This article appears in the October 15, 2021 issue of Executive Intelligence Review.
FDR AND STALIN
The Forgotten Roots of the United Nations
This is the edited version of Gerry Rose’s presentation to the weekly internet Fireside Chat with Lyndon LaRouche program of The LaRouche Organization, Thursday, July 15, 2021. This presentation is the second in a series of talks by Mr. Rose on the Forgotten Roots of the United Nations. The first presentation, “FDR Founded the United Nations to End Colonialism,” is available . Subheads have been added.
There are very few books of such an extraordinary characteristic that they really should re-establish a completely different understanding of who Franklin Roosevelt was, who Marshal Joseph Stalin was, and their extraordinary relationship which, at the Yalta Conference in 1945, established the United Nations. Yet that is exactly what Susan Butler’s book, Roosevelt and Stalin: Portrait of a Partnership does.
Everything you may have read about this relationship has been in large part a lie. The so-called “Cold War” was the attempt to destroy the relationship built up by Roosevelt and Stalin. What author Susan Butler demonstrates beyond any doubt, is that there was never any reason for the Cold War! The Cold War was a direct contradiction of everything that Franklin Roosevelt and his UN effort at Yalta was aimed at. Practically every historian has lied about what actually happened at the Yalta Conference. They lied that Roosevelt was so sick that he capitulated to Stalin and gave away Eastern Europe.
When interviewed at Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute at Hunter College in 2015, Butler pointed out that one of the most important takeaways from her book was that history would have been totally different if the recommendation of the scientific community, from the physicist Niels Bohr to Gen. Leslie Groves, who oversaw the construction of the Pentagon and directed the Manhattan Project, had been listened to: That all nuclear technology be shared with and developed jointly by the Soviet Union, both the design and development of weapons, but also the peaceful use of nuclear technology. They all warned that not only would the technology be developed anyway by the Soviet Union but there would be an arms race were that to happen! Butler asks if there would have been the Cold War, had nuclear weapons been taken off the table!
Even more stunning is that the only real interpretation of her brilliant book is that the Cold War was more an attack on Roosevelt and his team than on Stalin. I’ve said this before, but now with this book we have the proof. Butler documents that within hours of Roosevelt’s death Averell Harriman, the Ambassador to the Soviet Union under Roosevelt, turned against everything Roosevelt had stood for. He and Churchill took over the “little, little man” Truman to destroy everything Roosevelt had established at Tehran and Yalta.
[Butler] does it in a way that to me was stunning. She puts together pieces of the picture, almost in the form of a classical drama—the battle after Roosevelt’s death for his legacy.
On my own, I had already assembled evidence regarding who the Red Scare was directed against. Key was the great Vice President Henry Wallace and senior Treasury official, Harry Dexter White. White, who crushed the British at the Bretton Woods Conference; and Wallace of all Roosevelt’s cabinet, concentrated on the post-War reconstruction of the United States and Europe with the United Nations, and development of the Soviet Union as central to World Peace and an end to Empire—the British, French, Dutch, and Portuguese empire!
There was never a threat of communism taking over the U.S., Truman later admitted to White House Counsel Clark Clifford. It was Roosevelt they feared. For twelve years, or more accurately 4,320 days, from his first hour of office, Wall Street and more emphatically London had nothing to say about who was running the United States. They were so enraged that within hours of Roosevelt’s death they struck back under the cover of the Cold War.
I’m not going to go through all that again, but at this moment in history, during these twelve years, the world and the United States, which had been looted and destroyed over the period of 1921 to 1933, were totally transformed.
The dialogue between Franklin Roosevelt, John Kennedy, Lyndon LaRouche, and others, but really this primary insight, established as policy by Franklin Roosevelt and presented more deeply by Lyndon LaRouche, defined the potential for the greatest revolution in world history.
Susan Butler on Roosevelt and Stalin
Susan Butler’s book is unbelievably well-researched and well-written. Butler knew she had to do her work. When she was asked in that Roosevelt House interview, “Was there an ‘Aha!’ moment?” she replied:
No, there really wasn’t. I’m a slow worker, and it dawned on me as I was finishing my first book, My Dear Mr. Stalin, that I was going to be involved for many more years, and I was going to write a book about the relationship of Roosevelt and Stalin. It was so interesting and so unreported…. I asked the archivists at the FDR Library, where’s the complete version of the letters between FDR and Stalin? And when they said, ‘It doesn’t exist,’ that’s how I started. That was my ‘Aha!’ moment. I thought to myself that I was going to put together all the messages these two world leaders exchanged…. That led me into 15 years of research into their relationship.
In Butler’s first work, My Dear Mr. Stalin, she published the entire body of correspondence between Franklin Roosevelt and Joseph Stalin. As she assembled and read through the 300 letters, she began to realize that between these two men, at the initiation of Franklin Roosevelt, was an actual partnership that was supposed to have ended the colonial world. That was the actual discussion at Yalta, which she documents brilliantly.
Now to the story.
FDR to Stalin: A $1 Billion Credit Line
As of early 1941, Roosevelt knew that the main responsibility for defeating the Nazi war machine would have to be borne by the Soviet Union. That understanding underpinned the Lend-Lease Act, approved by Congress in March 1941, authorizing the President virtually unlimited authority to direct material aid, such as ammunition, tanks, airplanes, trucks, and food without violating the nation’s official position of neutrality. In fact, Roosevelt sought Stalin out, and dispatched W. Averell Harriman—a double-edged sword, as we’ll see later—a founding partner of the Wall Street investment bank Brown Brothers Harriman, as his personal envoy to Churchill and Stalin. Harriman would later serve as the U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union, from October 23, 1943, to January 24, 1946.
When the invasion (Code named Operation Barbarossa) began on June 22, 1941, the German Wehrmacht poured into the Soviet Union, making enormous advances, until they reached Stalingrad. Roosevelt sent Harriman to meet with Stalin. After a few days of back-and-forth with Stalin, Roosevelt finally told Harriman, “Get a list of everything that Stalin needs to fight the war.” We know about this from the cable traffic coming into and going out from the top-secret communications center FDR had set up in a converted ladies’ cloakroom in the White House Basement called the Map Room. Even the Secret Service was barred.
Roosevelt had no approval from the Senate at all; most of the Senators would have gone ape knowing what Roosevelt was up to. In the course of the cables back and forth, it was clear that Stalin was extremely knowledgeable about exactly the kind of equipment he needed, where he needed it, how to produce it (the inputs); he knew everything about the war and his generals. He was extraordinary in his grasp of what was going on.
Roosevelt proposed to Stalin that his request was too modest. He said, “We will triple the number of tanks you have asked for.” Roosevelt went through the list, detailing what the U.S. was going to send, writing to Stalin, “You now have a $1 billion credit line. And frankly, you ultimately don’t have to pay it back.” This cable was received by Stalin, as the Wehrmacht was strengthening its hold in Stalingrad. This is all documented in Butler’s book. She’s an extraordinary researcher; she researched this book over a five-year period from everybody’s notes, everybody’s memoirs. Her conclusion is so stunning that she knew she had to present it in such a way that no one could refute it.
Upon receiving this note from Roosevelt, Stalin said to Harriman: “Now we shall win the war.” When the first attacks had come across the border, Stalin couldn’t believe it; he had been forced into the so-called Hitler-Stalin Pact two years earlier, on August 23, 1939, because, as was clear to everybody, Britain and France were never going to work with the Soviet Union to crush the Nazis. They wanted the Nazis to kill the communists, leaving themselves to rule the world.
France was a real piece of filth on this one, as proven when all of France was lost to the Nazis. So, Stalin says, “Now we shall win the war,” and frankly did so, with Marshal Georgy Zhukov and the unbelievable courage, pure gut courage of the Russian people, with the knowledge that the Nazis hated Slavic people. The Nazis ultimately killed 27 million Russians, including 3 million Russian prisoners of war.
So, when you start surrounding Russia, you better think twice. They swear—and they mean it—that they will never be surrounded again. The price they paid was unimaginable. Anyone who doesn’t understand that, understands nothing. The idea that Stalin was as bad as Hitler is the biggest load of garbage you have ever heard in your life.
We’re now going to actually discover what this issue really was.
Stalin Grants Religious Freedom,
Dissolves the International
In 1941, as Roosevelt is supplying the matériel and food so that the Soviet Union can fight the war, he says to Harriman, “You must have Stalin relent on the question of religious freedom.” Can you imagine that? Can you imagine any President who, in the midst of a life-and-death struggle, as he knew the world was engaged in back in 1941 when he proposed the Four Freedoms, saying that to Stalin? This was no quid pro quo. He didn’t say, “Give the religious freedom and you’ll get the equipment.” No, he didn’t say that. He would never do that. Rather, he insisted that there be religious freedom in the Soviet Union. Period.
In 1943, prior to his first meeting with Roosevelt at Tehran, Stalin implemented two measures that will completely shock you. First, he granted freedom to all religions; and second, in June, he ordered the Communist International (the Comintern) dissolved, saying,
Membership in the Comintern makes it easier for the bourgeoisie to persecute the Communist parties. When we created the CI [Communist International—ed.] and we thought that we could direct the movement in all countries, we were overestimating our forces. That was our error. The further existence of the CI would discredit the idea of the International, something we do not wish to see…. [T]he fact is that the CPs that belong in the CI are falsely accused of being the agents of a foreign state. By dissolving the CI, we are knocking this ace out of the enemies’ hand.
Why did he do that? In her book, Butler writes that Stalin saw himself as Ivan the Terrible, and he even had Sergei Eisenstein, the famous movie director, do a very famous, grandiose version of Ivan the Terrible, “that portrayed Ivan (Stalin) as a cruel but wise state builder, who united the country, and showed Russia as barbaric, splendid, and strong.”
In September 1947, in response to divergences among post-war communist governments on whether or not to attend the Paris Conference on the Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe, Stalin founded the Information Bureau of the Communist and Workers’ Parties, better known as the Cominform. It became de facto inactive beginning in 1950, and was dissolved in 1956.
If you’re an honest person, you are now forced to think about how nations actually come into existence. They do so in many ways. Of course, there are the geniuses Louis XI and Joan of Arc who created the first nation-state in France, followed by Henry VII in England.
Henry’s was not a very subtle affair. The Lancastrian and the York factions had been going after each other in what is called the War of the Roses for close to 100 years. When Henry VII came into power in 1485, he crushed both houses—the Lancastrian House and the York House; he crushed them both. He taxed them out of existence. He ruthlessly pursued anybody who would not toe the line that he was the king, that his heirs would rule. He consolidated, through extremely ruthless methods, not quite what Stalin had to do, but extremely ruthless. The book Winter King will give you a sense of that.
Because Henry VII consolidated rule and made England one country with a commitment to no more wars on the continent of Europe (where England had done nothing up until then but make wars), there was a flowering of intellectuals like John Colet and Thomas Linacre, both of whom travelled to Italy in order to directly study. Extraordinary! And later came William Shakespeare. But without that consolidation, if you have not crushed your internal opposition, you have war after war after war, which is what Shakespeare writes about in his famous history plays.
So, Stalin saw himself as consolidating a nation. He had a lot of opposition, enormous opposition. Would I have done it his way? I know I wouldn’t have; but could it have been done in any other way? I’m not sure.
On November 16, 1933, Roosevelt had ended 16 years of American non-recognition of the Soviet Union and established diplomatic relations, which freaked out the works. Hitler had just come to power, being named Chancellor by President Paul von Hindenburg on January 30, 1933.
Viewing the Soviets as one of the bulwarks against both Imperial Japan and Hitler’s fascist Germany, FDR opened up trade, opened up credits, opened up a whole process to break the Soviet Union out of its isolation, to integrate it into a community of united nations.
Sometimes Creating a New Nation Is Messy
Sometimes creating a new nation is not a very pretty affair. The oligarchy have always been out to crush any movement not run by them. We should take some justified pride in the American Revolution—what we did, the incredible depth of intellect, the incredible cultural capability of our own leadership and our people. We didn’t have to go through what Stalin went through, but we had to get rid of the British Empire.
You may say what you want. Mao Zedong made a lot of mistakes, but he stood up to the British Empire. It could have been done better, if Chiang Kai-shek and others had listened to the American System of Sun Yat-sen, and really fought for that. But the fact of the matter is, there had to be land reform, and other major changes.
What I’m saying is somewhat stunning here, and I don’t want to get into this as the primary subject of this report, but the fact of the matter is, Stalin saw himself as having created a nation that would be the subject of oligarchical genocide under Hitler’s regime.
So, here’s Franklin Roosevelt. By mid-1943, as I said, Stalin ended the Comintern, and Stalin granted universal religious freedom, not just for the Eastern Orthodox Church—which was a little earlier, which decision he made during the battle of Stalingrad. He called on the Church to work with him to defend Mother Russia. But later in 1943, Stalin granted freedom to all religions in the Soviet Union.
Up until then, Stalin had continued Lenin’s atheistic anti-religion policy, unleashing a ferocious anti-Christian persecution: During the 1930s, for example, the number of priests plummeted to a few thousand, churches were destroyed, the Russian Orthodox were forbidden to have a Patriarch after 1926, and believers were forced to practice in secret. The new freedom of religion policy was later reversed because of the Cold War, but when you find out why there was a Cold War, you’ll understand who’s to blame.
FDR’s First Meeting with Stalin
Roosevelt’s first meeting with Stalin in Tehran in November 1943 was a private affair. Roosevelt would not meet with Churchill before Tehran; would not coordinate war efforts with Churchill. FDR wanted an unmediated relationship with Stalin. He understood that if there was going to be a decent postwar world, the Soviet Union would have to be part of that community of nations. He wanted to make plain to Stalin that he had nothing to do with Churchill’s policies.
So, the first private meeting which Butler describes in great detail in her book:
The first thing Roosevelt says to Stalin is that France cannot be resurrected immediately, considering what the Vichy government did in turning over France to the Nazis. At the end of the war, France will have to rebuild, but there will be no colonies for her. Every single one of France’s former colonies would be placed under trusteeship until they can elect their own governments. This emphatically included French Indochina, or Vietnam.
That’s the first thing FDR says to Stalin. Stalin couldn’t agree more.
The second thing Roosevelt says to Stalin is that, in order to take the pressure off Stalin’s Western Front, Roosevelt and his Generals had decided to open a Second Front in northern France (Operation Overlord). Gen. George Marshall was put in charge, who was totally in agreement with Stalin and Roosevelt that they had to start the war in France to pin down the Nazi machine and take the pressure off the Red Army.
Again, this was not rhetoric. Marshall had a brawl; the British insisted that the Second Front begin in North Africa. This was Operation Torch. The British wanted to make sure that the Red Army coming from the east did not meet up with U.S. and British Commonwealth forces from the west, to crush the Nazi machine. The British plan was to come up through Italy and cut the Red Army off at some point in Eastern Europe and make sure they didn’t take over Eastern Europe.
The third thing that Roosevelt told Stalin in their private meeting, to which Churchill was not invited, was that at the end of the war the U.S. was going to be left with a very large merchant fleet. Roosevelt offered up “the possibility that after the war a part of the American and British merchant fleet which would be more than either nation could possibly utilize, be made available to the Soviet Union.” In other words, FDR expected that there would be the capacity to—not lend, not lease, not sell, but give—a significant part of that fleet to the Soviet Union.
Stalin responded: “[I]f that equipment were sent … a plentiful supply of raw materials … could be made available to the United States.” In other words, this would make bilateral trade immediately possible: raw materials from the Soviet Union, and manufactured goods from the U.S., at least until the Soviet Union’s largely destroyed industrial base was restored.
So, that’s the private meeting. France will have no colonies. A Second Front against Germany would be opened, and in the postwar period the Soviets would get a merchant navy. And through the Tehran Conference, which Butler develops very effectively, Roosevelt was clear on the Second Front issue. Churchill and his team were vociferous that it had to start in North Africa. Stalin kept going at Churchill the whole time to open a Second Front, and an agreement was reached to start that Second Front.
At one point in the 2015 Roosevelt House interview, author Susan Butler was asked if Franklin Roosevelt was ever afraid of Stalin. Her reply: “Franklin Roosevelt was afraid of no one and nothing; that’s what you have to understand about Franklin Roosevelt.” He acted from a deep moral commitment to the future of mankind—I’m saying this; Butler didn’t quite have it in the way she should have, but she understood it implicitly; she’s an extremely insightful person. But she did say, “He was afraid of no one and nothing.”
This next quote from FDR will shock you. Upon learning of the failed November 16, 1943 attempted assassination of Hitler, Roosevelt, who knew nothing about it beforehand, told OSS Director William J. Donovan,
If we start assassinating chiefs of State, God knows where it all would end. If the Germans dispose of Hitler, that is their prerogative, but the OSS must have nothing whatever to do with it.
That’s actually what he said.
So, Stalin’s assessment of FDR was that he was the least pragmatic leader one could have, which is why he trusted him. When FDR disagreed with you, he would say so; he just made it plain who he was.
FDR Countermands Churchill
Stalin met with Churchill in Moscow in October 1944—Roosevelt wasn’t around, this is before Yalta—and they brought out a map. Churchill said, “I want 80% of Greece.” Stalin said, “I want 60% of Poland.” They wired Roosevelt about their agreement, or at least what they had discussed. Roosevelt overruled all of that, writing back that seeing as there were no Poles or Greeks at that meeting to represent their own interests, whatever agreement they had reached was out of order, and wasn’t going to happen.
Neither Churchill nor Stalin wanted the Chinese to have a seat in the United Nations Security Council. Roosevelt told the two of them his view, that the white race should not rule the world and was not innately superior to other races, that therefore the United States would not join the Security Council without China having a seat at the table, and further, that the United States wouldn’t even join the United Nations, because it wouldn’t be the United Nations. He argued that with 400 million Chinese,
Twenty years from now, [China] will be the dominant nation in all of Asia. Therefore, they must be part of the deliberation process as part of the United Nations.
FDR’s Mission at Tehran
Roosevelt was functioning as early as 1941, but at the Tehran Conference in 1943, he had already gotten Stalin to decommission the Communist International, because Stalin wanted to work with Roosevelt. Stalin didn’t trust Churchill—who could?—but he wanted to work with Roosevelt as part of a community of nations. And he granted religious freedom. For Roosevelt, that was deep and abiding.
Butler puts it in a fascinating way, quoting the American poet Walt Whitman: “To have a friend, you have to be a friend.” And that’s who Roosevelt was for every nation on this planet; for him, it wasn’t just rhetoric. As already mentioned, at the height of the Barbarossa attack, he told Harriman to tell Stalin: “You must give the Soviet people religious freedom.”
Another thing which is stunning, just stunning: Stalin had some meetings with Churchill before he met with Roosevelt. In a toast at Yalta, it is clear that he understood Churchill on some level: “Winston Churchill may be the bravest leader in the world. He stood alone against the Nazi machine. For this, we must toast him.” He meant it.
The way that Susan Butler begins the Yalta story reveals what this unbelievable researcher has come up with.
FDR negotiated three things at Yalta:
• One, the disposition of Poland, which you’ve been lied to about what really happened there, and it was later revisited after Roosevelt’s death.
• Two, the United Nations, and
• Three, a $6 billion development loan for the Soviet Union at 2.5% interest, to be repaid over 30 years, to buy American goods at the end of the war. The credit would be issued not by Lend-Lease, but a loan to the Soviet Union, which was to be part of the Bretton Woods arrangements.
Who Started the Cold War?
Now, finally, the punchline on the Cold War.
A short two months after Yalta, on April 12, 1945, Roosevelt died. Harry Truman, FDR’s Vice President, had never been in the Map Room; The “little man” knew nothing about world politics. Roosevelt’s team briefed him extensively on the agreements reached at Yalta, and that the Soviet Foreign Minister, Vyacheslav Molotov, would be coming to Washington after attending the San Francisco Conference of the United Nations.
After San Francisco, when Molotov arrived at the White House on April 23, as agreed to between Stalin and FDR at Yalta, he led off by inquiring about the still-secret agreements regarding the Far East: Was Truman prepared to honor them? Truman assured Molotov the commitments would be honored. Discussing Poland next—and accounts vary as to the exact exchange—Molotov started talking about the Poles who were working against the Red Army. Truman told Molotov to inform Stalin of his concern over Stalin’s failure to live up to the agreement made at Yalta [for free and fair elections]. When Molotov attempted to steer the conversation back to the Far East, Truman said: “That will be all, Mr. Molotov. I would appreciate it if you would transmit my views to Marshal Stalin,” and dismissed him. Mortified, Molotov stood up, and walked out.
Truman did everything to sabotage what Secretary of State Edward Stettinius, Jr., and everybody else had briefed him on, as to what Roosevelt had accomplished and intended to accomplish, the nature of the relationship with Stalin, and its potential. Truman just blew the thing up. Andrei Gromyko, at that time the Soviet Union’s Ambassador to the U.S., who was present during this exchange, remarked: “Almost at once, serious strains developed in Soviet-U.S. relations.”
The following Spring, on March 5, 1946, Winston Churchill delivered an historic speech at Westminster College in Fulton Missouri, titled “Sinews of Peace.” Handwritten on the letter of invitation to Churchill, the labile fool Truman wrote: “This is a wonderful school in my home state. Hope you can do it. If you come, I will introduce you.” That speech has become known to history as the “Iron Curtain Speech.”
The Manhattan Project: Sharing Science with the Soviets
Butler fully documents the real story of the Manhattan Project which made the U.S. the first nation to produce nuclear weapons. Roosevelt’s intention was to share all knowledge of the atomic bomb with Stalin. He was going to request that the Soviets work with the U.S. to develop the atom bomb, and afterward, the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.
Every single scientist associated with the Project, including Niels Bohr, had advised FDR that the work could not be kept a secret, and should secrecy be attempted, it would lead to an arms race. The four years between the time that the U.S. succeeded in developing an atomic bomb, in mid-1945, and the time that the Soviet Union exploded their first one, on August 29, 1949, was the most dangerous situation imaginable.
Representing the United States at the Potsdam Conference, from July 17 to August 2, 1945, the last of the World War II meetings of the “Big Three,” was Harry Truman, who—in accordance with the wishes of the Manhattan Project scientists—was supposed to propose that the U.S. share and work with the Soviets to develop nuclear weapons capability. Instead, Truman announced that the U.S. already had a working bomb, had dropped it on Hiroshima, Japan, and was about to drop one on Nagasaki. Truman proposed nothing to Stalin and walked away. At that moment, the Cold War started.
Everything that Roosevelt had attempted to do to create a community of nations which he called the United Nations, was literally blown up, not just by Truman, but by Averell Harriman. The moment that life had departed from Franklin Roosevelt, Wall Street’s Harriman, working with the Dulles brothers, advised Truman to take a tough line toward Stalin and the Soviet Union.
On September 20, on his last day in office as Roosevelt’s (and now Truman’s) Secretary of State, Edward Stettinius, Jr. called a Cabinet meeting. During that meeting he presented the idea of sharing for joint development, nuclear technology in general, and nuclear bomb technology in specific, with the Soviet Union. Averell Harriman opposed the proposal; Secretary of Defense James Forrestal was against doing this, as was Secretary of the Treasury Frederick Vinson. The very next day, the lying New York Times published a wildly inaccurate—what we would call today “fake news”—story that it was Commerce Secretary Henry Wallace, whom they had been red-baiting, who had proposed sharing atomic secrets with the Soviets, and that the Cabinet had voted against his proposal. It was Harriman who leaked this false narrative to the Times.
Had we, in the spirit of Franklin Roosevelt, accepted the sovereignty of all the nations and the sharing of nuclear and other technology with all the nations, and provided for the general welfare of all the nations, as was explicit in the Bretton Woods agreements, we would have delivered a post-War world of perfectly sovereign nations in perpetual peace and prosperity for all. But Truman and Churchill hated Roosevelt, hated his idea of the community of nations, hated the United Nations; hated it. Once the Cold War started, Bretton Woods, and all the development that Roosevelt and his team had planned for the post-War era, was quite literally destroyed.
It was not Stalin who started the Cold War, it was Churchill, Truman, Harriman, and Dulles—who worked, literally, with the Nazis; they are the responsible parties for starting the Cold War. What ensued is their fault.
Susan Butler, editor, with commentary, My Dear Mr. Stalin: The Complete Correspondence of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Joseph V. Stalin. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2008.
Susan Butler, Roosevelt and Stalin: Portrait of a Partnership. New York: Knopf Doubleday, 2015.
Thomas Penn, Winter King: Henry VII and the Dawn of Tudor England. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2011.
Charles Notley contributed to this article.