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Harry S. Truman

Geburtstag: 8. Mai 1884
Todesdatum: 26. Dezember 1972
Andere Namen: Harry Spencer Truman

Harry S. Truman war ein US-amerikanischer Politiker der Demokratischen Partei und von 1945 bis 1953 der 33. Präsident der Vereinigten Staaten. Zuvor war er 1945 kurzzeitig Vizepräsident und vertrat zwischen 1935 und 1945 den Bundesstaat Missouri im US-Senat.

Truman stammte aus sehr einfachen Verhältnissen und trat erst relativ spät in die aktive Politik ein. Zunächst als Farmer tätig, nahm er 1918/19 freiwillig am Ersten Weltkrieg teil. Nach dem Scheitern seiner geschäftlichen Aktivitäten als Mitinhaber eines Herrenausstatters Anfang der 1920er ging der Demokrat Truman auf Betreiben des lokalen Parteiführers Tom Pendergast in die regionale Politik, wo er ab 1927 Leiter der County-Verwaltung war. Auf Pendergasts Betreiben gelang ihm 1934 der Sprung in den US-Senat, dem er nach einer Wiederwahl 1940 noch bis Anfang 1945 angehörte. Durch den Vorsitz des Ausschusses für die Rüstungsproduktion während des Zweiten Weltkrieges wurde er überregional bekannt, was ihm den Weg zur demokratischen Vizepräsidentschaftskandidatur bei der Wahl 1944 an der Seite Franklin D. Roosevelts ebnete. Allerdings amtierte er nur zwischen Januar und April 1945 als Vizepräsident; nach dem Tod Roosevelts musste er selbst die Präsidentschaft übernehmen.

Während das Deutsche Reich wenige Wochen nach seinem Amtsantritt kapitulierte, wurde der Pazifikkrieg erst nach den bis heute umstrittenen Atombombenabwürfen auf Hiroshima und Nagasaki beendet. Nach dem Ende des Zweiten Weltkrieges nahmen schon bald die politischen Spannungen mit der Sowjetunion zu, was zu einer Teilung Europas führte und den Kalten Krieg begründete. Truman begegnete dieser neuen Weltlage mit der Truman-Doktrin von 1947, die eine „Eindämmung“ des Kommunismus forderte . Ab 1948 leisteten die USA mit dem Marshallplan umfassende ökonomische Hilfen für weite Teile Europas. Währenddessen wurde die Weiterentwicklung der Nuklearwaffen vorangetrieben.

Obwohl im Vorfeld der Präsidentschaftswahl 1948 mit Trumans Niederlage gerechnet wurde, konnte er sich überraschend gegen seinen republikanischen Widersacher Thomas E. Dewey durchsetzen. Nach seiner Wiederwahl nahmen die politischen Verwerfungen mit dem Ostblock zu. Der Koreakrieg wurde der erste Stellvertreterkrieg im Ost-West-Konflikt. Nach der unter US-Führung erfolgten Intervention mit UN-Mandat gelang es nicht, den verlustreichen Krieg noch während Trumans Amtszeit zu beenden. Innenpolitisch trat Truman mit seinem Fair Deal für eine Fortsetzung des New Deals und eine progressive Politik ein. Seine Vorhaben, die unter anderem eine Ausweitung des Sozialstaates vorsahen, wurden aber wegen des Widerstands von konservativen Kräften im Kongress nur bedingt umgesetzt. Wegweisend war jedoch sein Eintreten für die Rechte von Afroamerikanern, indem er 1948 mit dem Abbau der Rassentrennung in den Streitkräften begann. Für die Wahl 1952 verzichtete Truman auf eine weitere Kandidatur und schied im Januar 1953 aus dem Präsidentenamt aus. Danach zog er sich bis zu seinem Tod 1972 ins Privatleben zurück.

Obwohl Truman während seiner Präsidentschaft als äußerst unpopulär galt, gehört er im 21. Jahrhundert bei Umfragen unter Amerikanern zu den beliebtesten US-Präsidenten. Auch die meisten Historiker bewerten seine Amtszeit heute überwiegend sehr positiv. Wikipedia

Zitate Harry S. Truman

„Now days battles are just sort of a "You shoot up my town and I'll shoot up yours."“

—  Harry Truman

Letter to Bess Wallace (8 September 1918) https://www.trumanlibrary.org/whistlestop/study_collections/ww1/documents/fulltext.php?documentid=1-15
Kontext: Now days battles are just sort of a "You shoot up my town and I'll shoot up yours." They say that Americans don't play fair. They shoot 'em up all the time. I hope so because I want to finish this job as soon as possible and begin making an honest living again... Have fired 500 rounds at the Germans, at my command, been shelled, didn't run away thank the Lord and never lost a man. Probably shouldn't have told you but you'll not worry any more if you know I'm in it than if you think I am. Have had the most strenuous work of my life, am very tired but otherwise absolutely in good condition physically mentally and morally... When a High Explosive shell bursts in fifteen feet and does you no damage, you can bet your sweet life you bear a charmed life and no mistake. I didn't have sense enough to know what was going on until the next day and then I was pretty scared. The men think I am not much afraid of shells but they don't know. I was too scared to run and that is pretty scared.

„At the present moment in world history nearly every nation must choose between alternative ways of life. The choice is too often not a free one.“

—  Harry Truman

Speech to a joint session of the US Congress (12 March 1947), outlining what became known as The Truman Doctrine
Kontext: At the present moment in world history nearly every nation must choose between alternative ways of life. The choice is too often not a free one.
One way of life is based upon the will of the majority, and is distinguished by free institutions, representative government, free elections, guarantees of individual liberty, freedom of speech and religion, and freedom from political oppression.
The second way of life is based upon the will of a minority forcibly imposed upon the majority. It relies upon terror and oppression, a controlled press and radio; fixed elections, and the suppression of personal freedoms.
I believe that it must be the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures.
I believe that we must assist free peoples to work out their own destinies in their own way.

„If we see that Germany is winning we ought to help Russia and if Russia is winning we ought to help Germany, and that way let them kill as many as possible“

—  Harry Truman

As quoted in The New York Times (24 June 1941); also in TIME magazine (2 July 1951) http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,815031,00.html)
Kontext: If we see that Germany is winning we ought to help Russia and if Russia is winning we ought to help Germany, and that way let them kill as many as possible, although I don't want to see Hitler victorious under any circumstances. Neither of them thinks anything of their pledged word.

„If wars in the future are to be prevented the nations must be united in their determination to keep the peace under law.“

—  Harry Truman

Address to Congress (1945)
Kontext: If wars in the future are to be prevented the nations must be united in their determination to keep the peace under law.
Nothing is more essential to the future peace of the world than continued cooperation of the nations which had to muster the force necessary to defeat the conspiracy of the Axis powers to dominate the world.
While these great states have a special responsibility to enforce the peace, their responsibility is based upon the obligations resting upon all states, large and small, not to use force in international relations except in the defense of law. The responsibility of the great states is to serve and not to dominate the world.

„It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit“

—  Harry Truman

This is attributed to Truman in some sources, but a similar saying is recorded as early as 1909 https://books.google.com/books?id=bidJAAAAIAAJ&dq=how%20much%20%22care%20who%20gets%20the%20credit%22&pg=PA26#v=onepage&q=how%20much%20%22care%20who%20gets%20the%20credit%22&f=false.
Misattributed

„Sixteen hours ago an American airplane dropped one bomb on Hiroshima and destroyed its usefulness to the enemy.“

—  Harry Truman

Announcing the Bombing of Hiroshima (1945)
Kontext: Sixteen hours ago an American airplane dropped one bomb on Hiroshima and destroyed its usefulness to the enemy. That bomb had more power than 20,000 tons of TNT. It had more than two thousand times the blast power of the British "Grand Slam" which is the largest bomb ever yet used in the history of warfare.
The Japanese began the war from the air at Pearl Harbor. They have been repaid many fold. And the end is not yet.

„We want no Gestapo or Secret Police. F. B. I. is tending in that direction. They are dabbling in sex life scandles [sic] and plain blackmail when they should be catching criminals. They also have a habit of sneering at local law enforcement officers.“

—  Harry Truman

Longhand Note of President Harry S. Truman, May 12, 1945. https://trumanlibrary.org/whistlestop/study_collections/trumanpapers/psf/longhand/index.php?documentVersion=both&documentid=hst-psf_naid735219-01&pagenumber=2

„Desperate men are liable to destroy the structure of their society to find in the wreckage some substitute for hope.“

—  Harry Truman

Report on the Potsdam Conference (1945)
Kontext: Any man who sees Europe now must realize that victory in a great war is not something you win once and for all, like victory in a ball game. Victory in a great war is something that must be won and kept won. It can be lost after you have won it — if you are careless or negligent or indifferent.
Europe today is hungry. I am not talking about Germans. I am talking about the people of the countries which were overrun and devastated by the Germans, and particularly about the people of Western Europe. Many of them lack clothes and fuel and tools and shelter and raw materials. They lack the means to restore their cities and their factories.
As the winter comes on, the distress will increase. Unless we do what we can to help, we may lose next winter what we won at such terrible cost last spring. Desperate men are liable to destroy the structure of their society to find in the wreckage some substitute for hope. If we let Europe go cold and hungry, we may lose some of the foundations of order on which the hope for worldwide peace must rest.
We must help to the limits of our strength. And we will.

„It's an old political trick: "If you can't convince 'em, confuse 'em." But this time it won't work.“

—  Harry Truman

Address at the National Plowing Match (18 September 1948); as quoted in Miracle of '48: Harry Truman's Major Campaign Speeches and Selected Whistle-stops (2003); edited by Steve Neal. Truman's mention of an "old political trick" is often quoted alone as if it were a strategy he was advising rather than one he was criticizing.
Kontext: On the one hand, the Republicans are telling industrial workers that the high cost of food in the cities is due to this government's farm policy. On the other hand, the Republicans are telling the farmers that the high cost of manufactured goods on the farm is due to this government's labor policy.
That's plain hokum. It's an old political trick: "If you can't convince 'em, confuse 'em." But this time it won't work.

„The responsibility of the great states is to serve and not to dominate the world.“

—  Harry Truman

Address to Congress (1945)
Kontext: If wars in the future are to be prevented the nations must be united in their determination to keep the peace under law.
Nothing is more essential to the future peace of the world than continued cooperation of the nations which had to muster the force necessary to defeat the conspiracy of the Axis powers to dominate the world.
While these great states have a special responsibility to enforce the peace, their responsibility is based upon the obligations resting upon all states, large and small, not to use force in international relations except in the defense of law. The responsibility of the great states is to serve and not to dominate the world.

„We must be prepared to pay the price for peace, or assuredly we shall pay the price of war.“

—  Harry Truman

Special Message to the Congress on the Threat to the Freedom of Europe (1948)
Kontext: The recommendations I have made represent the most urgent steps toward securing the peace and preventing war. We must be ready to take every wise and necessary step to carry out this great purpose. This will require assistance to other nations. It will require an adequate and balanced military strength. We must be prepared to pay the price for peace, or assuredly we shall pay the price of war. We in the United States remain determined to seek peace by every possible means, a just and honorable basis for the settlement of international issues.

„I'm proud that I'm a politician. A politician is a man who understands government, and it takes a politician to run a government. A statesman is a politician who's been dead 10 or 15 years.“

—  Harry Truman

As quoted in The New York World Telegram & Sun (12 April 1958)
Quelle: Impromptu remarks http://books.google.com/books?id=2Tu3bScwKKAC&q=%22I'm+proud+that+I'm+a+politician+A+politician+is+a+man+who+understands+government+and+it+takes+a+politician+to+run+a+government+A+statesman+is+a+politician+who's+been+dead+10+or+15+years%22&pg=PT289#v=onepage before the Reciprocity Club, Washington, D.C. (11 April 1958)

„All these things we knew before.“

—  Harry Truman

Report on the Potsdam Conference (1945)
Kontext: Our victory in Europe was more than a victory of arms.
It was a victory of one way of life over another. It was a victory of an ideal founded on the rights of the common man, on the dignity of the human being, on the conception of the State as the servant — and not the master — of its people.
A free people showed that it was able to defeat professional soldiers whose only moral arms were obedience and the worship of force.
We tell ourselves that we have emerged from this war the most powerful nation in the world — the most powerful nation, perhaps, in all history. That is true, but not in the sense some of us believe it to be true.
The war has shown us that we have tremendous resources to make all the materials for war. It has shown us that we have skillful workers and managers and able generals, and a brave people capable of bearing arms.
All these things we knew before.
The new thing — the thing which we had not known — the thing we have learned now and should never forget, is this: that a society of self-governing men is more powerful, more enduring, more creative than any other kind of society, however disciplined, however centralized.

„We must help to the limits of our strength. And we will.“

—  Harry Truman

Report on the Potsdam Conference (1945)
Kontext: Any man who sees Europe now must realize that victory in a great war is not something you win once and for all, like victory in a ball game. Victory in a great war is something that must be won and kept won. It can be lost after you have won it — if you are careless or negligent or indifferent.
Europe today is hungry. I am not talking about Germans. I am talking about the people of the countries which were overrun and devastated by the Germans, and particularly about the people of Western Europe. Many of them lack clothes and fuel and tools and shelter and raw materials. They lack the means to restore their cities and their factories.
As the winter comes on, the distress will increase. Unless we do what we can to help, we may lose next winter what we won at such terrible cost last spring. Desperate men are liable to destroy the structure of their society to find in the wreckage some substitute for hope. If we let Europe go cold and hungry, we may lose some of the foundations of order on which the hope for worldwide peace must rest.
We must help to the limits of our strength. And we will.

„It is an awful responsibility which has come to us.“

—  Harry Truman

Report on the Potsdam Conference (1945)
Kontext: 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.

„On tight money: It reflects a reversion to the old idea that the tree can be fertilized at the top instead of at the bottom — the old trickle-down theory.“

—  Harry Truman

Harry Truman at the Amalgamated Clothing Workers Convention, Atlantic City (May 13, 1954), Good Old Harry

„In this shrinking world, it is futile to seek safety behind geographical barriers. Real security will be found only in law and in justice.“

—  Harry Truman

Address to Congress (1945)
Kontext: In this shrinking world, it is futile to seek safety behind geographical barriers. Real security will be found only in law and in justice.
Here in America, we have labored long and hard to achieve a social order worthy of our great heritage. In our time, tremendous progress has been made toward a really democratic way of life. Let me assure the forward-looking people of America that there will be no relaxation in our efforts to improve the lot of the common people.

„We have used it in order to shorten the agony of war, in order to save the lives of thousands and thousands of young Americans. We shall continue to use it until we completely destroy Japan's power to make war. Only a Japanese surrender will stop us.“

—  Harry Truman

Report on the Potsdam Conference (1945)
Kontext: I realize the tragic significance of the atomic bomb. Its production and its use were not lightly undertaken by this Government. But we knew that our enemies were on the search for it. We know now how close they were to finding it. And we knew the disaster which would come to this Nation, and to all peace-loving nations, to all civilization, if they had found it first. That is why we felt compelled to undertake the long and uncertain and costly labor of discovery and production. We won the race of discovery against the Germans.
Having found the bomb we have used it. We have used it against those who attacked us without warning at Pearl Harbor, against those who have starved and beaten and executed American prisoners of war, against those who have abandoned all pretense of obeying international laws of warfare. We have used it in order to shorten the agony of war, in order to save the lives of thousands and thousands of young Americans. We shall continue to use it until we completely destroy Japan's power to make war. Only a Japanese surrender will stop us.

„I believe that it must be the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures.
I believe that we must assist free peoples to work out their own destinies in their own way.“

—  Harry Truman

Speech to a joint session of the US Congress (12 March 1947), outlining what became known as The Truman Doctrine
Kontext: At the present moment in world history nearly every nation must choose between alternative ways of life. The choice is too often not a free one.
One way of life is based upon the will of the majority, and is distinguished by free institutions, representative government, free elections, guarantees of individual liberty, freedom of speech and religion, and freedom from political oppression.
The second way of life is based upon the will of a minority forcibly imposed upon the majority. It relies upon terror and oppression, a controlled press and radio; fixed elections, and the suppression of personal freedoms.
I believe that it must be the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures.
I believe that we must assist free peoples to work out their own destinies in their own way.

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