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President Harry S. Truman Signs Potsdam Declaration Demanding Japanese Surrender for Himself, Winston Churchill, and Chiang Kai-shek
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Following are our terms. We will not deviate from them. There are no alternatives. We shall brook no delay.

This remarkable document, signed by President Harry S. Truman and by him for British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Chairman Chiang Kai-shek of the Republic of China, sets forth their terms for Japan’s surrender. Within days, Churchill had been replaced as prime minister, and within two weeks, the United States Air Force had dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. On August 15, Japanese Emperor Hirohito accepted the terms of the Declaration.

HARRY S. TRUMAN. Typed Document Signed, Potsdam Declaration, July 26, 1945. Truman also adds in his own hand the signatures of Winston Churchill (“Churchill”) and Chiang Kai-shek (“Chiang Kai-shek”). 3 pp. on 2 leaves, 8¼ x 11 in.

Inventory #27126.99       Price: $72,000

We, the President of the United States, the President of the National Government of the Republic of China and the Prime Minister of Great Britain, representing the hundreds of millions of our countrymen, have conferred and agree that Japan shall be given an opportunity to end this war.

The result of the futile and senseless German resistance to the might of the aroused free peoples of the world stands forth in awful clarity as an example to the people of Japan. The might that now converges on Japan is immeasurably greater than that which, when applied to the resisting Nazis, necessarily laid waste to the lands, the industry and the method of life of the whole German people.

There must be eliminated for all time the authority and influence of those who have deceived and misled the people of Japan into embarking on world conquest, for we insist that a new order of peace, security and justice will be impossible until irresponsible militarism is driven from the world.

We do not intend that the Japanese shall be enslaved as a race or destroyed as [a] nation, but stern justice shall be meted out to all war criminals, including those who have visited cruelties upon our prisoners. The Japanese government shall remove all obstacles to the revival and strengthening of democratic tendencies among / the Japanese people. Freedom of speech, of religion, and of thought, as well as respect for the fundamental human rights shall be established.” (p2-3)

Japan shall be permitted to maintain such industries as will sustain her economy and permit the exaction of just reparations in kind, but not those which would enable her to re-arm for war. To this end, access to, as distinguished from control of, raw materials shall be permitted. Eventual Japanese participation in world trade relations shall be permitted… The occupying forces of the Allies shall be withdrawn from Japan as soon as these objectives have been accomplished and there has been established in accordance with the freely expressed will of the Japanese people a peacefully inclined and responsible government.” (p3)

We call upon the Government of Japan to proclaim now the unconditional surrender of all Japanese armed forces, and to provide proper and adequate assurances of their good faith in such action. The alternative for Japan is prompt and utter destruction.

Historical Background
Nine weeks after the surrender of Nazi Germany, the leaders of the United States, the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union met in Potsdam, in the Soviet-occupied zone of Germany, from July 17 to August 2, 1945 to plan the postwar peace. The allies were initially represented by General Secretary Joseph Stalin, Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and President Harry S. Truman. As a result of a British general election, Prime Minister Clement Atlee replaced Churchill by July 28. The Potsdam Conference divided Germany into four occupation zones, recognized a Soviet-backed group as the legitimate government of Poland, and partitioned Vietnam at the 16th parallel.

On July 26, President Truman, Prime Minister Churchill, and Chairman Chiang Kai-shek issued the Potsdam Declaration, in which the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Republic of China demanded the immediate surrender of the Empire of Japan. (Stalin was not a party to it due to the Soviet-Japanese Neutrality Pact of 1941.)

The Office of War Information (OWI) began broadcasting the text in English on West Coast transmitters aimed at the Japan. Two hours later, the OWI began transmitting the text in Japanese. American bombers also dropped more than 3 million leaflets describing the declaration over Japan, though listening to foreign radio broadcasts or picking up enemy propaganda was illegal there.

The Japanese government debated the declaration, and the Cabinet Secretary later recalled that all felt it must be accepted. However, Foreign Minister Shigenori Tōgō hoped that the Soviet Union would offer to mediate between Japan and the Allies. Emperor Hirohito (1901-1989) reportedly found the declaration “acceptable in principle.” Some members of the Supreme Council for the Direction of the War wanted to reject it, while others wanted clarifications over the status of the Emperor and other matters.

In response to Japanese silence, President Harry S. Truman authorized the use of the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima on August 6, and the second on Nagasaki on August 9. On the latter date, Stalin abrogated the Soviet-Japanese Neutrality Pact of 1941 and declared war on Japan. The Japanese government made a surrender offer on August 10 that would maintain the Emperor’s administrative prerogatives, but U.S. Secretary of State James F. Byrnes rejected the revisions. Emperor Hirohito announced his acceptance of the Potsdam Declaration on August 15, 1945. The surrender documents were signed aboard the USS Missourion September 2, 1945, in Tokyo Bay.

Harry S. Truman (1884-1972), Thirty-third President of the United States. A Missouri native, Truman was first elected to public office in 1922, winning a judge’s seat in the Jackson County Court. After serving several terms, Truman was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1934, and in 1940 gained national attention for his chairmanship of the Senate Special Committee to Investigate the National Defense Program, which was eventually nicknamed “The Truman Committee.” Truman continued his political rise in 1944, when he was elected Vice-President as FDR’s running mate. After only 82 days in the White House, Truman was thrust into the Presidency when FDR died unexpectedly. His inheritance was a world at war. Germany had surrendered, but Japan refused to give up the battle. Truman, in a desperate move to avoid having to invade the Japanese mainland, ordered the deployment of two atomic bombs. They were dropped on August 6 and August 9, 1945. Japan surrendered on August 14, 1945. As President, Truman waged an undeclared war on the Soviet Union, drafting the “Truman Doctrine,” which proclaimed the United States’ willingness to provide aid to countries resisting communism. The Marshall Plan sought to strengthen the European economy in the hopes that this program, too, would prevent the spread of Soviet influence. Elected President for a full term in 1948, he also introduced United States troops into the Korean War (1950-1953). In addition to his cold war activities, Truman’s administration expanded the New Deal and promoted Civil Rights initiatives.

Winston Churchill (1874-1965) was born to a British father and an American mother at his family’s ancestral home in Oxfordshire, England. After education at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, Churchill served as an army officer in India and Africa and became an accomplished writer. Over a political career that spanned fifty years, he held many political and cabinet positions, including First Lord of the Admiralty (1911-1915; 1939-1940). In 1922, Churchill bought the manor house of Chartwell in Kent, and he later spent most of his retirement there. During the 1930s, he took the lead in warning against Nazi Germany’s hostile ambitions. He served as Prime Minister from 1940 to 1945 and again from 1951 to 1955. His speeches inspired British resistance to Nazi Germany, especially in 1940-1941, when the United Kingdom stood almost alone against Adolf Hitler. After suffering a serious stroke in 1953, he retired from political office in 1955. In 1963, he became the first person to be made an honorary citizen of the United States.

Chiang Kai-shek (1887-1975) was born in China and became a member of the Kuomintang and a lieutenant of Sun Yat-sen (1866-1925) in the revolution to overthrow the Beiyang government and reunify China. He organized the military for Sun’s nationalist government, led the Whampoa Military Academy, and served as commander-in-chief of the National Revolutionary Army. During the Northern Expedition of 1926 to 1928 against a coalition of warlords, Chiang massacred communists in his alliance, leading to a civil war. During the Nanjing decade (1927-1937), Chiang made Nanjing his national capital as he led the Republic of China. From 1937 to 1945, he led much of China in the Second Sino-Japanese War. In November 1943, he met with U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill in Cairo to discuss the terms of eventual Japanese surrender. After the end of World War II, the civil war with Chinese communists led by Mao Zedong resumed, and Chiang’s army and government retreated in 1949 to the island of Taiwan, where Chiang consolidated his power during the White Terror. He was re-elected as the President of the Republic of China from 1950 to 1975 with minimal or no opposition. He died of cancer three years into his fifth term as president.

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