Galbraith, JK.



Nitze, Paul H

Tucker, R.



Q: I'd like to take you back to the end of the Second World War. Can you tell me the mood at that time in Moscow. Do you remember it well?

A: The mood in Moscow in May 1945, was euphoric. Especially on May 9 1945, the day that the news reached Moscow of the German official surrender. That day was a day that will live forever in the memory of all those Russians and Americans who were there. I was among the small number of Americans, members of the American embassy who were in Moscow on that day. Our embassy stood on Mochovaya, just across the the square from the Kremlin. And when the news had reached the Muscovites that the war was over, that the surrender had taken place, that the long-awaited day of victory had come. Hundreds and then thousands and then many thousands gathered in the huge square in front of our embassy. We who were in the embassy a building which later was taken over by the Soviet Intourist agency after the American embassy, in 1953, moved to larger quarters further out, in the city. but at that time the American flag was out in front of that building facing red square and all the Muscovites gathered and it seemed that they were just standing there looking up. And it's a five storey - storey building. Those of us who were in it, myself included, were watching out the window. And there these people stood. It was the - it was something unthinkable in Stalin's Russia. It was a spontaneous demonstration. the Russians gathered there to say thank you America for being with us, for sending us all those munitions, those Studebaker trucks, those jeeps, they called them willis. All that canned spam that helped keep not only Red Army men, but civilians alive through those awful, terrible years. Thank you for fighting in the same war that we were in, together, as our allies. We want to be your allies forever. That were - those were the words that nobody spoke, but everybody, by their very presence there, by the things that they by the way in which they reacted. For example at one point George Kennan, our charges d'affaires in the temporary absence of Ambassador Harriman stepped out on a pedestal, one of the lower windows of the embassy and spoke in flawless Russian in a loud voice, congratulated all the Russians on our common victory. And he also, at that time, on that day sent someone next door to the Hotel Nationale, to get a Soviet flag and then he had it hung out, side by side, with the American flag. There was a great roar of approval when the happened. whenever any American in our military mission, which was part of the embassy walked out toward Red Square, which was the centre of the jubilation and the celebrating, and which was just a five minute walk across the square from us, that American would be hoisted on the shoulders of Russians and carried off on their shoulders to Red Square. That gives you some idea of how Russians were reacting to this day of victory. I was a civilian attaché of the embassy. I walked out and I simply walked across the square into Red Square to see and be with the Russians who were celebrating victory day. And they were milling around, dancing, kissing, rejoicing. It was the happiest occasion imaginable. And I stopped at one point and there was a whole group of Russians, and I was one of them and nobody I think thought that this was necessarily a foreigner standing with them. And an officer maybe a Captain or a Lieutenant, looked at the group and he said, in Russian, (Russian) which means 'now it's time to live'. In short the dying time was ended. The war that had carried off no end of Russian lives, destroyed no end of homes, caused no end of suffering, was over. And now it's time to live, meaning that people were looking forward to a post war period in which life would get better for them in which the possibilities that had been denied Russian in the 1930s, before the war, possibilities of going abroad to study. possibilities of being more free at home in what they could read and what they could write. that these possibilities now arose as the most obvious things that were expected. To happ

Q: When were you first aware of any change? How soon were people being told not to be as nice or as friendly. What was it like towards the end of 1945?

A: Things didn't change in in any obvious way during the later months of 1945. Obviously no such demonstration occurred after May 9th. there in fact was no occasion for one. and it's interesting to reflect that on May 9th itself one person didn't join the demonstration and that person was Joseph Stalin in the Kremlin. We know this because Nikita Khrushchev, who would succeed him in power after his death in 1953, in later memoirs which he dictated and which were published initially in the West, recalls that day he was in Kiev in the Ukraine, and he called up Comrade Stalin by the special phone line he had that afternoon to congratulate him on the victory. And Stalin said: 'Why are you calling me? I'm too busy'. Don was not rejoicing. He didn't want people to relax and rejoice, he was too busy with other things. And so there, in the background, was already on May 9, 1945 a strong indication of what was to come later on.

Q: Do you remember the victory parades and the things that took place after the end of the Russian-Japanese War? Were you present when....

A: I happened to have been sent by the embassy to Stockholm in August 1945, and I spent August 1945 on embassy business in Sweden. So I wasn't there at the time of the ending of the war in the Far East. But I don't believe anything comparable did occur in Moscow. after all, the war that Russia had fought was for Russians, in the mass. It was officially called The Great Patriotic War. The Great Fatherland War. And this was a use of a phrase that had been used in 1812 when Napoleon invaded Russia, it was The Fatherland War. As it was called. And The Fatherland War was the war to repulse German aggression. Hitlerite aggression. And it ended then in May 1945, and then there was this additional chapter of World War Two when Russia quickly at the time of the American dropping of the bomb on Hiroshima and the - obviously the war with Japan was about to end, plunged into the war, Stalin sent his troops into Manchuria in order to make sure that that his Russia would get a share of the spoils. But that didn't carry much meaning to the masses of Russian people.

Q: tell me what working in the embassy was like and in particular what George Kennan and the Ambassador were like. What was it like in there?

A: The embassy that I've been talking about on Mokhovaya is technically the - was technically the Chancellery. in a formal way the embassy - our embassy in any country is where the Ambassador lives. Now in Moscow the Ambassador lived in, and lives now, in a mansion called Spasso House, which is about a 15 minute drive from our embassy, the Chancery. the way things worked during the war under Ambassador Harriman, was that he set up his own working quarters in Spasso House. And one or more embassy secretaries. First secretary and secretarial aids worked with him at Spasso House. Members of the Chancery, of the embassy as we called it on Mokhovaya who were preparing materials that needed to be approved by the ambassador, would take them by car by Spasso House for him to read and indicate his approval. So, for example, in 1945, my work as an attaché of the embassy consisted of preparing a weekly, lengthy telegram to the State Department on the Soviet press and foreign affairs in the course of the past week. What kinds of articles had appeared, how one might interpret the meaning of those articles, what it all came to. And a five or six page telegram would be prepared I would prepare it and - but in order to send it to the State Department it would first be necessary for me to take a car, got to Spasso House, show thdispatto Ambassador Harriman, for him to read it and initial it if he approved or indicate changes that he felt might be needed. Because we had, with the British, and the Canadians, a 3-way joint press reading service that prepared translations of the main articles from the Soviet daily press so that the Ambassador could read the very articles, or many of the very articles on the basis of which this attaché was preparing interpretative telegrams. The Chancery, which was not a large number of people but also included the military mission, the Chancery the civilian portion was headed by the 2nd-in-command in the embassy, the Minister Councillor George F. Kennan. And so Kennan oversaw all of the work that was going on in that building and that was a great deal of the work that also had to be cleared with Ambassador Harriman. There were three or four second - first, second, third secretaries of the embassy. And there was a larger umber of clerical personnel. Code clerks and other people of that kind. so this was the way in which the embassy carried on its work.