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tv   President Truman and Cold War Espionage  CSPAN  September 15, 2018 11:00pm-12:01am EDT

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and the true -- truman presidential library archivist talk about war espionage. topic and -- topics include the president response to obtaining nuclear -- ethel and julius rosenberg. the harry s truman presidential library and muses them listed this event just under an hour. >> let's talk about who we have today. i'm excited to have mr. lee lacy who is a assistant professor teaching an advance operation .ourse he is a graduate at the university of arkansas who received a master from webster university. he has been published in several academic journals on topics of
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intelligence, history, leadership, and distance education. coloneltired lieutenant in the u.s. army reserves. dr. same have our own roush a -- dr. sam. it is the best part about my job, being a few doors down from sam. of u.s.ved his ba history from ohio state and his ma from ohio university. he was an archivist here and went back to maryland where he was a subject matter expert of the nixon presidential material toff before returning here be our archivist. for this very much history our.
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[applause] thank you for that [clears throat] thank you for that kind introduction, jennifer. welcome everybody to the harry s truman library this afternoon. i will talk about a very big spies andich is subversives in the dominic of the atomic age -- in the dawn of the atomic age. it will take a lot of time to cover so i will hit highlights. pardon any omissions and there will be. hopefully i do the subject justice. the united states and soviet union were allies against not to japan during world war ii.
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cracks in that alliance show themselves even before the end of the war. that alliance soon broke down after the war as the soviets imposed military, economic, and political control over europe and expanded -- threatened to expand communism. the tension manifested itself as the second red scare. the first one was after world war i. in this talk, i explore an important element of the red scare, the effective spies real and american -- imagined on the american political system and the fear of communist subversion of the communist way of life. several incidents occurred to reinforce america's fear of communist spies. one was the tension of the atomic bomb. the slide here shows the bomb
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that was detonated over 90 sake japan on august 9, 1949. the first bomb was detonated over hiroshima three days earlier. years, between 1945 and 1949, the united states was the only nation in the world possessing the atomic bomb. in july, 1945, a few weeks before the end of world war ii, harry truman informed soviet leader joseph stalin at a conference in germany of the u.s. development of the atomic bomb. this is a few weeks before the bomb was used against japan. a suburb of visited berlin, germany where he visited with joseph stalin and the white tunic on the right, and winston to sing -- winston churchill.
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when truman involved -- informed stalin of the possession of the atomic bomb that has only been -- had only been successfully tested days earlier, truman was surprised by stalin's passive reaction. thinking perhaps he did not understand the translation. in his memoirs truly wrote stalin "showed noted special interest. all he said he was got to hear it and hope we would make good use of it against of the japanese." at this point, truman was unaware of the extensive spy network the soviet union had in the united states and to extend the soviet leadership have been provided information about the enhanced and project. the soviet -- the manhattan project. in 1946, a file clerk in the soviet embassy in canada
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defected and provided documented evidence the soviets had spied on atomic research in canada and the united states. this evidence possibly pointed to a state department official as a soviet spy. the faris on the right, right there on the screen. he was present during president germans addressed to the united nation in 1945. ger case of outer hits -- al --s in august 1948, the testimony ,efore the house before huac whittaker chambers, an editor at the time accused hiss of being a member of a communist cell with influence on the
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policy of the truman administration. hiss charged chambers with slander resulting in chambers producing documents that he claimed hiss had smuggled out of the state department to give to the soviets in the 1930's. after two widely publicized trials, hiss was convicted of perjury. his went to jail for 44 months wentse on to trail -- hiss to jail for 44 months. added to the scorn was his presence in 1945 which was seen by many as the site of the west betrayal and sellout of east
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europe to the soviets. the case is reverberated to this day. weinstein,len offered evidence of hiss's espionage encumbers -- and communist party participation. the nona is the name of a project, a joint american british project that decoded soviet cable traffic in the 1940's. cable traffic between soviet asians, the washington -- washington, and moscow. photo,gize for the rainy but this shows some of the work of codebreakers including young meredith gardner. they broke into the soviet code which revealed espionage in
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washington dc and the manhattan project. containscripts references to codenames and some believed the codename ales was ales was code for alger hiss. atchison found himself a target himself. atchison had known outer hiss and his brother donald four years. donald hiss was a law partner. actress and was truman's secretary of state. atchisond refused -- -- truman called his case a red herring which contributed to attacks on himself and his
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administration. an interesting, fun cartoon here. i do not intend to turn my back on alger hiss or dean actress acheson. that shows the loyalty in the truman administration. in 1950, days after hiss's conviction for perjury, a british scientist named clouse was arrested for passing atomic secrets to the soviets while working in the theater will -- theoretical area. hiss past top-secret material to the soviets. the atomic bomb project was likely indeed aided by phuc's information.
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the soviets successfully tested their own atomic weapon years before u.s. intelligence estimates believed they could do it. legal proceedings stemming from the case led to an sq -- and execution of rosenberg. my colleague will see much more about this in a few minutes. you may wonder what was the truman administration doing during this whole time. the chairman did its part to fight communists in government. truman issued an executive 35er, number 98 35 -- 90 which instituted a loyalty program -- 9835 which was instituted as a loyalty program.
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order's executive established a loyalty report for which a person charged with belonging to a subversive organization or engaging in subversive activities was given a hearing and provided a reading of the charges. let's listen to harry truman explained the reasons for setting up the loyalty board. >> there are two, maybe 300,000 people on the government payroll at that time. it was a large percentage of the most appalachian -- of the population. we were trying our best to find they were. [indiscernible]
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everybody got the idea that everybody in the government was a communist. absurd forletely anybody could -- it was a completely absurd idea for anyone to come to. after all of the upper or these people created, it was only a fraction of 1% that were found in the subversive class. by anere discovered organization we set up for the purpose. andunism is the real threat we are likely to be bothered with it for a long time. enemies are the communists and great countries that turned communist like russia. the best thing we can do is to
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educate our children. >> in practice, as truman admitted, the board was less than ideal, the loyalty board he set up, because all of the data about that person remained in his file long after he was cleared meaning he would have to be cleared over and over again as he changed jobs in government. so damage was done. in addition to the loyalty board, he established the cia in 1947. -- the cia intended was intelligent -- intended to be an intelligence gathering inanization but got involved other activities. this describes the long
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commitment and capital preparation of covert operations which would be needed during the cold war. auman also established national security agency in 1952. the hiss and fuc fukes case -- mccarthy had a profound effect. his charges resulted in the firing of many innocent people and damaged morale in the government. anti-communism and accusation of spies were good politics for mccarthy and others. actions helped in the passage of the internal security act of 1950 which required communists to register and set up a subversive activity board to review loyalty of government employees.
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,ruman vetoed this legislation but congress overrode his veto in 1950. immigration was also a factor in postwar areas of communism. one senator of the cow to -- of nevada put in another bill for which mccarran believed communist sought to come to the united states to subvert the american political system. some of these countries were in the eastern block and within the soviet political control. in the veto message of this second bill, president truman rejected mccarran's position that the u.s. needed to protect itself against in flooded by immigrants from eastern europe. truman wrote that eastern europe had fallen under the communist
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yoke. no one passes their borders but at the risk of his life. sought aew, immigrants life free from soviet rule. that is truman's view. in 1950, the bill became law overture ms. veto. -- over truman's veto. diplomat who was dismissed from the foreign service following accusations that davies and others had lost china. had swept over china in 1949. davies was a decorative -- decorated war hero. mccarthy's victims was jon stewart service.
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service had been connected years caseer with a magazine involving the fbi's arrest of service and employees of -- of amerasia. allent under investigations of which pronounced him to be a loyal government employee. accusations from mccarthy incited another review in 1951 which concluded it had " reasonable doubt" concerning the soldiers -- service of loyalty and he was discharged in 1951. he was reinstated as a foreign service officer as the result of a supreme court decision. court, alsoupreme known as the fred vincent , was sympathetic
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to efforts made by the u.s. government to fight communists -- erge in -- sub virgin subversion. the supreme court upheld the smith act of 1940 which made advocating revolution a crime. this decision resulted in the communistsof 11 top who were convicted for advocating the violent overthrow of the u.s. government. concerns was the kim philby case philby was a british spy -- case. philby was a british spy. 1951, as a result
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of his disclosures, hundreds of agents died. philby also tipped off a fellow british spy in 1951. despite two secret trials, philby was allowed to go on working for mi six until he defected in 1963 to the soviet union. it is important to remember most of the work of the soviet union's intelligence organization, the kgb, involved unglamorous matters and high-profile spies were far more the exception than the rule. book by harvey claire points out the kgb's american operations involved largely industrial as spinouts -- industrial espionage.
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were far more private sector engineers than government officials. these revelations of soviet espionage, coupled with the fall of china to communism, and the soviet union's successful test of atomic weapons in september 1949, as well as these ,evelations of soviet espionage added to the anxiety of many americans. communism seemed to be on the rise and democracy on the retreat throughout the world. the world appeared to be a dangerous place to americans in 1949 and 1950. in january of 1950, in large part because of the fear soviets could develop a nuclear weapon, president truman approved the development of the hydrogen bomb
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project. in a meeting with his top advisers, atchison, david will willianthal -- david others theyand pressed forward to go with this project. truman asked if the russians could do it. had successfully tested an atomic weapon six months prior. the reply from him was yes. the russians could develop a hydrogen bomb project. was, in thaty case, we have no choice, we will go ahead. the meeting lasted seven minutes. lilienthal,to robert oppenheimer, the father of the atomic bomb, opposed
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going ahead with the super on moral grounds. as a result of his rejections -- objections and allegations that he himself was a spy, his security clearances were taken away. reportedlylligence had tried to recruit oppenheimer but could not. despite the objections, the detonation of the world first hydrogen bomb took lace in the sky-- took place in the --ve the pacific island 1950, the korean war began when troops invaded south korea. the korean war became a frustrating stalemate the cost over 30,000 american lives. military intelligence ale to predict the involvement of china
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in the korean war, a factor that contributed to truman's unhappiness with one of his generals who the president fired from his command in april of 1951. popularision was very -- unpopular with the american public. macarthur was an american hero. this led people to believe and the administration was passive in the war against communist and the spies who serve them. voted toamericans elect eisenhower for president. he was the beneficiary of the republican party's slogan for that year, k1c2. major political issues in 1952. as president, eisenhower issued an executive order that revamp
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theed oil -- revamped the oil program and extending the security program to all compartments in the government. also in 1953, now former president truman, got into a with eisenhower's general over the apartment of harry dexter white into the international monetary fund , onite evidence is white the left, had been a soviet agent. the case against white had not been a clear one and truman, who was aware of the charge at the time, when he was president, decided to disregard them. angry at burnell, truman asserted, inaccurately, that the fbi had not warned him about harry dexter white.
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when presented with a subpoena asking for his testimony, truman refused to comply declaring former presidents were entitled to the same benefits as sitting once. according to a historian, no american public officials were convicted of spying during the postwar red scare, however plenty of americans, thousands, had their careers destroyed by allegations. one estimates of the total number of dismissals of the truman administration and eisenhower administration may have been well over 11,000. added to this number of people are the noble of people -- number of people who resigned. those numbers are all across the board in terms of estimates.
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-- up to us to determine whether the costs were worth it despite the considerable cost. they established institutional methods like the cia and nsa. it was a long fight. the cold war lasted for 40 years, but the american form of government proved itself well armed to wage it. i will pass this along to my colleague lee lacy. [applause] dr. lacy: first i wanted to and fore truman library
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the invite. greatbraries are a national treasure and they help us to understand the past government and leaders. we can learn lessons to progress as a nation. both the truman presidential library and here in missouri as well as the -- museum in eerie kansas. and how one espionage case intersected. few events have gathered as much controversy as the rosenberg era. libraries and the internet are full of research proclaiming
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seeking toence or expose rosenberg as agents of the fsr -- ussr. beginning, through the natural progression of events, president truman would have the final word on the rosenberg's court appeal fell short and executive clemency seeming to be the last help. it did not happen that way. as the rosenberg request for clemency wound its way through the truman administration, no action was taken. the issue fell upon the newly inaugurated dwight eisenhower relying on presidential archives . at the truman and eisenhower library it is possible to piece
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together the circumstances involving the rosenberg's executive clemency. it is a fascinating look at how to presidents made a life-and-death decision in light of the times of the early cold war. as my researched progressed, i could not figure out why the administration was so silent on the rosenberg. hiss wasrris -- alger convicted of her jury and then joseph mccarthy made a speech in west virginia which started the intense criticism of the truman administration. mccarthyator joseph was -- of criticism. [indiscernible]
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was a spy for the soviet union. gold.mplicated a man name rosenberg.julius headlines shocked the united revealed aboutas atomic secrets. rosenberg was put on trial and was convicted and sentenced to death in 1981. little is said about the rosenbergs outside of the federal prosecutor. the only inkling of what the justice department thought was, just before the trial, when the deputy attorney general wrote the attorney general stating the were that the rosenbergs accused of wanted the death penalty. and we also know president truman and the trial judge had a
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telephone conversation in 1952 which floated the possibility of bringing the rosenberg sentences to life. truman declined to intervene. there is evidence within the truman administration that some with thehad trouble public message about the rosenbergs. the influential, psychological board drafted pro-clemency statements and reversed themselves. none of these documents were made public and there is no evidence on either memorandum of the final weeks of his presidency. in 1953, there was a press conference where truman was asked if he made a decision on the rosenberg case. president truman replied "the rosenberg case has not come up to me, therefore i cannot reach
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a decision on it until it comes up." this is the only official mention of the rosenberg case directly attributed to president truman. the rosenbergs are not mentioned in his memoirs or any post-presidency interviews or writing. this is a contrast to truman's statements regarding elder harris and joseph mccarthy -- alger hiss and joseph mccarthy. 1953, eisenhower was inaugurated as president. the case, he inherited of the rosenbergs. eisenhower deliberated a few weeks and ultimately denied it -- decided to deny clemency. the rosenbergs were tried and convicted in the truman administration, the heavy responsibility of deciding their fate fell to president
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eisenhower. eisenhower's vice president, richard nixon, was privy to some of eisenhower's decision-making regarding the rosenbergs. when interviewed in 1983, nixon commented first eisenhower was influenced by the president experience in world war ii where he held military intelligence in regard. given his view on intelligence and the nature of crimes committed by the rosenbergs, it is doubtful eisenhower would grant clemency. furthermore, if the rosenbergs --eived full justice as nixon reflected on the events span from 1953 to 1983, he said no one in the administration -- on rosenberg. it was possible the case against her was painted. he went on to say "if i had known if president eisenhower,
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he might have taken a different view regarding her." events played out up until the hours the rosenbergs were executed. the eisenhower administration hoped to get a confession. ethel rosenberg died defiance -- defiant. top-secret intelligence collected by the u.s. government revealed a treasure trove of espionage activity. clandestine communication intercepted by the united states , starting in 1943, and these mostlys were decoded between 1947 and 1952, these cables established proof that julius and ethel rosenberg were guilty but none of this was
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introduced to the trial to reveal to the soviets their code was broken. . the decryption might have explained the official silent -- asylum. zach -- robert know ---- novak oliver kirby obtained his information from a brigadier general who was a world war ii army signal intelligence chief. briefed six weeks after becoming president in 1945
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and again in 1948 and 1950. rosenberg andius alger hiss were implicated. although this is disputed by some scholars, novak is in defense of this position although it hinges on one person's knowledge and one white house meeting. when was not declassified until 1995, therefore it was not available -- he was not available to comment while truman was in office. the arrest trial and executions rosenbergand ethel defining moments of the cold
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war. the war was fought along ideological lines and was characterized by -- induced i just a mccarthy. conversely, [indiscernible] mccarthy and his supporters thought -- fought relentlessly in the trenches. often fighting in the trenches were untold numbers of individuals such as the rosenbergs who were soldiers for the communist party and proxies for the soviet union. soviet spymaster claimed in 1992 that the fbi discovered less than half of the soviet spy network in north america. in these events were two of the most admired people in american
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history, harry truman, and dwight eisenhower. forever why mystery president truman remained silent during the rosenberg case and deferred action to his successor. while there is no mystery to president eisenhower's actions, when the fate of the rosenbergs became his responsibility, it is puzzling why history judges him for harshly -- judges him harshly in light of circumstances. the case remained controversial 66 later after their execution -- 66 years later after their execution. thank you for listening to our presentation today. we will take a few questions. remember to raise her hand so the mic can follow you. [applause]
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>> with all of the documents history generates, with u2 as historians, are you working your way to the bottom of that stack? [laughter] how close to the bottom are you? >> i only just cracked the surface. my research took place in eisenhower library. audience and the she endured an entire day of taking care of our nine-year-old daughter while i was in the archives. i just could not get to all of it because i was trying to fit it into one business day. there's a lot of information out there. i will tell you one thing i did that brought this to life and made it more personal was when i
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was at the eisenhower library, i appeale hand written from rosenberg to president eisenhower. actualopy, but the appeal written on prison paper and that's made this and brought home the research i was doing in how this was such a life-and-death decision. >> from my standpoint, the truman presidential library is a treasure. over 15 million pages in the archives and we digitized a small fraction. most of them are available for researchers at the library. there is a small number still classified, but is a relatively small number. we are very happy when mr. lacey comes out to do research and mine our collections. we are fortunate because there
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is so much in harry truman's own hand. we heard an audio clip of his and that clip was recorded in the early 1960's, about 10 years after he left office. we have those recordings and about 15 -- half of the 15 million pages are truman's papers and the other half are 500 other people or organizations affiliated with him. job is the fun of my new discovery you make. there is new interpretations of documents that researchers can draw connections. thank you. thank you. you were talking about kim philby. i read a book about him. to they let him continue watch and monitor -- once he had been like -- i don't know the
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word. >> i don't know what she is asking. do you know? >> just my general knowledge, i served as a counter intelligence officer in the u.s. army and one technique is often a is to try to discover what their network is and you might suspect somebody. you hope they lead you to their network. that might have been the reasoning. .e spied for quite a long time ,hat i'm guessing is that probably, they were watching him for a long time and trying to ,iscover who is handlers were and so they cannot just arrest one person but the whole gang. >> and he escaped the net before the net could be attached. >> i would like to know, are you
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still getting any papers given to the truman library? any new collections? >> yes. papers. paton davies he served in china, one of the trusted china hands in the 1940's. we received his papers about 10 years ago. it is a super collection. it has a lot of transcripts of his own loyalty board hearings. was a subject of numerous loyalty board investigations and had to revisit the same charges over and over again. he was the subject of maybe eight or nine board meetings. he finally got his clearance restored in the 1960's. a largeved his papers, collection of korean war materials from veterans from a
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museum that had been in springfield, illinois. that museum closed down last year and sent their materials to the truman library. it is nice for us because the documents we have in our collections are harry truman's isthe truman administration the diplomatic, strategic, sort of top-down view of korea. the veterans i provide the complement to that -- eye provides the complement to that. we are going through that collection, very large, and we are happy to have it. mccarthy ever identify a true threat to anybody in the u.s.? scholarw he targeted a in maryland.
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charges against him were flimsy. only on what he would have considered on a examplehip so he is one of who mccarthy specifically identified as a communist threat. the numbers varied. the west virginia speech and other places, very from the 50's to 100s. >> they could never produce the numbers in the end. i think that led to his downfall in the senate was when he could not come up with the large numbers he was talking about. spying has been going on almost forever. as far back as moses.
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[laughter] and now all the way through -- facebook. heard the story of stalin and truman was surprised he was not surprised about something. are we behind the eight ball and are we still somewhat naive and not at the lead of it between then and now. >> in the late 1940's, the united states was behind in identifying soviet espionage especially. j edgar hoover was fighting notnized crime, looking for keeper versus during or -- not nazi perverses during world war ii.
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i think they were playing catch-up when the big spy network came on the scene about the middle of 1950. today, the modern fbi army had its own counter intelligence organization and so does the navy and air force. they are very much on top of this. as a civilian employee of the army now, we see briefing on a regular basis. it is very much at the top of -- agenda in terms of especially with the sophisticated wave how espionage takes place through information technology. >> just to build on that, i would emphasize the rush of events during the early cold war.
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the soviets had been an ally of ours in the fight against nazi germany and japan. was indolent about imbivolent about that. he wanted to see both countries fight it out. the soviet union and not to germany -- nazi germany. truman himself had not been briefed as vice president of the united states. atomiced 482 days on the tom project and was not kept in 82 days on the atomic bomb project and was not kept in the loop.
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did not have a deep background in foreign affairs to begin with, but he was a quick study and hard worker. he learned very quickly. he read a lot. truman also wanted to trust time of july 1945. he needed the soviets help in the war against japan. -- and he wrote that in his diaries published on our website. you can see the diaries and his writings. he is really interested in listing -- enlisting the soviet union's help against the japan. even when he finds out the atomic test were successful in the new mexico desert, a few days before, he wanted to report that to the soviets. that is interesting to me. you might want to keep that
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close to the vest, but he did report it. i think he was holding out hope that he could get the soviets help in the war against japan and that the atomic bomb may not be enough to accomplish our ends. >> given the manhattan project was so secret that even truman did not know about it while he was president, how does ethel rosenberg's brother beat -- become part of the project. >> a lot of them knew the chat are -- knew each other through a network. rosenberg's brother had gotten the job, julius have a job -- had the job.
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they worked their ways into it. even harry gold worked his way into it and had been recruited prior to world war ii. they did a very good job of hiding the network from officials. there was some vetting of employees whether military members or versus employees of the war department but they were able to escape that and mask it. the way all of this was that one person was discovered and told all. what was their motive? financial, blackmail? they say follow the money. >> i believe the rosenbergs were ideological. they were committed to the
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communist movement. which is, if you think about it, is a stark contrast to the way the soviet union treated jewish people. many of these people were jewish , and if you look at how they treated people of the jewish peoplea lot of these became committed to the communist party in the 1930's. a little bit in the wake of the communismession when seemed to take hold in the 1920's and 1930's. theywas not motivated -- cannot find where they were paid very well for this. almost all of them were very committed to the ideology. i couldn't help but notice
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the topic for today's speeches. trying to draw parallels between what is going on in our world today. there are some parties that believe russia is more friendly to us and some are less friendly to us, did this happen from the bit war thawing of it -- a or can you draw parallels to today? i became an officer during the cold war so most of my service was during that time when i was commissioned as second lieutenant in 1986. that was our main focus in the main adversary was the soviet union. we were always on guard to espionage. when the law fell and events happened in the early 1990's, it
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is known that the cia was caught off guard with the soviet union. things thawed a little bit. the former soviet union was in great disarray and they had political and economic troubles. that went away a little bit. whiche decisively engaged was a result of the fall of the soviet union. we were later engaged in coves of oh -- in kosovo. trying to union was find its place in the modern world that the time. then, the rise of vladimir putin has brought russia back into a strong footing and they have become more of an adversary. in later years, putin has tried to restore some of the former glory of the soviet union.
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pay attention for a long time in there. that looks back on the forefront of the other intelligence agencies. the fbi, as you see in the headlines as well. [applause] announcer: leading up to the 100th anniversary of the end of world war i, on november 11, every weekend on american history tv, we feature special programs about the war. >> in late july, and roll purging created the first united states army and immediate steps were taken to concentrate forces on the line. announcer: sunday on american artifacts, we are in france with the american cemetery
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related to the battle of some yell -- somyale. >> the weather was horrible, rainy, chilly. attacks.cans launched unbeknownst to them, the germans who would occupy this whole salient had begun a withdraw. they were starting to move their trips but did not move quick enough. by the end of the day, they americans reached not only the main objectives for the day but many of the objectives for the following day. 13,idmorning of september the whole salient had deliberated. announcer: watch american artifacts sunday on 6 p.m. eastern. announcer: lynn woolsey
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represented california from 1993 to 2013. she was the first former welfare mother to serving congress. sunday at 10 a.m. eastern, we will feature an interview on her career. here is a preview. >> after i got elected, my staff with say you cannot go down there and talk about being a welfare mother because that is all you will be known for. my answer was, if i do not do it, who will? come on. you have got to show by example. you cannot just talk about things. it turned out that that was not all i was known for and i was sat on the floor and i remember this, and i was part of the committee in the
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a junior. i was i think it was the fourth year i was in congress. i was set on the forum talking about my experiences and you could hear a pin drop. i heard somebody say, yeah, but she is different. said the picture of a welfare mom ise average welfare caucasian, has two kids, i had three, and they are on welfare and abandoned by their father and are on the system for about four or five years. my was three years i think. when you make people realize that
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entirecan watch the interview sunday at 10:00 a.m. eastern. this is american history tv. >> next on lectures in history, hillsdale college professor david rainey teaches a class about civil war era societies that supported union troops. he highlights the work of the u.s. sanitary commission and u.s. christian commission, which provided additional supplies and medical services to the soldiers. his class is about an hour. david: good afternoon, everybody. welcome back. on monday, we spent some time talking about the river war in the west. we looked at the activities of ulysses s. grant and willie t sherman, particularly at fort henry and donaldson.


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