JULY 20, 1944
The day the atomic bombing of Japan is nearly prevented
This episode of American history was almost forgotten. Or was it deliberately covered up? Because what takes place on July 20, 1944, in Chicago casts a shadow on democratic process. At first it looks like business as usual at the Democratic National Convention. Henry Wallace is set to receive the renomination for vice president under President Franklin D. Roosevelt. However, the seemingly well- positioned Wallace is soon overtaken by Senator Harry S. Truman. Director Oliver Stone has reconstructed the events of the time in his documentary series The Untold History of the United States. Within the Democratic Party Wallace is seen as experienced, but also much too liberal: He supports the rights of African Americans, fair wages, and open dialog with the USSR. But the Party bosses want a candidate whom they can more readily control—a hardliner. So they engage in political maneuvering to secure the nomination for Truman. And this is where the river of history picks up speed: Roosevelt unexpectedly dies just 82 days later— and Truman is sworn in as president. World War II is as good as won in Europe, but in the Pacific the fight against Japan is ongoing. One of the first memos Truman receives as president: The bomb is ready to be deployed. And he decides to deploy it. Hundreds of thousands of Japanese citizens die as a result. “The bomb would not have been dropped with Wallace or Roosevelt as president, in my opinion,” says Stone.