Elsey, George

Kane, Jim


Lunghi, Hugh

Roberts, Frank


Interview with Hugh Lunghi, 1/7/96


(A bit of preliminary discussion, not transcribed)

INT: ... Can you describe what the evening celebrations were?

HL: Yes. Yes, we were told there would be fireworks, such a wonderful firework display in the evening, so we made sure that we would be in Red Square in the evening. In fact, we went there by car, we followed the acting chief of staff of our military mission, who was with an American correspondent, with a car in front - we followed him, got into Red Square; the cars couldn't move, we were blocked. There were all kinds of odd things going on, among which was the tossing up into the air of a British prelate, the Dean of Canterbury, "the red Dean", as he was known in Britain, whom we sort of rescued, or at least, Colonel Brigman, our chief of staff, rescued him from the Russians. It was all very friendly, of course, they were trying to be friendly to him. And then the fireworks started, and among them was a tremendous portrait of full-length Stalin, which we hadn't seen before, actually. We had seen firework displays in Moscow constantly, ever since... more or less since I arrived there, because every big city that was captured, when the announcement was made in the evening, cities and villages and territory captured, there was a salute; and depending on the size of the victory, the size of the city or the town that was taken, so the salute would be increased. And this one was the firework display to end all fireworks display. And people were very friendly to us, as they had been in the morning, and there was cheering; it was a wonderful atmosphere, actually; and of course, we were tired out at the end of the day, but tired and happy; everyone seemed very happy.

INT: And there was an official parade, the Victory Parade, which is the middle of June, and ... I know we have got film of that, so I wondered if you could describe the reaction of people to the Nazi banners being flung down on the steps of the Mausoleum.

HL: The Victory Parade was held, as far as I remember, about the 24th of June, just about a month after Stalin had his banquet for his generals and marshals, where he praised the Russian people - Russian, he kept putting the stress on "Russian". And a month after that, there was a victory parade, a tremendous affair. Unfortunately it was raining that day, so we got pretty well soaked. However, it was marvellous to see. There was a band, a huge band, playing all kinds of marches, and the Soviet troops, the Russian troops, marching through Red Square, about 20 abreast at one point; not so many tanks or vehicles, as far as I remember, although they were included. And then, suddenly there was silence, and a tremendous drum-roll, roll of drums, and a detachment of 200 Russians in dress uniform, Russian soldiers in dress uniform - we were told it was 200 afterwards - came marching towards the Lenin Mausoleum with what we saw were German standards, German banners and standards, these red fl... red background, most of them, with a black cross in the middle, and of course white picking out the swastika. Some of them were black with a white swastika, as far as I remember - anyway, the insignia of the various German regiments. They marched up to Lenin's Mausoleum, smartly turned right to face the Mausoleum, and flung these banners on to the steps of the Mausoleum, where they lay spread out, and of course the rain came on them and they were bedraggled, and it was a marvellous symbolic moment of the end of the Third Reich, these bedraggled flags and swastikas. It was a very moving moment, actually. And then afterwards, after the parade was over, we sort of went round to have a closer look at these banners, to try and make out what they were and examine them, and there were Russians allowed to come forward from the crowds, to come forward and look at them - this was quite a long time, possibly even an hour or more afterwards, but we'd hung around. And an old woman said to me, "Well, that's that..." They... they weren't exulting, they weren't... no sort of triumphalism: they were more sad; it was for them a tragic occasion, and I think, as we all felt at that moment, that we were thinking of the sacrifices that had been made. And this woman said, "Well, that's the end of that. What we need now is a new beginning," and then shook our hands, which was a most moving moment, actually.

INT: It was evidence of the ordinary people's attitude.

HL: Yes, absolutely.

INT: Well, the last thing we have to cover is Potsdam, where again you were interpreting. ... How were relations compared with... Yalta was quite optimistic, although there were undertones, certainly about Eastern Europe... but what was the general atmosphere of the relations between the leaders at the Potsdam Conference?

HL: Well, I'd call the Potsdam Conference a bad-tempered conference, because apart from the ceremonial occasions, it was really very bad-tempered. The plenary sessions took place in Cecilienhof, this mock-Tudor building on the outskirts of Potsdam and a few miles away from where we were quartered in Babelsberg, a wonderful suburb of Berlin, on the lake - I think it was the Griebnitz - very comfortable quarters. It had not been bombed, so we were really very well-off there. But then... we had very friendly encounters again with the Russians, and even with our opposite numbers. It was the end of the war, and we sort of shook hands with each other, and we met people who had been at the previous conferences, the security people. And indeed, towards the end of the conference, when Churchill had actually already left, General Ismay, who was Churchill's chief of staff, his link with the Imperial Chiefs of Staff, as they were called, he conferred a knighthood on the NKVD general, KGB general - I don't think this is general generally known - who had been responsible for our... the security of the British delegation at all these conferences. And that general was Kruglov, and he later became Minister of the Interior under Khrushchev, and there was a great row about him coming to Britain, but that... that's going forward rather. General Kruglov - you could therefore call him "Sir"... I've forgotten what his name was... Sir somebody Kruglov.

INT: But originally you said, apart from that session, that it was bad-tempered. Why was it a bad-tempered conference?

HL: It was bad-tempered - well, I personally felt this more or less on my skin - because of the demands that were being made on the British and the Americans from the Russians. There was haggling over the reparations; there were still arguments about the occupation zones to a certain extent, although those had been more or less settled by the foreign ministers beforehand; there was haggling over the disposition.