tv Book Discussion on Roosevelt and Stalin CSPAN April 12, 2015 8:00pm-8:46pm EDT
as i was chatting at dinner with her i reminded her that we really bonded over trying to figure out the map room time coding system because when she was doing her book of fdr and stalin correspondence, she was committed and dedicated to making sure she knew the order of when messages left the map room when they were received, and did stalin and roosevelt see them or did they cross before they responded to each other. so that's how sue and i bonded many, many years ago in the archives. ..
>> that book came out in 2005 and i have been talking and thinking about and right writing about roosevelt and stalin for ten years and this book is a result of all i learned. this book "roosevelt and stalin: portrait of a partnership" is really roosevelt's book. it is about how roosevelt went about winning the war organizing the post-world war world, and making stalin and churchhill fit in with his plans. they were both a tough sell. what is notable, though is how we kept changing stalin's mind. i thought i might find the opposite. but what i found essentially was
that stalin did his bidding. we think of world war ii as the last good war and have woven myths about it. it is hard to be objectible. how many have visited omaha beach? that is unusual. usually like half of audience has. the reason i ask is because americans tend to think we all tend to think we beat hitler and the german army mostly by ourselves. but we didn't. it turned out the russians killed about 90%, 4.7 million german soldiers. we killed a little over a tenth. half a million. and it also turns out most of what we now think about as world
tour has been skewed by the years in between. i am going to start by taking off the highlights of the fdr-stalin relationship that existed. because of pressure from roosevelt, stalin restored religion in the soviet union. because fdr focused on the design and because fdr insisted china be one of the four major players in the post war world organization along with great britain, america and the soviet union stalin agreed. fdr insisted and stalin agreed to free unfederate collections
in poland. stalin signed an agreement whereby russian troops would invade japan before the american troops. because fdr insisted stalin agreed any nation could bring up any subject for discussion in the security council. roosevelt began influencing when it looks like hitler's army was going to overtake moscow and russia. the russian constitution granted freedom of conscious and religion in russia. the first results were mixed. the republican congressman from hide park heard about and it suggested the president invite stalin to the whitehouse so he
could be baptized in the whitehouse swimming pool and suggested taking him to summer school. fdr was on his way to meet stalin's and work out russia's need to pressure stalin to open the churches. two months before tay ron stalin not only opened all of the russian orthodox churches and seminaries he freed the three russian pate arks we put in jail in 1925. the churches remained open throughout stalin's life. their relationship goes back to 1933 when fdr resumed diplomatic relations with the soviet union.
a move that was not supported by many members of congress but was by the business community. stalin was trying to establish a diplomatic relationship with america since 1919. stalin was so grateful he put fdr's photo on the front page of russian papers and wrote quote it is necessary to pay full tribute to the initiative taken by the president of the united states. when germany laid the heel of the bis mark in 1936 the largest ship russia built stalin tried to have a light ship built in america. fdr defended the project even as the naval personal stab --
sabotaged it. stalin was informed of fdr's involvement. in 1939, increasingly concerned with the menace of hitler fdr pushed a british foreign office into responding to a russian request for a military alliance with britain and france. it was only after the british foreign officer alternated between rudeness and procrastination that ended with the signing of the nazi-soviet pact. fdr medaled further and realized the russian nugauche ace -- negotiations failed. he sent russia a letter warning not to sign on with hitler. but it was too little too late.
fdr had no delusion about stalin. in 1940, at the whitehouse he said stalin's dictatorship was as absolute as any in the world and he was guilty of the killing of thousands of innocent victims. fdr was thinking of how to curb russia's might after the war was won. one night fdr conifieded in the canadian prime minister. i am quoting from his diary, the president would like to talk about freeing armorment and bringing stalin in the picture. he said that was necessary.
he asked if i remember the saying if you cannot beat the devil, join them. he said russia was going to be powerful and the thing was to get the plans made for disarmorment. later in the evening, king wrote, fdr repeated watson's if you cannot beat him join him. and went on to say the united states britain and china could not defeat russia. the thing to do was get them all working on the same lines. he came to what he said was con fp confident confidential and added don't give me away. the secretary of state was in moscow two two weeks after the churches were open. fdr announced he wanted china to be a significant player.
he called for action against the powers and the creation of international peace corporation. fdr didn't think the white race should rule the world. stalin refused to agree as china as the fourth police man. he said he would pack his bags and go home. before the meeting was over a note was read from stalin announcing he had changed his mind and china was the forth signitory. when fdr and stalin finally met in late november 1943 they discovered they had a lot in common particularly aversion for france. they realized they shared a dislike of the country and its leaders. said fdr; no frenchman over 40
and particularly no frenchman who took part in the present french future should be alloweded positions in the future. they should not be allowed to share the fruits of the peace in collaboration collaboration with germany. fdr was chair of the chair conference and dominated the proceedings. as the conference progressed he let stalin wear down winston churchill. fdr and stalin finally set the date for the normandy invasion despite of churchill. churchill had no understanding of stalin and compared him to a crocodile. fdr was haunted by the tragedy
of the piece following the conference. the german army that marched home after world war one hardly knee what they were defeating. fdr wanted to make sure on his watch the germans were going to suffer. that let him decide after the war was over there was no gathering of heads of state, no time when he would not be in control, he did this by calling for the unsurrender of germany and refusing to define what he meant. that solved the problem. there would be no negotiated piece and no one able to interfere. no interference. as fdr said to a hort reporter in hawaii in response to voiced fears that policies were prolonging the war; that that was not a bad thing. "there has been a good deal of
complaint among the nice high minded people about untraditional surrender and we change the term -- that if we changed the term unconditional surrender germany might surrender more officially. it is too tough and too rough" unconditional surrender still stands asked the report? yes, said roosevelt, practically all germans denied the fact they surrender in the last war, but this time they are going to know it. fdr felt so fronningstrongly on this subject he told the treasure of the secretary quote we have to castrate the german people or treat them in such matter so they cannot go on reproducing people who want to continue the way they have in the past. i want to speak a bit about hitler.
hitler's image changed over the years. his extinction of the jewish race still exist. so it is easy to forget he wanted to kill the slavic people and killed 27 million russians 16% of the population. he bolstered he planned to turn russia and poland in a slave nations and the conflict would be very different from the conflict in the west. and poland was the only country outside of the father land where death camps were constructed to serve the dual purpose of finishing off russians and pole three of the death camps were build on the russian-polish border. he wanted to target key buildings and his directive was
quote it is intended to surround the city and then raise it to the ground. request to be surrendered is objected. hitler's master plan called for up rooting the citizens and replace them with germans who who would create bountying food for the population. given the mindset, it followed all russian soldiers taken prisoner were brutalized tended to open field and sometimes starved to death if death by exposure had not killed most of them. nearly half of the russian soldiers captured died.
another area of agreement discovered was both received it was matter of time, no matter what post--war measures were taken, before germany would rise up again and menace europe. stalin formed an alliance with fdr that would stop or deal with the next attack. fdr new this and it dub tailed with his mind set. he kept emphasizing the four powerful nations and policeman who would who would take addition with france and ride herd on the rest of the nation. at the conference roosevelt retaliated and assumed his rooms would be bugged. stalin developed a habit of dropping by and making sure he was being well taken care of. a woman who spoke english
remembered seeing stalin near fdr's suite and intended to visit the president. she translated as stalin asked may i come in and roosevelt said welcome. the conversation began with stalin's simple questions to roosevelt. how are you? did you have a good sleep? the president replied, yes i had a good sleep. i like it here. however, the frogs kept croaking in the pond and i could not fall asleep. i turned around and looked at stalin and in agitation i forgot what the russian was for frog. i said [speaking in native tongue]. those little yellow animals croaking in the pond did not let the president of the usa sleep. according to her all of the frogs were killed. before the final session, fdr
decided to approach stalin as informally as stalin had approaches him. fdr thought he needed that to make stalin accept his plans which included a repower restraint. roosevelt later told his secretary of labor who was the first woman in a cabinet position he felt drastic measures were uncalled for because what we were doing could have been -- were called for -- doing could have gone done by the foreign ministers. after entering the room, fdr encountered i had a moment to say to him, winston i hope you will you will not be short with me for what i'm going. churchill shifted to cigar in his mouth and grunted.
roosevelt recounted to perkins i talked privately to stalin and it appeared confidential and other russians joined to listen. but no smile from stalin that winston is so cranky this morning he got up on the wrong side of bed. a vague smile passed over stalin's eyes and i began to teas tease churchill and it registered with stalin. winston got red and scowled and the more he did so the more stalin smiled and finally stalin
broke out into the a laugh and for the first time in three days i saw light. i kept it up until stalin was laughing with me. and then it what when i called him uncle joe. he would have thought me fresh that day but that day he laughed, came over and shook my hand and from that time on our relations were personal. by the summer of 1944 stalin made a great confession to roosevelt. he agreed that russia would be one of the founding members of the world bank and the imf. he even agreed to the amount they insisted he contribute and he authorized the minister of foreign trade and russia was anxious to cooperate in post--war matters and felt a specialstabalized
monetary condition after the war. the russians want to collaborate it was written. and a month after d-day stalin created the council for religious fairs and catholic churches are meeting in churches and muslim mosques even began to function. dealing with the most paranoid leader was not easy. there was good days like in 1935 when roosevelt prevailed on stalin to sign two documents against his thinking. one against poland which the soviet army said quote this polish government of unity shall pledge free and uncentered elections as soon as possible on the bases of universal suffrage
and secret ballot. in the history of eastern europe there had never been a free election or anything close to one. the other document stalin signed was the declaration of liberated europe. it read the establish and rebuilding of economic life must be achieved by a process that will enable the liberated people to create democratic institutions of their own choice. this is a principle of the atlantic charter. the right of all people to chose the form of government under which they will live. stalin also agreed there would be no veto of the general counsel of the proposed united
nations. the gospel was fired at him and he was struck by california stalin's attitude he wrote quote one cannot help not notice stalin's deference to the president's opinion. this isn't natural for stalin. what is behind it all? fdr and stalin reached an understanding whereby russia would enter the war against japan three months after germany surrendered meaning the rush army would invade before the american invasion scheduled in november. in return roosevelt agreed to give the soviet union what japan took from them in 1945. the u.s. chief of naval operation announced after the agreement we have just saved two million americans. there were serious problems after this. there were disputes over the callus treatment at the hands of
the soviet of the american soldiers released from prison as the russian army freed poland stalin's hysteria after stalin perceived wrongly that the united states and german were working together and fdr explained no separate piece was considered. quote, roosevelt, it would be one of the great tragedies of history, if at the moment a victory in our grasp, such distrust such lack of faith should prejudice the entire undertaking. frankly i cannot avoid a feeling of bitter resentiment for the vile misrepresentation of my
actions. stalin was reassured and announced russia's non-aggression pact with japan. you will read of fdr's, excuse me fdr's efforts to make church churchill get along with stalin. fdr consisted stalin had to be consulted and included in all decisions. the cable fdr said to church ill and stalin the day before he died were solely concerned with bolstering their shared alliance. to stalin he wrote quote there must not be mutual mistrust and moderate misunderstanding should not arise in the future. his last words to churchill was our course thus far is correct. >> roosevelt pushed churchill a
number of times to loosen the old on the calloloniescolonies. church churchill made the comment i have not become the first minister to preside over the liquidation of the european army. stalin replied all of the territory out there he churchill, wants them back the way they are, yes replied roosevelt. he is saying all things like that and it was said this idea of churchill seems conclusive and he said that is true. roosevelt said yes, i am tired. so would you be if you spent the
last five years pushing winston up hill in a wheel barrow. fdr's death april 12th stunned stalin. he ordered all government agencies in moscow to hang black flags of morning and the front pages of all soviet papers announcing roosevelt's death were borded in black. his death changed everything. they began back tracking on the interim polish government and then he announced the soviet union insisted the nation could veto the agenda in the council and an upset secretary of state told him it would be impossible to join an organization holding veto power over discussion. it was only when harry hawkins
went to moscow in early june talked to stalin and told him if he wanted to continue the alliance and expected economic help from america, he had to honor the old agreements he made to fdr on poland and had to withdraw his insistence on the veto on the agenda in the security council. immediately after the meetings with hopkins, stalin backed on both matters. on july 16th the first atomic bomb was set off in new mexico. i want to end with talking about fdr and the atom ball. i think i have uniquely discovered every conversation fdr had about sharing control, sharing knowledge of the bomb with stalin. on the evidence i have found i
am sure he would have shared control with russia. he told mckinsey king a month before dying he thought the time had come to tell them how far they had come. co-heads of the manhattan project advocated this because they were sure the soviet union would have a bomb within four years. and of course they were right. just before he died fdr asked a speech writer robert sherwood to find him a jefferson quote on the subject of science to include on april 13th, jefferson birthday with a quote as follows: thomas jefferson was a scientist and spoke of the brotherly spirit of science that unites into one family are of the bodes of however great and
widely disbursed throughout the quarters of the grave. fdr died the day before we was to give the speech. germany surrendered may 8th 1945 as stalin had promised fdr three month do is surrender the soviet union declared war on japan. on august 9th, one million soviet troops poured over the border and later that same day as the second atom bomb was set off, two atomic bombs and a two-front war stunned japan. several days later, japan surrendered. most americans mesmerized by the force of the atom bomb believed america was solely responsible for the japanese situation. the japanese and russians no
differently. it didn't help when truman give the victory speech in september without mentions russian participation. i would like to throw an interesting but little known fact. before the war, the soviet union and the united states were the same size in terms of population, they were slightly larger. 160 million to your 135 million. there has been changes and that included the accrueukraine. so before the war russia and the united states were the same size. but the russian population is the same as it was; 143 million. we are over 300 million. they are now half our size. essentially russia has never recovered from world war ii.
thank you very much. [applause] >> hitler and stalin were tyrants but isn't it true that during the 30s with ukraine and trials and that hitler mass murder more people than hitler? >> you mean stalin? >> i mean stalin, i am sorry. >> actually that is not true. no. but the major difference between the two of them is sort of ideaological. stalin killed trying to create a greater russia. and that is why he killed a greater number of russians that he did when trying change
farming into collective farmer and hitler was trying to get rid of the slavic and jewish races. >> thank you. i started reading your book the other day and i am on page 75 first impression chapter, and i am enjoying it very much. the question is in the terrain section, the chapter before it talks about fdr not wanting to travel to meet stalin there because of a constitutional policy and of concerns, one thing that you didn't mention and i am not clear on myself and that is a 10-day congress done to send over a bill to the president. for him to act on the bill and have it returned to congress under the terms of the constitution how was woodrow
wilson able to spend months over in europe after world war one for the ver sigh meetings? >> that is an interesting question. i have never thought of it before and i don't have the slightest idea. >> i saw it missing and i thought i am missing something. >> thank you. i never researched it. anybody else? i sort of hoped there would be more questions on my take on -- good. >> yeah i recall -- from where i don't remember -- but the concern after world war ii about germany rising up again that stalin one of stalin's idea was to simply murder all of the
officers in the german army which kind of appalled the west. >> that happened to teheran. there was a -- here is a death of 50,000 german officers and everybody coasted it and churchill got angry at holland and had too much to drink, too much brandy, and got up and stormed out and was angry at everybody that agreed with stalin and toasted the death of all of these german offices. yeah. >> okay.
>> all of this time spent studying stalin i realized he smarter than we give him credit for. he had an extensive library with many books and he underlined all of the things important to him. he combo what was going on. he was a communist but a strong nationalist as well. he was looking for a greater russia and the only way that would happen is if roosevelt gave to him. no fool he was. he was trying to get along with the most powerful country in the world which was us.
>> what is the perception of the roosevelt-stalin relationship in russia? >> if you go to moscow there is a museum which is very important to them and it is a museum showing all of the aid that america gave to russia. and they considered that world war ii is what they great "patriotic betrayal: the inside story of the cia's secret campaign to enroll american students in the crusade against communism" pate-- the great patriotic war. and they remember us with a great deal of appreciation and nostalgia and an incredible astonishment in the rest of the world. the question is in the last 20 years. if stalin ran for office now probably more than half of
russia would vote for him because he presided over their greatest years. they have a different perception of what happened in world war ii than we do really. >> i didn't know much about stalin but stunned he was another hitler in the way he would absolutely plan how to hurt and kill people and that is step number one. and step number two did roosevelt know this part of stalin? >> yes, roosevelt knew it very well. he discussed the future of the three baltic states and he was bet on influencing stalin to the
greatest influence he could. of course roosevelt didn't think he would die. he thought he would be able to pay stalin and make him a more responsible person. but in the mean time he wasn't about the throw over the united nation for the sake of the three baltic states. he believed the countries had to run their own affairs. and those three countries had belonged to russia before world war one. and you cannot -- he was a very tough man and he did a great deal of evil. all roosevelt could do was harnes him and hopefully change him and he made small changes as
i said. stalin opened the churches only because of fdr. i mean that is something that is totally amazing and most people don't know it and it is not even acknowledged today. and catherine went to an easter service and couldn't raise her arms because the church was so jammed. they were packed in so closely >> so for the american opinion that was against the walter and complained and maybe continues today in some form. what are their arguments on what happened? >> any fdr sentiment, which is by my life i would characterize it as irrational.
>> does it centerany force? >> there are people that believe all kinds of things in the world without the world being full of strange ideas. i would hope more and more people would appreciate what fdr did and how he began to bring stalin on a road to being civilized. >> good evening. thank you for joining us today. you touched on it a little and i am curious how you would feel it roosevelt had lived and how events would have unfolded. >> it is conjecture but thank you for bringing up the question. i think if he had lived there is a chance there wouldn't have been a cold war because it was the atom bomb that changed everything as far as the soviet union was concerned.
we knew it held knowledge of the greatest weapon that had ever been devised and we were supposed to be there best friends and equal allies. roosevelt's big effort with stalin was to bring him in as an equal and make him really realize he was an equal and for that reason to try and be more civilized. he was doing a good job bringing him along and he certainly would not -- by then by the summer james burns was our secretary of state under harry truman and he was holding the atom bomb on his hip. you know? it was a trek. so instead of bringing people together, which i am sure fdr would have done, it divided us
strongly divided our two countries. >> thank you for the great questions and susan thank you again for a great lecture. [applause] [inaudible conversation] >> you are watching 48 hours of non-fiction books on booktv. television for serious readers. >> i came a teacher because i enjoy talking and working the children more than anything.
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