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July 23, 1945 – With eyes still on the war in the Pacific, attention was diverted to Potsdam, where the Big Three Conference was being held to hammer out the particulars of Postwar Europe and to discuss the slowly winding-down war in the Pacific.
In the Pacific, the 3rd Carrier Fleet planes launched an attack on the Japanese Naval base in Honchu. At news time the attack was continuing. Honchu was important as it guarded the entrance to the western Sea and was one of Japan’s most important bases. This mark week number 3 in the increasing attacks on the Japanese mainland and surrounding islands. As a sign things were headed to a bad ending, Tokyo Radio was broadcasting increasingly pessimistic reports regarding losses and appeared to be preparing the Japanese public for defeat.
Meanwhile, news from Potsdam and the Big Three Conference was leaking out to various sources – including a few Japanese sources who said a break between Japan and Russia could be in the cards from the Potsdam Conference. Fears were the Soviets were chafing at the bit to join in the war as a means to score a land grab as a result. The Conference was winding down, with several American delegates having already left, heading to a new and undisclosed destination. Some suggested Moscow, while others suggested Chungking – but all suspected it had something to do with Russia’s potential entry into the Pacific War.
In Paris, the trial of former World War 1 hero Marshal Pétain was getting underway. Pétain headed the Vichy government in occupied France from 1940 until liberation in 1944. The provisional government headed by De Gaulle placed Pétain on trial, which took place from 23 July to 15 August 1945, for treason. Dressed in the uniform of a Marshal of France, Pétain remained silent through most of the proceedings after an initial statement that denied the right of the High Court, as constituted, to try him. De Gaulle himself later criticized the trial, stating, “Too often, the discussions took on the appearance of a partisan trial, sometimes even a settling of accounts, when the whole affair should have been treated only from the standpoint of national defense and independence.”
And that’s just a small slice of what went on, this July 23, 1945 as reported by H.V. Kaltenborn over the NBC Radio Network.