Galbraith, JK.



Nitze, Paul H

Tucker, R.


Interview with Prof. R Tucker


Q: Professor Tucker, at that period of time what information were you coming across, what information was the Embassy coming across, about what was happening in the Eastern European and central European states that the Red Army were now sitting in?

A: What was happening in the capitals of those states that were occupied by Soviet forces was coming to the attention of those of us in Moscow in the Embassy in the form of copies that we would receive of telegrams that would be sent by those missions in Poland and Bulgarian, Romania and Hungary. These were the four in effect occupied countries, although Poland was not officially occupied, but Bulgarian, Romania and Hungary were as having been enemy states in - during the period of the war. And they were military - there were missions in all of these three countries in which the British and the Americans were represented. The Russians were in command. These were occupied states. Officially what was being brought into being in these countries was democracy. The Soviet press and the official position, was that regimes that were called 'Peoples' democracy, distinguished from just any old democracy, were coming about and that different political parties would be permitted and parliamentary elections would take place. And indeed some elections at the beginning did take place, limited numbers and splinters of various parties were brought into coalitions, dominated by the local Communist Party. So that a splinter of, let's say, the local peasant party in Bulgaria or in Hungary or Romania would be allowed into the coalition that was being formed under the umbrella allegedly of peoples' democracy. And this after all was what was being reported to some extent in our press at home, but we in the embassy were receiving copies of messages that were being sent out by the American and of course British representatives in those military missions, in those missions, control commissions I believe they were called in those capitals, about all kinds of events that weren't necessarily being reported, because I don't believe (coughs) we had journalists in those - in those capitals, or not very many at all, or only occasionally. And what would happen is that such and such a prominent member of the Peasant Party of Bulgaria would be kidnapped. Simply would disappear. Or other figures who were not acceptable for inclusion in the Peoples Democratic new regimes would be disappeared, and this is the worst conceivable thing that can happen for a westerner, for somebody to be kidnapped is a horror, and naturally protests were lodged by the American representatives in the control commissions and our governments and in meetings with the Russians of the Council on Foreign - Council of Foreign Ministers efforts would be made to soften this regime. (clears throat) And some seeming agreement would be reached, but in fact these actions went on behind the scenes and we learned about them in the Embassy. Therefore we had a clear, better, more vivid and much more disturbing picture of events in the emerging Stalinist sphere of eastern and central eastern Europe than the average people who read the newspapers had back home.

Q: You told the State Department about this. Were these reports really influential do you think in moving the whole of American foreign policy, these reports that you were able to feed back?

A: I think were reports that the other missions, the control commission, the representatives in - were feeding to the state department, but the copies came to us and so they were instrumental in the thinking that underlay the long telegram that Kennan dispatched on the 22nd of February, 1946. Because what he saw happening was the expansion, the aggrandisement of Soviet Russia into east and east central Europe. And it was this process of aggrandisement that necessitated the interpretation of what it was that Russia was up to. How do we have to understand? Why is this taking place? It hadn't been anticipated. We must realise that just as Russians during the war, at home and in the Army, had expectations of a better post-war life. Western leaders and others in the west during the war, or many people in the west also had expectations over Russia, that after the war would naturally be interested in security around its borders, but would not be imposing a regime of its own character on countries in the neighbourhood of Russia. It was not foreseen that this aggrandisement of Stalin's Russia would take place. And consequently the process itself necessitated some explanation of why the process was taking place, and that explanation so far as there was one available at the time was offered by George Kennan in his long telegram.

Q: Now we have the problems about Iran, we have the problems over Turkey, but throughout there is the ever growing problem of what to do with Germany and what the situation in Germany was. I wonder if you can remember sir and comment on the response of the Russians, particularly to Burns' speech of September 1946 and the setting out that Russia was to have no more reparations, that the question of Germany's borders was something which needed to be discussed further. Can you remember the response to that speech?

A: I don't recall the speech itself or any - I don't have any memories of the response to that speech.

Q: Can you remember what the Russians were saying in the press things that you were handling about the west and Germany, was it mild or were there any comments at all, did the German question come up?

A: The German question was of course a matter of the supreme complexity, because it had to do with the formation of a Soviet occupation zone and an occupation administration. The co-existence of the four powers, the British, French and Americans in Berlin with the Russians. Some kinds of four power, what shall I say - formal undertakings or agreements or means of keeping in touch, but what one was conscious of in Moscow was the emergence in - little by little in east Germany, in occupied German, in Russian occupied Germany, of a regime slowly - a regime that was comparable to the regimes that - that were being formed in eastern Europe under Russian occupation. It didn't go nearly that far because there were limits to what could be done until after the blockade in 1948, in 1949 when the west finally reacted by forming its own by zone and then bringing into being a German Democratic - a German Federal Republic.

Q: While we're on to global, more political matters, I wonder if you could tell something as you saw it or saw it someone who was resident in Moscow at the time of the Soviet response to the Marshall Plan and perhaps in particular of Zhadanov's response - have you anything to say about that thatyou can remember?

A: The response to the Plan is something we know a lot more about now than we could know then because all sorts of archival, documentary factors have come out. We know that for example the Czechs and the Poles very much wanted to take place, take part in the Marshall Plan. We know that Stalin stopped this. That we know that Stalin was afraid that the Marshall Plan might subvert the Soviet Russian sphere of influence that he was building up in eastern and central Europe in so far as these countries were to take part, or any of them were to take part in the Marshall Plan itself. Therefore, the non-participation in the Marshall Plan by eastern Europe was a central insistence on Stalin's part and it followed directly from this that the division of Europe between Soviet dominated eastern Europe, going as far as occupied - Soviet occupied Germany, and western Europe, was becoming a fact. So that in September 1947 when Zhadanov's speech was given in Poland and the declaration by Zhadanov, speaking of course for Stalin, that the world had divided into two opposing camps, there were two systems divided against one another, could be seen as having been in part brought about by the Marshall Plan, although the Marshall Plan itself must be seen as having been brought about by the expansion of the Soviet zone and of the Soviet control area into eastern and east central Europe before that.