President Truman attends Potsdam Conference

After the sudden death of Franklin D. Roosevelt in April 1945, Vice President Harry S. Truman became president of the United States. Here, President Truman meets with the heads of state of the Soviet Union and Great Britain (Joseph Stalin, Winston S. Churchill, and later Clement Attlee) in Potsdam, near Berlin, to discuss the future of defeated Germany. The leaders agreed to the partition of Germany and Berlin, Germany's capital city, into four zones of occupation: British, French, American, and Soviet. They also demanded the unconditional surrender of Japan, the only Axis power remaining at war.


The USS "Augusta" steams into Antwerp, where President Truman is greeted by General Eisenhower. With victory accomplished, the president is on his way to the Big Three meeting at Potsdam, with Secretary of State Byrnes and other aides, to work for peace and world prosperity. With little pomp or ceremony, Mr. Truman gets off to Brussels, next stop on his journey. Following a flight to Germany, the presidential party rolls along the autobahn to Berlin, while the commander in chief reviews the might of the Second Armored Division. At the "Little White House" in Potsdam, Generalissimo Stalin of Russia is one of the first to welcome the president, as the meeting is recorded by Signal Corps and Newsreel cameras. Next to join the group is Prime Minister Churchill, who meets an old conference friend. The Big Three meetings are held in Kaiser Wilhelm's former palace. President Truman is selected as chairman of the conference. Here the fate of Germany and the end of Japanese aggression will be settled. Under the flag that flew over the White House when we declared war on the Axis, the President states our aims: "Let's not forget that we are fighting for peace and for the welfare of mankind. We're not fighting for conquest. There's not one piece of territory or one thing of a, a monetary nature that we want out of this war. We want peace and prosperity for the world as a whole." Over the old German barracks in Berlin, the Stars and Stripes fly in victory. This historic banner has flown over much captured territory—Casablanca, Algiers, Rome, and Berlin. Let us pray it will not be long before it flies over Tokyo.


  • National Archives - Film

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