Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations. 1989.
Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin (18791953)
And the Generalissimo, the Prime Minister of Russia, leaned on the table, and he pulled his mustache like that, and looked over at Mr. Churchill and said: Mr. Churchill, Mr. Prime Minister, how many divisions did you say the Pope had?
JOSEPH STALIN, as quoted by President Harry S. Truman.The New York Times, September 14, 1948, p. 24.
Truman related this while delivering a speech to the American Association for the Advancement of Science, commemorating its 100th anniversary. He described an incident at the Potsdam Conference wherein Churchill had remarked that the Pope would not be happy if the Communists took over the Catholic eastern portion of Poland.
This anecdote was not in the prepared text of the speech, which was used as a press release, and did not appear in the Public Papers of the Presidents text, which was taken from the press release, but the Truman Library states that this account is on an audio record in their possession.
C. L. Sulzberger says in his memoirs that Truman told him this story and then added, That is a true story. I was there. Sulzberger later asked James F. Byrnes, former secretary of state, about it. Byrnes had heard it and had even mentioned it in his book. He said: It is a good story, but it is not true. I know it is not true because I was there.Sulzberger, A Long Row of Candles, pp. 36566 (1969). Not found in Byrness Speaking Frankly (1947, reprinted 1974). Byrnes served in Congress 19111925 and 19311941.