An original wartime press photograph of Winston S. Churchill, Harry S. Truman, and Joseph Stalin shaking hands at the Potsdam Conference on 23 July 1945, three days before the British General Election result removed Churchill from the office of Prime Minister
An original wartime press photograph of Winston S. Churchill, Harry S. Truman, and Joseph Stalin shaking hands at the Potsdam Conference on 23 July 1945, three days before the British General Election result removed Churchill from the office of Prime Minister

An original wartime press photograph of Winston S. Churchill, Harry S. Truman, and Joseph Stalin shaking hands at the Potsdam Conference on 23 July 1945, three days before the British General Election result removed Churchill from the office of Prime Minister

London: British Official Photograph issued by Photographic News Agencies, Ltd., published by The Daily Telegraph, 25 July 1945. Photograph. This original press photo captures the Churchill, Stalin, and Truman at the Potsdam conference, just three days before Churchill was replaced as wartime Prime Minister. The gelatin silver print on matte photo paper measures 6 x 8 inches (15.3 x 20.3 cm). Condition is good plus, its chief flaw being a strong horizontal crease through the center of the photograph. The paper is crisp, clean, and free of scuffing with light edge wear, some softening to the corners, pin holes to the four corners, and light cockling. The verso bears a copyright stamp reading “British Official Photograph No. issued by Photographic News Agencies, Ltd.” with the hand-written designation “B.U. 9195”. The verso also bears a published stamp of The Daily Telegraph dated 25 JUL 1945, handwritten printing notations, and an original typed caption reading, “Mr. Churchill, President Truman, and Marshal Stalin link hands after the state banquet held by the Prime Minister in Potsdam on Monday night.” This photograph is housed in a removable, archival mylar sleeve within a rigid, crimson cloth folder. Following Germany’s unconditional surrender on 8 May 1945, the three allied leaders, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, the new U.S. President Harry Truman, and Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin, agreed to a summer meeting to negotiate postwar reconstruction in Europe. The conference was held in Potsdam, in occupied Germany, from 17 July to 2 August 1945. This photograph captures the three leaders on 23 July at an evening banquet hosted by Churchill. Churchill would later recount the dinner in his memoirs of the war years, “I had another very friendly talk with Stalin, who was in the best of tempers and seemed to have no inkling of the momentous information about the new bomb the President had given me. He spoke with enthusiasm about the Russian intervention against Japan, and seemed to expect a good many months of war, which Russia would wage on an ever increasing scale.” (Vol. VI, p.579) Before the conference’s end Truman officially told Stalin about the existence of the Atomic Bomb. Stalin, who had spies inside the Manhattan Project and was fully informed, feigned surprise. The conference concluded with the issuing of the Potsdam Declaration which demanded that Japan surrender or face “prompt and utter destruction”. The conference - the last of the "Big Three" meetings during the Second World War - coincided with the UK General Election of 1945. Having done so much to win the war, Churchill faced frustration of his postwar plans when his wartime government fell to Labour in the General Election on 26 July 1945, only three days after this photo was taken. Churchill was replaced as Prime Minister by Clement Attlee, who represented Britain for the rest of the conference. In view of the coming election, on 15 June Churchill had formally invited Attlee to the Conference: “His Majesty’s Government must, of course, bear the responsibility for all decisions. But my idea was that you should come as a friend and counsellor, and help us on the subjects on which we have been so long agreed…” This invitation turned out to be not only gracious, but practical. Churchill was gracious once again in his 26 July statement from 10 Downing Street: “It only remains for me to express to the British people, for whom I have acted in these perilous years, my profound gratitude for the unflinching, unswerving support which they have given me during my task, and of the many expressions of kindness which they have shown towards their servant.” Churchill would be relegated to Leader of the Opposition for more than six years until the October 1951 General Election, when Churchill’s Conservatives outpaced Labour, returning Churchill to 10 Downing Street for his second and final premiership. By the time Churchill returned to 10 Downing Street, the always uneasy and fraught relations with Stalin had devolved to the open contest of the Cold War. Stalin would die as Soviet Premier on 5 March 1953. Truman’s Presidency, bookended by Churchill’s two premierships, ended on 20 January 1953. Item #005566

Price: $450.00

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