Yuri Ivanovich









OK, so we're recording now Dr Sum, thank you very much indeed for giving us this interview on Sunday 28th January, 1996, here in Prague. Thank you for agreeing to talk to us. And I'd like, first of all, to ask you how in your view, how important UNRRA... had been to Czechoslovakia in the years following the Second World War?


Well after the Second World War, we had a lot of mess here, as everywhere in Europe, in the States which were occupied by Germans and which had some war losses and so on, and the question about UNRRA was extremely important for us at the time, because at that time UNRRA, it was practically .......? commission we can say, it was international, but the foundation, was American brought to this country a lot of needed stuff, that means food stuff, raw materials, cars, big trucks and so on. And these things were extremely needed, because we had practically nothing, you can understand that because England was in war too, during the Second World War, and they had a lot of things to do to help other countries in the war time, but we were oppressed, we were occupied by Germans, so no industry reached, didn't work for the Germans, for the war aims and so on. So the normal civilian structure was practically demolished, didn't exist. So after the war it would have been very very complicated to reconstruct it. And the first positive .....? was just this of UNRRA, bringing us the concrete help, in concrete sense in concrete ways.

So the population was very very fond of it, not only the population, the Government extremely, because they won't have to procreate in some other way, and it was hard at the time.


Right, thank you, everybody happy? REPOSITION SLIGHTLY/LOOK AT INTERVIEWER

So moving on them, if I can ask you now to think back very specifically to the Spring of 1947, and to ask if you can remember the reaction of the Czech Government to the proposals that became the Marshall Plan?


The Marshall Plan practically was known to our Government, as you say, in the Spring of '47, that was practically a very short time before the so called conference in Paris which had to put the foundations for the Marshall Plan. So the reactions were absolutely positive, our Government, including the President, Mr. Benes, was prepared to help in this respect, not only in the way of accepting the help which was asked or which could have come from the Marshall Plan, but to do something from their own side, that means to help to other countries. Because the Marshall Plan at that time was not only one sided help to those countries which were occupied, Czechoslovakia and so on and so on, but multilateral help to other, for example, they have proposed that Czechoslovakia having a certain standard, a little bit better, than some other States could help to Yugoslavia, to Rumania, to Bulgaria, even to Netherlands, and to Belgium, small occupied States. So that means at that time the first reaction was extremely positive. It was the full, once, one part of it, of this thinking, political thinking at the time, and the second was that the, we thought of, sorry, we, the Government thought at the time that being a member of preparation of this Marshall Plan, that means taking part at the conference in Paris, we could influence a little bit what was going on, that means the future treaty on this plan. So it is a quite normal position of a government which wants to do something, not only to get money or to get some materials. So it was really positive.


Can you remember your own feelings at the time, when you heard about the Marshall Plan, when you read about the plan? Were your own feelings of excitement, of welcoming of the plan?


Well my feelings, as far as the Marshall Plan is concerned, sorry, so they're, or they were extremely positive, because I was working at that time not as yet at the ministry of foreign affairs, but in the office of the the Government. That means I was just in the centre of all preparations, of all doings, where was the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minsters and the Ministers assembled to the meetings of the Government, so that means I was in the centre where the things were discussed, yeah. So yeah, that was one point of view, and the second was that I was involved in the UNRRA help, in the first phase. So I knew the people who were doing for the UNRRA, as you remember most probably, the Chief of UNRRA... was the Lord Mayor of New York, whom I met here and I was accompanying him when he was two days here in Prague. So I knew how positive it could be when we would take part at this new plan, at this Marshall Plan. Practically nobody knew what was going on afterwards, because it was before the conference, but it is clear, or it was clear that the Marshall Plan would have been a positive and substantial help for our development, at that time. So that was my own idea coming out from the general situation there.


Were there those in the Government at the time who saw Czechoslovakia's future more linked to the West than linked to Moscow and the East?


Well whether there were people in the Government or not, it's quite clear because everybody knows that. The non-communist representing, the ministers representing our party, other parties than the communist party, and there were two communist parties, because they wanted twice as much ministers as all other parties. Each party had three ministers at the time, in this Government, before the elections, afterward it was a little bit different. So the non-communist ministers, that means the democratic ministers, they were absolutely clearly for the plan, because they knew that it would be a good help at first, and secondly, they knew or they were persuaded that this plan would be one of the supports of democracy here, because Czechoslovakia was always before the war pro..ess?, not pro..ess, sorry, it was a Western State, not pro..est, a Western State, we were a member of Western Europe before the war. And maybe perhaps it might be, might be necessary to stress it, we were one of the most democratic States in Central, or Eastern Europe, as you call it. You know what was going on in Germany already since '33, in Poland, T..bec, and so on, in Rumania, in Bulgaria, and so on, in Hungary, so Czechoslovakia was a really democratic State. And it was support for our democrats. Just on the contrary, the communist ministers, not only the ministers, the communists were always more for the Eastern direction, political direction. And, it's quite clear was consequence of the outcome of the war. It's quite clear how it was that Soviet Russia which helped imminently, that's quite clear, and which came here, or the Soviet armies came here as the first armies, as so-called liberators, because the Westerners didn't follow the advice of Mr. Churchill, and didn't proceed to quickly. They could but they didn't, they stopped. Mr. Eisenhower gave the order on the fourth of May, '45, to General Patton to stop on the demarkation line, Pilsen and Karlsbad and so on, and the rest of Czechosl., or of Bohemia at that time, was liberated by the Russians on the ninth of May and afterwards. So these things were the principles of the situation, of the aims of those pro-communists or the democratic ministers.