August 11, 1945

President Harry Truman, in August 1945, Defends Atomic Bombing of Japan as the Only Language a Beast Can Understand

  • 1
enlarge

“Many Christians deeply disturbed over use of atomic bombs against Japanese cities because of their necessarily indiscriminate destructive efforts and because their use sets extremely dangerous precedent for future of mankind… Respectfully urge that ample opportunity be given Japan to reconsider ultimatum before any further devastation by atomic bomb is visited upon her people.”

    - Telegram from the Federal Council of The Churches of Christ in America sent President Truman on August 9, 1945.

Five days after Hiroshima, when the United States became the first, and only, nation to use nuclear weapons in the history of warfare and on, in fact, the very day it detonated a second and final bomb, over Nagasaki, President Truman bluntly defends his decision:

Nobody is more disturbed over the use of atomic bombs than I am but I was greatly disturbed over the unwarranted attack by the Japanese on Pearl Harbor and their murder of our prisoners of war. The only language they seem to understand is the one we have been using to bombard them. When you have to deal with a beast you have to treat him as a beast. It is most regrettable but nevertheless true.

Truman’s adamancy was bedrock: he never once doubted his decision.

Typed Letter Signed, as President, 1 page, quarto, The White House, Washington, August 11, 1945. To Samuel McCrea Cavert, General Secretary of the Federal Council of The Churches of Christ in America

You may also be interested in:

  • Harry Truman Looks at the Potsdam Conference Twelve Years Later: An Astonishing Appraisal of What Went Wrong
    Harry Truman Looks at the Potsdam Conference Twelve Years...
  • Same-Day Harry Truman Letter Written as Vice-President  - But Signed as President With
    Same-Day Harry Truman Letter Written as Vice-President -...
  • A Historic Memo: Harry Truman Salutes Dean Acheson’s Crucial Role in Going to War With Korea
    A Historic Memo: Harry Truman Salutes Dean Acheson’s...
  • Harry Truman Writes General Hap Arnold About Death of FDR - “The Greatest Blow” - Just Two and Half Weeks Before
    Harry Truman Writes General Hap Arnold About Death of FDR...
  • 1
enlarge

Transcript

The White House
Washington

August 11, 1945

My dear Mr. Cavert:

 

I appreciated very much your telegram of August ninth.

 

Nobody is more disturbed over the use of atomic bombs than I am but I was greatly disturbed over the unwarranted attack by the Japanese on Pearl Harbor and their murder of our prisoners of war. The only language they seem to understand is the one we have been using to bombard them.

When you have to deal with a beast you have to treat him as a beast. It is most regrettable but nevertheless true.

Sincerely yours,

HARRY  S. TRUMAN

Samuel McCrea Cavert
General Secretary
Federal Council of

The Churches of Christ in America

New York City, New York