Yuri Ivanovich







INT: So, I mean, were there cases in France that you recall, even though you didn't experience personally, of people not having enough to eat, not having enough clothes to put on their back?

MD: I don't think that people were suffering that much, because France was still a very rural country and most people had... still had families in the country and that's why they survived during the War, because they could go to their cousins or to their in-laws or to their families to get some food, not everywhere, but many places, and I think that this was still true after the War. So my feeling - but of course it's a subjective one, it's not a statistician's experience - is that there was suffering, but not so much in terms of food and rationing. People were not elegantly dressed probably, but they were clever at making the most of ordinary stuff.

INT: A lot of people in Britain remember the post-War period as actually being worse than the War years. There was... bread rationing was introduced that there hadn't been in the War, rationing that continued to the end of the forties, early fifties, actually got tougher and tighter and a lot of people in Britain remember those post-War years as actually being harder than life in the War years.

MD: No, life in post-War France was not so hard as life during the War, because there were lots of places where you really had nothing to eat during the War and getting food was an everyday problem that people had to find, you know, ingenious ways of getting food or accommodating food to get a meal. So there was nothing like this, I think, in the post-War period, no it seems to me that it wasn't that bad.

INT: Right. If we can go on to talk about the year 1947 itself and the economic disruption, the strikes, the industrial unrest and so on. What is your most vivid memory of the disruption of 1947?

MD: There were all sorts of disruptions in 1947 and some may have been more serious than the one that I remember vividly, because the one that I remember most vividly is the garbage men's strike and I can still see an enormous heap of garbage along the walls of the buildings bordering a street facing our home and this heap was getting bigger and bigger and smellier and smellier every day and it was absolutely terrible and this is one of the disruption that I remember most. Of course, there were lots of other disruptions in the mines, in the railroads and these may have had more of an economic impact than the garbage strike, but of course the garbage strike was more visible in the streets of the city.

INT: Did you have sympathy for the striking workers at the time:

MD: We had a lot of sympathy for the strikers, because we felt that they were poorly paid and we felt that the government wouldn't do anything for them unless they put pressure on the government and I think there is no other pressure than workers can put on the government than a strike. So, it seemed to us quite justified that they would strike, especially as there was a kind of a work ethic that was being put into people's head, we have to work very hard because we have to rebuild the country and this could go to some extravagant lengths, I think.

INT: How much did - again moving up this time from your own personal experience, just broadening it a little bit - how much did the transport and the power workers strikes of the autumn of '47 disrupt life in Paris itself?

MD: Some of their strikes disrupted public transportation or railroad transportation, but it seems to me that because the city was not as extensive as it has now become and many people lived in the city proper, they have been expelled from it now, because the rents are very high and people live in suburbs, but in those days the suburbs were much more limited and in a way I presume that people were less bothered by these strikes than they were in the last November strikes, when people had to come from a very long distance into Paris and there were no railroads and no tubes and no buses. In 1947, the City of Paris was really the city proper and not so many people lived outside and had to come to Paris to work.

INT: Right, I'd like to move on to your own feelings at the time about the broader political issues of the Marshall Plan itself. Did you, at the time, think that the Marshall Plans was a good thing?

MD: I had mixed feelings and so did many people that I knew about the Marshall Plan. We didn't believe in philanthropy on the part of politicians and most people I knew felt that the generosity of Americans was a self-serving one, in the sense that they thought of Europe as an outlet for their goods, as a market to export stuff and we thought that we could see that in the types of thing that they wanted us to buy with the money that they lent us. And we were very sceptical about the disinterested motives of the Marshall Plans and we even thought that in some areas they were trying to prevent French industry from building up again in order to export some of their goods and some of their stuff to Europe. So our view of the Marshall Plan was not a very positive one.

INT: Did you then see it at the time primarily in economic terms or primarily in political terms, this was politically motivated?

MD: The Marshall Plan appeared to us as both an economic and a political... enterprise. an economic one, because as I said, markets were... Americans were looking for markets and this was going to be a real problem and a political one, because we felt that they thought that if they could bring up the living standard in Europe, there's hope that this will be a way to escape Communism, that people would be more satisfied and less dissatisfied with the present regime and that they wouldn't choose to change things. So we felt that the Marshall Plan was a political undertaking and also a cultural one, because there was a terrific cultural war being waged in France at the time. Remember the, you know, the accusations against Coca Cola taking over and driving the French vineyard growers from business and Coca Cola being a real poisonous drink that would bring France to its knees. So I think there was an economic, political and cultural side to the opposition to the Marshall Plan.