After WWII, Truman watched most of Eastern Europe fall to the Communist "Iron Curtain." "I do not think we should play compromise any longer," Truman wrote.
Narrator: Europe was devastated. The war had left a continent in ruins. As poverty and starvation spread, chaos threatened to overwhelm the western democracies. Some feared the election of communist governments. Others... Stalin, and the Red army. The Russian Dictator remained an enigma... his intentions, unclear.
Stalin did not yet have the atomic bomb, but the Soviet Union was a great military power, its armies spread across eastern Europe, poised to enforce Stalin's will. At Potsdam, Truman had been impressed with Stalin, even liked the man. When the war ended, the President, like most Americans, had clung to the hope that Stalin would not impose communism on eastern Europe.
But Truman's optimism dwindled as he saw Poland, Rumania, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, East Germany -- fall behind a communist iron curtain. Many Americans still argued that the Russians were not a threat to the United States.
But in the beginning of 1946, Truman said he was growing tired babying the Soviets.
"I do not think we should play compromise any longer," he wrote his Secretary of State. "Unless Russia is faced with an iron fist, another war is in the making."
One month later Stalin declared that communism and capitalism were incompatible. He called war inevitable. Russia and America were moving into two opposing camps.
My American Experience
Who is your favorite 20th-century American president? Was it FDR? Reagan? Clinton? Or one of the other 14 men who helped usher the United Sates through the 1900s? Who do you think was the most influential?