q. Doesn't the Congress usually ask the President if he has further business?

THE PRESIDENT. I haven't been here long enough to answer that question. [Laughter] I'm sorry, I didn't mean to be sarcastic.

[7.] Q. Mr. President, last week you told us that the Crowley letter was "somewhere around the White House." Could you tell us whether--

THE PRESIDENT. It had been released. The one to which I had referred had been released. 1

1 See footnote on page 347.

Q. There is no other letter?

THE PRESIDENT. No other letter for release. I have had several letters from Mr. Crowley. The conversation with Mr. Crowley on his resignation from his job was verbal, and took place right here in this office, and I let him go reluctantly.

[8.] Q. Mr. President, I repeat that question, have you had any answer from Mr. Attlee on the Palestine question?

THE PRESIDENT. I have had two or three messages from Mr. Attlee with regard to the Palestine question.

Q. Would you care to give us any indication as to what our Government's policy is in regard to that?

THE PRESIDENT. No, because it is still under discussion.1

1 On November 13 the White House released a statement by the President concerning the problem of immigration of Jews into Palestine, together with a letter to Prime Minister Attlee dated August 31, See Items 187 and 188.

[9.] Q. Mr. President, pursuing this Crowley thing, have you decided on the question of the Export-Import Bank appointments that you said you were considering last week?

THE PRESIDENT. I am trying to make a decision today. I have several people under consideration.

Q. Is Mr. Crowley still on that list?


[10.] Q. Mr. President, have you named the Government delegate to the ILO meeting in Denmark next month?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't think I have. There have been so many things across my desk, I can't remember having made that. I will look it up here and find out.

[11.] Q. Mr. President, on your wage-price policy announcement last night, could you tell us what the maximum percentage wage increase on an industry wide basis--

THE PRESIDENT. There is no such maximum thing on an industry wide basis. Each case is an individual case, and that is the reason we have got to do it by collective bargaining.

[12.] Q. Mr. President, you said recently that politics is in the air again. Would you be a candidate for re-election in 1948? [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. On my individual rights, I don't think I have to testify against myself at this time. [Laughter]

Q. That's pretty good.

THE PRESIDENT. That matter has not entered my thoughts. I am too busy with other things.

Q. Is Mr. Hannegan too busy?

THE PRESIDENT. Mr. Hannegan is the political representative of the Democratic Party in the Cabinet of the President, and that is his job to look after those things, but I don't think he is working on anything of that kind.

Q. He seems to think he is, Mr. President. [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. You will have to question him on that. I don't answer for him.

Reporter: Thank you, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT. You're welcome.

Note: President Truman's thirty-second news conference was held in his office at the White House at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, October 31, 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/230389

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