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Origins of the Cold War, Part One,1917-1945

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 15 16                          p.14

May 22, 1945

Brigadier General Reinhard Gehlen, the head of Nazi intelligence against the Soviet Union and the East, surrenders to US Army officials with his aides, telling them, "I have information of the greatest importance for your supreme commander." [In the last months of the war Gehlen and his top staff had moved their intelligence files on Eastern Europe and the USSR to a burial site near their secret (and well-stocked) retreat in the Bavarian Alps where they hid out during the last days of the war. As early as December, 1943 Gehlen had planned to offer his information and expertise to the United States, knowing of their lack of intelligence on the East and hoping for a US-USSR rupture. Initially Gehlen was treated as just another Nazi officer POW until the Army learned that Red Army forces were searching for him. Then Generals Edwin Sibert and Walter Bedell Smith began developing a relationship with Gehlen without informing Eisenhower, who had forbidden fraternization with the Germans. Gehlen and his staff were released from POW status and given VIP private quarters from which they wrote reports on the Red Army for the Americans.] (54)

July 7, 1945

Emperor Hirohito initiates a request for Moscow to mediate a peace settlement and to receive a special envoy from the Emperor. [The cable to Moscow was intercepted and decoded by American intelligence and immediately relayed to Truman. The Japanese ambassador was unable to make an appointment to see Molotov until August 5th. When they met on August 8th, Molotov read him a brief note: "From tomorrow, that is from August 9th, the Soviet Union will consider herself in a state of war against Japan". On August 9th the Soviets invaded Manchuria.]

July 17- August 2, 1945

Potsdam Conference: Stalin, Truman and Churchill agree to the elimination of nationalism and militarism, the partition of Germany into four occupation zones (UK, US, USSR, France), the dismantling of industrial plants, and reparations. Poland's new western boundary will be the Oder-Neisse rivers (the point reached by the Red Army), Poland gets part of East Prussia and the port of Danzig (to be renamed Gdansk), and the Soviet Union receives Polish territory in the East. No decisions are made about the future of Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania or Italy. Stalin promises that by mid-August the Soviet Union will have entered the war against Japan.

July 21, 1945

Truman at Potsdam receives word of the successful test of the atom bomb at the Trinity site in New Mexico.

July 24, 1945

HST, Churchill and their chiefs of staff discuss the atomic bomb test and agree to drop one on Japan no later than August 10. Later in the day Truman casually mentions to Stalin that the US has "a new weapon of unusually destructive force". Stalin replies that he is "glad to hear of it" and hopes the US will make "good use of it against the Japanese". [Stalin displayed no curiosity about the news; he had been well-informed of American progress in building the A-bomb from a spy physicist at Los Alamos, the nationalized Briton, Klaus Fuchs. However, the next day he had Molotov cable the Soviet nuclear physicists to accelerate the work on the Soviet atomic bomb--- which had been underway since 1942.] (55)

July 28, 1945

At Potsdam Stalin informs Truman that his government had received a message from the Japanese emperor asking that the Soviet Union serve as a peace intermediary. (This Truman already knows from intelligence reports.) Stalin indicates that he intends to send a negative reply and Truman thanks him. (56)

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© Janette Rainwater 1997-2001

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