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Above photo courtesy - Imperial War Museum, London

President Harry S Truman met Premier Joseph Stalin,
the Soviet "Man Of Steel," for the first time at Potsdam, Germany on tuesday,
July 17, 1945.  The "Big Three", included Prime Minister Winston Churchill ( and
later, Clement Attlee), were in Potsdam to confer and try to reach an agreement on
the principles to be followed in governing Germany and her satellite countries until
necessary peace settlements could be made.

Stalin was just "A little bit of a squirt," Truman would recall later.
Author David Mcullough described Stalin as standing 5ft. 5in. tall.  He was dressed
in a lightweight khaki uniform with red epaulets and red seams down each pant leg.  He
wore no decorations except a red-ribboned gold star - The Order of the Hero of the Soviet -
over his left breast pocket.  His eyes were small and squinty, his face was badly pockmarked,
and he had streaks of gray in his mustache and course, black hair.  During his conversation with
Truman, he smoked one cigarette after another and his teeth were badly stained from
tobacco.  Truman had heard about Stalin's crippled left arm that was caused by a
childhood accident, but this handicap was hardly noticeable.  Truman knew also that
Stalin was born in Georgia, in 1879, in abject poverty, and was the son of a semi-literate,
drunken shoemaker.

During their first encounter, Truman found Stalin to be most polite, good
natured, and businesslike.  He liked the way Stalin looked him in the eye during their conversation
with each other.  Truman figured that here was the kind of man he could deal with at the
conference table.

Truman soon learned, however, that Stalin was
no easy man to deal with.  In a letter to his mother back home in Missouri he wrote that the
russians were the most "Pig Headed" people he had ever encountered.  He knew
them now to be relentless bargainers - "Forever pressing for every advantage for
themselves".  And yet, Truman would say that he liked Stalin: "I like Stalin, he is
straight forward," he wrote to his wife, Bess, near the end of the conference windup.

Although many agreements had been made at
Potsdam, perhaps the most uncontrollable agreement was the creation of an
Allied control Council with headquarters located in Berlin.  The council was composed of
the Commanders - In - Chief of the forces of the four occupying powers in whose hands it
was to administer the affairs of German.  It was here at the Allied Control Council on
March 20th, 1948 that Marshal Vassily D. Sokolovsky and the Soviet delegation
walked out of the meeting because of East West differences, putting and end to the
Four Power control.  Soon, thereafter, began Soviet interference and harassment
of the american and British access to Berlin.

After seventeen days and thirteen sessions, The
Potsdam Conference finally came to an end on August 1, 1945, at 6:45 am.  On
2 August, President Harry S Truman headed for home on the heavy cruiser U.S.S. Augusta.
Truman and Stalin were never to meet again.

The ending of the Potsdam Conference and the surrender
of Japan on August 14, 1945, however, brought on the beginning of the Cold War
and the simmering kettle of tensions between the east and west that finally boiled over
into a crisis in Berlin in the summer of 1948.  The post-war honeymoon ended when
Stalin decided to try and push the Western Allies out of the Western sectors
of Berlin located deep inside occupied Communist Territory.  But Truman made it
absolutely clear that the Western allies would not be pushed.  Even against the advise of
many of his closest aids and cabinet members Truman declared,
" We - Will - Stay - In - Berlin".

Several years later, in 1957, Truman finally
conceded that he had been naive at Potsdam.  He referred to himself as
"An innocent idealist" and to Stalin as an "Unconscionable Russian Dictator".
Then he would add, "And I liked the little S.O.B."!



Margaret Truman - HARRY S TRUMAN, Morrow, 1973
David McCollough - TRUMAN, Simon & Schuster, 1992
Edward Radzinski - STALIN, Doubleday, 1996



L to R -
General of the Army - Dwight D. Eisenhower
Lieutenant General - George S. Patton
President of the United States - Harry S Truman

Friday June 20, 1945
L to R -
Brigadier General - Harry H. Vaughan
General of the Army - Dwight D. Eisenhower
Lieutenant General - George S. Patton
President of the United States - Harry S Truman
Sec. of War - Henry L. Stimson
General - Omar Bradley

Photo's courtesy