Harry S. Truman photo

The President's News Conference

November 20, 1945

THE PRESIDENT. [1.] I want to announce some very important changes in the Army command.

[Reading] "Ever since Japan's surrender, General Marshall has been desirous of relinquishing his position as Chief of Staff. He feels that his primary duty of directing the mobilization, the training, and employment of our wartime armies has been completed, and that the military is entering a new and lengthy administration of an interim and postwar army. General Marshall is of the firm opinion that the decisions incident to that administration should be made by his successor in office, who will be charged with the responsibility of carrying out those decisions.

"I need not reiterate my reasons as to why I am loath to deprive myself of General Marshall's services as Chief of Staff of the Army."

I have said that I think he is the greatest military man that this country ever produced--or any other country, for that matter.

[Continuing reading] "Accordingly, I am relieving him of his duties as Chief of Staff of the Army, and will today send to the Senate the nomination of General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower as General Marshall's successor in that office. Pending the action of the Senate, I have designated General Eisenhower as acting Chief of Staff of the Army.

"I have also approved the selection of General Joseph T. McNarney to relieve General Eisenhower as Commanding General, United States Forces, European Theater, and Commander in Chief of the United States Forces of Occupation in Germany and the Representative of the United States of America on the Control Council of Germany." [Ends reading]

I am also appointing--sending down the name of Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz to be Chief of Naval Operations in the Department of the Navy to succeed Admiral King. Admiral Nimitz will return to the Pacific, and Admiral Spruance will take over the Pacific command. Then Admiral Nimitz will come back here for a few weeks' rest, and then he and Admiral King will work out the taking over of the Chief of Naval Operations, after he has had his vacation.

Q. Didn't Admiral King have two jobs, Mr. President? Isn't he Commander in Chief of the Fleet and Chief of Naval Operations both?

THE PRESIDENT. He was Chief of Naval Operations, but Admiral Nimitz is in command of the Pacific Fleet. I don't think Admiral King had the job--

Q. He had a dual title, Mr. President. Commander of the United States Fleet--

THE PRESIDENT. That's right.

Q.--and Chief--

THE PRESIDENT. And Chief of the whole Navy.

Q. He doesn't retain any status in the Navy?

THE PRESIDENT. No. Admiral King asked to be relieved at the same time General Marshall asked to be relieved, immediately after the close of the Japanese--after the Japanese surrender, and I didn't want either one of them to quit and have prevented it up to this time, but I think it has to be accepted.

Q. What are Spruance's initials?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't know what Admiral Spruance's initials are.

Q. Does Admiral Nimitz get both jobs? He is Commander in Chief of the Fleet--

THE PRESIDENT. He will have the same position as Admiral King has.

Q. That is more or less indefinite, then--I mean as to the time?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes. It will be after Christmas before Admiral Nimitz will relieve Admiral King.

Q. When will the Eisenhower-Marshall change take place, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. Immediately.

Q. Immediately? Thank you.

[2.] Q. Mr. President, do you have any comment on the progress, or rather lack of progress, of the Labor-Management Conference?

THE PRESIDENT. I am still hopeful that they will come out with a concrete program for the settlement of disputes between labor and management, just as I suggested that they do when they started to work.

[3.] Q. Mr. President, do you have anything on the resignations of General Arnold and General Somervell, who wanted to quit at the same time General Marshall did?

THE PRESIDENT. They have both asked to be relieved, but their resignations have not yet been accepted.

[4.] Q. Mr. President, the Washington Post has started a public opinion poll among the voteless citizens here--

Q. Mr. President, what was that paper? [The President reached for a copy of the Washington Post, and held it up to the newsmen]

THE PRESIDENT. This is it. [Laughter] Of course I believe that every citizen of the United States ought to have the right to vote--including the citizens of Washington.

Q. What do you think of the poll? [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I suppose it is as accurate as the Gallup poll, isn't it ? [Continued laughter]

Q. The idea behind it, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. The idea behind it is all right. There are practical difficulties, however, which should be worked out for the benefit of the citizens of Washington and for the benefit of the Government of the United States; and I am sure that they will be properly worked out.

[5.] Q. Mr. President, are there any indications that your office might act in the Detroit strike?

THE PRESIDENT. What is that?

Q. Are there any indications your office might take a hand in the Detroit strike trouble?


[6.] Q. Mr. President, are you ready as yet to name the members of the Anglo-American Commission on Palestine?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I am not. I am considering several people. I can't name them, however, until the government of the--Great Britain and our own Government agree on the size of the Commission and its number.

[7.] Q. Mr. President, this morning there was a resume of the different troubles that we are in throughout the world in connection with war, with the idea that there is peace but it is still not peace. Is there anything that you could say to us, sir, that would--that would be a sort of a beacon for ... [here the questioner paused]

THE PRESIDENT. Beacon for what? [Laughter]

Q. I thought you would finish it. [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. Finish your question and I will answer it--I will make an attempt to answer it.

Q. Have something for the people to shoot at ? [Loud and uproarious laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. Well, it isn't a matter of being something for the people to shoot at. It is something for the establishment of world peace, and I think the conference which was held last week was a first step toward implementing the United Nations Organization which will be the fundamental organization through which we can get peace in the world. And it is necessary to establish confidence between the various governments in the world in order to have that peace. That takes a little time, a little exchange of--a little necessary exchange of viewpoints and ideas.

Every country is having exactly the same sort of troubles that we are, and I think every country is trying to meet its domestic troubles and not paying as much attention to the international situation as they will at a later date.

I am not at all pessimistic on the final outcome. We will have permanent peace in the world. It is necessary that we have permanent peace. We are on the threshold, I think, of the greatest age in the history of mankind. We must grasp that opportunity, else the other road is complete destruction.

[8.] Q. Mr. President, may I ask if it is your intention to ask the United Nations session, which holds its first meeting in January, to set up the atomic bomb commission which has been proposed as a result of last week's conference?

THE PRESIDENT. That's the--that's the program.

Q. At the first meeting?

THE PRESIDENT. That's the program.

Q. Thank you.

Q. Mr. President, will that request go to the Assembly, or to the Security Council, or what are your ideas for its construction?

THE PRESIDENT. It will. We will have to work out that concrete practical program when the United Nations session takes place. I think every one of the countries ought to have a hand in it.

Q. Mr. President, have you had any official expressions of opinion from Russia, China, or France as to the Anglo-American-Canadian pronouncement on the atomic bomb?

THE PRESIDENT. No. We haven't had time to get the replies yet.

Q. Mr. President, to clear up that one point that every country ought to have a hand in it, are we to take it to mean that you mean the Assembly should construct it?

THE PRESIDENT. That's right.

Q. Mr. President, are we still manufacturing atomic bombs?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, we are.

Q. What for, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. Experimental purposes.

[9.] Q. Mr. President, are you ready to announce anything about a new Farm Security Administrator?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I am not.

Q. Mr. Anderson is worrying about it.

[10.] Q. Mr. President, on that bomb question, there are some of us who thought that even after the industrial know-how was made available that there would be a missing link, so to speak, between the industrial production and manufacturing of the bomb, and we were not turning loose that secret. Is that correct, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. That is a question that I can't answer intelligently because it takes a scientist who is familiar with all the p's and q's and I don't claim to be a physicist; but it is the program as outlined in the agreement between Great Britain, Canada, and ourselves, to try to implement that tremendous discovery which we have made for peacetime purposes instead of for wartime purposes.

And one of the ways to do that would be to use the material which has been set aside for--which has been made into the bombs--for experimental purposes for peacetime use in industrial programs. That will take some time. It will take a lot of scientific research and information, but I think we will finally arrive at that stage. We must arrive at that stage, or else we will arrive at a stage of destruction.

[11.] Q. Mr. President, is there any reason why the Byron Price report on Germany can't be released for publication?

THE PRESIDENT. No, there isn't--we are not ready to release it. It will be released at the proper time.1

1See Item 201.

[12.] Q. Mr. President, the two new military leaders--Eisenhower and Nimitz--took conflicting sides on how they ought to reorganize the postwar defenses. Does the Commander in Chief have a point of view?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, the Commander in Chief has a point of view, and he will express it at the proper time. [Laughter]

Q. In a message to the Congress?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, and I think that they will all be in the boat when the Commander in Chief expresses his opinion.

[13.] Q. Mr. President, do you contemplate an early meeting of the Big Three?


Reporter: Thank you, Mr. President.

Note: President Truman's thirty-fourth news conference was held in his office at the White House at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, November 20, 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/230789

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