Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum

From the FDR Library Archives:

Franklin D. Roosevelt, as Commander in Chief of the United States Armed Forces during World War II, played an active and decisive role in determining strategy. In his ongoing discussions with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and with the American Joint Chiefs of Staff, he had steadily promoted the invasion of the European continent to liberate it from Hitler's Germany that finally began on D-Day, June 6, 1944. On that date, the United States and its allies launched the greatest amphibious invasion in history on the shores of France. Over 150,000 soldiers, sailors, and airmen stormed the beaches of Normandy beginning a campaign that would end with the unconditional surrender of Germany in May 1945.

The archives of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library include many important diplomatic and military documents connected to the historic Normandy invasion.

The allied invasion of Normandy-code named OVERLORD- was a complex endeavor involving armed forces from many nations. The invasion had been delayed for several years due in part to the need to build up adequate forces in Britain and the lack of suitable landing craft.

During the Teheran Conference, Marshall Josef Stalin, the Russian Premier, pressed President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill to commit themselves to definite date for OVERLORD and an invasion of southern France, and to pick a commander in chief for the cross-Channel invasion.

President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill agree to inform Marshall Stalin of a firm date for launching Overlord.

When the recommendations of the Combined Chiefs of Staff were presented to Roosevelt they read- "Agreed-to inform Stalin that we will launch Overlord by June 1... Roosevelt penciled in "During the month of May" to placate Churchill because this was the time-frame agreed upon earlier in 1943 by both men.

That wording appeared in the final signed copy of "Military Conclusions of the Teheran Conference." In exchange, Marshall Stalin committed Russia to launch an attack simultaneous with the Normandy landings. [From President Roosevelts Map Room Papers]

President Roosevelt also selected General Dwight D. Eisenhower as Supreme Commander, Allied Expeditionary Force.

While discussing matters with Prime Minister Churchill at Cairo, the President telegraphed his decision to Marshall Stalin on December 7, 1943. [From President Roosevelt's Map Room Papers]

In a December 20, 1943 message to Prime Minister Churchill, President Roosevelt discussed the timing of the announcement of General Eisenhower's selection. At the end of the message he added a personal note about Churchill's health.

Eleanor Roosevelt's reaction to the events surrounding D-Day.

Eleanor Roosevelt was aware of the D-Day invasion on June 5. She wrote to her friend and later biographer Joseph P. Lash: "I feel rather empty tonight. I guess I need sleep so I'm going to bed- F[Franklin D. Roosevelt] says there may be some news tomorrow and results will be uncertain for 30 or 40 days and I feel as though I couldn't bear it. To be nearly sixty and still rebel at uncertainty is ridiculous isn't it? I want you home so very much. God bless you dear and keep you safe. Much love, ER" [From the Joseph P. Lash Papers]

On the evening of June 6, Mrs. Roosevelt had real news for Joe Lash. "Well, Joe dear, the first day of invasion is over, the last dispatch F.[Franklin D. Roosevelt] read us says that over a 60 mile front in Normandy we have advanced 10 miles. All has gone according to schedule tho' it was rough at the start and we have lost 1 destroyer, 1 mine sweeper, and 1 LST with how much loss of life we don't know. There is less tension but F.[Franklin D. Roosevelt] keeps us all a bit undecided by saying he doesn't know what he will do and that when he hears Hitler is ready to surrender he will go to England at once and then in the next breath that he may go to Honolulu and the Aleutians. He feels very well again and looks well. I wonder if you heard his speech on the fall of Rome in New Zealand or his prayer tonight? I'm enclosing a signed copy of that as I thought you might like to have it with you." Lash was serving with the Army in the Pacific. [From the Joseph P. Lash Papers]

Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morgenthau, Jr. and his staff reacted to news of the Normandy invasion at their morning meeting on June 6. [From Henry Morgenthau, Jr. Diary]

Early report from General Dwight D. Eisenhower on the progress of the D-Day invasion, June 6, 1941.

The Normandy invasion began during the pre-dawn hours of June 6. Back in Washington, the President and his advisors waited anxiously for early news about the operation. At 8:00 am [London time] on June 6, General Eisenhower cabled this top secret preliminary progress report. [From Franklin D. Roosevelt Map Room Papers]

President Roosevelt briefs the press, 4:10 pm Eastern War Time, on the Normandy invasion.

During the afternoon of June 6, President Roosevelt held a press conference in which he discussed with reporters the invasion and some of its background. The President stated that the progress of the invasion was "up to schedule." He noted that the date had been set at Teheran and emphasized the importance of the weather in the English Channel as a major factor in the timing. He noted that the timing also depended on the buildup of troops and the acquisition of enough landing craft. Finally, when asked how he was feeling, he said "fine. I'm a little sleepy." [From The Public Papers and addresses of Franklin D. Roosevelt, edited by Samuel I. Rosenman]

Draft of the D-Day Prayer, June 6, 1944.

On the night of June 6, 1944, President Roosevelt went on national radio to address the nation for the first time about the Normandy invasion. His speech took the form of a prayer. This is a draft copy of the speech from with nearly all corrections in President Roosevelt's hand.

The date and timing of the Normandy invasion had been top secret. During a national radio broadcast on June 5 about the Allied liberation of Rome, President Roosevelt had made no mention of the Normandy operation, already underway at that time. When he spoke to the country on June 6, the President felt the need to explain his earlier silence. Shortly before he went on the air, he added several handwritten lines to the opening of his speech that addressed that point. They read: "Last night, when I spoke to you about the fall of Rome, I knew at that moment that troops of the United States and our allies were crossing the Channel in another and greater operation. It has come to pass with success thus far." [From President Roosevelts Master Speech File]

Report of Army Chief of Staff George C. Marshall on the Normandy invasion, June 14, 1944.

Allied forces encountered stiff German resistance, but they made steady progress during the first days of the invasion. One week after D-Day, Army Chief of Staff General George C. Marshall personally visited the battlefront in Normandy. He sent this top secret report to the President and Secretary of War on June 14, 1944. [From Franklin D. Roosevelt Map Room Papers]