June 7, 1945: Truman Press Conference



Harry Truman as President usually had weekly press conferences.  The press conference he held on June 7, 1945 was the tenth he held since assuming the office on the death of Roosevelt in April.  Looking at the transcript of the press conference below is how blunt, direct and concise Truman was in his answers. Here is the transcript:


THE PRESIDENT. [1.] The first thing, I am exceedingly happy over the Bretton Woods–345 to 18. And the nonpartisan character of the support of that legislation makes me believe that the Congress really is for a peace treaty.

[2.] In connection with Justice Jackson’s war crimes report, which was given to you this morning, I have been reminded that next Sunday, the 10th, will be the third anniversary of the ruthless destruction of that Bohemian village of–I don’t know how to say it–L-i-d-i–

Voices: Lidice.

THE PRESIDENT. This is one of the most barbarous of all the crimes on the Nazi calendar. June 10th will be remembered always as another day of infamy.


[3.] I want to say something to you about the transportation situation that we are facing now, on account of the redeployment situation.

Colonel Johnson was in to see me yesterday, and told me very plainly that we were going to have to meet this transportation situation in 10 months. We have only a third smaller job to do than the one which has just been finished, and it took–that was over a period of 48 months. This will be over a period of 10 months; that is, to transfer all our armed forces across the United States and the deployment in the Pacific–redeployment in the Pacific. The first transportation job was considered a miracle, and this one ahead of us is even bigger.

And I want to impress it on our citizens that their best contribution in this case will be to stay at home.

I have written a letter to Colonel Johnson on the subject, and a statement will be available when you go out. But that is most important, that redeployment transportation situation. It is going to strain every facility we have, in order to get it done on time.

[4.] Mr. H. A. Millis, Chairman of the National Labor Relations Board, has resigned, and I have appointed Paul M. Herzog of New York to be his successor. Mr. Millis has been trying to–

Q. May we have that again?

THE PRESIDENT. H. A. Millis, Chairman of the National Labor Relations Board, has resigned. He has been trying to quit for some time. I appointed Paul M. Herzog. He is in the Navy now, but the Navy will let him out, if he gets confirmed. And I think he will be.

[5.] I want to announce the–Stuart Symington of St. Louis will be appointed to succeed Senator Gillette when Senator Gillette’s expiration date expires July 15th; but I have asked Mr. Symington to come up and get familiar with the job by cooperating with Judge Vinson, and the other two members of the Board, and Senator Gillette, before he leaves.

Q. Mr. President, may I ask a question there? Do you plan any change in the three-man board to a single administrator for the–

THE PRESIDENT. That is a congressional matter that will have to be done by law. I can’t change it.

Q. Will Mr. Symington be Chairman of the Board?

THE PRESIDENT. He will be Chairman when Senator Gillette’s expiration time expires.

Q. Did you say something about conferring with Mr. Vinson–you mean–

THE PRESIDENT. With the other two members of the Board, and Mr. Vinson.

Q. Is his full name Stuart Symington? Didn’t he have another name at the first–

THE PRESIDENT. W. Stuart Symington.

Q. S-y, isn’t it?

THE PRESIDENT. S-y-m-i-n-g-t-o-n. And he spells that Stuart in the English King manner–S-t-u-a-r-t.

[6.] Q. Mr. President, is this NLRB term for a new term, or the unexpired term?

THE PRESIDENT. It’s to fill out the unexpired term, and for a new term also. The present term expires, I think, sometime in August.

[7.] I want to announce the resignation of Grover B. Hill as Under Secretary of Agriculture, and the appointment of John B. Hutson

Q. H-u-t?

THE PRESIDENT. H-u-t-s-o-n–he is assistant to Judge Vinson–as the Under Secretary of Agriculture.

Q. What is Mr. Hutson’s home originally? Do you know what State?


Q. Kentuckian.


[8.] I want to announce the resignation of Brigadier General Frank T. Hines as Veterans Administrator, and of the other job he has, and the–General Omar Bradley will be appointed in his place. [Low whistles and exclamations]

And I want to remind you of–[laughter]–a statement that was made at the press conference here, on May 15th, in which I said the Veterans Administration will be modernized, and that should be done as soon as possible. But at that time I was not ready to do the job immediately, because I hadn’t obtained the consent of the War Department for General Bradley to serve.

Q. Mr. President, will General Bradley be retired before

THE PRESIDENT. He will not. He will still be a four star General while he is in charge of the Veterans Bureau.

Q. Will he have the other job, too–Reemployment and Retraining?

THE PRESIDENT. I don’t think so. I think I am going to dispose of that in another way at a little later date.

Q. Mr. President, when is General Hines’ resignation effective? Immediately ?

THE PRESIDENT. No. General Hines’ resignation is effective at my pleasure, and that will be when General Bradley can wind up his duties in Europe and take over. That will probably take 30 to 60 days to be accomplished.

I wrote General Hines a letter, and here is the way I wind it up. You will get copies of both these letters, my letter and his letter of resignation too.

[Reading]: “I want you to know that I have always had, and shall continue to have, complete confidence in you, and in your handling of public matters. In fact, I shall ask you within the near future to take another post of public importance, and I hope you will accept it.”

And he told me personally that he would.

Q. Mr. President, on that point, can you say anything about–now-about the construction of the medical divisions of the Veterans Bureau ? Any change contemplated there?

THE PRESIDENT. I would rather not discuss it now, because I will discuss it at a later date. When General Bradley takes over here, I will give you the complete layout of it–what we propose to do.

Q. Mr. President, you mean there will be a reorganization?

THE PRESIDENT. It will be modernized, let’s put it that way. It will be a Veterans Administration for World War II. That was the setup for World War I, and has been very adequately handled for World War I. But as a World War I soldier, I wouldn’t have been happy to have had the Spanish-American War veterans running the Veterans Administration, and I don’t think–[laughter]–the new veterans would. I think they would much rather have a general of their own war in the place.

And General Hines thought so, too-after we discussed it.

Are there any questions? [Laughter]

[9.] Q. Mr. President, are you in complete agreement with Justice Jackson’s report?

THE PRESIDENT. I am in entire agreement with it. I think it’s a good report, and I think it shows just exactly what we are attempting to accomplish.

Q. Mr. President, can you shed any light on one section of that report, where Justice Jackson said that it was the inescapable responsibility of this Government to prosecute these war criminals, even if this Government had to do it alone?

THE PRESIDENT. That’s just–it means just exactly what it says. That is what we propose

Q. Is there any prospect that we will have to do it alone?

THE PRESIDENT. No, no. That’s just to make it emphatic.

Q. Any prospect of an early answer from the other countries on our suggestion for a military tribunal?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, I think so. I don’t think there will be any delay on that.

Q. Mr. President, can you tell us–

THE PRESIDENT. The British have already come in, and I am sure the Russians and the French will.

I beg your pardon?

[10.] Q. Can you tell us whether you plan any early action to curb rises in real estate and security prices?

THE PRESIDENT. I haven’t gone into that. I have been discussing it with Judge Vinson, but have come to no conclusion on them.

[11.] Q. Mr. President, have you any comment on the Federal Corporation Control bill, so called–Byrd-Butler bill?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, as a Member of the Senate, I was always against that bill.

[12.] Q. Mr. President, in connection with your statement about transportation, if the situation should become critical, would you be prepared to recommend Federal control, or rationing? In other words, controlling the traveling public?

THE PRESIDENT. I hope that will not be necessary, but if it becomes necessary, I will certainly do it.

[13.] Q. Mr. President, did you give your approval to the suit filed[inaudible words]–on those oil lands by Justice

THE PRESIDENT. I told the Department of Justice to file the suit.

[14.] Q. Mr. President, would you care to comment–what is your feeling on the St. Lawrence Seaway?

THE PRESIDENT. I will discuss that at a little later date. You will find the record on that in the Senate, also.

[15.] Q. Mr. President, do you–would you favor a Big Five meeting to settle the Syrian dispute?

THE PRESIDENT. I would not.

Q. Mr. President, would you care to comment on the progress of Mr. Hopkins’ talks in Moscow?

THE PRESIDENT. I will discuss that when Mr. Hopkins returns–discuss it fully. I don’t want to discuss it now.

Q. Do you have any comment now on the position of the veto in San Francisco?

THE PRESIDENT. That will be discussed from San Francisco very shortly.

Q. Sir, have you received from Mr. Hopkins a message, saying that he made better than hoped for progress in Moscow ?

THE PRESIDENT. I hope you won’t force me to answer that, because I want to discuss that when Mr. Hopkins gets back. [Laughter]

Q. Mr. President, would you elaborate on that subject–that statement you made, about being discussed from San Francisco ?

THE PRESIDENT. The announcement will be made from San Francisco.

Q. Shortly?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, very shortly.

Q. Mr. President, could you amplify your views on the Big Five meeting with Syria?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, the meeting that was contemplated is a Big Three meeting to discuss world affairs. I think that the Near Eastern situation will be worked out without any Big Five meeting.

Q. Any news on the Big Three meeting, when it may be?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I think it will be sometime within the next 40 days. That is as near as I can come to it.

[16.] Q. Apparently, you have been taking up this matter of commercial aviation in the postwar period, in your series of talks in the past week. Is there anything you could tell us about the position we are in, with reference to that now, or–

THE PRESIDENT. No, I can’t. I am not in a position to make a statement on that, but I will be, I think, next week.

[17.] Q. Mr. President, the labor leaders saw you today, and they told us they asked you to–for an upward revision of the Little Steel formula.


Q. What do you think of that?

THE PRESIDENT. They always ask that, every time they come around. [Laughter]

Q. Do you think it should be revised upward ?

THE PRESIDENT. I am not in any position to make a statement on that. We will work out a survey of the situation at a later date, and then come to a conclusion. At present, it stands.

[18.] Q. Mr. President, did you discuss taxes with Senator George this morning?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I did not. I did not.

[19.] Q. Can you give us your views on this bill passed by the House, giving Congressmen $2500 for expense accounts, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, my views are that the Members of the House and the Senate are grossly underpaid. I think they should have a salary commensurate with the work they do, and I have always thought that. And I can say it now, for I am no longer a Member of the Senate. [Laughter]

I think the Senators ought–and the Members of the House–ought to be in the position so that their principal employer would be the United States of America, and that they ought to pass an adequate salary bill for themselves. I would certainly sign it if they did, because I know that they need it. I don’t think the Senate or House should be a rich man’s club. I think the common, ordinary citizen ought to have a chance to serve.

Q. Do you think it is, at the moment?

THE PRESIDENT. Not now. It has been.

Q. Does that mean, Mr. President, that you don’t think this is the method to do it with?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I don’t. I think they ought to come straight out and raise their salaries and be done with it.

Q. Would you veto the bill then, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I won’t veto it. This is a legislative job and I will–if they want it that way, let them have it, because I know they need the money; but I say it would be much better for them if they would come out for a straight salary raise.

Q. Have you a suggestion for an adequate salary?

THE PRESIDENT. Anywhere from $15,000 to $25,000 a year.

Q. Mr. President, you didn’t mean to suggest that their principal employers weren’t the United States? [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. No, I did not, but I know in my own case, in order to meet my bills, I had to make my wife my secretary. She had to work all the time in the public interest, instead of keeping house. I didn’t like it! [Laughter] And you made a campaign issue out of it in the last campaign, and the people liked it. But that shouldn’t happen, there is no sense in that at all. This Government is rich enough to pay its employees an adequate salary, and they ought to do it.

Q. Mr. President, do you think diplomats’ salaries should be increased?

THE PRESIDENT. I do that. I think it is absolutely necessary.

[20.] Mr. President, can you comment on the visit of Justice Black with you this morning?

THE PRESIDENT. It was a social call. Justice Black and I have been friends ever since I went to the Senate. This is the first chance–

Q. [Interposing loudly] Thank you, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT.–time he has had a chance to call on me. [Laughter]


Published in: on June 7, 2015 at 5:30 am  Comments (2)  
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  1. Wow. And to think that Truman was considered a jobbing politician – just the kind who would talk for ever and say nothing. Was this his style, or were all politicians of this period more inclined to use facts and to say no and no comment when they had to?

    • Truman was always a nuts and bolts man who liked to have the facts at his fingertips when he met with the Press. I think we had fewer airhead politicians back then. The teleprompter wasn’t devised until the 1950’s and people expected politicians to have quick wits and to hold their own when questioned by the press or their constituents.

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