5-185 To Major General John W. O’Daniel, August 8, 1945

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: August 8, 1945

Subject: World War II

To Major General John W. O’Daniel1

August 8, 1945 [Washington, D.C.]


My dear O’Daniel:

Confidentially, there is quite a probability that in the near future Marshal Zhukov may visit Benning.2 He will probably be under the guidance of General Devers3—who also incidentally does not yet know of this possibility. I should like you to do a little advanced thinking on what would be most impressive to a Russian in our set-up and procedure.

Zhukov will undoubtedly feel that our arrangements are on too extravagant a scale, considering how such matters are handled in Russia, so it is not a question of impressing him with the vastness of our arrangements but more as to the thoroughness of our methods and the expeditious manner in which they are carried through; also the quality of our men. We wish to do him honor just as the Russian Government in a week or ten days is planning to do for General Eisenhower and a portion of his staff in Moscow, but I am concerned with the impression he gets of American potential power. Please turn this matter over in your mind to see how best my purpose can be carried out at Benning.

You will hear from General Devers direct in this matter once he has been advised of Marshal Zhukov’s prospective visit. Until then, have nothing to say to other people.4

Faithfully yours,

Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Pentagon Office Collection, Selected Materials, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.

Document Format: Typed letter.

1. Former commanding general of the Third Infantry Division (1944-45), O’Daniel had recently become commandant of the Infantry School at Fort Benning, Georgia.

2. Zhukov had become military governor of the Soviet zone of Germany on August 1. Eisenhower had been expecting an invitation to visit Moscow, and he noted in a message to Marshall on July 31: “In this connection you informed me that upon receipt of such invitation you intended to issue one to Marshal Zhukov to visit the United States”—which Zhukov was anxious to do. President Truman was thinking along similar lines, and at the end of the Potsdam Conference he extended an invitation through Stalin. (Papers of DDE, 6: 228-29.)

3. Jacob Devers, who had been promoted to general in March 1945, had become commanding general, Army Ground Forces, on July 1.

4. Marshall had rather elaborate ideas regarding the program for the marshal’s visit: New York City, West Point, Washington, ground and air installations, the Grand Canyon, and possibly Yellowstone National Park. (Marshall to Bradley, August 2, 1945, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].) On September 17 the Soviet government accepted the invitation. The visit was scheduled for early October, but about that time Zhukov fell ill, and the trip was postponed until the spring of 1946. By that time, however, the Soviets had no further interest in Zhukov’s visiting the United States. (Otto Preston Chaney, Jr., Zhukov [Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1971], p. 343.)

Recommended Citation: ThePapers of George Catlett Marshall, ed.Larry I. Bland and Sharon Ritenour Stevens(Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 1981- ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 5, “The Finest Soldier,” January 1, 1945-January 7, 1947 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003), pp. 258-259.

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