Yuri Ivanovich







INT: The speech itself of Marshall was [in] June, and I understand it wasn't even formally recorded. Why was its reception so low-key?

TG: I don't really know the reason, but I do know that a deliberate decision was made in the State Department, and with the White House, in the course of May 1947, not to have any publicity on the planning that was going on in the State Department. And originally it was planned that the new programme would be announced in a speech that Marshall would give toward the end of June; but by late May it was recognised that you couldn't wait that long - things were deteriorating too rapidly in Western Europe to wait that long. Marshall had... and this I don't know from personal experience, but it's in the history books... Marshall had been... before the war was over, Marshall had been offered an honorary degree by Harvard, if he would come up to the Harvard commencement and speak, and Marshall refused the honorary degree, which is absolutely unheard of - anyone refusing a degree from Harvard, you know, is like refusing an audience with the Queen -but he made them a promise that after the war was over he would come back. So he said, "Well, why don't I go and collect my degree at the Harvard commencement on June 5th?" So it was agreed, and the... and Harvard had to shoe-horn him into the programme, because the programme for a Harvard commencement is a day-long affair and so on. And... no advance publicity was made about the speech. People in the State Department were told that they were not to talk to anyone. The press was not alerted, nothing - except that on June 4th Dean Acheson, who was Under Secretary of State at the time, had lunch with three correspondents of London newspapers who were stationed in Washington, and they were good friends of his, and he told them about... that the next day Marshall was going to make a speech of utmost importance, and that they should telephone the speech, after they got copies of it, to their editors in London, which they did. The British Embassy got a copy of the speech in the ordinary hand-out from the State Department, and it was not cabled to London but it was sent in the pouch, which meant it would get there several days later. Now the American press immediately recognised the importance of the speech, and the next day, on June 6th, there were editorials in all the newspapers, and the columnists wrote about it and so on, so it was... the importance of the Marshall speech was fully recognised in the United States, but not in Europe. And Ernest Bevin, was it?... yeah... or Ernest... not Ernest... Aneurin Bevan?...

INT: No... I'll ask you again what you thought was the reaction of Britain when Ernest Bevin was the Foreign Secretary?

TG: Yes. Well, when he was... when Bevin was Foreign Secretary, on June 6th he read in these three British papers about Marshall's speech, and he wanted to know why there was no copy of it in the Foreign Office, and they told him, well... they frantically called up Washington, and Washington said, "We put it in the pouch." So this is the story - I don't know whether it's true or not, but at least this is the story that was told at the time. So Bevin got a copy from, I think it was the Daily Telegraph, of the speech, and he read it. The old-line people in the Foreign Office - that is, the permanent staff of the Foreign Office - said, "Well, now, you know, let's not be hasty. Let's have the British Ambassador in Washington ask Secretary Marshall whether he was really serious about this." And Bevin was reported to have said, "Let's not waste any time. We'll take Marshall at his word," and he therefore responded to the speech, and he got the French particularly to go along with him, and so on. So that's the story of the speech, at least as it's told in the history books.

INT: But that was certainly the British fairly instant reponse, but could you say a little bit about what the Soviet response was, and was there ever any real chance that the Soviets would participate?

TG: Well, I should explain that... what did Marshall offer in the speech? The speech was a very short one, and what Marshall offered... after describing the situation in Europe and what the consequences might be of allowing the situation to continue to deteriorate, Marshall then went on to make certain proposals, and these were absolutely unprecedented, in terms of the way in which aid was given by one nation to another. In the first place, he said, "This has to be a European initiative. The Europeans have to get together, decide on what their needs were, and form a single, unified programme which will then be presented to the United States." And the United States would deal on these questions of how much aid, for what purposes, and so on, only to the Europeans... with the Europeans collectively, not with the individual nations. And it was this particular part of Marshall's speech that Bevin responded to. And the French Foreign Minister was Bidault, I think, and Bevin and Bidault issued an invitation then to all of the European countries. Oh, Marshall had made clear in the speech that this offer was being made to every European country. Now he didn't mention the Soviet Union by name, but it was open to every European country willing to participate in a co-ordinated co-operative programme of the kind that the Americans were proposing. So Bevin and Bidault issued invitations to the Soviet Union, to all the Soviet satellite countries in Eastern Europe and so on... then the question was... to a conference in Paris, to assemble in mid-July, to discuss whether they were going to respond to the American offer; and if they were going to respond, what their response should be, how it should be prepared, and so on. And the Soviets refused to attend. The Poles and the Hungarians and the Czechs sent representatives, but they were withdrawn: they were forced to withdraw their representatives at the Paris conference by Soviet pressure. Now the question is: why did Marshall make this proposal at a time when it was clear that the... what later became the Cold War was becoming more and more obvious? And the explanation given by people like George Kennan and others, who were part of the decision-making process in the State Department, was that the United States did not want to be responsible for initiating the division of Europe, between East and West, and that this would be a last offer to the Soviets to participate in a co-operative way in the reconstruction of Europe. And if they refused to participate, it was their decision to divide Europe, not the US decision. And this is what motivated that particular offer. Now my own view is that they were hoping the Soviets would say no, because it would have been an impossible programme to operate with Soviet participation: the Soviets would have sabotaged it and so on. And they immediately began attacking it as American imperialism, an American attempt to take over Western and Central Europe, and so on and so forth. So, the Americans made the offer, but in the back of their minds I'm sure there was a hope that the Soviets would refuse to participate.

INT: And they weren't right, weren't they?

TG: Yes.

INT: Going ahead to what sort of finally convinced Congress that there was a situation where funds had to be pas, can you describe how the coup in Czechoslovakia in February '48 convinced the few waverers?

TG: Yeah. Now I was...participated in a very minor way inthe Congressional consideration of the legislation for instituting the Marshall Plan. In July of 1947, I returned to Washington, and I was assigned to the staff of a special committee of Congress, or rather of the House of Representatives, that was established to study the European needs and requirements, and to make a recommendation to the House of Representatives as to what was needed. The... normally that assignment in Congress would have gone to the House Foreign Affairs Committee, which was a standing committee of the House that deals with foreign affairs, but the chairman of that committee was an elderly Republican of strong isolationist convictions, who had refused to vote for the Greek-Turkey programme, and the... Vandenburg and the other Republicans were very much afraid that if this responsibility was put into his committee, the response would be a very negative one. So they engineered the creation of a Select Committee, under the chairmanship of a Republican Representative from Massachusetts, named Christian Herter, who subsequently became Secretary of State under the Eisenhower Administration, the second Eisenhower Administration. And Herter was a man who was thoroughly convinced of the necessity of the programme, and he was... he had a great deal of influence in the House of Representatives among Republicans, and he was very influential in getting the House to support the programme. What he did was, he organised a series of, sub-committees of the members of his special committee, who visited various European countries in the early fall of '47, to study on the spot the needs of each of these countries. They then came back to Washington and reported to the full committee what their findings were. There were staff people who were attached to each of these Congressional missions, who helped them with information. I was... continued in Washington as... on the staff of the committee, already beginning to help on the drafting of the committee's report. (Laughs) And so that when the teams came back, their sections were put into the report, and the report was approved and passed by the committee, recommended to the full House, I guess it was in November of '47, and very strongly in favour of the programme, but primarily on economic and social and political grounds - that is, in terms of democracy. Not much was said about Communism. The Truman Administration had made the decision, with Senator Vandenburg's concurrence, that this programme was needed even if there were no Communists in Western Europe, and therefore it should be presented on its merits, on its economic and social merits, and not simply as part of the Communist scare. And it was touch and go when both Houses of Congress were finally considering legislation in December and January, February of... December '47, January and February of '48. And then the Czech coup occurred, the Communist take-over by force in Czechoslovakia, and that was the final straw, because even the isolationists, or most of them, could see that the one thing that would convince them of the need for, passing the programme, with the Communist menace, was really so and that the Russians were advancing westward with the take-over in Czechoslovakia and so on. So it helped, very importantly, to pass the legislation, which was finally passed in March; and the programme actually started early in April of '48.

INT: And that's when the ECA becomes the...

(End of tape)