Yuri Ivanovich







INT: Right. Going back then to the Truman speech that became called the Truman Doctrine, the Truman speech in Congress on the 12th of March '47, what did you personally think of Truman's speech?

GM: Well, it was quite different from the speech that was prepared for him. And it was quite succinct; it didn't attempt to be very dramatic: it was a straightforward, simplified perhaps, expression. But I think it was quite suitable. The thing about it that made it important was Marshall himself, his character, the fact that people would trust him. That's really why Truman brought him into the Cabinet, with (unclear) in opposition to him. He needed someone that wouldn't, on the Republican side, question their loyalty to the country (ahead of the) party.

INT: Sorry, but I want to go back to the Truman speech, the Truman Doctrine speech, before the Marshall Plan speech, three months before.

GM: Well, the (Hesitates) there it was Truman's speech himself. This was all Truman. He was genuinely sympathetic to these two countries they were trying to force behind the Iron Curtain. And he was quite willing to make the bold decision that he thought was required to save these countries. And the way he presented it wasI think showed his real, genuine sincerity for people in difficulties who had been allies with us or who were democracies like we are, and who were being threatened by a bully country through an insidious Communist Party, or through threatening, as they did with Turkey. And he wanted to show the world that the American people were not going to put up with this, and his wording was so clear and good. As you may recall... after he finished, they all rose and they clapped - all except one man out of 440, I think it was. I never [knew] who that one man... who that one man was - I assume someone knows. But he... he carried them completely. And he had done the right preparation in getting the leaders of the Republican Party on his side, and he presented the matter to them in such a way that they were with him; otherwise he wouldn't have had this response he had.

INT: Was it a good speech?

(End of tape)

INT: Ambassador, could you just tell me what impact the Truman speech had for you at the time?

GM: I think the Truman speech reflected very clearly Truman's own character. He liked to see issues very clearly and to come up with clean-cut answers. This speech reflected, I think, his sincere desire to lead our nation in saving these poor countries who were just about to fall to the Communists' Iron Curtain. As I recall his wording, he thought we should aid and save free people from falling to the efforts of... their enemies, by subversion within or by threats and pressures from without; we must keep them free, so that they could enjoy the privileges and rights of liberty.

INT: Was it a good speech?

GM: I think it was an excellent speech. And the response by the Congress when they heard this speech was very great. I don't know any real opposition that emerged of any great consequence to what he was proposing. Vandenberg, the leader of the opposition in the Senate, found that he had one relatively small change to make, the conditions under which, if the UN took action, we would not... we would withdraw and let the UN do it. Apart from that, he led his party to support Truman, and Truman had very... worked very hard to that end, and he accomplished it. And then the ensuing speeches over the details of the programme - for example, how much money, how it should be spent - which, when the Marshall Plan came up, aroused tremendous controversy... which the (unclear) aroused almost none. Acheson and Clayton gave the main supporting testimony, and they were men highly respected, not political people, and the country trusted them.

INT: Right. Let's go on to the Marshall Plan period itself, later in the year 1947, from June onwards. Did you ever yourself believe that the Soviets might join the Marshall Plan?

GM: I don't believe I had enough insight into the situation to really make a good judgment in that regard. (Clears throat) You can look at it several ways. Why did we offer, for example? Well, they had been our ally, and if they had wanted to come in and we did not offer, that would have alienated them. Also, if we were (becoming a little bit?) alienated, and we did offer it, we might develop a type of co-operation between us which would have... made it unnecessary to have a cold war. So you you can look at it both ways. But my view is clearly that they had already made the decision that they wouldn't, because they couldn't, according to their own philosophy, co-operate with the foes of Communism, democracies, people who live free lives. Had they done that, they would have had to disavow the Communist dogma which drove them.

INT: Moving on now into the early part of 1948, what was the impact of the news of the coup in Czechoslovakia in February '48?

GM: Well, I remember this very well. I was in Germany then. Germany has a border with Czechoslovakia. This came as a great shock to our Government, and set back the efforts toward detente, which we thought were making real progress. It was a very foolish thing for the Soviets to have done if they had really wanted detente to prosper. When our Government and the American people heard how brutally the Soviets had marched in forces and met protesting people in the streets with gunfire, there didn't seem to be much hope left for detente. This is one of a number of occasions almost invariably raised by the Soviets, which, even though they really thought they were seeking detente, as the former Ambassador [Lubrinin] is telling us today, but nevertheless they didn't hesitate, as they didn't hesitate in going into... Afghanistan later, or not... going into Czechoslovakia.

INT: Right. How important was the... Sorry, let me ask this a different way. How did the Greek-Turkish aid programme then become part of the Marshall Plan?

GM: Well, it was inevitable, of course, that they be merged, because the programme was duplicatory. We were more than half military aid, which the Marshall Plan was not, and our economic aid was almost exclusively to Greece, which was in the worst shape economically. But when the... when the new Plan came in, the economic portion of our programme was left out of the budget requests and put into budget requests for the Marshall Plan. The... ensuing difficulties arose from the fact that although the Marshall Plan was introduced just two months after our programme... because it was really the (unclear) that forced the issue, that said, "If you're going to help these two small countries, minor allies, or potential allies, why don't you do something about our alliin the war who really face difficulties and really face Communist pressures?" So it was inevitable that the Marshall Plan come. And I believe the effect on Greece and Turkey was not too great, to have the change-over, but it took a long timfor the Government to get its appropriations from the Congress. And then it was a very... large organisation, the Marshall Plan... structure, with Averell Harriman being the top man in Europe and Hoffman being the top man in this country, and then having very strong Americans as head in each country, and large staffs in Washington and in Paris and in each country, and when you started something new like this, everyone has ideas, and so you have to get them all straightened and out, and this took time - what were the priorities, how... both (in the respective) countries, and then to the way you spent your money. So there was a big gap in Greece and Turkey while we waited for the Marshall Plan to get started. But once it got started, of course, it was very constructive and helped both countries with their economies. We had done less on that in Turkey than we had in Greece.

INT: How important to Greece was the rebuilding of the Piraeus Harbour?

GM: Well, it's their main port, almost their only port, apart from Salonica.

INT: Sorry, I'll just ask you again - if you could just say that "Piraeus was their most important harbour" rather than saying "it was their..."

GM: Yeah. Sorry. Shall we do that over, then?

INT: Yes. I'll ask the question again, if you like. How important to the Greek economy was the rebuilding of the Piraeus Harbour?

GM: Well, the Piraeus Harbour, of course, was of prime importance. It's by far the largest harbour, and apart from Salonica there weren't other really main harbours. And of course, it was only a short distance, some seven miles from Athens, the principal city. It was at one end of the Corinth Canal which the Germans had dynamited and opened up and so the walls fell down and blocked the Corinth Canal which saved 200 miles in going around the Peloponnesus. I just happened to be in Turkey on one of my regular trips there, when they allowed me to cut the ribbon that opened the Corinth Canal to the first ship going through. In addition to the Piraeus Harbour, though, the Germans, in retiring from Turkey and Greece, blew up all the bridges and destroyed the roads in so far as they could, just to be sure that the Allies didn't profit from taking it.