Yuri Ivanovich







INT: Well, I slightly interrupted...

TG: (Overlap)... the best and brightest was the Marshall Plan.

INT: Hold on for a minute, because I slightly interrupted you there, because that's what I was going to ask you. If you could just a feel of how it was the best and the brightest, and how it felt to be out there carrying the American banner into Europe as a young man?

TG: Well, by the time of the Mar... if I speak in personal terms, by the time of the Marshall Plan I was already used to carrying the American banner, because I had been doing that in Europe since September of 1945. That was when it really... I had never been out... I had never been to Europe in my life before I first came there in September of 1945, so I had no idea of how Americans were treated, and it gave me a totally wrong impression, (Laughs) because Americans were so popular in Europe in the fall of 1945, that it's almost indescribable to... Now wherever you went in the streets, and so on and so forth, the minute someone heard your American accent, they were friendly and... so on. And in my particular job in the mission that I was stationed in in London, I was the chairman of a committee. The mission... the co-ordination which we were participating in in trying to get the European economy started again immediately after the war, was organised in several emergency committees: one for transportation, one for coal, and one for all the other scarce commodities. I worked on the latter part. And at... shortly after I arrived there, a committee was established to try to get lumber, more lumber into Europe toward reconstructing houses and propping the ceilings of coalmines, and so on and so... railroad ties to rebuild the railroads and so on. And I went to my first meeting of this committee as a... I was... I guess I was 30, a young man, and it was my first official assignment as a representative of the United States, only to discover that I was expected to chair the meeting by virtue of the fact that I was an American. And all the other men, who represented France, the UK, Belgium, Holland, Norway, Italy, were men in their fifties or sixties; some of them had been Cabinet ministers in their governments before the war, and so on. And there these men sat around the table, hanging on every word I had to say, and you know, it was an extraordinary experience. And my major in college and my PhD actually are in history, and I remembered what had happened to Roman generals who have... who had won great victories, and they were given a triumph in the city of Rome, and their legions marched up the sacred way to the capital, and they followed behind in a chariot while the populace shouted their praises and covered them with flowers and so on. And in the chariot behind the general was a slave dressed in rags, and he whispered in the general's ear every once in a while: "You are only a mortal, you are only a mortal." And I thought to myself... that occurred to me at that meeting, and I thought to myself, "Don't let this go to your head. You're only a Jewish boy from New York." And that... I had to keep saying this to myself over and over again during those first two years in Europe, at the way in which the Europeans looked to Americans for the solution of their problems and so on, which was again an indication of the decline of morale that took place there. Now, by the time the Marshall Plan went into effect, it was a different story. Already, you know, Americans... they were used to Americans. (Laughs) But no, the... Americans were still very popular in '48-'49, during the four years of the Marshall Plan, but it was nothing like it had been in '45 and '46.

INT: What about the effects that the Americans might have enjoyed from industry reviving in America maybe to supply Europe - were there benefits that accrued to the American economy?

TG: Of course. I mean, this was not totally an altruistic effort. Churchill is reputed to have called the Marshall Plan "the most unsordid act in human history", and you know, it was unsordid. But there was... the United States had enormous self-interest in the success of the Marshall Plan. Otherwise it wouldn't have been undertaken. It was recognised in the Government, and eventually by the American people and by the Congress, that America had a vital stake in the recovery of Western Europe. Western Europe was our largest trading partner, Western Europe was the source of many of the invent... most of the inventions that had gone into the Industrial Revolution; Western Europe was a vital intellectual resource as well as economically essential, and so on. If the United States had allowed Europe to collapse, it would have cost us much more than what we spent on the Marshall Plan - a great deal more. So it was in the self-interest of the United States to finance this programme. We were doing good; we were doing well by doing good. (Laughs) And, you know, ... that's the best way to do good, is if you yourself benefit from the good you're doing to other people.

INT: Well, one of the historians we've...

(End of tape)

INT: Can't you give us a sense of how many of the best and the brightest people were attracted to working on the Marshall Plan, and of where you were in terms of recruitment - that you were one of the earliest employees?

TG: Oh, I happened to be one of the earliest employees, yeah.

(Interruption. A bit of b/g talk.)

INT: OK, well, just explain... at the early stage of the planning you were taken on as the seventh employee, and how the Plan did attract a lot of people, fresh, keen, enthusiastic.

TG: Right. The Marshall Plan was a very attr... well, the Economic Co-operation Administration, the ECA, was a very attractive agency in terms of people wanting to work for it. And people from all over the country, mostly from universities, well-known professors, top-level business people, heads of labour unions, heads of important charitable organisations and so on, everybody flocked to Washington to become... try to get into the Marshall Plan. For educated people, it was an enormously humanitarian effort, and... they wanted to be part of it, not simply by voting for people who would support it in Congress, but by personal participation in it. It was in a sense a kind of crusade that people wanted to be in, and we had our pick of the best and the brightest. And we did. That's how Paul Hoffman got to be administrator. He in turn appointed Richard Bissell. Bissell hired me and others. Most of the staff, the really substantive policy-making staff, was hired by Dick Bissell or by people who worked for Bissell, with Bissell's approval. And there were people who... since I was a very close assistant of his, I pretty much knew what was going on, and there were very prominent people who were on paper qualified to be part of the programme, but who were vetoed for various reasons... part professional, part personal (Laughs), I will say, because they were difficult to work with and so on and so forth. So it was staffed by the best and the brightest of the time. And very few of these people remained in Government afterwards; most of them went back to wherever they had come from, or to new jobs in the universities or in the private sector. (Coughs)