Sir Freddie






Q: What was the worst moment in the Cold War, do you think? For you personally and as a judgement, as a whole.

E: First of all, clearly the blockade. The decision to stand up to the Russian challenge. And then, after that, the Korean War. Clearly again it was a face where it was not so sure that the western world, united, would stand up to the challenge of the Soviets in Korea. And the resulting Korean War of course was a very critical point. From then on, of course the Cuban crisis internally even continuing to '68, what went on in Paris. Student strikes and uprisings, riots. No, but the two, I think essential matters were the Berlin blockade and the Korean War.

Q: And the effects of the Cold War, what do you think those were? Good, bad?

E: The effects of the Cold War. Well again that's a question of what history will think about it. My own conviction is that after all, the result was the collapse of Com. The result was that we have the possibility at least of settinup free and democratic societies in all parts of the world. I think that has been a result of the Cold War, namely a result of the decision to resist dictatorship and Communism. I think after all this is a result of this decision.

Q: And your father's place in history? Where would you put him? In the Cold War history.

E: Well I think his role was rather decisive because I think well his stature, his political, his moral stature, being accepted by the Berlin population. Being together with others but, of course, being accepted as a democratic leader of Berlin, together with Louisa Schroeder, together with Fridensburg and Soer and people like that. And also with the stature with the allies. Especially the Americans and the British. The acceptance that he was a man of conviction, of democratic conviction of the western values. That this contributed to a large degree to the decision to not give up Berlin, to take up the fight in Berlin. To take it up as a even symbolic decision that from now on the western world would resist Communism and stand up for freedom in all parts of the world. I think the role of my father was rather decisive to that development.

Q: Do you think that his convictions and the way he applied them was the result of his understanding of the period of dictatorship from 1933 to 1945?

E: Absolutely. Absolutely. And also let me add his understanding of dictatorship in the Communist world which he gained in the times when he was a Communist himself. When he then after understood the role of the Communists in the 20s in Germany. Because at that time he understood deeply understood that the Communists - Communist Party of Germany at that time did not fight for individual values, or national values of the country, but fought for foreign values in the sense that it was Communism, Russian Communism which dominated everything or which they tried to let dominate also in Germany. So he understood both those mechanisms of Communist and Nazi dictatorship. That was his own personal experience. His own individual experience. It was not theoretical. He had experienced it both in Russia, in Germany, in concentration camp, and in immigration. And therefore I think that was rude of his convictions, yes.

Q: Finally, you were a witness to the disturbances, the uprising of 7th of June 1953. What - what is your recollection of those events, or that particular event?

E: The se - the 16th and the 17th June of '52, in Berlin. certainly influenced myself very much in the sense that again I could see myself, I could witness the man in the street. Not an organisation, nothing of that kind. The man in the street willing to risk his life for freedom. This, of course, originated in east Berlin. With the workers, not being ready to any more accept the regulations of the Communist Party and the Communist regime any more. Asking for more freedom. Asking for the ability to bargain their own their own labour contracts conditions. But that, of a sudden, that question of the labour conditions turning of a sudden into a political matter of asking for freedom. And then that uprising, on the 17th of June being depressed by Soviet tanks, by Russian tanks. Driving them through the Potsdamplatz. I saw them coming. I was standing there myself, I saw them coming. I saw people jumping on those tanks, trying to to destroy them. And then it became impossible, there was shooting going on, gun shooting, they had to withdraw. at the same time it was - the result, of course, was very disappointing. Because after all nothing happened. A lot of us at these two days had hoped that it would be the beginning of an overthrow of the Communist regime in East Germany. It wasn't. from - of the all understandable reasons because nobody really risked - wanted to risk a third world war at that time again. So these people were left alone - from understandable reasons - but they were left alone. And that, of course, was an experience also for myself. Together with the knowledge that my father that that time was travelling in Vienna, addressing some kind of a meeting there. And when he heard the news on the 16th of June he immediately asked for a possibility to transport him back to Berlin. He was denied that possibility and he just arrived in Berlin, I think, on the 18th of or the - on the evening of the 17th on the morning of the 18th, so he could do nothing more to contribute - I don't know whether he could have when he - had he been in Berlin, but he wasn't. So it - after all it was also an experience of deep disappointment. Of pride for people standing up, but also disappointment.

Q: You have a photograph just behind me of...

E: Yes.

Q: Demonstrators with a....

E: Yes.

Q: Arguing - remonstrating with a Soviet tank. What's it like to be in a street where these things are coming towards you and there's mayhem and chaos. It must be pretty frightening.

E: Well in the beginning, before those vehicles arrived it was just a crowd running around, to and fro, shouting, going on. on the borderline, there were policemen, west policemen, West Berlin policemen taking care that these people would come over the borderline. But then of a sudden you could hear those dark noises nearing. And then there was shouting going on and the first - I remember it was just maybe one or two tanks appearing. and one could see far away, which was rather far away, maybe 500 metres from where I stood, you could hear the people try to jump on the tanks and do things like that, and then, of course, a greater number of tanks appeared, maybe five. And then that crowd dissipated very quickly. They had to disappear because there were gunshots, there was shooting going on. It happened rather quickly the collapse of this uprising. At least on the Postdamplatz, which I could see.

Q: Did people who were demonstrating speak to you and explain what was going on or was it apparent, fairly apparent?

E: It was absolutely apparent. Absolutely apparent because it had begun on the day before and everybody knew what was going on there. Oh it was quite apparent. Actually I didn't speak to any of these demonstrators at that time.

Q: And what drew you there particular on that day?

E: Well at that time I was I was working in the court. I'd finished my university studies, I was working at court. On the 16th I heard that and the on the 17th a lot of us knew that on the Potsdamplatz things were going on so we went there and tried to watch what was going on there. So it was curiosity, if you want.

Q: You weren't thinking of crossing into the eastern sector?

E: No, no. No. No, certainly not.

Q: Do you think that part of the price of the Cold War was the division of Germany?

E: Yes of course. Yes of course. But the alternative (coughs) the alternative, of course, would have been - or might have been the take-over of a unified Germany by the Communists. and then, of course this alternative of the division of Germany keeping up the possibility concerning the possibility of, after all freeing the other part of Germany was certainly the better alternative.

(End of interview)