INT: You said that Kennedy regarded the building of the war as a victory. In what way?
FL: Yeah, he said that: propaganda victory - you know, that they have to build walls to keep their people in. (Slight overlap) He said that to Scotty Reston, who quoted it without naming him, but the date-line was Hyannis Port, where Kennedy was at the (unclear). Everybody knew that it was Kennedy. He just misunderstood it totally at the start.
INT: What did the West Berliners want to do? I mean, you mentioned that they had 20 demands, or you mentioned 20 things they could have done.
FL: It wasn't demands, it was things... oh, things like reinforcing the garrison, things like certain kinds of sanctions,... there were... it was a series... no single one of them an enormous move, but just to prove that to say there's absolutely nothing we should do and there's absolutely nothing we could do... What ... what really was needed was this sign of continued support, of commitment, that was utterly lacking for the first five days.
INT: What was the West Berliners' reaction to the arrival of General Clay?
FL: Overwhelming joy. They really trusted Clay. Clay had been the commander when... during the break-up of the... of East and West Germany, and then East and West Berlin, and then during the airlift. And he was... he really was responsible personally for the airlift; he persuaded Truman to allow him to launch it and to do it, and the Berliners knew it, and that was what had saved them, so here was the saviour coming back a second time, and they were overjoyed.
INT: Lyndon Johnson, as Vice President, also came over. What was the Berliners' reaction to him?
FL: Oh, he was a bit clownish; he handed out ballpoint pens, the way he did to camel drivers in Pakistan, and... Clay was taken much more seriously than Johnson - although John was... OK, the Vice President of the United States comes: that's another gesture of support for West Berlin.
INT: You mentioned the Vienna meeting between Khrushchev and Kennedy in April 1961. That was the first time they had met, the two men. What was the atmosphere like?
FL: Well, I remember hearing that they were going to meet. There was a NATO meeting in Oslo, and Dean Rusk, who was Secretary of State, was there. And then he announced, "And we're all going to Geneva after that," because there was the Laos Conference that had started, and then he announced, now the President was coming to Vienna to meet Khrushchev. This was all done on very short notice. And I was appalled, and my colleagues were too, because it was too soon, and the implications seemed to be... Kennedy seemed to have this idea that, "Well, if I talk man to man, I can really clear things up with Khrushchev," and some kind of tremendous confidence in his personal charm, and really lack of understanding of the geopolitical situation or the atmospherics of the relation. So... those of us observing this, didn't expect Berlin... Vienna to go very nicely; and it was just after the Bay of Pigs, and Khrushchev obviously considered Kennedy a weak, callow young man that he could intimidate, and he went out of his way, very far, to intimidate him, and Kennedy was deeply shaken up, he was really surprised, astonished,... and then ... you know, it really turned him around, and then he realised he had to resist.
INT: What sort of impression did Khrushchev make on the press corps?
FL: Well, different at different times. He was capable of this kind of clowning - the shoe on the table, and the maxims and the rather clumsy jokes. He also... he toured Western Europe in that period, rocket-rattling. He would say, "I've got six for you" when he came through France, and he... I believe he came to England; I remember following him around France. So he made a belligerent impression, which later, looking back and understanding what was going on, was false, for... false for two reasons. One, because he really didn't have that many rockets yet; he was exaggerating the Soviet arsenal, as a kind of protection to... to make people think he was much stronger than they really were - this is nuclear rockets we're talking about. So he was bi... he was putting up a front to sound stronger. And at the same time, I don't think he was... I think he wanted to reform, he wanted to move more towards detente, but he went about it in this way that it wasn't understood at all, and he was seen as a dangerous enemy. I was also at the meeting in Paris; I was living in Germany at that time, but there was the meeting in Paris - we came to call it the U-2 meeting; Macmillan, de Gaulle, Khrushchev and Eisenhower. And Khrushchev broke it up. Gary Powers, the American U-2 pilot, was shot down, and Khrushchev demanded an apology, he refused to see Eisenhower and so on, and then he walked out, and he had several very flamboyant press conferences and he made a lot of noise, and he was... he seemed to be a very aggressive kind of character; and then went to Berlin, and that was very peculiar, because it was expected. He went straight off to Berlin. I followed. And it was expected; there was a huge meeting called in a big sports stadium the next day, and the general expectation was that he was going to announce recognition of the East German claim as a sovereign state to East Berlin, which would mean denying the rights of the other occupying powers - a... well, a flaunting of the gauntlet and challenging. And they had this huge crowd there, and Albrecht was there. And all of a sudden he gave this speech, and he never mentioned that. It was a tremendous surprise, and he apparently (tore it?) just before giving this speech. So after all, he wasn't so provocative as he deliberately sounded. And it was only with hindsight that one began to realise he was trying to make some reforms, but he had a hard time going about it, and he was eventually put down for that reason.
INT: I'm going to take you back to the latter part of the Second World War. Do you want to have drink?...
(Consultation re: time left, etc)
INT: We go back to towards the end of the Second World War, when you first started work as a journalist, covering big conferences like Quebec, San Francisco, the United Nations founding conference, and so on and so forth. Was there any idea at the time that there would be a cold war once the war was over?
FL: Well, I don't think anybody thought up the phrase "Cold War", but there was of course the difference - I wouldn't say conflict, but some strain - between Churchill and Roosevelt. The whole Churchill idea of having the invasion of the continent coming through the Balkans, so-called "soft underbelly", rather than friendly on the Normandy coast, did have to do with preventing the Soviet army from reaching so far west, rather than meeting in the middle of Germany to cut them off further east. And Roosevelt, I think probably for military as well as political reasons, he was determined, as I understood it, to try to avoid that, to... to make a gamble of a deal with Stalin, of trusting Stalin, for reasons that I've always believed were valid, in the sense that if it did work, then you would not... the end of the war would lead to a reasonable state of the world; but with the knowledge that if it didn't work, there would be a new period of severe conflict; and what kind of conflict, and how it would go, nobody knew. So, in that sense, yes. Then, even during the war, there were peri... you mentioned Quebec - for example, it was during the Quebec Conference that Stalin named this young embassy secretary. named Andrei Gromyko, to be ambassador, and that was a very deliberate slap at Roosevelt. He had left the post empty for, oh, eight or nine months, and then to name this junior diplomat was meant, and understood, to bea sign...signal of disapproval, disagreement, at that point primarily over the planning for the invasion of Normandy: Stalin was always in... wanted the invasion, the Western front to be opened much sooner. Then there were always very serious arguments, towards the end of the war, over the Polish government, because a Polish government in exile had been set up in Moscow, that was the rival to the Polish government in exile, the real Polish government in exile that was in London. And the negotiations between Stalin and Churchill and Roosevelt on this were very tense, and at one point, the... by then Roosevelt had died and Truman had just taken over, but the San Francisco Conference, the founding conference of the United Nations, nearly broke up in disaster, because Stalin arrested the Poles who, it had been agreed, were to go from London to Moscow to negotiate a coalition government; and there was a confrontation about that, not a military one, a political one, and Stalin backed down. But a few years later, as soon as the communists really got control in Warsaw, those same people were arrested and they were given, very deliberately, exactly the same prison sentences that they had been given in the first place. So there were conflicts about Poland; and some... to some extent, other countries in the ... in the East, but with the difference [that] Poland and Czechoslovakia had been allies; Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria had been Axis partners for... well, in some cases not the whole war; they tried to change sides very late, but they had been Axis partners, and were considered as defeated enemy states. So the concern with them in the early stages was rather different from those with Poland and Czechoslovakia.