Letter to Eleanor Roosevelt

Harry S. Truman

March 16, 1948

Dear Mrs. Roosevelt:

I appreciated most highly your letter of the thirteenth enclosing copy of the one which you had written to the Secretary of State. I think all of us are in practically the same frame of mind and I, of course, am glad to have your ideas and viewpoint.

I think if you will go over the history of the relationship between Russia and us you will find that every effort was made by President Roosevelt and by me to get along with them. Certain agreements were entered into at Tehran and Yalta and so far as our part of those agreements is concerned we carried them out to the letter.

When I arrived at Potsdam for that conference I found that the Poles at the suggestion of Russia had moved into eastern Germany and that Russia had taken over a section of eastern Poland. The agreement at Yalta provided for free and untrammeled elections in Rumania, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia and Poland. I found a totalitarian Soviet Government set up in Poland, in Rumania, in Yugoslavia and in Bulgaria. Members of our Commissions in Bulgaria and Rumania were treated as if they were stableboys by the Russians in control in those two countries. Russia has not kept faith with us.

I myself discussed the Polish situation with the Polish Government in Potsdam and got no satisfaction whatever from them–yet we made certain agreements in regard to the government of Germany which we have religiously tried to carry out. We have been blocked at every point by the Russians and to some extent by the French. The Russians have not carried out the agreements entered into at Pots-dam.

The Russians are of the opinion that Henry Wallace and a depression are facing this country–they honestly believe that Wallace is going to be the next President. Of course, we all know that is absurd–we are much more likely to have the worst reactionary in the country for President than we are to have Wallace.

I shall go to the Congress tomorrow and state the facts. Beginning with my Message to the Congress on September sixth, 1945, I have constantly informed the Congress and the country of our needs in order to make the United Nations work and to arrive at a peace for the welfare and benefit of every country in the World.

The first decision I had to make after being sworn in at 7:09 P.M. April 12, 1945, was whether to have the United Nations Conference at San Francisco on April 25, 1945. The Charter of the United Nations is a document under which we could work and have peace if we could get Russian cooperation. Twenty-two vetoes have been exercised in the last two and one-half years by the Russian Government. As you know, I had to send Harry Hopkins to see Stalin in order to get Molotov to agree to the fundamental principles of the United Nations Charter.

I am still hopeful and still working with everything I have to make the United Nations work.

Our European Recovery Program and the proper strengthening of our Military setup is the only hope we now have for peace in the World. That I am asking from the Congress.

If the people who know the facts and who understand the situation are willing to say that we’ve done wrong in this matter I don’t see how we can expect to come out at all in its solution. It is the most serious situation we have faced since 1939. I shall face it with everything I have.

Of course, I am always glad to hear from you and I appreciate your frankness in writing me as you did.

Sincerely yours,

Harry S. Truman

TeachingAmericanHistory.org is a project of the Ashbrook Center at Ashland University

401 College Avenue | Ashland, Ohio 44805 (419) 289-5411 | (877) 289-5411 (Toll Free)

info@TeachingAmericanHistory.org