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Churchill, Truman and Stalin at Potsdam
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National Portrait Gallery Collection
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On succeeding to the presidency after the death of Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman was conscious of how unprepared he was, saying that he felt “like the moon and stars had fallen on him”; even as vice president he had not known about the development of an atomic bomb. Nonetheless, he was determined in his first foray into international relations to hold his own against Churchill and Stalin. The war in Europe had ended in May, and the Big Three met at Potsdam (outside Berlin) in July to discuss the ongoing war in the Pacific and postwar diplomacy in light of the agreements reached at Yalta the previous February. Truman dropped a broad hint that the U.S. had a powerful new weapon.
The conference occurred during Britain’s first postwar election. So the British delegation was led first by Churchill and then by Clement Atlee, who took over when the Labour Party swept into power.
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Yevgeny Khaldei, 1917 - 1997
Harry S Truman, 8 May 1884 - 26 Dec 1972
Joseph Stalin, 21 Dec 1879 - Mar 1953
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill, 30 Nov 1874 - 24 Jan 1965
Gelatin silver print
Image: 19.9 x 28.7cm (7 13/16 x 11 5/16")
Sheet: 23.8 x 30.5cm (9 3/8 x 12")
Mat: 40.6 x 55.9cm (16 x 22")
Data Source
National Portrait Gallery
Restrictions & Rights
Usage conditions apply
© Yevgeny Khaldei