Yuri Ivanovich Sum,
INT: What were your own emotions, talking personally now, when you left Greece? How did you feel about the country you were leaving, and your own role in creating that country?
JW: I think one can look back and say, quite honestly, that it was a job well done. To be sure, if we were to do it all over again, we would have done it better, we would have not slipped on this or stumbled on that. But... when we left... when we closed the Marshall Plan chapter in Greece, it was a new country: it was a country whose economy was operating at a level at least 50% higher than pre-war; it was an economy that was distributing its wealth in a much fairer way; it was an economy with a sense of the future, and a society with a sense of itself. There were many moments, earlier on, of tremendous American frustration, tremendous American impatience, a sense that America wanted to reform the world Saturday night, by Saturday night, and.that the Greek counterparts were not coming along with us fast enough. But finally, when the mission came to an end, when its work had been done, one could look back and say there are hard statistics to prove conclusively that a tremendous rescue operation had taken place, and that it turned out to be more than a rescue mission: it turned out to be a reworking of... and modernising of the whole society.
INT: You talk about this...
(End of tape)
TAPE #10131 - PART 2
INT: Mr Warren, you're speaking of these years almost as though there is a crusading zeal behind them - and the office of the Marshall Plan in Greece, as in other countries, was called a "mission". Is that a fair way of describing these years?
JW: There is no question but that the New Deal spirit, which was in our bones, was brought to bear in the different programmes that were undertaken in Greece, with the goal of not only helping the country, but rebuilding the country and reforming the country. I think that it would not be unfair to say that we were guilty of a little bit of hubris, that we thought that the American idea was the only acceptable idea; and indeed we knew very little of Greek society, we knew very little even of the Greek language, and were tied umbilically to our interpreters who were with us in every circumstance, and who were saviours for us in terms of social protocol. But there was, in this mission, a real sense of dedication... which was part of that New Deal spirit, and which was expressed... if you look back to the very first moment of the Truman Doctrine mission in Greece, it is expressed in the instructions given by General Marshall to the first mission chief, Governor Griswald, and those instructions were: "You can't have economic development unless you settle the civil war. You cannot settle the civil war unless you have economic development. And to do both of those things at the same time, you have got to create a fairer, more... equitable society, and that means social reform." So we went, quite convinced that at least half the blame for the civil war was on the shoulders on the Athens Government, and so there was a sense that that had to be part of the object of reform. Each of the division chiefs in the mission had his programme, in which he thought surely he was going to be the savioof that sector of society. If it was forestry, it was forest roads; if it was fishing, it was re-equipping the fishing fleet; if it was land reclamation, it was recreating arable land out of saline, alkaline la; if it was transportation that he was in charge of, it was the mission sanctity of that programme of rebuilding bridges all over the country. Now all of these things came to a testing point in 1952, when the final chapter of the Marshall Plan was written, namely the stabilisation of the drachma. And at that point it was necessary to say that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, and each of these highly dedicated specialists, the division chiefs, had to chop back portions of his investment programme in the interests of a sound currency and a stabilisation effort, and that was a very, very rough psychological period, very rough. And it was, however, an enormous success, because it built upon the dedication of prior years which had carried through these very important investments for the economy.
INT: One final question. You said that when you went into Greece, you faced a bankrupt economy, an economy almost going down the tubes. How much were you also, and others also, concerned that the country was about to go Communist, that Greece could have got sucked behind the Iron Curtain?
JW: The fear of the possible success of the Communist-led insurrection was very real, very palpable and very present. I would say that... the darkness came before the dawn. All through the year 1948, for example, the economy was borne up and supported by the American aid; the Greek National Army was borne up and supported by the American aid. But it was an army that was still suffering from enormous political intervention by the Athens politicians; it was an army that was low in morale; and it was a guerrilla force on the other side which was still capable of hit-and-run tactics, of... headline-creating successes. And as late as November-December 1948, there was a real sense of gloom, that all of these efforts of the previous two years had come... had brought nothing, and that the Communists were succeeding. One of the things that turned it around was in January 1949, just at the beginning of that... watershed year, when the leader of the Communist rebels declared in favour of an independent Macedonia, and overnight the poorly led low-morale anti-guerrilla campaign became a national crusade. And within nine months, the war was over. But as I said earlier, the darkness came before the dawn. Only a few months before the January 1949 moment, it looked as though all of our efforts might have gone down the tube themselves.
INT: Right, we'll cut there. That's marvellous.