Harry S. Truman
Historical Figure
Nationality: United States
Date of Birth: 1884
Date of Death: 1972
Cause of Death: Pneumonia
Religion: Baptist
Occupation: Soldier, Haberdasher, Politician
Spouse: Bess (wife)
Children: Margaret (daughter)
Political Party: Democratic Party
Military Branch: United States Army:
(World War I)
Political Office(s): United States Senator (Missouri, 1935-1945)
Vice President of the United States (1945)
President of the United States (1945-1953)
Turtledove Appearances:
The Hot War
POD: November, 1950
Appearance(s): Bombs Away
Type of Appearance: POV
Spouse: Bess (wife, deceased, 1952)
Children: Margaret (daughter, deceased, 1952)
Political Office(s): President of the United States
The Man With the Iron Heart
POD: May 29, 1942;
Relevant POD: May, 1945
Type of Appearance: Direct
Political Office(s): President of the United States
Southern Victory
POD: September 10, 1862
Appearance(s): In at the Death
Type of Appearance: Direct
Spouse: Unnamed wife
Political Party: Democratic Party
Military Branch: United States Army
(Great War)
Political Office(s): United States Senator
Vice President of the United States
Harry S Truman (May 8, 1884 – December 26, 1972) was the 33rd President of the United States (1945–1953). As Vice President, he succeeded Franklin D. Roosevelt, who died less than three months after he began his fourth term, on April 12, 1945.

During World War I, Truman served as an artillery officer. After the war he became part of the political machine of Tom Pendergast and was elected a county commissioner in Missouri and eventually a United States Senator. After he gained national prominence as head of the wartime Truman Committee, Truman replaced Vice President Henry Wallace as Roosevelt's running mate in 1944.

Truman's presidency saw dramatic shifts in the country's foreign and domestic policies. On the foreign side, Truman oversaw the final defeat of the Axis, with the fall of Germany in May 1945, and the surrender of Japan in August 1945. The latter saw the deployment of the first atomic bombs. Truman also brought the U.S. into the United Nations, helped implement the Marshall Plan, and instituted the Truman Doctrine of containment of communism, laying the foundation of the Cold War. This policy eventually led to America's intervention in the Korean War in 1950.

At home, the shift from a wartime to a peacetime economy was difficult, and Truman faced substantial opposition. He was elected in his own right in 1948, infamously defeating his opponent Thomas Dewey, to the surprise of pundits. However, the Korean War took a toll on his presidency. While legally able to run again in 1952, he chose not to. Truman left office in 1953 with the lowest approval ratings afforded any president before that time.

Harry Truman in The Hot WarEdit

Harry S Truman was the 33rd President of the United States. While he successfully helped lead the country to victory in World War II in 1945, his political miscalculations over the Korean War helped spark World War III.

Prelude to WarEdit

In November 1950, Chinese troops intervened in the Korean War and thoroughly destroyed three divisions of American forces between the Chosin Reservoir and Hungnam, the worst defeat American forces had seen since the fall of the Bataan Peninsula during World War II.[1]

Truman flew to Honolulu on December 18, 1950 to meet with General Douglas MacArthur, the overall commander in the Pacific. While MacArthur didn't quite admit he'd been wrong when he assured Truman that the Chinese would not intervene, he did acknowledge that they were attacking and would continue to mass along the Yalu River until China itself was attacked. When Truman pointed out that B-29s weren't doing as well during this war as they had during World War II, MacArthur suggested atomic weapons might make the difference if they were used on cities in Manchuria to disrupt the Chinese supply line.

Truman then wondered if Joseph Stalin and the Soviet Union would retaliate against U.S. allies should the U.S. bomb Manchuria. MacArthur dismissed these concerns, arguing that the USSR did not have sufficient atomic weapons to do so. He also argued that U.S. atomic weapons could be used in the case of a Soviet invasion of West Germany. Despite his misgivings, Truman agreed to the use of atomic weapons. Truman admitted that if the three divisions in North Korea has been successfully evacuated from Hungnam, he would not have considered the atomic option.[2]

In January 1951, pits were delivered to Korea and installed in all weapons already present.[3] A few weeks later, Truman transferred the final decision making to MacArthur, authorizing the general to use them if, in MacArthur's view, their use was the only way to improve the situation. The situation had certainly worsened, as the Chinese had relentlessly marched south throughout December and into January, recapturing Seoul, the South Korean capital.[4] In the meantime, U.S. aerial reconnaissance showed that the Soviets were moving fighters and bombers onto airstrips in southeastern Siberia.[5]

First Round of Atomic BombingsEdit

The decision finally came a few weeks later. On January 23, 1951, several bombs were dropped on strategic points in Manchuria.[6] Within hours, Truman appeared before the country explaining the action and his reasons for approving it. He also emphasized that Soviet territory had not been attacked.[7] Despite his assurances that the US had no quarrel with the USSR, Joseph Stalin retaliated on behalf of his ally, China, and ordered six atomic attacks against U.S. allies staged from Pechenga[8]: Aberdeen and Norwich in the United Kingdom; Nancy and Rouen in France, and; Augsburg and Bremen in West Germany.[9] The Soviet army headed west as the bombs were landing in Europe, as did the armies of its various satellites.[10]

Soviet Mobilization and Second Round of BombsEdit

The attacks on Britain and France effectively triggered the NATO treaty. British Prime Minister Clement Attlee and French President Vincent Auriol immediately demanded the U.S. respond. So did West Germany, but as that country wasn't in NATO, Truman felt comfortable ignoring them.[11] Truman consulted with Secretary of Defense George Marshall. While neither were enthusiastic about attacking the Soviets again, Truman decided that destroying Pechenga was the least terrible option, as it might mollify Britain and France, and was sufficiently isolated from more populous Soviet territory that Stalin might not feel compelled to respond. Ignoring the European attacks might end NATO altogether and send Europe into an alliance with Stalin. At Marshall's suggestion, Truman had the planes fly out of the UK and France. He also ordered Alaska put on alert, as it was similar to Pechenga, and would be a likely target if Stalin did retaliate.[12]

Pechenga was destroyed on February 4. Despite Truman's order for precautions, Elmendorf Air Force Base was destroyed by the Soviets on February 7.[13]

Third Round of Bombs and Ground WarEdit

In response, on February 15, Truman authorized atomic attacks against Russia's satellites, destroying Zywiec in Poland, Szekesfehervar in Hungary, and Ceske Budejovice in Czechoslovakia in an effort to disrupt several transportation hubs.[14] Two days later, the Soviet invasion of West Germany began, and World War III was now past the point of no return.[15]

The Soviets, using their numerical superiority, made substantial gains in West Germany, Austria and northeastern Italy, despite huge casualties inflicted on them by Allied forces.[16] In response, on February 24, U.S. launching bombing raids against various targets within the USSR and its allied countries, including Warsaw and Krakow in Poland, Prague and Bratislava in Czechoslovakia, and Budapest in Hungary, and the Soviet cities of Leningrad and Vladivostok, as well as Minsk in Byelorussian SSR and Rovno in the Ukranian SSR. Allegedly, the Leningrad attack (a night raid) killed several children playing in a park for which Stalin promised retribution.[17]

As February wound down, Truman was faced with what he termed as a catastrophe. He realized that the U.S. probably didn't have the manpower to stop the Russians, even with Britain and France contributing. He was already regretting the decision to bomb Manchuria, especially as the only solution he and Secretary of Defense Marshall could see to remedy the disparity in manpower was the use of more atom bombs.[18] However, as West German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer had wired Truman and begged him not to use atom bombs in West German territory, lest the U.S. lose West Germany as an ally, Truman ruled it out, despite Marshall's misgivings. Instead, Truman decided to use bombs in East Germany and in Russia's satellites with the goal of slowing down the Soviet supply line. He even hoped that the attacks might prompt the governments of the various satellites to reconsider their alliance with Russia, or to prompt the citizens of those states to rebel against their communist governments.[19]

Truman further decided not to attack capital cities, but instead smaller towns that had important rail lines. Marshall prepared a list for Truman's approval.[20]

The Soviet Attack on North America and the U.S. ResponseEdit

While the atomic attacks did disrupt Soviet supply lines and slow down the drive west, they did not cause any uprisings.[21] They also resulted in the most audacious attacks from the Soviets to date. On the night of March 1-2, Soviet Tu-4s, painted to look like the American B-29s they'd been reverse engineered from, dropped several atomic bombs on the American west, including the cities of Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Salt Lake City and Denver.[22] On the East Coast, Bangor, Maine and Newfoundland in Canada were also attacked.[23] On the plus side, bombers mean for Spokane and Las Vegas were successfully downed.[24]

In response, Truman ordered massive retaliation that destroyed a number of Soviet ports on March 4, including Vladivostok[25] (a successful if costly attack for the U.S.), as well as Kiev,[26]. In the following weeks, the U.S. also dropped atomic bombs on Leningrad[27] and Moscow itself.[28] Stalin survived this attack, and took to the radio to rally the Soviet Union.[29] By the end of March, with Allied forces in retreat in Germany, Truman was having many a "dark night of the soul".[30]

The Ground War and Domestic AffairsEdit

In April, Truman finally took a tour of the West Coast. He gave a candid press conference in Los Angeles, where he'd come to see the damage. He allowed his administration had made several mistakes in its handling of the war, but that the country would press on.[31]

A few days after the West Coast trip, the Soviet Union attacked several airfields in the U.K. with conventional explosives, including USAF barracks at Sculthorpe. While the attacks killed several and did a fair amount of damage, compared with an atomic bomb, the attacks were more nuisances.[32] However, days later, the Soviets inflicted another atomic attack on the U.S. when it successfully placed an atom bomb in a Greek-listed freighter, and successfully detonated the bomb in the Panama Canal near the Caribbean end; if the canal were repairable at all, it would be years. It fell to Secretary of Defense George Marshall to notify Truman, who in turn ordered Marshall to warn the British government to be on alert with the Suez Canal. Unfortunately Marshall learned that his warning came too late: the Soviets successfully detonated an atom bomb in the Suez Canal about the same time as the Panama Canal. Truman was particularly incensed by the Panama attack; while it made the war effort harder for U.S. aircraft carriers, the economic impact was more directly on the U.S. people.[33]

In May, just a few days after the attack, Truman went to Panama to meet with President Arnulfo Arias.[34] After a meal with several Panamanian bigwigs, Truman and Arias went to view the damage. Upon seeing the wrecked canal, Truman profusely apologized for America's failure to prevent the attack, which Arias essentially accepted.[35] Arias was concerned by the tremendous damage the U.S. and the Soviet Union had done to one another, and wondered what Truman's long-term plans were. Truman assured Arias that the U.S. would keep going until the Soviet Union surrendered, an idea Arias seemed horrified by.[36]

The U.S. was able to destroy Khabarovsk and Blagoveshchensk, two key Soviet cities on the Trans-Siberian railroad; the attacks were designed to hamper Soviet aid to its allies in Korea.[37] Nonetheless, Truman was subject to increasingly sharp criticism at home. His loudest critic was Senator Joseph McCarthy, who claimed that Truman and Secretary Marshall were soft on Communism, and alleged the "Reds" uncovered in the State Department during Marshall's tenure there had shared the USA's weaknesses with the Soviets before they were caught.[38] Truman realized that McCarthy was probably going to make run at the Presidency himself in 1952, a fact that chilled Truman. He shared his concerns with Marshall.[39]

In June, the Soviets successfully bombed on Paris,[40] effectively wiping out the French government. Several surviving officials established a Committee of National Salvation, and asked Charles de Gaulle to become its head.[41] De Gaulle's first task was to contact Truman for aid, including medical supplies and experts in treating radiation sickness. While de Gaulle and Truman had shared a deep antipathy from the closing days of World War II, Truman realized that de Gaulle could forge a separate peace with the USSR, and so did everything he could to meet de Gaulle's requests.[42]

The Decision to Bomb West Germany and the ConsequencesEdit

By July 1951, the situation was critical: Soviet forces had crossed most of West Germany and were approaching the borders with the Netherlands and Luxembourg, and held the Po Valley in Italy. Truman had little hope they'd keep fighting if the Russians continued their advances.[43] Thus, in order to halt the advance, and keep the Western Allies in the fight, Truman adopted Marshall's suggestion that the U.S. would use atom bombs on the Soviet forward positions in West Germany, disregarding Konrad Adenauer's plea that no bombs be used. Truman also realized that there would likely be Soviet retaliation, and that the war would only end when Stalin was dead.[44]

Based on Marshall's recommendations, Truman selected several key targets in West Germany, Austria, and in Eastern Europe.  The attacks destroyed most of the Soviet forward positions, forcing the survivors to retreat back east.[45] Afterward, he gave a press conference, and once again offered Joseph Stalin the status quo ante bellum, with all communist forces in Europe and Korea pulling back to their pre-war borders.[46]

While the Allies were advancing for the first time since the beginning of the ground war, Stalin still had a sufficient atomic arsenal to respond. In short order, the Soviets attacked Pusan and Chongju in South Korea in August,[47] and then destroyed the U.S. airbase in Sculthorpe, U.K. (an attack which also destroyed the nearby town of Fakenham) in September.[48] Worst of all was the attack on Antwerp a few weeks later.[49]

Truman once again received an earful from world leaders, this time the Prime Ministers of Belgium and the Netherlands. He was forced to concede to them that the U.S. could not promise to protect them from Soviet attacks.[50] When Truman met with Secretary of Defense Marshall afterward, Marshall acknowledged that Truman had told the premiers the truth. He assured Truman that the Soviets could not reach the U.S. East Coast at this time. Truman also pondered what to do about saving South Korea. Marshall suggested attacking more substantial targets in China. When Truman inquired about the possibility of killing Mao, Marshall conceded that U.S. intelligence knew that Mao was constantly moving, and thus targeting him with an atom bomb would be a waste of time. Stalin was employing a similar trick. Reluctant to keep killing large numbers of people without a guarantee of ending the war, Truman decided not to attack China.[51]

Finally, Truman and Marshall returned to their shared antipathy for Joseph McCarthy, who was now certainly running for the Presidency. Marshall then probed Truman as to whether or not he planned to run again in 1952, a decision Truman had not yet made.[52] After several more weeks of weighing his chances, Truman announced to his wife and daughter, Secretary Marshall, and Secretary of State Dean Acheson that he would not be running again. Then he broadcast the announcement to the country on both television and radio. He made sure to attack Joseph McCarthy at least as much as he did Stalin, Mao, and Kim.[53] Predictably, Soviet propaganda declared Truman a coward.[54]

While the war in Korea continued to go badly, NATO troops were still moving fast in Europe. With thirteen months left in his term, Truman met with George Kennan, the diplomat and Soviet expert. Kennan had previously counseled the administration on its policy of containment, but he'd run into conflict with more hawkish members over Korea. Truman's question to Kennan: would the USSR stop fighting if Stalin were dead. Kennan allowed it was possible, depending on who succeeded him. Kennan could also imagine that if Stalin and enough of his inner circle died with him, then whomever survived would probably want to make a peace.[55]

The Soviet Attack on the East CoastEdit

In May 1952, Truman attended a fund-raiser in Buffalo, New York. He was careful to exhort the crowd to vote Democrat, although he was also careful not to specifically endorse anyone candidate. The night over, Truman boarded the Independence for home.[56] This quirk of fate saved him when the Soviets launched what would prove to be the most devastating attack on the U.S. since the West Coast attacks of the previous year.

Despite the confidence of Secretary Marshall and any number of analysts, the Soviets launched an air raid on the East Coast of the U.S. After months of practice, Soviet Tu-4s were able to cross the Atlantic using mid-air refueling.[57] Washington DC, New York City, and Boston were all destroyed. The Independence was fifty miles away from Washington when Truman saw the flash of the bomb. The plane was diverted to Richmond, and Truman had to being making peace with the fact that his family were dead, as was most of the Federal government, including most of the candidates for the presidency. George Marshall, whom Truman counted on, was also killed. Truman also learned of the fate of the other bombed cities.

Upon landing in Richmond, Truman began alerting what remained of the government that he was still alive.[58] He spoke to Chief Justice Fred Vinson--seven of the nine Supreme Court Justices had been in St. Louis. Vinson concluded that Truman would have broad emergency powers while the U.S. rebuilt its government. Truman also promised final vengeance on Stalin.[59] The immediate U.S. response was to destroy Murmansk, Arkhangelsk and Odessa.[60]

Philadelphia became the acting capital of the U.S.; the was targeted, but spared when the Tu-4 assigned to attack the city crashed in New Egypt, New Jersey.[61]

Harry Truman in The Man With the Iron HeartEdit

Harry Truman was suddenly thrust into the presidency when Franklin D. Roosevelt died in April 1945. Truman faced several difficult decisions. While the European theater of World War II was winding down, Japan had signaled its intention to fight to the bitter end. The war in Europe officially ended in May 1945, with the surrender of Germany. In actuality, the war erupted again almost immediately, as the German Freedom Front, under the leadership of Reinhard Heydrich, launched a resistance movement against the Allied forces occupying the country. The casualties inflicted against American troops began to wear away at public support for the occupation.

While Germany continued to simmer, the war against Japan continued at full boil. Shortly after taking office, Truman was informed of the development of the atomic bomb. Fearing the loss of life that could arise from the invasion of the Japanese home islands, Truman ordered the deployment of a bomb against the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki respectively in August 1945. Japan surrendered in short order.

However, the situation in Germany was visibly deteriorating. Nearly 1000 American soldiers had been killed since the war officially ended (including General George Patton). The mother of one of those killed, Diana McGraw, gathered together other people who'd lost loved ones, and began protesting the Truman Administration. December, 1945 proved to be a most difficult period for Truman. The GFF destroyed the Palace of Justice in Nuremberg just as various Nazi officials were to go on trial for war crimes, and then issued a film featuring kidnapped private Matthew Cunningham pleading for the withdrawal of troops in exchange for his life. McGraw's Mothers Against the Madness in Germany protested outside the White House. Her group was joined by various legislators, both Republicans and Democrats.

Witnessing the protest, Truman himself approached McGraw, and argued the threat that both the Nazis and the Soviet Union (America's former ally) posed to the peace. Unfortunately for him, Truman took far too condescending a tone, which helped shore up McGraw's own self-assurance that the lives lost were too a high a price. Nor could he dislodge her belief that the atomic bomb would be easily deployed should either Germany or the USSR become a threat.

Truman continued this line of argument publicly throughout the remainder of the occupation of Germany. He dismissed the notion that McGraw's view was gaining momentum with the American people, and waived off the possibility that the Republicans would ride the issue to Congressional victory in the fall of 1946. He also asserted that foreign policy was set by the executive, and so scoffed angrily at the idea that Republican Congress could (much less would) order the troops home.

The year 1946 didn't start much better for Truman. American troops very nearly had their hands on Heydrich after the guerrilla leader personally oversaw the kidnapping of a group of German physicists from British custody. Tom Schmidt of the Chicago Tribune grew ever more critical of the Administration, dispensing with civility. Then the GFF was able to collect a quantity of radium that had been abandoned by those same scientists in Hechingen, and detonated it as part of a bomb in the American compound in Frankfurt. This attack came just as the Allies were making their second attempt to try German war criminals.

With these black marks on the record, the Republicans were able to take back the House and the Senate in November 1946. In the meantime, America's allies Britain and France were subjected to attacks by the GFF on their home soil. While Truman issued statements of solidarity, it did nothing to change the American voters' minds. The ascension of the Republicans emboldened American troops abroad. By January 1947, draftees were actively protesting in the streets of occupied Germany, demanding to go home.

February 1947 saw the first conflict between the White House and the Congress. Truman vetoed a budget that cut off funding for the occupation by the end of the year. Truman then held a press conference asserting that the broader American population supported him, even if it didn't do so loudly. While Congress did not have the votes to override the veto, this was at best a small victory for Truman. On July 4, 1947, Indianapolis City Councilman Gus van Slyke was assassinated at an anti-occupation rally. Within hours, Republican Congressman Everett Dirksen had whipped a protest rally in Washington, DC into a frenzy with the news. The crowd did not commit any acts of violence, although Tom Schmidt, who was covering the crowd, feared that the crowd might storm the White House.

Truman suffered another set back days later when the GFF once again prevented the trials of several prominent Nazi leaders. This time, the trials were to be held in Berlin, and managed by the Soviet Union. However, a GFF Werewolf seized an American C-47 and crashed it into the courthouse. Truman gave a radio address condemning the GFF and the Republican Congress. He also warned that the Nazis had been in the early stages of their own atomic bomb in 1945, and that they could build their own if left to their own devices.

Unfortunately, these warnings went unheeded. With the House withholding funding, the Truman Administration saw no choice but to begin the pullout of American soldiers in the Fall of 1947. Happily, Reinhard Heydrich was finally located and killed by American troops, although the Administration's critics saw this as even greater reason to pull out troops, while Truman worried that killing Heydrich wasn't really the death of the GFF. This fear proved correct as Joachim Peiper soon picked up where Heydrich left off, launching a series of commercial airline hijackings.

Truman planned to run again in 1948.

Harry Truman in Southern VictoryEdit


Harry Truman on a campaign stop in West Virginia

Harry S Truman was a Senator from Missouri who was elected Vice President of the United States in 1944 on the Democratic ticket with Thomas Dewey.[62]

Truman had served as artillery officer during the Great War.[63] A thorough hawk on foreign policy, Vice President-elect Truman traveled to the restive state of Florida to encourage U.S. troops to continue their occupation, supporting newly-elected President Dewey's goal of reintegrating the former Confederate States into the Union.[64]

During a brief exchange with Michael Pound, Truman admitted that if Dewey's policy failed, then some future VP would be explaining to Pound's grandchildren how important it was to keep a lid on the CS. When Pound suggested that the problem of rebellious Confederates might by solved by genocidal measures, Truman briskly dismissed the idea, refusing to become a Jake Featherston.[65]

See AlsoEdit


  1. Bombs Away, pg. 5, ebook.
  2. Ibid., pgs. 5-9.
  3. Ibid., pg. 25.
  4. Ibid., pg. 38.
  5. Ibid., pgs. 40-41.
  6. Ibid., pgs. 55-61.
  7. Ibid., pgs. 58-61.
  8. Ibid., pg. 86.
  9. Ibid., pgs. 64-65, 70.
  10. Ibid, pg. 67.
  11. Ibid., pg. 86.
  12. Ibid., pgs. 87-90.
  13. Ibid., pg. 93.
  14. Ibid., pg. 104.
  15. Ibid., pgs. 110-118.
  16. Ibid., pg. 134.
  17. Ibid., pgs. 120-121.
  18. Ibid., pgs. 133-134.
  19. Ibid., pgs. 135-137.
  20. Ibid., pg. 138.
  21. Ibid., pg. 138-140.
  22. Ibid. pgs. 141-150.
  23. Ibid., pg. 159.
  24. Ibid. pg. 165.
  25. Ibid., pg. 165.
  26. Ibid., pg. 162.
  27. Ibid. pg. 183.
  28. Ibid. pg. 178.
  29. Ibid. pgs. 178-179.
  30. Ibid., pgs. 192-196.
  31. Ibid., pgs. 270-273.
  32. Ibid., pgs. 278-280.
  33. Ibid., pgs. 291-294.
  34. Ibid., pg. 340.
  35. Ibid., pg. 343.
  36. Ibid., pg. 344.
  37. Ibid., pgs. 372-376.
  38. Ibid., pg. 385-386.
  39. Ibid., pgs. 387-389.
  40. Ibid., 309-311.
  41. Fallout, pg. 5.
  42. Ibid., pgs. 6-7.
  43. Ibid., loc. 1611-1641, e-book
  44. Ibid., loc. 1641-1688.
  45. Ibid. loc. 1751-1886.
  46. Ibid, loc. 1917.
  47. Ibid., loc. 2152-2213.
  48. Ibid., loc. 2428-2487.
  49. Ibid., loc. 3094-3167.
  50. Ibid., loc. 3167-3179.
  51. Ibid, loc. 3179-3204.
  52. Ibid., loc. 3204-3242.
  53. Ibid., loc. 3945-3987.
  54. Ibid. loc. 3987.
  55. Ibid., loc. 4815-4888.
  56. Ibid., loc. 6470-6541.
  57. Ibid., loc. 6541-6615.
  58. Ibid. 6620-6692.
  59. Ibid. loc. 6797.
  60. Ibid., loc. 6953.
  61. Ibid., loc. 6810.
  62. In at the Death, pg. 528.
  63. Id., at pg. 537.
  64. Id., pg. 537-40.
  65. Id., at pg. 540.

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