Yuri Ivanovich







INT: In Russia, a lot of Russians regard the Marshall Plan as an aggressive act, as an act of economic imperialism. How do you react to that?

GM: Well, this is what Stalin said. He said to all these... to the Communist countries, "If you go into the Marshall Plan, you're giving up Communism; you're... you're admitting that the imperialists are on the right side, and that we need the imperialists for us to recover from the war." And these countries would have loved to have come in, most of them, but it was very hard for them, if you're going to get along with Russia, to rebut this statement that they had to make up their mind, and they were afraid not to.

INT: But behind that, too, is the sense that this wasn't just a humanitarian act, but it was an act to develop markets for the United States, that it was basically acting in America's interests, the Marshall Plan.

GM: Well, that's correct, that's part of the point that Stalin made, that "You're offering yourselves up to America - you'll be enslaved now by the imperialists."

INT: But how do you respond to that view of the Marshall Plan?

GM: By them? No....... Quite naturally..... it would never have occurred to me to have such a view, because we all think that our own actions, or those of our own country, are very altruistic always, and perhaps they're not always. In this case, the money was spent here, and a lot of Americans profited, business companies, from giving... furnishing things for the carrying out of the Marshall Plan. On the other hand, it was freely given, apart from the counterpart funds that were used, and had to be considered disinterested, from any broad view. I've never heard of any real criticism in Europe that the Marshall Plan was really for our own best interests and selfishness, apart from the fact of preserving the freedom of all the democracies.

INT: Again, looking back on these years, the Truman Doctrine, the Marshall Plan, later the establishment of NATO, how important was the firmness of the United States' stand at this point in stopping Stalin?

GM: It was extremely important that the Americans stood together, that we were not divided by the two political parties that have always formed the basis of the Government of our country. If, for example, we were as badly divided at that time as we are today, it's not very clear to me that we could have accomplished it. It was the fact that Americans were completely sold; and it was a little hard to take, after having fought a hard war to think we've got to start now and rehabilitate the consequences of the war and pay the bills, but they did, and they brought to our leadership the best people in our country, and nobody worried what their political party was. It never occurred to me to worry that Lovett was leading the Republican(s) when I reported to him. I'm sure he... I was never politically involved myself as severely, but I was a Democrat, and it never occurred to him to think that I was a Democrat. And I assure you that all of us who were here together were in no way affected by political partisanship. And unfortunately we're so badly affected now that we can't make the simplest decisions.

INT: But how important then was Truman's role of leadership in the post-war period?

GM: Truman has been viewed by different people in a different way. They like to remember that he was a haberdasher. They forget that he was a graduate lawyer; they forget that he ran the Truman Committee in the beginning of war, which was a Senate committee which inspected contracts for Government orders, and they forget how he moved into situations where the Government was being overcharged, and just by sheer force of will got it straight, and he built up a very high reputation. I was in the war production point then, so I remember his effect on the war. On the other hand, people like to remember that he was part of the Prendergast machine in Kansas, and he remained loyal to the end; no one ever produced ever malfeasance on his part merely because he was one of the machine. But I think that when he won, after everyone thought he'd lost, just by the guts of this poor fellow when...... every newspaper and every column had said he had no chance, that's when (he baffled) the whole country on (his train) speaking frankly and directly. Nobody thought he was going to win, and he did. And I think the courage he showed then, the determination, were qualities which people respected in the end. He may not have been as political and smooth in his handling of all these problems, but when he got the facts - and he was very analytical in approaching these decisions that he made - and he was convinced that that was the right thing to do, then he did it. I remember many times being with Truman, along with Acheson, as a junior officer, to offer to answer any questions he might ask, and I can visualize Truman saying, "Well, Dean, what you tell me is very good," and he'd ask a few very good questions; he'd ask about how the Republican leadership felt about it, and he said, "Well, I'm convinced, Dean, that what you say is the right thing. You go ahead and do it," and it was all over. Some people make decisions much more complicated.

INT: Right. I'd like to move on now beyond the Marshall Plan, to sort of latter moments, latter periods of the Cold War, and moving on to other programmes in this series that we're making; just picking a few of these moments from your book and from discussions with you. You were standing with John F. Kennedy when he made his famous "Ich bin ein Berliner" speech. What was the reaction of the crowd to that speech, and the significance of his visit to Germany?

GM: Well, this is very interesting. Many people have said that this was probably the most successful visit by a head of state that modern history revealed. I went to Germany more quickly than I had wanted to, because our ambassador there had... was ill and had to return, and I had to go and help prepare for the visit. And I spent all my time, when I first got there, doing this. I went to every place where Truman was go... where Kennedy was going, and talked with the local people, trying to see what sort of programme they would like and to tell them our plans. And the organisation which had started was... I think very, very well completed then by the time he arrived, so there were no real hitches - and there could have been. For example, there was a great conflict between Adenauer and Brandt, about who was really in charge in Berlin, and it's... clear that Brandt didn't win, but it was very embarrassing for Adenauer. The "Ich bin ein Berliner" speech came out of a party that the President had given in the air force hotel Wiesbaden, and one of the young ladies in our... Embassy, who was one of his guests, suggested he use this phrase, and practised it with him. This was the evening before he went to Germ... before he went to Berlin. He had a very severe programme in Germany. He made four major speeches; one before the University... The meeting... the speech he gave was at the real centre of Berlin, ifront of the... the Rathaus. It holds, they estimate, if they're jammed together, approximately 150,000 people. And... Kennedy was there, and I was on... one side of him. And...... Excuse me - can we cut there? I've gotten this mixed up. ...

INT: Are you looking for another name?

GM: No, I'm... there's a rather amusing incident... I want to just get it right. (Longish pause) The... As we stood on the platform, the French Minister to Berlin was standing next to him, and I was standing on his right, and,... the President's military attache was standing on my right. And before we could do anything about it, the Minister had put himself in the commanding position with our President, on the basic theory that their plane landed in the French Somme, so he became the host to the President, which was an absurd concept. And everyone there was very annoyed at seeing this, but nobody did anything about it, until the attache pulled off to one side and gave him one tremendous push, (Laughs) which pushed him right out of the picture entirely, and pushed me into the... (Laughs) into the position directly behind him. It was very amusing. I don't know how many people realised what had happened, but the French Minister I'm sure will never forget all that. (Laughs)

INT: And what was the reaction of the crowd to those words?

GM: Well, it was so spontaneous. Kennedy is an extremely good phrase-maker and speech-maker. You can recall the... you've seen, I'm sure, the inauguration address: "Think not what the country can do for you. Think what you can do for the country." He had a marvellous way of expressing himself, and the charm of the man is hypnotising because he exudes charm and kindliness. And using this...... phrase, "Ich bin ein Berliner," which is not a very logical thing to say, had a tremendous impact, and that, with other elements of his speech, were so attractive, that it actually worked up the... almost to a frenzy in this crowd, as they would applaud each one. And you could see these 150,000 people there, almost acting as one in their response. I'd never seen anything like it. I rode beside him often in the car, as he goes from one place to another, and you can see, as he passes people, that... a tremendous outflow of admiration and joyousness at just seeing his face. He hypnotised the German people. Their leaders had been in their nineties, like Adenauer, and they didn't have any young leaders, and to see this young man being President of our country, both I think improved their impression of the country, but certainly of him.