Truman

McCullough, David

Touchstone, 1992

p. 419

Tuesday, July 17, 1945, Truman meets Stalin at Potsdam, Germany. Stalin was, ”the Man of Steel, the single most powerful figure in the world. He was the absolute dictator over 180 million people of 170 nationalities in a country representing one sixth of the earth’s surface, the Generalissimo of gigantic armies,” and a 5’5″ squirt. ‘A little bit of a squirt,’ Truman wrote. In 1941 General Eisenhower, after a visit to Moscow, described Stalin as ‘benign and fatherly.’ Yet Stalin, “was also secretive to the point of imbalance, suspicious, deceitful, unspeakably cruel . . . he ruled absolutely by terror and secret police . . . he was directly responsible for destroying millions of his own people and the enslavement of many millions more.” Some of this wasn’t clearly known by summer of ’45. But some was, e.g. (Time, Feb. 45) “that Stalin and his regime had deliberately caused the deaths by starvation of at least 3 million peasants and liquidated another 1 million Communists who opposed his policies. Facts are stubborn things, said the article [in Time], borrowing a line from Lenin, and these were the facts. Actually, the facts were more horrible. Probably 5 million peasants had died, probably 10 million had been sent to forced labor camps. ‘I was remembering my friends’, the composer Shostakovich once remarked, ‘and all I saw was corpses, mountains of corpses.’” “Stalin himself had told Churchill in 1942 that tens of millions of peasants ‘had been dealt with.” ‘ ”Uncle Joe was one of the great mass murderers of all time.”