The Manhattan Project: Making the Atomic Bomb

Part V: The Atomic Bomb and American Strategy

Potsdam

The American contingent to the Big Three conference, headed by Truman, Byrnes, and Stimson, arrived in Berlin on July 15 and spent most of the next two days. grappling with the interrelated issues of Russian participation in the Far Eastern conflict and the wording of an early surrender offer that might be presented to the Japanese. This draft surrender document received considerable attention, the sticking point being the term "unconditional." It was clear that the Japanese would fight on rather than accept terms that would eliminate the Imperial House or demean the warrior tradition, but American policy makers feared that anything less than a more democratic political system and total demilitarization might lead to Japanese aggression in the future. Much effort went into finding the precise formula that would satisfy American war killed the Pacific without requiring a costly invasion of the Japanese mainland. In an attempt to achieve surrender with honor, the emperor had instructed his ministers to open negotiations with Russia. The United States intercepted and decoded messages between Tokyo and Moscow that made it unmistakably clear that the Japanese were searching for an alternative to unconditional surrender.

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