Elsey, George

Kane, Jim


Lunghi, Hugh

Roberts, Frank


Continuation of Interview with Sir Frank Roberts

Q: Could you summarize the overview questions for us and start off by answering, if you can, who started the Cold War?

Sir FRANK ROBERTS: That is a difficult one to answer. I mean we in the West, and I certainly would say that Stalin was responsible for the Cold War in that he was never prepared to cooperate with the West in the way that Roosevelt and at one point Churchill had hoped that he would. And it became progressively more obvious that we were not going to get that kind of co-operation either in critical areas like the Middle East or Germany or that kind. And by his attitudes he was preventing us doing essential things, for example, the economic recovery of Western Europe which we couldn't do in co-operation with Stalin because the kind of - he wasn't giving us economic cooperation inside Germany itself. And in a way I'm not giving moral blame in this because his system was entirely incapable of co-operating with our system in the way we had expected. But on the other hand Stalin could of course say in return that he had never wanted to change the situation in Germany, it wasn't he who put two thirds together, well, of course he hadn't got two thirds to put together, and therefore when we had merged the American and British zones and started carrying out an economic policy in Germany without any reference to him that this in a sense was breaking the - they always talked about breaking Potsdam, we always used to say that he was breaking agreements in Potsdam and he was breaking agreements in Potsdam, so on the actual issue on which the Cold War really started which was Berlin certainly he could say that some of the things we did provoked it. But I think - in a - in an overall situation in which it would have been impossible not to, because otherwise we would never have been able to restore in Western Europe.

Q: The second thing was in the immediate post-war period and was looking at how it was seen at the time, how were Stalin's territorial ambitions seen?

Sir FRANK ROBERTS: Well, his immediate territorial ambitions were extremely clear, they were to restore the old Russian empire by and large. And of course he got his first chance in the written Molotov agreement. And you know, before the war in 1939 when we were trying to negotiate with him to persuade him to join us in deterring Hitler from attacking Poland we didn't use the word deterrent in those days but that's what it was all about. And he was offered on the other hand by the Germans, of course, he could have half of Poland, I mean half of what was then Poland and what's now better known as Moldava, it was then Moldavia, and bits of Finland and several other areas as well. They all amounted really to the old Russian empire. In fact he could have had the whole of Poland near a Russian empire. And I've never forgotten that when of course Hitler attacked Germany, Russia, he naturally took all these things back you see. And when I went to Moscow with Anthony Eden in December 1941 when the Germans were still only 19 kilometers away from us as we talked the very first thing that Stalin said at that meeting was, Mr. Eden, I want to have your assurance that at the end of the war you will support my just claim to all these areas, you see, that we've just mentioned. And I said, and Edenů oughtn't we to be thinking about how we win the war. No, no said Stalin, I would like to have this clear at the very beginning. So he Eden obviously had to say we had no authority to discuss how the war was to end. And I remember I made a mental resolution because I was dealing with Poland, I said we'll never be able to restore Polish independence unless we do it before Stalin is winning the war, and of course that's what he wanted, either territorially or in terms influence.

Q: But how...

Sir FRANK ROBERTS: But I don't think he had - I mean he'd have liked to get the whole of Germany under his influence. I mean you have to make a distinction between what the Russians now call the near abroad and so on. But he wanted the territorial boundaries of the old Russian empire pretty well, and then he wanted influence further beyond, and in terms of influence that meant control in Stalin's ideas. I mean as I told you that Tito it wasn't just you being to have control. would have very much liked, of course, to have had control of the whole of Germany because Germany's the key country, and since he couldn't have control of the whole he had to have control of at least the East from which one day hopefully the situation would arise when it could control the whole of the West, as indeed it happened in the Prussian take over of the whole of Germany.