Yuri Ivanovich







INT: Can you say...

TG: Now Biss...

INT: ... where you were in the recruitment... early stages?

TG: I had gotten to know Dick Bissell while I was working for Congress, during the summer and fall of 1947, because the Administration, the Truman Administration, as part of its own planning for the Marshall Plan, had appointed two committees of citizens, prominent citizens; one under Averell Harriman, to examine the impact of the programme on the American economy; and another under the Secretary of the Interior, a man named Krug, to evaluate the commodity impact - that is, could the United States afford to export as much wheat, as much steel and so on, as would be required under the Plan? Dick Bissell took leave from MIT to be the stdirector of the Harriman Committee, and as part of that, the The staff of the Harriman Committee worked closely with the staff of the Herter Committee on the Hill, so I'd gotten to know Dick Bissell then. And at the end of the Harriman work, which was in November of '47, he went back to MIT; and then Paul Hoffman called him back and... to come back in April, to be assistant administrator of the programme. Dick Bissell got in touch with me and asked me if I would like to be his assistant, and I said, "There's nothing in the world I'd like better than to be your assistant," and so I became his assistant. And... it was wonderful working for him; it was the most intellectual challenge I have ever had, was working for a man like that, whose mind was so quick and who saw so many ramifications of things and so on. And we got to be quite friendly, because he trusted me, and he delegated a lot of responsibility to me; and I was the channel through which people brought new ideas to him, because he was an extremely busy man. And we used to go to Paris every month. The OECD... OEEC, top council of the organisation, which were the heads of all the member countries' delegations, (Clears throat) met once a month to discuss top policy questions confronting the OEEC, and Dick Bissell would come from Washington to attend that meeting, along with Averell Harriman who was the head of the Paris office of the OEEC. And the only staff member that Bissell ever brought with him at those monthly meetings was me - I used to carry his briefcase to the... and I was in on some of the most extraordinary discussions. Harriman had appointed as head of the programme - that is, a sort of a counterpart to Dick Bissell - in the Paris office, for the first year, a man who was not qualified for the job, and who did very poorly, and the Europeans very soon decided that they couldn't work with him, and they bypassed him and they started dealing directly with Bissell. And when we would come over every month to the council meeting... The Secretary General of the OEEC was a French economist named Marjolin, who was a very well-known French economist, and a protege of Jean Monet; and he would arrange a dinner the night before the council meeting, just for Bissell, not from anyone... not for Harriman or anyone from Harriman's staff, and Bissell and I were the only Americans at that dinner, and it would consist of Sir Edmund Hall-Patch, who was head of the British delegation, and Eric Rowell who was the second in command, the head of the French delegation, the head of the Italian delegation, and the head of the Dutch delegation - just those people - and the dinner was always at Lucas Carton, which was then, in those days, a three-star restaurant on the Place de la Madeleine. And it was a very open, frank meeting, and many of the most important decisions of the Marshall Plan were made at those dinners. And then Bissell and I would go back to Washington, and it was my job then to inform various people on our staff of what had been decided and so on. And we would also meet with Harriman and his people - and I'll tell you another story. The French Government had made available one of the buildings which it owned on the Rue de Rivoli, right where the Rue de Rivoli comes into the Place de la Concorde, known as the Hotel

INT: Let me move on to the ones that we haven't yet covered. Now the first bit... one of the historians that we've been reading quite recently has written about the Marshall Plan [that it] was intended to make Europe like America, and we wanted to get your reaction to that thought.

TG: Well, it's true and it's not...

(Something inaudible in b/g)

TG: Oh, I'm sorry. It's true and it's not true. In one sense, the Americanisation of Europe had been going on even in the Thirties; certainly it was accelerated by the war, with the stationing of so many Americans in Europe. And young people in Europe were naturally attracted to American culture, American music, American ways of dress. That process still goes on, and, you know, you're spitting into the wind if you're trying to stop that. I think what these historians mean is something else, and that is that Americans were trying to impose American ideas, American organisation, into Europe, and to some extent that's true, and particularly in the economic field. Don't forget that at the time, American industry was far and away the most efficient on the planet, and there was a feeling that if the European economies were to rebuilt, if Europe was to be competitive in the world economy again, it would have to imitate American production methods, American management methods, and so on; and many European businessmen were eager to do this. So there was a deliberate effort to export American industrial techniques and American management techniques to Europe. In fact, it was a major part of the programme, was the technical assistance part of the programme; and teams of Europeans were brought to the United States to visit American factories, to see how it was done, and so on and so forth. So it is true in that respect. But there is another...

INT: Well, I was going to say, in a political sense was there an effort, to some extent, to try and create Europe more in the image of America, as a bulwark against Communism?

TG: Not really. I would say that in a political sense, the effort was made to... and openly and deliberately, to ensure that Europe had democratic regimes, but there was no effort - except in one particular case - that... to make the Europeans imitate American political methods, which were quite different than European and so on and so forth. The one case was Germany, where the Americans were determined that Germany would not have a unitary central government - in other words, that Germany would be a federal republic, with states that had powers that were separate from those of the central government. That's the only effort to imitate the United States. But otherwise, American political arrangements were not... But there is a sense... you see, part of that feeling on the part of Europeans is, I think, a reflection of the American sense of identity. In my view, Americans are the most parochial people in the world. They either think that everybody should act like Americans, or that they already do, and they only see things in other cultures which are like American culture, social arrangements, so on and so forth. This is all done unconsciously; it's just part of their basic sense of identity. And... you see this in American tourists all the time, their criticisms of Europe: "Well, their bathroom arrangements are different than ours" - you know, not just different but equal, but they're... because they're diff, they're not as good, you see. So there is that sense that Americans convey to Europeans all the time, but it's done quite unconsciously.