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tv   FDR the Final Years of World War II 1943-45  CSPAN  April 24, 2020 11:03am-12:12pm EDT

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fund t fund the true meaning of the revolution is the trance formation that took place in the minds of the american people. >> so we're going to talk about both sides of the story here, right? the tools, techniques of slave owner power and we'll also talk about the tools and techniques of power that were practiced by enslaved people. >> watch history professors lead discussions with their students on topics ranging from the american revolution to september 11th. lectures in history on c-span 3 every saturday at 8:00 p.m. eastern on american history tv and lectures in history is available as a podcast. find it where you listen to podcasts. up next, historian nigel hamilton talks about the last book in the trilogy pro ffiling franklin d. roosevelt. "war & peace." national world war ii museum in new orleans hosted this event.
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good evening, everyone. welcome to the national world war ii museum, all of those of you who are sitting here and those watching on the live stream, i know you are out there and with us in spirit. and we feel your presence too. as many of you probably know i'm dr. rob satino, the samuel and murray stone senior historian at the museum. and the executive director of the institute for the study of war and democracy. tonight is the latest installment of our meet the author series. and we always like to mention our sponsor we bring this to you with the generous support of the strake foundation and couldn't do it without them. thank you. now many of you have been to our events before you foe we have a tradition at the museum.
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may i ask are there any world war ii veterans or home front workers in the audience tonight? if you would please stand -- or wave too. thanks, folks. [ applause ] you know i've heard the president and ceo emeritus appear others here say thank you for coming to the events. we couldn't do it for you we built it for you. military veterans of other eras. please stand or wave. we know that's a large number. [ applause ] >> i love the waves. people give different forms of waves. i like that one. thank you, thank you so much. now we would also like to acknowledge three special guests in the audience. a current board member robert
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prittyp there he is. robert good to see you thank you for coming. [ applause ] and pass board members debra lindseyy. and dr. michael kerry. in the audio ens? great to see you as always. [ applause ] thanks so much to all of you for being with us this evening. and, of course, we'll never move on before we acknowledge the national world war ii museum cofounder, president and ceo emeritus, nick mueller here in the front row, nick, as always. [ applause ] and to all of you in the audience or the live stream who may be members you're the people who keep us going. thanks to all of you. and finally, a sincere thanks to cspan for being here. always great to see our karms at our events. i know i stand up straighter when the cameras are in operation. thank you for that too. you've a all heard the phrase so and so needs no introduction. and you probably know what that means. you know what you're really saying is this person deserves a very fullsome introduction indeed.
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and so with our speaker tonight nigel hamilton. nigel is an award-winning author and biography. of the author of of the the field marshall the montgomery, known a as monty. the best selling work on the junk john f. kennedy. jfk reckless youth turned into a miniseries. bill clinton mastering the presidency. nigel is the first president of the bioographer international organization. senior fellow at the mckormg graduate school. university of massachusetts bofrts. i'll say this flat out. he is one of the world's great writers. if you pick up a book by nigel, you know you are in for a treat. this is no exception. by all means. [ applause ] nigel is also a dear friend of the museum. he spoke at our 2012 international conference wsh our churchill spoemsious and spoke for the first two books of the fdr trilogy under discussion tonight.
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best of all from a personal perspective he is a friend of nick's and mine and lives down the road in the mariny. rainle please stand be and be ac nonld in some which. thank you. and so to the main event. we are honored nigel selected our museum as the site of his official book launch for war and peace. now this is the third book in the trilogy, the f.d.r. trilogy. here he brings the vast story home. covering the saga from f.d.r. from d-day to yalta. it's appropriate time for the release of the book and gathering here. today as you may know is the
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74th naefrps of the german vend ner western europe. we are mere weeks away from the 75th anniversary of d-day. without first ado, ladies and gentlemen, i give you the incomparable nigel hamilton. nigel. [ applause ] >> good evening, everybody. this is a slightly sad occasion for me because it's a sort of farewell to somebody i have lived with for ten years, franklin delano roosevelt. and i shall miss him. i never intended to spend ten years writing this series. and i certainly didn't intend for the story to take three volumes.
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all i did know was that it was something of a national scandal in this country that no one, no historian had written a full scale account of president roosevelt in his role as commander in chief of the armed forces of the united states in the most violent war in human history. how was it possible that that had never been done? one of the main reasons of course was that f.d.r. died in april of 1945. he had begun to assemble his papers. i was able to interview the
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harvard graduate who was working in the map room at the white house who was helping him prepare those papers for his memoirs. well, he was neverible a write them. and the person who did write them was the british prime minister, winston churchill in retirement and later when prime minister again, who was an extraordinary writer, apart from being a great prime minister and
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leader of his country. and -- and churchill took six volumes to tell the story of world war ii. so although i am embarrassed that i have taken three volumes to tell f.d.r.'s story. it is still only half what churchill took. i've called my talk tonight -- and thank you so much for coming.
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you work for years and years. and you wonder always if there is anybody out there who -- who wants you to do it, who responds to what you are doing. i call tonight's talk, the man who saved d-day. because as bob said, we are about to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the normandy invasion. and it may be probably the last occasion on which there will be still significant numbers of survivors. the story i'm going to focus on
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tonight, therefore focus z on d-day itself. or rather not on d-day, but on the project of d-day. each of my f.d.r. value volumes began with a voyage. volume one began with the president's trip to -- voyage to new foundland in the summer of 1940 before pearl harbor to meet the man who would become his opposite number as commander in chief of of the british forces in world war ii. winston churchill. so that american forces could learn in the field how to meet and defeat the german wehrmach. the second story took up that story and also began with a great voyage.
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the first president ever to fly abroad in office. in a flying boat to casablanca, where again he met with winston churchill. and again overruled his chiefs of staff, recognizing that in january of 1943, almost no american troops had ever fired a single shot in action against a german soldier. better to continue the learning process in modern warfare in the mediterranean. and also to declare a moral policy, much as he had done in
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laying down the atlantic charter, namely, unconditional surrender. no negotiation with the nazis. unconditional surrender. well, at the end of the book american soldiers have landed in sicily, conquered sicily and are also on the shores of southern italy. and the whole german wehrmacht army has surrendered to general eisenhower in north africa. and so we come to the book that's being launched tonight, volume 3. i can reveal that my editor was
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somewhat surprised at the title. he thought it had been used before. well, yes, but a long time ago. and nobody else had thought to use it since. so i thought it was pretty appropriate. "war and peace." and this third volume also begins with a -- a voyage, a journey. it begins with fdr sailing on a new american battleship, the uss iowa, with his chiefs of staff to north africa. i think you can see i'm looking at a picture that's very small. but i think you can see general marshall, admiral leahy. and admiral king there.
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they are going to north africa because they are going to go on to cairo. and there once again he is going to meet with his opposite number, the prime minister of britain, winston churchill. but before he -- before he gets to cairo, he wants to make quite certain that he has a chance to talk with the american commander in chief, the allied commander in chief in the mediterranean, the young dwight david eisenhower. he is anxious, in fact -- and fortunately there are quite a number of photographs from that period -- to listen to ike,
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ike's views on strategy in europe, and to think about him for a very good reason, because ike tells him that he has just been to see winston churchill, and is worried by the prime minister's unwillingness to go ahead with the d-day invasion in 1944.
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so when president roosevelt arrives in cairo, on the surface the two men look as they've always been, great friends, which they were. but sometimes great friends fall out over great issues. and d-day was a great issue. and very quickly, in cairo, the president of the united states faces a crisis, an extraordinary moment in history, where his main ally, prime minister not only of great britain but de facto commander in chief of all the british empire forces, including strains, new zealands, south africans, and canadians, has, he's learned, threatened to have a show down over delaying or halting d-day, which had been agreed should take place in the
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spring of 1944, in a few month's time. now why, why was winston churchill, a prime minister whose british empire military forces were so essential to the success of the invasion, which would be launched, cross channel invasion from britain -- why was winston churchill such an implaquable opponent of the great landings? afterwards winston churchill would cast his magical rhetorical and literary spell
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over the story, claiming it was simply that he wanted to do much more than just cross the english channel. that he therefore preferred to focus first on the mediterranean and its stepping stone to the balkans in 1944, also that as prime minister he had deep misgivings about russian intentions in eastern europe. he was thus unashamedly he wrote in his memoirs against putting all the eggs of the western allies into one basket. d-day. which could be done later, if at all. now many historians have followed suit, lauding churchill's political perspicacity. and down playing the verilence of his opposition to d-day planning in 1943. some like the biographers andrew roberts whom i admire, even claim it's not true that churchill wanted to postpone, still less cancel operation
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overlord, the code name for d-day, as has sometimes been alleged. others like the director of the churchill archives in england, allen packwood, whom i count as a friend, claim it is mere hindsight to assume that d-day, overlord, was the most important military operation of world war ii, upon which the success of the war against hitler depended.
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i have to say, as a military historian, that is horn swaggle. or loyalist hogwash. i bow to no one in my admiration for winston churchill's lonely stand against hitler in the summer of 1940, his finest hour. but after pearl harbor in 1941, the direction of the war against hitler is surely fdr's finest hour, as i hope my fdr trilogy can persuade you, as it has persuaded me. all through volume 2 commander in chief churchill has done his best to argue vainly against a cross channel landing. twice coming to the united states to argue personally with
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the president. "war and peace" reveals not only just how opposed to d-day churchill remained, but how the prime minister sent arguably treasonous messages in the view of the american secretary of war, henry stimpson, direct to starling without telling the president to say that d-day before to be postponed in favor of more combat in the mediterranean. finally, then, in cairo, in front of the president and his military advisers, the prime minister delivered his grand indictment, as he called it, of the president's d-day strategy.
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and a last ditch appeal to delay or abandon the invasion. now, this was, to my mind, the greatest military crisis of the second world war. a crisis of churchill's own obstinate making and the culmination of a whole year of opposition to the d-day project. the prime minister claims his earlier promise in quebec to carry out the invasion is simply a lawyer's agreement, one that he can, as british commander in chief, tear up. and he is serious. he threatened his own war cabinet in london he will resign if the president continues to insist upon d-day's spring 1944 priority and time table. he's even threatened his military chiefs he will risk breaking the grand alliance by telling the americans they will
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be welcome to switch their focus to the pacific if they don't accept a delay or cancellation of d-day. in other words, the prime minister of britain is willing to break his partnership with the united states, a partnership he himself has created, rather than give in. he openly complains to his staff, he is the only genius who
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can win the war. but is being forced to fight with, quote, one arm tied behind his back, thanks to american stupidity. rome, rhodes, turkish, the dardenels, the back sea, balkans, vienna, anywhere but d-day and normandy in the spring of 1944, demands by the pyramids. how the president of the united states deals with churchill's rebellion is therefore the core drama of "war and peace," my final volume. in his great volume -- or his great volume of -- six-volume war memoirs of the second world war, churchill gave his own version, and it rightly helped him win the nobel prize for literature as literature.
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as a historian and biographer, i cannot match winston churchill's prose. i can only offer fdr's point of view, which is very, very different. fdr saw d-day, as did hitler, as and thus, inevitably against japan once hitler was defeated. perhaps no one will ever really explain winston churchill's opposition to d-day. what we can do at last, 75 years after the landings, is see exactly how the president of the united states went about defusing churchill's time bomb in cairo.
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and insisting, as the president did, that the d-day operation be carried out as agreed at quebec, saving d-day, in other words. churchill was furious. boiling with rage in fact. the two men flew to tehran. there is fdr arriving. where fdr got stalin to back the d-day invasion with a simultaneous offensive on the western front, forcing the wehrmacht to fight on two fronts. in which case the germans would be unable to withdraw forces
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from the east to reinforce their armies in france, facing the allies. operation bagratzion. stalin also promises the president to join the war against japan once hitler surrenders. fdr's trip to cairo and tehran was thus historic, a triumph. when churchill was asked by his doctor whether anything had gone wrong, he snapped, a bloody lot wrong has gone wrong. in fact, as history shows, a
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bloody lot has gone right. certainly hitler is in no doubt as to the defining importance of an allied cross channel invasion for the fate of the nazi third reich. the landings and subsequent battle will, quote, decide the war, hitler warns his staff and goebels. it will not be too hard to beat the western allies, hitler adds. after all, he doesn't, quote,
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have the feelings that the british have their, shall we say, whole heart in this attack. after the president's trip to cairo and tehran, though, the d-day project is energized. it will go forward in the spring of 1944. and it's energized for one extra historic reason, as i have tried to relate definitively at last in this book, "war and peace" namely the president's surprising decision not to appoint general marshall to mcmahon the d-day invasion, with you the man he interviewed as we saw at length on his way out to cairo, young general dwight d. eisenhower. this was one of the most inspired appointments of world war ii. a coalition war.
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involving the forces of many nations, but led by the united states. and typically, fdr isn't content just to send ike a telegram. returning from tehran and cairo, he stays with eisenhower in tunis. and together the two men fly in the president's plane, nicknamed the sacred cow, to malta and sicily, where the president decorates general mark clark for his bravery and leadership for his -- leadership at solerno,
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and tells lieutenant general george patton, who i think you can see next-to-the-last figure at the back of the jeep, that despite the current black cloud hanging over patton for slapping and threatening shell shocked g.i.s in a field hospital, quote, you will have an army command in the great normandy operation. thus was the grand alliance saved. d-day set in stone and its supreme commander appointed. back in washington, returning on the iowa, the president is fated as a conquering hero.
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from hyde park surrounded by his family, he broadcasts a christmas message, announcing to the world his appointment of eisenhower as supreme commander of the forthcoming assault. he looks and sounds full of beans, in the pink, as someone describes him. but he isn't. for he soon falls ill with flu. and he never gets better. the second half of "war and peace" thus tells a sadder story.
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fdr behind the scenes is finally and belatedly diagnosed with fatal heart disease. neither he nor eisenhower who is moving to england to take command of the d-day invasion has meantime been able to stop churchill from mounting his own version of d-day in italy under new british supreme command, namely anzio in southern italy, one of the prime minister's worst military intercessions in the entire war which results in 43,000 allied casualties in
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three months to no purpose before d-day. 43,000. by contrast the d-day invasion is a triumphant allied success. the president broadcasts a prayer on behalf of all americans for its success and the landings not only prove one of the great combat achievements in military history, but they disprove churchill's forecast of an english channel running in blood which churchill had predicted to american senators and congressmen in 1943. the president even insists on an american invasion of southern france. this is part of the normandy invasion. the president also insists on american invasion against
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british unwillingness of southern france to give eisenhower more heft when he advances into germany, and that invasion is similarly successful. in the public image then, the president is the master strategist of the war. in fact, he even sails by battleship that summer to pearl harbor. here he is being entering pearl harbor itself to force general macarthur to sit down at last with admiral nimits his opposite number in the pacific, and see how the united states navy actually operates.
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and then with nimits to present him with their best ideas on how they propose to defeat japan without incurring ruinous casualties. now, normally this would have been vintage fdr, blessed with charm, the ability to get commanders to work together arriving at a clear strategy. but the president isn't in vintage good health. he is dying of heart disease. he can barely work two hours a day. or give a public speech. here's a photo of one he gives on his return to the united states where he's asked to stand using his iron legs. and he has a heart attack doing it.
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continuing as president and u.s. commander in chief is a titanic struggle for him. assured by all his advisers there's no one else that can possibly lead the nation to victory, not only in war, but in preparing the allies for the post war, for peace, he agrees to stand for re-election. well aware that he will never survive another term despite being only 62 years of age. he is duly triumphant at the polls at inauguration day, 1945. but he's ravaged health wise. i'm not sure how clear this is,
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but this is a map of his voyage to yalta, once again traveling to get there in the crimea for a second meeting with stalin to discuss the war's end game. here is in malta on the way out with general marshall, here he is arriving in tehran. how to get the russians to help in the war against japan in a formal way and how to establish the united nations and a u.n. security council as well as discuss the insoluble problem of poland. it's something of a miracle of
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survival. you can see just how ill he looks with churchill there. he just manages to get through the conference. but on board his battleship coming back, or cruiser coming back to the united states, his military assistant, general watson, actually dies of a heart attack during the voyage. the point is, the president is not merely sick. he is dieing, unable to stand even on his metal stilts when reporting to congress. beyond his patriotic sense of
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duty as commander in chief of the u.s. armed forces, one thing, perhaps, more than any other has kept him alive since his doctors gave him their sentence of death 12 months before. for in the very week that they diagnosed his fatal malady, a love of fdr's life lucy rutherford has become a widow, and she inspires him to go on at least to hitler's end. he almost makes it, though not quite. he takes the train to warm springs and works on his u.n. speech. there he is.
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leaving admiral lee here, his white house chief of staff, in washington to mind the military store. he's joined in warm springs by lucy rutherford and her friend the portraitist elizabeth schumatroff, his longtime hyde park neighbor, daisy sutler is also in the room, and his personal secretary, bill hassert when the end comes. do we have time to read a short passage? bill hassette has drawn the papers the president signed. once gathered like laundry, the private secret put them neatly on a card table, which the
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president used as his desk. lucy and daisy sitting on the sofa watching madam schumotoff at work on the life-size watercolor. she was painting as fast as she could, filling in the sitter's eyes, but became aware suddenly that his gaze, quote, had -- this is from her memoirs, gaze had a far away look and was completely solemn. he just told her about the stamp he asked for to celebrate the upcoming conference. wait until you see the san francisco stamps with the united nations, but seemed then to have moved somewhere else in his mind, staring at lucy next to him.
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it was about 1:15 p.m. to the filipino butler, the president had said they needed 15 more minutes to work before taking lunch, which he was looking forward to. suddenly elizabeth recalled, he raised his right hand and passed it over his forehead several times in a stray, jerky way, without omitting a sound, at least as far as she could hear. daisy sutley, crotcheting on the sofa recalled the president, quote, looking for something. his head forward, his hands fumbling." immediately she rose. i went forward and looked into his face. have you dropped your cigarette, she asked him aloud? he looked at me with his
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forehead furrowed in pain and tried to smile. he put his left hand up to the back of his head and said, i have a terrific pain in the back of my head. those would be the president's last words. daisy quite certain of them afterwards. he said it distinctly but so low that i don't think anyone else heard it. my head was not a foot from his. i told him to put his head back on his chair. the president is sick. call a doctor, the madam, meanwhile, yelled. dr. bruin comes, administers medications for the president's heart. pepperene, nitroglycerin, but the president had suffered, quote, a massive cerebral hemorrhage, or catastrophic stroke. blood pressure over 300 and there was nothing, despite attempted artificial respiration by the president's lieutenant commander foxx could be done except wait for the end.
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bruin calls washington to speak to the president's naval, formal white house doctor, admiral makintar, and is told there's a long siege ahead, but in the event the siege did not last long, lucy rutherford recognizing immediately the end was approaching told elizabeth to pack her easel and bags and summon nicholas robbins, the man who took this photograph. in the white cadillac, they set off from the estate before the press could arrive. they would only hear whether or not the president had actually passed away when they stopped to telephone a little white house on their journey home. the flag was already at half-mast. the operator before putting
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through the call asked if they knew what had become national, in fact, global news. at 3:35 p.m. local time, april 12, 1945, the commander in , 1945, the commander-in-chief is the last words of the author of this book. the commander-in-chief was dead. thank you very much. [ applause ] >> nigel, thank you very much for another wonderful presentation and really, really
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wrapping this wonderful remarkable individual up. we'd like to open the floor for questions and we'll start in the center about half way back. please stand when i bring the microphone to you. >> we briefly talked while you were signing my book and i would like you to share with the audience your contrast with hitler's interference with his command, with his army with what roosevelt did with his army. >> yes. i enjoyed meeting you and you raised an interesting question. what was it that describes fdr's style of leadership and can he be faulted for interfering with his military staff. well, yes, he did interfere with
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them. sometimes a president, as commander-in-chief, has to do that. after fdr, harry truman would have to do it, with mcarthur. in the second world war fdr had to do it several times as i explained it with his chief of staff over premature decision -- a premature decision to launch d-day in 1942 and 1943, before american forces, not just the forces but the combat commanders had shown that they could beat thever mark in open panel and we have one of the experts on the ver mark right here. tough, tough enemy. and so i would say that fdr's great contribution to military command is his willingness where he felt necessary to step in to
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save lives. i think that is what a president often has to do. he has to think of the human equation, not just whether his advisers, military advisers should be allowed to go there in a way. but once having made his strategic decisions, fdr was truly remarkable in letting his team get on with the business. and the support that he gave to eisenhower once the d-day decision was reached at cairo and tehran was really exemplary. and is in direct contrast, as you pointed out, to the way that adolf hitler tended to interfere with the command decisions, especially in battle, of his
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generals. >> we're going back to the center again. >> thank you very much. you talk about tehran and then yalta and it seems like one of the big differences between tehran and yalta was fdr's illness and his declining health. do you believe that if he had been healthy and if he had continued as he was at tehran, that any of the decisions made at yalta or post yalta, even if he lived that long, would have been different based on that or not? >> well that is the most difficult question i've ever been asked. you know, historians are still debating that and it becomes very political and rather
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partisan debate. i cannot believe that fdr wouldn't have been tougher with marshall starling if he had been in good health in yalta. when you read the documents, there were careful minutes taken during the tehran conference. starling is always deferring to the president. the president is running the conference. well, the fact is, the president didn't run the yalta conference. starling and churchill did and battled over -- over particularly over poland. but whether with so many millions of russian boots on the ground already in poland and so forth, ultimately it would have made that much difference, particularly when the poles are
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very naturally unwilling to surrender territory. who knows. in some ways it was a relief to end the book where i did. and leave those questions to another biographer of a subsequent president. >> nigel, i have a question online. kent from missouri wants to know how do you excuse fdr for not informed truman of the a-bomb, or do you? can you excuse him? >> i can't. as i say in the book, it is very difficult to understand why fdr again, going back to your earlier question, i think if fdr
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had been in better health, for instance if he'd only been suffering from a physical ailment but if he had been mentally fitter, he would have understood how vital it was to put his vice president and obviously successor in the picture. but he relied on henry stimson to do it. and the truth is, by those last weeks, when perhaps he thought he was going to spend more time, he did see truman. and obviously he'd given instructions that secretary stimson should share the atomic bomb secrets with the vice president. but he just wasn't well enough. and to be honest, i think if he
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sat down with truman, i'm not sure how much sense he would have made in terms of whether or not to drop the bomb. but i am often asked whether he -- whether i think as his biographer that he would have dropped the bomb and i can say unequivocally that he would have done so. after all, he is the president who funded the manhattan project, who watched as the scientific research was done. i've quited from stimson's diary showing he was well aware of what the germans weren't doing and the japanese the same. he discuss with winston churchill whether or not they should share it with stalin, the secret. he's totally on the atomic bomb
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page until this fatal illness reduces him really to a very lame president by the very end. but he thinks -- the point is he thinks he has accumulated in his fourth term in office, that is pretty historic, but also in these -- in all of the work he's done with winston churchill, he thinks he's -- in his meeting with stalins, he thinks he's accumulated the sort of stature that nobody else could have. and to some extent i think that is true. that no one else could have done what he did in that final year. >> on that point, and then i'll get to two more questions. mike r. wants to know if -- the
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same theme of the a-bomb. was that he had such confidence in his subordinates that they knew the right thing to do at this point in his life, that they were going to carry on his message, his legacy to his successor and was part of his secret to a success the fact that he would stay hands off? >> i don't think that's quite true. i think when necessary he accepted that the role of the president and commander in cleachief is to make the ultimate decision. hands off, yes, while things are being done. but when you come to a question like from okinawa, do we deliberately go ahead with an invasion, which is going to kill
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not just so many tens, perhaps hundreds of thousands of soldiers. but even civilians. only a president as commander-in-chief could make that decision. and fdr would never have stood back from it. and i think he'd lived, he'd in retirement would have been proud of what truman did. >> question in the back to your right. if you could stand please, sir. >> thank you. why didn't fdr lie in state in the u.s. capitol? >> why didn't fdr lie in state in the capitol? there are various theories. as i'm sure you know, there is this very sad train taking him
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back, the ferdinand mcgillan that takes him back with eleanor aboard from warm springs to the capitol. there are various theories. some people feel that eleanor was still upset that she hadn't been present when her husband died and that lucy rutherford had been present and was annoyed with rancor with her daughter anna for not -- for having kept that secret. i don't think there is any truth in that. i don't think -- first of all i don't think that is why eleanor decided against it for her own reasons. secondly, i don't think ellen or, i think it is much exaggerated, the feeling of anger toward eleanor. the point is it is impossible for any historian to believe that fdr could have had this
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intimate, obviously it is not sexual, the president is paralyzed and deeply unwell but it is impossible to believe that the president could have, as president of the united states and commander-in-chief, surrounded by staff, by doctors, by advisers, by personal staff, by lawyers, by politicians, how it is impossible to believe the claim that eleanor did not know that lucy rutherford was keeping him alive. and after fdr died, eleanor wrote to lucy and sent her some objects. i think fdr had an extraordinary relationship with eleanor, obviously he shouldn't have had
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that adulterous relationship during world war i. but when that ended, he was completely loyal to eleanor, who looked after him when he suffered his polio. and i find it very moving that at the very end of his life he did have this charming relationship with a woman who he had once loved so much and who loved him. >> we have time for one or two more questions. so we're going to your right towards the front, nigel. >> there was a report that hoover was told by mcarthur that he had sent a 40-page memorandum to truman seeking to inform him that japan was attempting to surrender under terms which would have been acceptable under
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the yalta terms. it was also reported that there was a -- in 1995 there was a report that the english for the first time released information that there had been a secret communication from japan to russia in code orange, attempting to negotiate a surrender. simply indicating that the emperor would be retained. do you believe that those happened and should they have been considered consistent with fdr's instructions that should be unconditional surrender and would that require the dropping of the bomb? >> well, it sort of goes beyond my brief tonight in terms of fdr's life but it does relate to fdr in terms of what -- how he looked on the war with japan and
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i do quote evidence in the book that not only was fdr willing to soften the unconditional surrender in specific cases. he writes a wonderful memorandum on this subject to the secretary of state saying, if i remember rightly, there is a difference between principle, which you want to hold to, and practical realities which may require you to do something else. and later does talk to somebody about the japanese. he's worried that the japanese seem so willing to encourage civilians to commit suicide. not just troops. there was also the concern about
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american p.o.w.s. so i don't think fdr was ideological if you like about dropping the bomb. and to go back to that previous question, i think he would have weighed the matter very, very carefully. but certainly in the state that he was at the end of the war, i think it is merciful that he wasn't the president that would have to carry the weight of that responsibility and that we had a president who refused to pass the buck. >> last question will go for our live stream audience. winston who had seem his clout decline and his empire almost end and fdr were dear friends so it seems through correspondence but there may have been resentment toward the end of the
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war. was winston truly sad of fdr's passing or did he see this as an opportunity to re-establish his greatness and the united kingdom's greatness. >> oh, i don't think churchill in any way wanted to exploit the president's death. it is true he didn't come to the funeral. but as you say, they were -- i wonder how much times in human history there has ever been a coalition of two leaders at that sort of level who so trusted and communicated with each other, after all what i talked about tonight, the great showdown is evidence of the fact that they did actually have it out. i have reached a vast age myself
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and finishing this book with a sad -- with a sick president, a very ill president has made me think of mortality. so i prefer to think of churchill not coming to the united states because in some ways he may not have been able to control his own emotions, which i find difficult enough. >> thank you very much, nigel. [ applause ] >> i said the incomparable nigel hamilton and he proved it as he always does. you know the drill. buy the book and nigel will be
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happy to autograph copies of the book. pick up a prosure for future programming. drive carefully and thank you and good night and one more time please for nigel hamilton. [ applause ] [ conference concluded ] you're watching a special edition of american history tv. during the week while members of congress are in their districts due to the coronavirus pandemic. tonight we look back at presidents who faces crises while in the white house. starting at 8:00 p.m. eastern with a 2003 program from the c-span book note series. john talks about james k. poke who conducted the 1846 to 1848 war against mexico. enjoy american history tv, now and over the weekend on c-span
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