Q: Professor Tucker, your own life was profoundly influenced by these events. Tell me about that?
A: Well I became a witness of the early Cold War years through having married a Russian girl, whom I met in Moscow. In those times, in 1944, 1945, when relations were still very good numbers of foreign press correspondents and members of Embassies met and married Russians. In my case, Yvegenia Petsosova whom I met was a student in the Moscow Polygraphic Institute, a higher educational institution, in the language and literature department of that Institute. We went to the theatre frequently. I went with her to the small one-room apartment where she lived with her mother and father and in 1946 we married. It had been the experience of foreigners that every six months or so a small group of Russian wives of foreign diplomats or press correspondents would be issues exit visas to accompany them back home so that the expectation was that before the end of 1946, Yvegenia and I would be leaving together. Nothing happened in 1946 and as the beginning of theCold War - unforeseen by us at all - took place. In March 1947 a law published, a very laconic law in a Soviet legal periodical. It said: 'To forbid marriages between Soviet citizens and foreigners.' Those were - that's the entire law. that meant that no further marriages could take place. No foreigner could marry a Soviet citizen. The law said nothing about the marriages that had already taken place. The law did not say anything to suggest that it was retroactive. But, after the passage of this law no issue - visas were issued to those relatively few wives of foreigners, including Americans, who were in Moscow. That that time there were two in the embassy and four press correspondents. When occasionally a high level American would arrive on a visit, even somebody who might even see Stalin, like Eliot Roosevelt, and mention would be made of this question, there was no indication that visas would be granted. As a result I stayed in Moscow. I was fortunate enough to be able to stay. The American Embassy assigned me to a joint Anglo Canadian, American press translation service that functioned in a little building of its own, and I became editor, the person in charge of the work of four or five translators from Britain and America and stenographers, some wives of British or American diplomats, some Russian - Russians to whom translations were dictated of eight Soviet daily papers and journals in the afternoon, and that work went on for the seven long years that ensued before Stalin's death brought the possibility for exit visas to be granted to these few women and for us to leave Russia.
Q: How did you cope month by month, year by year, not knowing what was going to happen to you and your wife?
A: Oh, one simply went on living and we lived in a small embassy apartment in an apartment house out in town. An apartment house filled with members of the families of embassy members. Very nice little apartment with a view of the Kremlin. We went on living and going to the theatre, I went on working and the work was indeed absorbing because day by day I was confronted with this Soviet press and the figure of Stalin as the most important member of the Soviet press and in the evenings I read Russian history. So that my training in Russian studies was primarily a training on the spot, in the study of Russian history.
Q: Why do you think this law came about?
A: There is no question but what the law - the fact that the law came about because Stalin decided there should be such a law, and indeed Yvegenia and I were back in Moscow in May 1995 and we spent a day in what had been the higher Party archive at which we were - I was given the opportunity to look at protocols of the Politburo. For the year 1946 and early 1947 I was very interested in one of the decisions that was formally adopted by the Politburo. At the beginning of 1947 was that there should be a law against marriages between Soviet citizens and foreigners. In other words this was - this passed by the - at the highest level, meaning Stalin.
Q: Why would Stalin though actually want - what would he hope to achieve by stopping -
A: Stalin, as I've said, the whole post-war drift of Stalin's policy, Stalin's outlook was anti foreign. Anti foreign in every way. It was xenophobic, and this was a small - a minor manifestation of the Stalinist xenophobia of the post war period.
Q: When did you get the news you could get out?
A: The news came in June 1953. At the time of Stalin's death we had no Ambassador. In May two months following his death a new Ambassador came in the person of Charles Bohlen, and it was decided to take up the question of the Russian wives of six Americans then in Moscow. Two in the embassy, four press correspondents, as a test case of whether post Stalin Russia would perhaps in some way differ from Stalin's Russia. So instead of rejecting the very idea of discussing this matter, Foreign Minister, Molotov, who had not been Foreign Minister just in the period before Stalin died, said he would look into it and three weeks later the visas that had been withheld for seven years were issued and by the end of June Eugenia and I were on our way to Helsinki and west.
Q: Was the Cold War necessary?
A: I deeply believe the Cold War was not necessary. This is called in present day academic jargon, a counter factual statement, because what ever did happen, by virtue of its happening, becomes inevitable. That is to say one can go back and see what all the little events and presences that brought about what happened. But, one can delete from the past some one crucial element in what made things come out the way they did. In this case I believe the Cold War was not inevitable because a crucial contributing cause of the Cold War was Joseph Stalin and his autocratic rule of Russia. If the good Lord had given humanity the gift of allowing Stalin to die before 1945, I believe that the post war period would not have turned out as it did. I believe that it would have been a period in which there would have been all kinds of difficult questions between Moscow and the west, but there would not have been clamped down on eastern Europe and central Europe the Iron Curtain that came down. I believe that we can trace this to Stalin; to his personality as ruler, and if those who had survived him in 1953 and who immediately began acting differently than he had acted, had come to power in 1945, they would have acted differently in the immediate post war years than he had acted. And therefore it would not have been a period of Cold War.
Q: What do you think sir was the worst moment of the Cold War?
Q: Through the decades of the Cold War, what do you think was the worst moment?
A: During the Stalin period I think the worst moment was the beginning of the war in Korea, in June 1950. This I think plunged the Cold War into a much more deep and dangerous phase than it has experienced up until then. If we look at the post war - the post Stalin period of the Cold War I think the most dangerous and worst moment of it was the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis in the early 1960s.