Americans wanted to settle all our difficulties with Russia and then go to the movies and drink Coke.
Roosevelt was determined to stop Stalin from taking over Eastern Europe. He thought they finally had an agreement on Poland. Before Roosevelt died, he realized that Stalin had broken his agreement.
Roosevelt was the one who had the vision to change our policy from isolationism to world leadership. That was a terrific revolution. Our country’s never been the same since.
It never occurred to me that we would have as grandiose a program as the Marshall Plan, but I felt that we had to do something to save Europe from economic disaster which would encourage the Communist takeover.
The war changed everybody’s attitude. We became international almost overnight.
No foreign policy will stick unless the American people are behind it. And unless Congress understands it. And unless Congress understands it, the American people aren’t going to understand it.
I think Stalin was afraid of Roosevelt. Whenever Roosevelt spoke, he sort of watched him with a certain awe. He was afraid of Roosevelt’s influence in the world.
Yet the whole preamble of the second authorization act for the Marshall Plan showed the direction Congress was ready to take about breaking down barriers within Europe.
We became convinced that, regardless of Stalin’s awful brutality and his reign of terror, he was a great war leader. Without Stalin, they never would have held.
The Russians obtained a number of plants under Lend-Lease, which had been authorized by Washington, that I thought were not justified for their war effort. They wanted them for postwar use.
Actually I’d had a certain amount of experience in Europe in the inter-war period, as a banker, and I was also a member of the Board of Directors of the International Chamber of Commerce.
Conferences at the top level are always courteous. Name-calling is left to the foreign ministers.
There’s a myth that Roosevelt gave Stalin Eastern Europe. I was with Roosevelt every day at Yalta.
We both agreed that Stalin was determined to hold out against the Germans. He told us he’d never let them get to Moscow. But if he was wrong, they’d go back to the Urals and fight. They’d never surrender.
I always read everything on the desks of people I went to see in Moscow, London, Paris I found it quite useful.
Poland, of course, was the key country. I remember Stalin telling me that the plains of Poland were the invasion route of Europe to Russia and always had been, and therefore he had to control Poland.
The Russians often took advantage of Lend-Lease.
This was the period when I used all the influence I had to get the British to abandon their export trade, and as much as possible convert all of their manufacturing facilities to the immediate needs of the war, including civilian, as well as military requirements.
As far as the Russians were concerned, I felt the reverse; they had adequate gold, if they wanted to buy, and they weren’t dependent upon international trade. I felt they were more self-sufficient.