ROOSEVELT, Franklin D. Typed memorandum signed ("Franklin D. Roosevelt"), in a failing hand, as President, to the Vice-President, Speaker of the House and Congressional Majority and Minority Leaders, Washington, 26 March 1945. 1 page, 4to, White House stationery, small tape remnant in top left corner. WITH: Three related memoranda (carbons, unsigned), dated 6 March 1945, 23 March 1943, and 28 March 1945.
KEEPING CONGRESSMEN FROM WASTING TIME AND RESOURCES IN THE WAR ZONES
March of 1945 saw some of the heaviest fighting in the American war effort, as U. S. forces crossed the Rhine River into Germany and GI's and Marines battled their way through Iwo Jima and headed toward the killing fields of Okinawa. Yet Congressmen insisted on making junkets into the combat zones--mostly to get a photo op with a prominent general or, in worse cases, to come back to their reelection campaigns with claims of having "seen the fighting." These visits were driving theater commanders and Pentagon chiefs to distraction. Secretary of War Stimson and Navy Secretary Forrestal ask FDR in a joint 6 March 1945 memo (included here, in carbon) to remind lawmakers to keep out of the war zones. Roosevelt complies in this 26 March 1945 memo to the Vice-President, the Speaker of the House, Majority Leaders Sen. Barkley and Rep. Martin, and Minority Leaders Sen. White and Rep. Martin. He encloses for their benefit, a similar chastisement he had sent them back in 1943! (The 23 March 1943 carbon is also present.) Then he had reminded them that every Congressman taking up space on a transport plane was taking that same space away from soldiers or key supplies needed for the war. Here, in March 1945, Roosevelt complains that "individual members of Congress have approached theater commanders in rear areas, such as the United Kingdom, with a request that they be permitted to enter areas of active operation...You will readily appreciate that it is very difficult for the theater commanders or their staff to avoid recognition of persons of national prominence and, as a consequence, their attention is diverted from the pressing and difficult tasks at hand." He wants to institute a policy that no one could travel to Europe or Asia without first obtaining a Military Permit issued to them in Washington. Senator White responds to FDR in his 28 March 1945 letter (carbon), saying he is in "complete sympathy" with the President's intentions and instructions. He doesn't say, however, whether he will carry them out! Together 4 items.