Saturday, July 17, 2010

Making an Impression


Ms. Petri was married to an SS officer who ran an agricultural estate, complete with a colonial-style manor house and slave laborers, in Galicia, in occupied Poland. She later confessed to having murdered six Jewish children, aged 6 to 12. She came across them while out riding in her carriage. She was the mother of two young children, and was 25 at the time. Near naked, the Jewish children had apparently escaped from a railroad car bound for the Sobibor camp. She took them home, fed them, then led them into the woods and shot them one by one.

She told her interrogators that she had done so, in part, because she wanted to prove herself to the men.

Link(PDF file)

In recent years historians have been able to access declassified documents from the period. The result has been a series of books which challenge the claim that itwas militarily necessary to drop the atomic bomb. They have shown that the Japanese government was already seeking to find a way to surrender and that, through the decoding of intelligence material, President Harry Truman, Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson, and Secretary of State James F. Byrnes were aware of this.

What has emerged is that Truman, Byrnes, and Stimson came to see America’s atomic monopoly as giving it the power to dictate how Soviet Russia should behave in Europe and East Asia. This led to a shift in US policy. At Yalta, Roosevelt believed he needed Soviet co-operation in the European and Pacific wars and would also need it in the years ahead to ensure that there was no re-emergence of the German threat.

Truman now envisaged a post war world in which America would use her atomic monopoly to lead the liberal capitalist world and to relegate the Soviet Union to a secondary status in world affairs. For this reason Truman delayed the Potsdam meeting with Churchill and Stalin until the bomb could be tested. “If it explodes as I think it will,” Truman said to aide Jonathan Daniels on the eve of the conference, “I’ll certainly have a hammer on those boys.”

Truman then went on to impress the Russians even more by dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The Russians were so impressed they built their own.


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