Russell E.












INT: Let me stick with this... it's coming close to midnight or whatever, you're making chutney, you hear the American President. Did you really think the end of the world, as you knew it, was approaching? Were you worried about your family, or was this something which was so surreal you couldn't even engage in thinking about it?

DB: I wasn't worried about myself and my family, because it was going to be, in the first place, half across the world. I was horrified at the thought that nuclear war could be imminent, and that it could not be kept to one small area. And I think, also, I did have an odd thought that, well, for a long time now the Americans have had missiles pointing at the Soviet Union. Now they were located on the other side of Europe. The Soviet Union had never had hysterics. Why is America having hysterics now? And I'm afraid that was the other half of the thought I had.

INT: Right. I think you've probably answered it... How important do you think was the role of CND in the Fifties and Sixties? What did it achieve - did it achieve anything?

DB: I think it was very important for making people realize what the ultimate possibilities could be of something like nuclear war, that it wasn't just something to protect yourself from by putting brown paper over the windows - which you may remember was the Government advice. (Pause) Yes, I think it was the publicity angle that was most important about CND; and reminding people of the moral situation, perhaps.

INT: Let's move on, because CND in the Seventies really went quite quiet, and then you had the Brezhneva of stagnation. Then, in the 1980s, the (.?.) started to build up again. What were your thoughts at that time, and how... had things changed? Were you still in the peace movement then, or...?

DB: Oh, yes. I think the first thing that stopped the growth of the peace movement in a way was the election which put Labor back in government, because some fairly leading Labor figures stopped their commitment to CND. And then of course there was the question of the international discussion about control of nuclear weapons, the development of them. I mean, only in April last year, of course, was the attempt to continue this international control. That, I think, was the 10-year, was it, or was it longer than that? I hesitate to know the facts on that one.

INT: That's all right - don't worry about that. I'm going to stop you a minute there, because that bloke's started drilling...


(A bit of chat)

INT: Doris, was the Cold War necessary?

DB: No.

INT: I want you to say, "The Cold War was not necessary."

DB: I don't believe the Cold War was necessary. I think there were deliberate attempts by media, and certainly by leading politicians, to make statements which inferred situations that did not exist. And I'm quite categorically clear in my own mind that the Soviet Union, for instance, had far too much trouble trying to build up its own country after the war, to be interested in provoking another war. And I think that... a little more understanding of the international situation could have avoided all that talk. Actually, it went back to the situation before the war, when some of our folk were dispatched over to the Soviet Union to make trade agreements, officially. They were given no powers to sign trade agreements, and it's on record that the situation was so ridiculous that when they finally left the place, the Russian folk were laughing their heads off. So I mean, really, the Cold War was a return to pre-war attitudes.

INT: But don't you think maybe the Americans and the West had something to fear if the Soviet Union says it wants to spread international communism, it wants to overthrow...? I mean, isn't that a situation in which one... part of the world has said, "Yes, we want to make you something else" - don't you think that maybe America had something to fear?

DB: No, I don't think America had anything to fear. I think America..... possibly tends to be... what I would think of as immature in some ways. We noticed this during the war, that some of the young Americans that were over here were certainly politically immature; they really hadn't seen or thought much beyond their own American boundaries, and they tended to imagine things that didn't exist in the rest of the world. I mean, look at the... position in America when they starton the trials of Communists; look at their attitude to folk like Paul Robeson, Charlie Chaplin. I mean, it wasn't a balanced attitude; it was probably stirred up by a mixture of media and some politicians who thought they were on a winner for themselves.

DB: But on the other hand, they didn't have millions going into a gulag, which is what yohad happening in the Soviet Union, so you could maybe say that America was more mature - it had a few trials of showbiz personalities, but it didn't have camps with millions inside.

DB: I'm not suggesting that the Soviet Union was perfect. Those of us who were prepared to be sympathetic to the ideas of total socialism were not always given all the information about the Soviet Union, that... obviously, from what we've learnt since, they didn't carry out their ideology to a high degree. In fact, one of the things I found that grieved me about the collapse and break-up, not only of the Soviet Union but other parts of Eastern Europe, is the fact that I don't feel that basic socialism has failed. What I do feel has failed is the human involvement in the carrying out of it.

INT: Worst moment of the Cold War?


DB: I think perhaps that boosting of flights into Berlin, that stuck in my throat rather. It... was so stupid, it was so completely... piece of filming, that was all.

INT: You mean the Berlin airlift, yes?

DB: Mm.

INT: What was the effect of the Cold War - for good or for ill?

DB: Definitely for ill, because it prevented... basic and honest exchange of opinions, of ideas, and all the rest of it, which meant that, as a result of the Cold War, there were delays in doing things, in organizing things which might otherwise (Interruption) have gone ahead.

INT: Let's go again, Doris. What was the effect of the Cold War - for good or for ill?

DB: The effect of the Cold War was definitely for ill.

(No more recorded on this audiocassette)