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        #199: Roosevelt's Death Makes Truman President

        作者:David Jarmul 發布日期:8-29-2013

        President Harry Truman at the White House, September 1st, 1945, preparing to broadcast a message on the formal surrender of Japan
        President Harry Truman at the White House, September 1st, 1945, preparing to broadcast a message on the formal surrender of Japan

        STEVE EMBER: Welcome to THE MAKING OF A NATION - American history in VOA Special English. I'm Steve Ember.

        This week in our series: a sudden change in Washington.

        (MUSIC)

        The House of Representatives ended the day's business early on the rainy afternoon of April twelfth, nineteen forty-five. The House Democratic leader, Speaker Sam Rayburn, invited a friend to come by his office for a drink. "Be there around five," Rayburn said. "Harry Truman is coming over."

        Harry Truman was the vice president at the time. The events are described in a book about his presidency, "Conflict and Crisis" by Robert Donovan.

        World War Two was not over yet. But it was a quiet afternoon in Washington. President Franklin Roosevelt was in the southern state of Georgia. He was resting after his recent trip to Yalta to meet with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Soviet leader Josef Stalin. The president's wife, Eleanor, was at the White House, working on a speech supporting the new United Nations.

        Harry Truman was at the Senate. But he was not interested in the debate that was taking place. He spent most of his time writing to his family back in Missouri. When the debate finished, he went to the office of House leader Rayburn to join him for a drink.

        It was an afternoon Truman would never forget.

        Rayburn and his friend were talking in the office before Truman arrived. The telephone rang. It was a call from the White House asking whether Vice President Truman had arrived yet. No, Rayburn replied. The caller asked to have him telephone the White House as soon as he arrived.

        Truman entered a minute later. He immediately called the White House. As he talked, his face became white. He put down the phone and raced out the door to his car.

        Truman arrived at the White House within minutes. An assistant took him up to the president's private living area. Eleanor Roosevelt was waiting for him there. "Harry," she said, "the president is dead." Truman was shocked. He asked Mrs. Roosevelt if there was anything he could do to help her. But her reply made clear to him that his own life had suddenly changed. "Is there anything we can do for you?" Mrs. Roosevelt asked the new president. "You are the one in trouble now."

        (MUSIC)

        Within hours, the world learned the news that Franklin Roosevelt -- the longest serving president in American history -- was dead. He died of a cerebral hemorrhage, bleeding in the brain.

        Americans were shocked and scared. It was nineteen forty-five and the United States was still at war. Roosevelt had led the nation since early nineteen thirty-three. He was the only president many young Americans had ever known.

        Who would lead them now? All eyes turned to Harry Truman.

        HARRY TRUMAN: "Our departed leader never looked backward. He looked forward and moved forward. That is what he would want us to do. That is what America will do."

        Harry Truman in his first speech to Congress as president.

        HARRY TRUMAN: "With great humility, I call upon all Americans to help me keep our nation united in defense of those ideals which have been so eloquently proclaimed by Franklin Roosevelt. [Applause]

        "I want in turn to assure my fellow Americans and all of those who love peace and liberty throughout the world that I will support and defend those ideals with all my strength and all my heart."

        (MUSIC)

        Truman had been a surprise choice for vice president at the Democratic Party nominating convention in nineteen forty-four. Delegates considered several other candidates before they chose him as Roosevelt's running mate. That was at a time when presidential candidates did not make their own choices for vice president.

        Harry Truman lacked the fame, the rich family and the strong speech-making skills of Franklin Roosevelt. He was a much simpler man. He grew up in the Midwestern state of Missouri. Truman only studied through high school but took some nighttime law school classes. He worked for many years as a farmer and a small businessman, but without much success.

        Truman had long been interested in politics. When he was almost forty, he finally won several low-level positions in his home state. By nineteen thirty-four, he was popular enough in Missouri to be nominated and elected to the United States Senate. And he won re-election six years later.

        Most Americans, however, knew little about Harry Truman when he became president. They knew he had close ties to the Democratic Party political machine in his home state. But they had also heard that he was a very honest man. They could see that Truman had strongly supported President Roosevelt's New Deal programs. But they could not be sure what kind of president Truman would become.

        (MUSIC)

        History gave Truman little time to learn about his new job. The most important power he now possessed was the power of atomic weapons. And soon after he became president, he faced the decision of whether or not to use that power for the first time in history.

        The Hiroshima explosion, recorded at 8:15am, August 6, 1945, is seen on the remains of a wristwatch found in the ruins
        The Hiroshima explosion, recorded at 8:15am, August 6, 1945, is seen on the remains of a wristwatch found in the ruins

        Truman firmly believed that using the atomic bomb was the only way to force Japan to surrender. So in August of nineteen forty-five, he gave the orders to drop the atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

        HARRY TRUMAN: "Having found the atomic bomb we have used it. We shall continue to use it until we completely destroy Japan's power to make war. Only a Japanese surrender will stop us. It is an awful responsibility which has come to us. We thank God that it has come to us, instead of to our enemies. And we pray that he may guide us to use it in his ways, and for his purposes."

        Days earlier, Truman had met in Potsdam, Germany, near Berlin, with the British and Soviet leaders, Winston Churchill and Josef Stalin, to plan the peace. The war in Europe had ended several months before.

        NEWS ANNOUNCER: "Good evening, from the White House in Washington. Ladies and gentlemen, the president of the United States."

        HARRY TRUMAN: "My fellow Americans, I have just returned from Berlin, the city from which the Germans intended to rule the world. It is a ghost city. The buildings are in ruins, its economy and its people are in ruins.

        "Our party also visited what is left of Frankfurt and Darmstadt. We flew over the remains of Kassel, Magdeburg and other devastated cities. German women and children and old men were wandering over the highways, returning to bombed-out homes or leaving bombed out cities, searching for food and shelter.

        "War has indeed come home to Germany and to the German people. It has come home in all the frightfulness with which the German leaders started and waged it."

        The three leaders agreed that their nations and France would jointly occupy Germany. They also agreed to end the Nazi party in Germany, to hold trials for Nazi war criminals and to break up some German businesses.

        President Harry Truman, center, talks with Soviet leader Josef Stalin, left, and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, at the Potsdam Conference near Berlin, on July 17,1945
        President Harry Truman, center, talks with Soviet leader Josef Stalin, left, and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, at the Potsdam Conference near Berlin, on July 17,1945

        Foreign ministers of the Allied nations later negotiated peace treaties with Germany and other countries including Italy, Hungary and Romania.

        Eastern European nations agreed to protect the political and economic freedom of their citizens. However, western political experts were increasingly worried that the Soviet Union would block any effort for real democracy in eastern Europe.

        Truman did not trust the Soviets. And as he made plans for Asia, he promised himself that he would not allow Moscow any part in controlling Japan.

        The leader of the American occupation in Japan was Army General Douglas MacArthur. MacArthur acted quickly to hold a series of trials for Japanese war crimes. He also launched a series of reforms to move Japan toward becoming more like a Western democracy.

        Women were given the right to vote. Land was divided among farmers. The idea of a national religion was ended. And the educational system was reorganized.

        Japan began to recover, becoming stronger than ever as an economic power.

        Truman and other world leaders were dealing with the problems of making peace. But at the same time they also were trying to establish a new system for keeping the peace.

        (MUSIC)

        The United States, the Soviet Union, Britain and the other Allies had formed the United Nations during wartime. But soon after Truman took office, they met in San Francisco to discuss ways to make the United Nations a permanent organization for peace.

        In July of nineteen forty-four, many of the world's top economic experts met to organize a new system for the world economy. They gathered at a hotel in Bretton Woods in the American state of New Hampshire. They created the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to help nations rebuild their economies.

        (MUSIC)

        At the center of all the action was Harry Truman. It was not long before he showed Americans and the world that he had the ability to be a good president. He was honest, strong and willing to make decisions.

        "I was sworn-in one night and the next morning I had to get right to the job at hand," Truman remembered years later. In an oral history recorded with the writer Merle Miller, Truman said: "I was afraid. But, of course, I didn't let anybody know that. And I knew that I would not be called on to do anything that I was not able to do. That's something I learned from reading history.

        Truman spoke of how people in the past had much bigger problems. Somehow, he said, the best of them just went ahead and did what they had to do. And they usually did all right.

        (MUSIC: "I'm Just Wild about Harry")

        In the coming weeks, we'll discuss how America's thirty-third president moved toward rebuilding a Europe devastated by war.

        This program was adapted from a script written by David Jarmul. You can find our series online with transcripts, MP3s, podcasts and pictures at www.squishedblueberries.com. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter at VOA Learning English. I'm Steve Ember, inviting you to join us again next week for THE MAKING OF A NATION -- American history in VOA Special English.

        ___

        This was program #199. For earlier programs, type "Making of a Nation" in quotation marks in the search box at the top of the page.

        1945年4月12號下午,陰雨連綿,國會眾議院結束一天的工作后,眾議院議長薩姆.雷伯恩邀請一個朋友到他辦公室來喝一杯。雷伯恩說,"五點左右到,杜魯門也來"。

        哈里.杜魯門當時還是美國副總統,羅伯特.多諾萬講述杜魯門總統生涯一書"沖突和危機"里記載了當時的情形。

        那時候,二戰還沒有結束。4月12號下午,華盛頓顯得十分平靜。富蘭克林.羅斯??偨y從雅爾塔跟英國首相丘吉爾和蘇聯領導人斯大林見面回來,到南部的喬治亞州休息去了,第一夫人埃莉諾.羅斯福正在白宮準備一份支持成立聯合國的發言稿。

        杜魯門當時在國會參議院,但是他對正在進行的辯論不感興趣,埋頭給密蘇里的家人寫信。參議院辯論結束后,他起身前往議長雷伯恩的辦公室,準備喝上一杯。這個下午讓杜魯門終身難忘。

        杜魯門到之前,雷伯恩和他的朋友在辦公室聊天兒。就在這時候,電話響了,是白宮打來的,問副總統杜魯門到沒到。雷伯恩回答說,杜魯門還沒到。電話那邊的人說,讓杜魯門一到馬上打電話給白宮。

        一分鐘后,杜魯門走了進來,他聽到消息后,馬上打電話給白宮。講話時,杜魯門臉色開始變得蒼白,放下電話,二話不說,就沖出門去,上了汽車。

        杜魯門幾分鐘后到了白宮。一名助手直接把他帶到總統起居的地方。埃莉諾.羅斯福正在等他。埃莉諾說,"哈里,總統去世了。"杜魯門大吃一驚,問埃莉諾他能幫忙做些什么。埃莉諾反問道,"我們能幫你做些什么呢?現在有麻煩的是你了。"杜魯門這才意識到,自己的身份發生了變化,他已經變成美國總統了。

        短短幾小時內,美國在任時間最長的總統,富蘭克林.羅斯福因腦溢血不幸去世的消息就傳開了。美國人感到震驚和恐慌,因為當時還是1945年四月,美國還在打仗。

        羅斯福從1933年年初開始擔任美國總統,是很多美國人了解的唯一一位總統。如今他走了,誰來領導美國?大家的目光全都投向了哈里.杜魯門。

        杜魯門做為總統首次向國會發表講話時說:"我懷著極大的謙卑,呼吁所有美國人,幫助我保持國家的團結一致,捍衛富蘭克林.羅斯福明確提出的理想"。

        杜魯門還說:"我也要向美國同胞和世界上所有熱愛和平和自由人的保證,我一定會全身心地去支持和捍衛這些理想"。

        1944年民主黨提名代表大會上,杜魯門并不在最先考慮的副總統人選之中。當時,副總統候選人是由與會代表,而不是總統候選人自己選擇的。杜魯門缺乏富蘭克林.羅斯福顯赫的聲名,家世,也不像羅斯福那么擅于發表講話。他這個人簡單得多。

        杜魯門在美國中西部的密蘇里州長大,只讀到高中畢業,后來又利用晚上的時間,念了一些法學院的課程。他當了很多年的小農場主和生意人,但是都不太成功。

        杜魯門一直對政治很感興趣,將近40歲時,才終于在家鄉密蘇里州擔任過幾個級別不高的職務。1934年,他已經變得小有名氣,被密蘇里推選擔任聯邦參議員,他六年后又當選連任。

        杜魯門擔任總統前,大多數美國人對他并不太了解。大家知道他跟密蘇里州的民主黨政治板塊有密切的聯系,但同時也聽說他是一個很實在的人。人們清楚地看到,杜魯門極力支持羅斯福新政,但是大家還是不敢確定,杜魯門到底會是怎樣一位總統。

        歷史沒有給杜魯門實習的時間。杜魯門成為總統后掌握的最重要的一件東西是原子彈。他繼任總統后馬上就要決定,是否要動用原子彈這種新型武器。

        杜魯門堅信,動用原子彈是迫使日本投降的唯一途徑。他1945年8月下令,向日本廣島和長崎投擲原子彈。杜魯門說:"我們研制出了原子彈,而且已經開始使用,我們會一直用下去,直到徹底摧毀日本的戰斗能力為止,只有日本投降,我們才會停下來。對我們來說,這是一個可怕的責任,我們感謝上帝,讓這個責任由我們來承擔,而不是我們的敵人,我們也祈求上帝,指引我們,依照他的方式,為了他的目的,去履行這一義務。"

        就在幾天前,杜魯門在德國柏林附近的波茨坦會見了英國首相丘吉爾和蘇聯領導人斯大林,共同設計和平,當時,歐洲的戰事已經結束好幾個月了。杜魯門向全國發表講話時說:"同胞們,我剛從柏林回來。德國本想在柏林統治世界,但如今,那里卻成了一座鬼城,城里建筑倒塌,經濟崩潰,居民潦倒。我們還參觀了法蘭克福和達姆施塔特,從卡塞爾、馬格德堡等被摧毀的城市上空飛過。德國的婦女、兒童和老人沿著高速公路游蕩,要么是為了返回被炸平了的家,要么是為了離開被炸平了的城鎮,外出尋找食物和住所。德國領導人發動的這場可怕的戰爭,最終也讓德國和德國人民深受害。"

        杜魯門、丘吉爾和斯大林這三位領導人一致同意,美國、英國和蘇聯要跟法國一起共同占領德國,解散德國納粹政黨,讓納粹戰犯接受審判,并解散一些德國公司。

        幾個盟國的外長后來跟德國、意大利、匈牙利和羅馬尼亞等國家談判簽署了和平協定。東歐國家同意保護本國公民的政治和經濟自由。然而,西方政治專家們越來越擔心,蘇聯會從中作梗,讓民主無法在東歐生根發芽。

        杜魯門根本不信任蘇聯,他在策劃亞洲未來的時候,暗下決心,不能讓莫斯科插手對日本的控制。美國在日本駐軍的總指揮官是麥克阿瑟。麥克阿瑟將軍迅速采取行動,審判日本戰犯,并采取一系列改革措施,幫助日本向西方民主體制過渡。

        在日本,女性享有了投票權,土地分給農民,取消國教,重建教育系統。日本經濟開始復蘇,逐漸成為比二戰前更強大的經濟強國。杜魯門等領導人不僅要解決實現和平的問題,同時也要建立一個新的系統,保證和平的持久。

        美國、蘇聯、英國等盟國在戰爭期間就建立了聯合國。杜魯門就任后,他們又在美國的舊金山開會,討論如果讓聯合國成為一個保持世界和平的永久性機構。

        1944年7月,世界上很多最優秀的經濟學專家開會,討論為世界經濟建立一個新的體系,他們在美國新罕布什爾州布雷頓森林的一個旅館開會,在那里建立了世界銀行和國際貨幣基金組織,幫助各國重建經濟。

        所有這些行動的中心都是美國總統杜魯門,他用了很短的時間就向美國和世界人民證明,他有能力成為一位偉大的總統,他為人誠實,意志堅定,做事果斷。

        杜魯門很多年后回憶說:"我頭天晚上宣誓就職,第二天早上就要開始處理事務,我心里其實很害怕,但我又不能讓其他人知道,而且我也知道,別人不會要求我去做我做不到的事情,這是我讀歷史學到的。杜魯門還提到以前的人曾經遇到過比他更大的困難,但是最優秀的領袖總是能完成必須完成的事情,而且結果也都不錯。"

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