Oral History Interview with
|Biographical Sketch, Harriman|
|Biographical Sketch, Poirier|
|The Marshall Plan|
|Truman and MacArthur, Wake Island|
|Mutual Security Agency|
|Preserving Historic Monuments|
|Importance of Allied Cooperation|
W. AVERELL HARRIMAN
W. Averell Harriman was born in 1891. During his business career, he served as Chairman of the Board of the Union Pacific Railroad and Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Illinois Central Railroad and was an active partner in the banking firm of Brown Brothers, Harriman Company.
During the administration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, he served as Administrative Officer for the National Recovery Administration, and for three years he was Chairman of the Business Advisory Council of the Department of Commerce. During World War II President Roosevelt sent him to England as his Special Representative in Great Britain in charge of Lend-Lease and other military activities. Subsequently, President Roosevelt appointed him Ambassador to the Soviet Union. He attended the Teheran and Yalta Conferences and all but one of the meetings between Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston Churchill.
Under President Truman he was Ambassador to Britain, Secretary of Commerce, European Administrator of the Marshall Plan, and Chairman of a Committee of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. He was Special Assistant to President Truman during the Korean War, and later served as Director for the Mutual Security Program.
He was elected Governor of New York State, 1955-59. Under President Kennedy and President Johnson he served as Under Secretary of’ State for Political Affairs and Ambassador-at-Large. He was the Senior U.S. Negotiator for the Limited Test Ban Treaty with the Soviet Union in 1963 and for the peace negotiations with North Vietnam in 1968.
In early 1977, Governor Harriman was appointed by President Jimmy Carter a member of the Presidential Advisory Board on Ambassadorial Appointments and continues to serve in this capacity. In July 1978, Governor Harriman was appointed the senior member of the United States Delegation to the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on Disarmament. During 1979 and 1980, he was active in speaking in support of the ratification of the SALT II Treaty.
His books are: Peace with Russia?, 1959; America and Russia in A Changing World, 1971; and with Elie Abel, Special Envoy to Churchill and Stalin 1941-1946, 1975.
Prepared: 1 April 1980
BERNARD W. POIRIER
Bernard W. Poirier was born in Rhode Island in 1931. His parents had immigrated to the United States from Canada and enrolled him in a French-speaking boarding school in Massachusetts. During his business career he lived in Europe for seven years conducting research and managing laboratory operations in Belgium and France. His research activities were conducted on four continents and in arctic and tropical areas.
He worked as a civilian scientist with the U.S. Navy Department from 1959-1963. His assignments included scientific service on nuclear submarines, special duties at the State Department, and representation at the Admiralty, London and at the headquarters of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Paris. He also served as Executive Advisor to a United States Senator, 1969-1971. His writings have been published in newspapers and magazines in the United States and abroad, He has been the author or co-author of scientific works including regional and topical histories. In 1972, he founded the Iroquois Research Institute which specializes in environmental, historical and archaeological studies.
Prepared: 1 April 1980
This is the oral history transcript of the taped interview of W. Averell Harriman by Bernard W. Poirier, Director of Iroquois Research Institute at Governor Harriman’s home in Georgetown, Washington, D.C. on Thursday, January 10, 1980.
POIRIER: Would you speak a bit so I can get the tone level?
HARRIMAN: Well, how about this, is this about right or shall I get the microphone closer?
POIRIER: Fine. Can you hear me alright, Governor?
HARRIMAN: Yes, sir.
POIRIER: There are two things that we would like to discuss with you, one of’ these has to do with construction after World War II and the financing of construction; and the other issue is a peripheral issue but it has to do with monuments and fine arts and I understand that perhaps you may want to pass on that.
HARRIMAN: Well no, I can say a word or two about it, but there wasn’t much of that during the Marshall Plan days.
POIRIER: General Eisenhower in his book mentions that you were among the personalities that had visited him to discuss American activities in Europe after D-Day and he issued quite a number of orders to his commanders before the invasion and one of those had to do with the preservation of historical monuments.
HARRIMAN: Do we want to do this historical monuments first or the other one? Then why don’t we do the other one first?
POIRIER: OK. In the priorities that took place when you came back to help convince the Congress to go with the Marshall Plan, had you and the President at that time already developed the sort of priorities of how you would allocate these funds in Paris?
HARRIMAN: You say I came back. Actually, I was Secretary of Commerce at the time. I came back from being Ambassador in London in October, 1946 in order to take the position as Secretary of Commerce, and I was Secretary during the period when Congress acted on the so—called Truman Doctrine that gave aid to Greece and Turkey. Then came the development of the Marshall Plan. I played a role in all those events and for the Marshall Plan the President appointed three committees; the one of which I was chairman had the most effect because it was made up of representatives of civilian life; business, labor, agriculture,
economists, and all aspects of life. We reported on the economic recovery of Europe which was called the Harriman Report. That was in the late summer and autumn of 1947.
During the winter of 1948, I was very active when the Marshall Plan was before Congress and particularly with Senator Vandenberg who was Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee at that time. He was a Republican from Michigan who played a very important role. I’ve always given him parallel credit with Truman for the passage of the Marshall Plan in Congress and also as an originator of NATO.
I came back from Russia in January or early February, 1946 and then went to London as Ambassador. I had been in London for two and a half years during the war dealing with supply and military assistance to the British, Russians and other allies in Europe and stayed with headquarters in London.
If you look at the report of the so-called Harriman committee, you’ll see that we had a very full report of the amount of money it would take. We estimated how it could operate. Vandenberg said it was one of the most important documents and helped to get it through the Congress. In the meantime, of course, the State Department had a very able group of men working for Under Secretary Lovett of which Colonel Bonesteel was a member and testified on all aspects of the program.
The purpose of the program was to help Europe help itself in recovery and we were supplying the money. The money was allocated for specific purposes, country by country. After the first year, I induced the Europeans to agree with the rather reluctant agreement of Washington to assign the aid between the different countries. I thought it was very important for them to have that responsibility, otherwise they would be coming to Washington each one working against the other. This way they would uphold General Marshall’s objective and that of the administration which was to have the Europeans develop the European plan which it was.
The problems of each country were different and we used the monies for different purposes depending upon the needs of each country. The first year I think we appropriated about $5.7 billion. Eventually, it was reduced from the year it was originally estimated to be $17 billion and I think the final cost was less than $13 billion. It succeeded beyond the early expectations and part of that money, of course, was in the form of loans which were repaid by the Europeans.
POIRIER: That was part of the 13 billion?
HARRIMAN: Yes. As I recall, it was around 20%. Not necessarily 20% from each country, but 20% from those who could afford to do so. I mean, the amount totaled about 20% but was divided differently.
POIRIER: While you were in Paris you were given a staff, I’m sure. Did you have a Chief of Staff who coordinated the work sessions between Europeans?
HARRIMAN: I had a Deputy who was also Ambassador in William Foster who was my Deputy in the Commerce Department and he worked with me. I had my office in Paris, I wasn’t given a staff. I selected a staff and included some of the ablest men in the country, such as lawyers, economists, and businessmen. It was a period when this was a patriotic adventure and we had little difficulty in recruiting the top people. Do you want me to talk about the military side?
HARRIMAN: On the military side, Colonel Lemnitzer, later on he was, of course, General Lemnitzer, Chief of Staff of the Army, came to me. I think it was in 1949 and said he’d been sent over there to find out how much the Europeans could afford to expend on the military. I said, “Well you’ve come to the right place because we have all the figures and we’ll give you any figures that you want or else get from the OEEC the figures which you may need.” The OEEC was the organization of the European countries and the Pentagon made its own report.
Mr. Hoffman was rather reluctant to have anything to do with military matters because he wanted this program to be entirely for economic and humanitarian objectives. But I was fully aware of the danger from the communist side, having been Ambassador to Russia. I was very strongly for NATO and for the Europeans developing their share of the military forces required to protect Europe from any threat from Russia after the war. We demobilized very rapidly and the Russians kept very large forces and there were the problems in Berlin.
You remember we had the Berlin Blockade and that was in 1948 and we had to have forces in Europe. There was cooperation between my office and the Pentagon starting at that time. But, of course, it was left to each individual country to decide what they wanted to spend, what they were willing to spend and what forces they were willing to maintain. It wasn’t until General Eisenhower came over that they finally agreed to the establishment of a command that was in 1952. I was chairman and had returned to Washington by that time. I was Assistant to the President on national matters during the Korean War.
I was appointed in 1951, no 1952 I think it was, and in October, 1951 to be Chairman of the so called Three Wise Men which was made up of the British Chancellor of the Exchequer, representing the British and Jean Monnet representing the French. We made a study of what the European nations could afford and therefore should develop in the way of military fortes. That report was made to the Foreign Ministers of the NATO countries in Lisbon. I think it was early February or the end of January in 1952 and that was when more progress was made at that time.
They appointed a permanent Secretary General and the organization of the political organization of the countries were developed at that time which has lasted to the present day. The Lisbon Conference was one of the most important events of the early days of the development of the NATO cooperation under a supreme commander. This was the political organization which was parallel to the military organization under the supreme commander.
POIRIER: Dean Acheson made reference to your role at the Lisbon meeting in his book and he portrays a very human side when he talks about you and Omar Bradley going at it in a private session. The argument was over a 400 million dollar commitment by NATO for fighter and bomber airfields.
HARRIMAN: For what?
POIRIER: Military airfields. You were holding out for the other allies putting up 60% and that the United States would put up 40%. Eventually, at the end of the presidential term, or rather during the Eisenhower administration, they followed through and eventually did exactly what you wanted. But could you recall what was the basic discussion between you and General Bradley?
HARRIMAN: No, I haven’t the least idea of that discussion. I know how we arrived at our conclusions and in fact, eventually my statements were right. General Bradley just took it out of the air. I took it from a detailed analysis of the capabilities of each country and what they could afford to spend and still carry on the economic recovery which was required.
You couldn’t have a military establishment from a bankrupt country. You couldn’t afford to keep it. The figures I used which had been agreed to between the Three Wise Men and among the discussions with the countries. In our consideration of the NATO matters, we discussed the matter, of course, with the group as a whole, but we discussed in detail the capabilities of each country and we had the Marshall Plan figures from the OEEC, we had a very able group of people and my principal assistant at that time was Abe Lincoln, if you remember him.
POIRIER: What was his name?
HARRIMAN: His nickname was Abe Lincoln. He later went to West Point and taught. He started, really, the first West Point courses in social and economic matters. Sociology was, I think, his discipline. He had been a member of the planning staff during the war, a very able man. I’m amazed you haven’t heard of him because he was one of the great personalities of the tithe. He was my principal military advisor. I had economists and so did the British and so did the French.
We went at it with a great deal of care and in most cases came to an agreement with the countries, but not in every case. In most cases we came to an agreement with the countries as to the amount that they ought to spend. This was a result of negotiation as well as analysis of the figures first, then of negotiation.
My discussion with General Bradley must have taken place if Acheson describes it, but General Bradley was taking figures out of the air, I was taking them from a detailed analysis, which I’m not surprised to find that my figures were used. They were based on most careful analysis and discussion with the governments involved.
POIRIER: Who was Robert Marjolin?
POIRIER: Robert Marjolin, he was the French fellow.
HARRIMAN: I knew him well, of course. He was the Secretary General of the OEEC, which was the European organization controlling the Marshall Plan, and I worked closely with him from 1948 to 1950.
POIRIER: We’re trying to identify some of the individuals who could help us focus on how the countries themselves presented their plan to the staff and to you and when Robert Marjolin’s name came up.
HARRIMAN: What does Al Friendly say about him?
POIRIER: He described him as a real “bull goose.” And apparently Mr. Friendly thought he had influence on the matters that he dealt with.
HARRIMAN: Well, that was in 1948 when Mr. Friendly was in Paris with me.
POIRIER: Jean Monnet was obviously a very intelligent man.
HARRIMAN: Very intelligent. And he played a very important role. He had been involved over here first representing the French. Then they went to Vichy. He helped the British in relations with the United States in getting the material we needed. He had been a banker on Wall Street and he went back to France and was a member of one of the committees that were established to represent the French in North Africa and I thought he was going to play a very important role politically because of his extraordinary capable mind and understanding. But he very much preferred to remain on the issue which he thought was of great importance, which was the unification of Europe.
I used to see him, of course, and he was very active, and originated, I think, with some help from others, the European Coal and Steel Community and later on step by step, finally came to the European Economic Community which is now the Common Market. I suppose no individual deserves more credit than he does.
The French were very cooperative in the early days, partially due to his influence. He was a member of the French Organization and he wasn’t an international personality, nor was he a political personality. At that time I dealt with the different people who were foreign ministers and finance ministers. There are several personalities, Mr. Peche was one of them who was very cooperative at that time.
Probably the most important single thing that happened was the development of the European Payments Union. We had to break down the trade barriers when these different countries were not able to buy anything abroad. They put quotas on their imports and the trade was really at a very, very low point. We thought that the development of trade within Europe itself was absolutely essential in promoting recovery and permanent well-being.
The European Payments Union made it possible for countries to go into a deficit position temporarily because we put two or three hundred million dollars into the European Payments Union and they were able to charge their purchases. Some of the countries were on credit and some of them were on a debited position. This cushion took care of it and that really was one of the most important steps taken because it released trade between the countries, reduced the trade barriers, and was an important step in the development of the European Community. That took place in 1950. I was very much involved with the Ministers.
Cripps was the British Minister and the British were very much opposed to this. They always were very much opposed to entering Europe. Whereas the French, the Belgians, and the Italians were very helpful. I remember that Spaak was, particularly, a very driving force at that time. I finally got them to appoint one of their members a permanent chairman of the OEEC, otherwise the chairmanship of the OEEC was rather a casual affair. But Mr. Stikker of Holland was appointed. He had been the foreign minister. He spent all of his time as chairman, that was I think in 1949 and then the OEEC began to play a very important role in coordinating the activities of the countries, too.
You see, self help and mutual aid was the slogan of the day and the cooperation between the countries was one of the very important factors that led to the recovery far more rapidly, more effectively, than we dreamed of in the beginning. It was more successful than, I think, anyone’s fondest dreams.
POIRIER: The record from 1945 to the early 1950’s is somewhat clouded when we try to identify a rather large construction job that may have taken place and who paid for it. The record gives us this list of dollars, Governor, I’ll just read them off and maybe you might help to clarify this. We have the commodity funds’ dollars, invasion dollars, (invasion, these are the marks that we were producing with the plates.) We had the German plates and we were printing some of the money when we first got there, if you recall.
HARRIMAN: We were doing what?
POIRIER: In 1945, when the United States military forces arrived in Germany, we had the plates to produce German money.
HARRIMAN: Yes, that’s right, the plates. I didn’t understand that.
POIRIER: Then we had “occupation dollars, infrastructure dollars (NATO), Marshall Plan dollars, mutual security dollars,” and then the regular appropriations from Congress, military and military construction, and then we have counterpart funds.
POIRIER: Can you help straighten out this scramble?
HARRIMAN: Well, I don’t know, you read them so fast. The last one was counterpart funds. I’m sure you understand what the counterpart funds were, do you not? If we gave a country food, for instance, and they sold that to their citizens, which they did, that money was put aside as counterpart funds which could be drawn on by the United States for certain purposes for its expenses. They were credited with it. These were the funds that the governments acquired in selling whatever the item might be that came from the United States under the Marshall Plan and which they sold to their citizens. They got the cash for it.
If they built roads, or something of that kind, the European government paid for it itself. In such cases there were no counterpart funds. It was food, or machinery or any item which we sent over which was sold to citizens or corporations of the country. Now for these other items, do you want to ask any questions about those that puzzle you?
POIRIER: Yes. We interviewed a General who said he built American housing for NATO outside of Paris and he said that he used “commodity funds.”
HARRIMAN: Well, I think he probably must have meant counterpart funds. I never heard that expression used.
POIRIER: OK. I might add that we did interview General Donovan who was Chief of Engineering in Europe about six years ago. He said that his most important staff member at that time was the comptroller who kept track of the various funds that he had to work with for the infrastructure program, under his command in Western Europe.
HARRIMAN: This was under General Eisenhower was it?
POIRIER: No, this is more recently. This was about six to eight years ago.
HARRIMAN: Oh, yes. When did this other man use this expression, “commodity funds”, what date?
POIRIER: That was in the mid 50’s.
HARRIMAN: Well, I think it must have been what we used to call counterpart funds. We shipped in the commodities and they sold them to the people. Commodities were given the government and sold to the people.
POIRIER: Right. Do you recall, Governor, where the records are for your tenure in Paris, for Marshall Plan? Were these sent to the State Department or to the American Embassy?
HARRIMAN: I think to the State Department. I was entirely independent of the Embassy. I am sure it’s in the State Department. You could find out where they are. You see, I was called the roving Ambassador. I wasn’t the roving Ambassador. I was the Ambassador in charge of the operations in Europe in line with my understanding with Mr. Hoffman. He handled the United States and the Congress and did an amazing job.
I was in charge of European operations and of the missions which we established in the 14 nations. They reported to Mr. Hoffman, of course, but through me. When they sent telegrams to Washington, the copies came to my office so I had the understanding with Mr. Hoffman that I was able to control and coordinate the activities. Otherwise, it would have been quite chaotic. I did that. I had a very able group, not too large, and they worked with the mission of each country, but with the OEEC, which developed the program for the Europe as a whole.
You see, the whole conception of the program as proposed by General Marshall, was to give the Europeans a recovery program, and we would assist them. That was the principle on which we operated in Paris. I remember we tried our best to make it plain that the Europeans were doing most of the work themselves. The Congress wanted to have a lot of gratitude from Europe. I thought that was a very limited emotion, but the important thing was to get cooperation, and I remember we used to minimize our assistance in it. You will be surprised when I tell you that the 14 nations’ gross national product in 1948 was only about one hundred million dollars. We gave them $5.7 billion.
So, at this was the time we spoke of when Mr. Friendly, our publicity man, stressed that we were only doing five percent of the job and the Europeans were doing 95%. You see the morale question in Europe was very great because they had gone through a lot of suffering during the war and immediately after the war when they were very short of food and coal. They had the bad winter, you remember . . .
POIRIER: In 1945 . . .
HARRIMAN: and had a great deal of suffering. We wanted to develop the morale and we did. We helped to do it by our publicity policies. Have you got the Colonel Lemnitzer reports of May, 1949, when . . .?
POIRIER: We may have some of those and we have some of the reports that you sent in, but I have not personally gone through them, but we have historians who have.
HARRIMAN: Do you know where the papers of my office are?
POIRIER: We are almost positive they are in Suitland, Maryland.
HARRIMAN: Will you let me know where they are? I would be very interested in knowing where they are.
POIRIER: All right. I will let you know, Sir. I will give you the specific file numbers.
HARRIMAN: Good. Anything that related to my personal files, as well the files of my office.
POIRIER: Yes, Sir, I would be pleased to do it.
HARRIMAN: See, I left the night when the Korean War broke out. It had been arranged with the President that I would come back sometime in early August. When the Korean War broke out, I was talking to Mr. Truman, President Truman, on the telephone. He says he called me, I thought I called him, but in any event, I asked him if he was short-handed. He said for me to come back, and I said, “How soon do you want me?” He said, “As soon as you can get here,” so I left the same afternoon.
I left all my papers and I did not take anything with me. So I have none of my personal papers. My secretary, of course, came back later on, but I didn’t keep any orderly accounts. I then became Special Assistant to the President during the Korean War, which I like to call “Pre-Kissinger, -Kissinger job,” but I considered it an anonymous position. Very few people knew that I held it because I was anonymous.
I attempted under President Truman’s orders to coordinate the activities of the agencies involved with the problems he was facing for the war, particularly in the State and Defense Departments. So the fact that I left so rapidly was the reason why I have a very limited number of papers. I think there is a very good file someplace on the operations of the Three Wise Men which covered the period from October to February, 1952.
POIRIER: Have you spoken to Milton Katz of the housing . . .?
HARRIMAN: Yes. I appointed him. He was my first assistant; my deputy was Mr. Foster. Katz had been my lawyer whom I asked to come over. I had worked with him in the. National Recovery Administration and I had high regard for his abilities. He came over as my legal counsel. He had a number of very able assistants. I asked President Truman to appoint him my Deputy when Mr. Foster came home to become Deputy to Mr. Hoffman in the second year of the Marshall Plan. Then when I went home, he was the acting ambassador. I asked President Truman to make him my successor, which he did.
POIRIER: I want to address the issue of the difference between the Marshall Plan and the Mutual Security Agency, but before I do, since you mentioned President Truman in your coming back. If you do not mind, may I ask you a question about when you went to the Pacific to speak to Douglas MacArthur? If I recall, you were on that famous flight to Wake Island.
HARRIMAN: Yes, that’s right.
POIRIER: Hollywood and everyone else has continually hopped on this business about who made whom wait. Would you tell me a little about that?
HARRIMAN: Yes. I have . . . Ask my secretary to come in!
CHAPMAN: It’s probably the back part of it. Here is a transcript of it. Suppose I just read him that or let him read the transcript. That is the typed version of what you said.
HARRIMAN: These are my pencil notes and here’s the typed version. Do you want to read them?
POIRIER: Alright, I’ll read it, I’ll turn the mike around. “On landing at Wake Island, I walked towards General MacArthur’s quarters to talk with him. I met him half way. He asked me “What is this meeting about?” I told him that the President wanted to discuss with him how political victory in Korea could be attained now that MacArthur had won the brilliant military victory. Also Japanese peace treaty and all matters in Far East. He seemed relieved, saying “Good. The President wants my views.” After a word or two of greeting to General Bradley and Secretary Pace, who then had come up, I had a further talk. He took my arm and walked towards the President’s incoming plane.
HARRIMAN: That explains who landed first!
POIRIER: (reading from Harriman’s transcript): “I explained to him the strong support the President had given him for the operation. MacArthur said that, though the action was now successful, he (MacArthur) had taken a grave responsibility. I pointed out that perhaps the President’s was at least equally grave in backing him. MacArthur showed keen interest (Conversation with MacArthur after Conference). MacArthur stated he was much impressed by the President. Newspaper accounts and articles did not do him justice. (See Dean Rusk’s notes on Formosa). MacArthur expressed high regard for Rankin (our Chargé d’ Affaires) in Formosa. His messages were objective, not biased as the former Chargé. In answer to my question, MacArthur said he would come home after Japanese peace treaty was concluded. He would remain in Tokyo until then. Hoped it would be over in one year. I commented on the scene of the returning Proconsul. I asked him and he agreed to let Ross give out his statement at conference. (Get exact from Ross). No commander in history has received such support from all agencies In Washington as I have?”
HARRIMAN: These are the pencil notes that the transcript is taken from. There is hardly any question of the validity.
POIRIER: That must have been a very agonizing period for President Truman and his closest advisors when the decision was finally made to recall
HARRIMAN: Is a copy of this of any importance to you?
POIRIER: If we could have the Xerox of that, we would be very grateful.
HARRIMAN: Margaret (Chapman)! Have I got plenty of Xeroxes of this one?
CHAPMAN: Sir, I could make one in a second. I’d like to keep this attached to (the) Donovan (material) because we want to keep track of what he returned, you see. So I’ll go and Xerox it fresh, you can make a Xerox from a Xerox, it’s clear enough for him to read. Do you want the pencil or only . . .
HARRIMAN: You want a Xerox of the transcript, don’t you? Is this clear enough?
CHAPMAN: I’ll make it of the whole thing.
POIRIER: I’d like both.
HARRIMAN: Is that what this is?
HARRIMAN: I can’t see . . .
CHAPMAN: Yes, those are the Princeton notes, Xeroxed, and this is the transcript but I’ll read it through and make sure this is the same thing.
HARRIMAN: I’ll be glad to have you have that because it proves beyond question . . . is the tape running?
POIRIER: Yes, sir.
HARRIMAN: The Ambassador, our Ambassador to Korea, told me that he (MacArthur) had come, he landed about 6:00 the evening before President Truman arrived. He had flown from Tokyo. And the notes of what you just read were made of my talk with him. Truman’s party had two planes and I came with the forward party.
I wanted to talk to General MacArthur before he saw him because I knew him quite well and the brief notes of the conversation both before and after absolutely explode any question of there being any unpleasant arguments between the two men at Wake Island. The President gave him a medal, it was a very high one. I’ve forgotten which one it was and their conversation was very businesslike and as I recorded, General MacArthur told me he retained a high impression of President Truman. So that ends the idea that there was a big argument.
POIRIER: Did President Truman share the same impression of General MacArthur?
HARRIMAN: Well, he was, I have reported, if you remember, in the long telegram I sent back which was printed in Mr. Truman’s book, I suppose you’ve seen that, haven’t you? Well, in that one, I’ve pointed out the fact that I’ve been authorized to tell General MacArthur a number of things. This was in the first week of August. We flew out there in General Norstad’s plane, General Ridgeway and I. The three of us went together and I had long talks with MacArthur. The three of us had long talks together, too.
But President Truman asked me to tell General MacArthur two things: one, that he wanted him to leave Chiang Kai-shek alone. Truman said, “I don’t want you to get me into a war with mainland China!” The second was, “I want to find out what General MacArthur wants and tell him I want to give him everything he needs to the best of my ability.”
The first part of the President’s statements MacArthur accepted as a soldier. But it was quite clear that he did it reluctantly and I told the President in that message I had some doubt as to whether he would fully agree to carry out his instructions. So that in a sense I warned him. Then, of course, he did give us his requirements.
He outlined, there had been some talk of it before, the Inchon landings in detail, and we brought those home and I submitted them to Mr. Truman on my return. He asked me to tell the Secretary of Defense, Louis Johnson, and Bradley about them. They agreed and the President’s Chiefs of Staff agreed to give consideration to it shortly afterwards. Carnes went out there and they agreed to his plan. So that the President did back General MacArthur 100%.
But I had doubts about whether he would abide by the other instructions which I gave him that he was not to get involved in Mainland China. Later on when he clearly disobeyed the instructions he had been given, General Marshall, General Bradley, Dean Acheson, and myself were the four the President consulted three of four times between Friday noon and Monday afternoon when he decided to relieve MacArthur. So I was involved in it, but I gave some warning of the feel that I had that General MacArthur was very strongly for fighting communists wherever they were.
POIRIER: Yes, I remember the account of that. That was in April of 1951. From an historian’s point of view the question that normally would come up is “Was there ever any doubt at all in your mind that General MacArthur may have misunderstood what you told him in light of the fact that he went to Formosa later and did what he did?”
HARRIMAN: No. . . No, he went to Formosa before that. This was after he went to Formosa. He understood just what I had in mind. He was very anxious to support Chiang Kai-shek. I think he was quite ready to fight communists and he had a very low regard for the ability of the Chinese. You remember at Wake Island he made the statement something to this effect, that he knew the Chinese, he knew they would never attack, but should they attack, it would be the bloodiest massacre in history.
He was quite sure he had known the Chinese as fighters under the War Lords and didn’t recognize the ability of the Chinese to fight after they had the military leadership which the communists had given them. So that I had a feeling that even when I talked to him that he was not ready to enthusiastically accept. I pointed that out to President Truman, as I think he recalled.
Yes, I’d like to record, however, that my final relations with General MacArthur were very satisfactory. I’ve known him since he was Commandant of West Point, because my farm was quite close. I came back from Moscow as Ambassador in January, 1946. I wanted to go, I wanted to see how Korea was getting on because I knew we were going to have trouble there and I wanted to make sure General MacArthur knew that he was going to have trouble with the Russians and they were going to take advantage of his position. So I came back. I went to Chungking and General Marshall was there. I saw Chiang Kai-shek with General Marshall and then flew to Tokyo and then to Seoul and then back to Tokyo. I had a number of long talks with General MacArthur.
After he was relieved, there was a big dinner given to the several hundred individuals, men and women, who had been on the front cover of Time Magazine. It was given by Time Magazine. General MacArthur, of course, was one and I was one. I saw him. He was just a few feet from me and I hadn’t talked with him since his return. I thought for a moment, well I certainly want to offer to shake his hand.
I went up to him and I said, “General,” I used to call him Doug, “General,” and he said: “Hello, Averell, how are you? I’m so glad to see you. I remember the time you visited my headquarters in Tokyo.” I said, “Oh my God, now we’re going to talk about the Korean War!” He said, “Was it December of 1945?” and I said, “No, it was January of 1946.” MacArthur said, “Yes, that’s right. I’ve always been grateful to you because you were the first to warn me of the difficulties I was going to have with the Russians, and proved to be right.” That was the way he wanted to end our relationship and I was very grateful for it. I like to recall it whenever I can.
It was indicative of the fact that he bore me no grudge, even though he knew the part I had played as a member of that group of four in recommending to the President that he had to relieve General MacArthur at that time. It was a constitutional crisis. It was a crisis whether a military proconsul was to control foreign policy or whether the President of the United States under the Constitution was. It was very unfortunate, but Truman had great courage in taking a step which he knew would be unpopular.
But it had meant a great deal to me that General MacArthur was ready to forget that and go back to our earlier relationship. That’s the last time I saw him before he died. That’s entirely personal, but it does indicate the certain qualities of General MacArthur which are important.
POIRIER: I believe you are correct, thank you for mentioning it. Governor, I’d like to turn you around from the Pacific and back to Europe a second. What were the differences of priorities that concerned you if we compare the Marshall Plan to the Mutual Security Agency program?
HARRIMAN: Well, there was an entirely different situation. You can’t compare the two. When I went over in the spring of 1948, Europe was in desperate shape economically. They had been through some very bad winters. There was great unemployment, hunger and suffering. We had given them interim aid to tide them over, but it was hardly sufficient. Each country had trade restrictions, they were autarkic in their own economy and it was a very desperate situation.
The Marshall Plan was an enormous success. While I’ve forgotten the figures, they are readily available, the Europeans more than doubled their gross national product in that period of time. Their employment had gone up and they were above their pre-war production and were off development.
So when I was appointed Mutual Security Director, we had a success story behind this and Europe was continuing its expansion so the situation was completely different. Now, I very much approved of the idea of one man controlling both the economic, not controlling because the President is the one
that gave the final decision and Congress specified certain limitations, but controlling the programs.
There were really three programs; the military program, the economic program, and then the Point Four program for the developing nations. I spent my time coordinating these programs and I appointed a deputy, John Kenny who handled the details. The Pentagon handled the military aid that was given, but I coordinated them, and had to approve all the programs. I authorized them before the money was allocated. I think the principle was a good one.
I kept my house and my office in the same room that I had when I was assistant to the President on International Affairs. It was in the old State Department building that is now the adjunct to the White House. It gave me quick access to the President, and also divorced me from being only involved in the economic side. Now, I gave Mr. Kenny broad authority to handle the details. But the situation was different and required different handling. I thought it was exactly right to have Mutual Security. The President approved my recommendation that he appoint Mr. Draper, as the senior in Paris and the office I held there. He had both the economic and military under him and he had as his deputy, General Fred Anderson who was a retired Air Force Officer. He had been in command of the American Air Forces in the landings at Normandy.
I thought it was necessary to have men experienced both in the military and economic side in charge in Europe itself. I know that General Anderson did a great deal of good work in getting standardization of aircraft and began the long attempt to get coordinated production in Europe. He got them to agree to one fighter I remember and they all produced that one fighter. Of course, that’s always been one of the most difficult problems in NATO. They’re making more progress today than they ever had in standardization.
I thought that President Eisenhower would be elected President. I was hopeful that he would appoint or continue William Draper or Anderson in their positions, but, unfortunately, Dulles took control as Secretary of State and he appointed a textile manufacturer. I’ve forgotten his name. He had absolutely no military background or even international background for the job. He (Dulles) wanted to minimize the position over there. He obviously didn’t have the influence that Draper and Anderson as a team had. So that the concept of, that I had of it was .
POIRIER: What was Draper’s . . .
POIRIER: Draper, William Draper.
HARRIMAN: He was Assistant Secretary of War
POIRIER: Is he still alive?
HARRIMAN: He died.
POIRIER: Died, how about Anderson?
HARRIMAN: Anderson has died, too. Katz is still alive, of course.
POIRIER: Yes, we have written to him. He has just returned from a vacation and we will be talking with him probably next week.
HARRIMAN: If you find anything in which we differ or which you want to ask me supplementary questions, I’d be glad to talk with you.
HARRIMAN: He had to do with the Marshall Plan. He had nothing to do with the work of the Three Wise Men.
POIRIER: Right. You are talking about Plowden, Jean Monnet, and yourself?
HARRIMAN: It was originally Gateskill who was the appointee, Plowden was his deputy. There was an election and the Labor party was thrown out. The Conservatives won and Butler was appointed. Plowden had operated during the election campaign and when Butler came. in, Plowden took over because he knew all the details. So actually, although the appointee on the Three Wise Men was the Chancellor, the man who did the work was Plowden.
POIRIER: I see.
HARRIMAN: But it was subject to the approval of the Chancellor.
POIRIER: Can I change the tape?
B. POIRIER: We’re almost through, but . . . Genevieve, that’s the first tape.
G. POIRIER: Yes.
HARRIMAN: You’re sitting on the . . . .
B. POIRIER: Ha, Ha!
G. POIRIER: O.K.
B. POIRIER: I’d like you to know, Governor, my daughter is home from graduate school in California.
HARRIMAN: Oh good . . . .
POIRIER: and she was not going to let me go back home if she could not attend this interview today.
HARRIMAN: Really, that’s nice. What are you doing in . . . .
G. POIRIER: I’m in the Master’s of Business Administration program in California.
HARRIMAN: Business Administration, good, good. In Stanford?
G. POIRIER: No, I’m down around L.A. I’m in Cal State University.
POIRIER: Governor, there are really just two more things to discuss. I don’t want to tire you out too much but . . . .
HARRIMAN: No, we have time.
POIRIER: Do you feel good?
HARRIMAN: Yes. Certainly.
POIRIER: We have seen references in the Archives that go from 1945-1950 of a truly remarkable effort by various forces under the American command to save, find and preserve art objects, things that were plundered and looted, monuments, historically significant buildings, and it’s an aspect of American activity that has not been widely reported, but there has been reference to it.
We have found some truly remarkable stories and are trying as best we can, to see if we can’t piece some of this together. If you have any recollections along these lines, because of your obvious sensitivity to art . . . .
HARRIMAN: I can’t answer that clause specifically. I don’t remember. I actually had a very keen desire to be sure that the recovery program wouldn’t further disrupt, destroy, or cause damage to historic monuments, in particular to the cathedrals and churches. We saw to it that the roads were built and not in any way to interfere with significant buildings. I don’t really recall, though, much being done at that time.
The early work had been done immediately after the War. After the Marshall Plan, they had enough money so that they could afford to do it themselves. They did some of the major reconstruction. But I really don’t remember. Between 1948 and 1950 we were working so hard on the recovery, that I didn’t give a great deal of thought to any diversion of money for the reconstruction of the historic monuments. I felt that they had to do that when their recovery was full. They had a terrific problem with a shortage of housing and a shortage of the real necessities of life, the building of roads, infrastructure of the nation and the railroads, electric power and all that kind of thing - the construction of the basic industries, like the steel industry, coal mining, and otherwise whatever they were short of, so that it wasn’t in my mind that they should divert their attention from these absolute necessities.
But we saw to it that they didn’t do any further damage and that we didn’t stop necessary work to preserve monuments that might otherwise have deteriorated. But I don’t recall that there was any major effort on the part of the Marshall Plan to become involved in that during my period. Katz may be able to give you something later on when they were really in better shape to do it. I was sympathetic, but I think my attitude was to make quite sure that we didn’t do any further damage. We encouraged them to spend their limited funds on reconstruction.
POIRIER: You’ve pretty well covered this part, Governor, everything that we wanted. Do you have something that you might want to tell us?
HARRIMAN: Yes. I think the Marshall Plan was one of the really most extraordinarily long-sighted undertakings that any nation has undertaken in history. It was self interest but it was generous. Congress supported it. Senator Vandenberg had a great deal to do with giving not only Republican support but also some of the Democratic support. He had been an isolationist you remember. He made a dramatic speech in the early winter of 1947.
From then on he was a leader in getting it through Congress. I think it’s very important to record his political role at that time. He was one of the first to support NATO when it became a necessity. The Russian actions in Czechoslovakia and the coup there occurred, I think, in late February or early March of 1948. It did a great deal to stimulate Congressional action in passing the Marshall Plan.
Then the Berlin Blockage was a very important factor in stimulating the discussions which had already started on the necessity of having NATO. You remember when Senator Vandenberg made the first speech outlining the program and was a great supporter of it. He was bipartisan. I have naturally been dedicated to the idea of bipartisanship in foreign policy. And that ought to be the policy of the leaders of both parties because it’s so important.
Vandenberg called it nonpartisanship, not bipartisanship, but nonpartisanship. I thought that was a great word. The Marshall Plan was an extraordinary success because the European countries worked together and I think getting them to divide the aid saved us from having 14 countries come at the United States, each one trying to compete with the other for the good will of the United States. I had something to do with the decision. I put it up to the Europeans. They said it would destroy the OEEC there would be such concern.
However, I took the position that the only way they could have a united program would be by accepting that responsibility. So they finally agreed to it and several of the permanent members of the OEEC Council went to a secluded place in France. Over the weekend they agreed to the basis of dividing the aid. Washington always kept, and had to under the legislation, the final word. But we felt pretty much that the program should be made out by the officials of the OEEC. I don’t think such extraordinary cooperation between the countries had ever before happened in history.
It’s interesting that in those days, France played a very cooperative role. There were a number of different Prime Ministers, but Schuman was particularly active. He had a rapproachement with Adenauer in which the French and the Germans got together, buried their past differences, and worked very closely together.
Unfortunately, DeGaulle had an exaggerated idea of the value of French nationalism and rather changed the situation. I had been very unhappy with the attitude of France for dropping out of the NATO command and in other ways playing an individual role.
I’m glad to see that today (Afghanistan crisis) they are cooperating at least for the President’s grain embargo against the Russians although they are not cooperating on the industrial side. But they have been playing a lone game and it’s been very unfortunate.
DeGaulle had a very bad effect on the French political scene by his attempt to rebuild what he called the glory of France. Today, whether it’s the United States or any other country, we have to cooperate together and to consider things, not only from the standpoint of our own countries, but from the standpoint of what is good for the free world. We have to work together.
I’ve never been concerned with Communism since I went to Russia about 55 years ago. I made up my mind then that it was reactionary philosophy. We have nothing to fear if we stick to our own principles, so long as we work together with other free countries in checking them.
I think the spirit of the Marshall Plan days should be recaptured as much as possible and I’m very glad that you are making this study of it because it’s a very exciting period in international life. I think everyone, military and civilian, who have to do with international affairs should understand it, not only from the standpoint of the figures, but also from the standpoint of the spirit and the cooperation that was developed by this brilliant conception of General Marshall. The plan being a European plan. And incidentally that was why the Russians did not come along.
Marshall took that considered risk in offering it to the Russians. But the Europeans learned to work together and of course the European Community became a direct result. But NATO has a broader membership than the European community. They now call the old OEEC the OECD and the OECD is the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development, isn’t that so?
HARRIMAN: And I think our policies should be to cooperate fully with the work of European unity and to encourage it. They have not achieved the hopes many had, really the hopes that Churchill had, but DeGaulle set it back a good deal. I thought that Stalin had intended to take over western Europe at Potsdam when I went up to him and congratulated him. I had known him very well during the war.
I said to him, “Generalissimo, this must be a great satisfaction to you to be here in Berlin after all you have been through!” He looked at me and said, “Czar Alexander got to Paris!”
It became very clear that he had intended to get to Paris and he failed to cooperate with us in the post war world because he thought that the Communist parties in Italy and in France were strong enough to take over those two countries. And of course, if it hadn’t been for the Marshall Plan, in my opinion, that with the unemployment, hunger, and suffering that existed, they might very well have done it.
They were in both governments, if you remember, and the election of 1948 in Italy was a very perturbing one. We did everything we could to help the Christian Democratic party to win and DeGasperi became the Prime Minister. But we stopped Stalin. He didn’t intend to extend a military advance, but some people were afraid,
The program was to do just exactly what they did in Afghanistan: to establish a communist government and then move in to support it. Now, that’s the danger. The political danger comes first, the military danger second. The Russians had no intention of attacking and have no intention today. But this situation in Afghanistan is a break in their pattern. It is the first time they’ve used their military forces outside of their own (Warsaw Pact) area such as they’ve done against China and against their satellites in Hungary and Czechoslovakia. But this is going off their (treaty) borders and I think it’s very important to make them realize that we consider that a grave risk to world war.
I think the position of the administration, supported by the countries, is the right one today. I think the lessons that we learned from the past are very valuable. The situation is always different and we can’t copy the exact methods, but I think it’s very important now for us to get the cooperation of the other nations, not only the economic cooperation of the advanced countries of Europe and Japan, but also of the developing nations as a result of the assistance they have been given, not only by us but by the other industrial countries.
We have also to remember that we have a great interest in economic development of the developing nations. We are lagging behind. The Congress is willing to appropriate money for the military expenditures, but we are not carrying our weight in the international organizations and for economic assistance. I think we ought to pay much more attention to the economic development.
It’s become very unpopular because there is no constituency for economic aid. But it’s not only important for us to support the military, which I do, particularly our conventional forces, but also to give the economic helping hand which is necessary for these countries to develop so that the human suffering can be dealt with.
POIRIER: Did you have the opportunity yesterday to speak to President Carter about the Afghanistan situation?
HARRIMAN: Well, I was one of the group of 48 persons who listened. There were a number who spoke. I’ve been so familiar and so close to the administration that it wasn’t necessary for me to ask any questions. I listened to the questions asked of Secretary of State Vance, and of the President who answered them. I think the Secretary of Agriculture was there, too.
POIRIER: Governor Harriman, did any Individual like DeGasperi, Konrad Adenauer, Robert Schuman, Anthony Eden, Brezhnev, DeGaulle - did any of these Europeans or Russians ever acknowledge to you the tremendous act of generosity and enlightened self interest that the Marshall Plan represented?
HARRIMAN: Well, they all did. Churchill was the most vocal! He was always vocal. I think what he said was most appropriate but I’ve forgotten just what he called It. Everyone except DeGaulle was very appreciative. They were very appreciative of what we have done.
And now, it’s very interesting, the Europeans are ready to cooperate. In recent years the spirit of NATO has revived. We have got to recognize that we are no longer able to act independently, nor is it wise for us to attempt to.
We have got to learn to cooperate with other nations to shape our policies, so that we are able to get the cooperation of our allies and friends. I think we’re doing that now with the Afghan situation. The Iranian situation is unbelievable. But that’s a different story.
POIRIER: Well, thank you very much, Governor. I really do appreciate it.
HARRIMAN: I don’t know if this last is of any value, but . . . . .
POIRIER: Well, it may well be.
HARRIMAN: We are no longer the sole strong nation. The Russians are strong, but they are divided in their command between the hard liners that want to push communist development and those who, like Kosygin, want to develop Russia for the benefit of the Russians, rather than for international adventure. We have to recognize whom we’re dealing with and encourage the more reasonable people by our actions. We’re not able to handle it alone.
We need the help of our allies and it’s far healthier for us as a nation to recognize that we must develop cooperation in the free world. Our responsibility for being the leading and strongest nation is to take the lead, but it’s got to be through cooperation. I’m very strongly in favor of giving aid, for instance, through the United Nations, although we might have some cases where it cannot be very direct, but I wouldn’t be afraid of that. Our role in the future, when we are not going downhill, is one for the recovery of the world. We are no longer the only strong nation. We have been responsible for the developing strength of our allies.
The Russians have lost their allies. They really have only one satellite anymore and that’s Bulgaria. Whereas we have good allies, strong allies, being free countries, we have to recognize we can’t dictate to them. We have got to negotiate.
The American people must understand that we have to cooperate and not dictate. We are a little bit apt to be a bit arrogant and try to lay down the line for what other people should do. (Genevieve, I think you’ve found that sometimes, don’t you?). And because we’re no longer the sole strong nation in the world, it isn’t that we are less strong, but simply that other nations have become, particularly Russia, strong and it’s a situation we cannot handle without cooperation.
We are very lucky to have allies. And we can keep them if we are ready to be a leader of cooperation rather than doing it all ourselves. Trying to do it all ourselves would fail.
Poirier: Thank you very much.
Carter, Jimmy, 18, 19, 20
Chiang Kai-shek, 11, 12
China, 11, 12, 19
Churchill, Winston, 18, 20
Commodity Funds, 6, 7
Common Market, 5
Construction in Europe, 1, 7, 16
Counterpart Funds, 6, 7
Cripps, Stafford, 6
Czar Alexander, 19
Czechoslovakia, 17, 19
MacArthur, Douglas, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13
Marshall, George, 1, 2, 12, 18
Marshall Plan, 1, 2, 7, 9, 13, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20
Marshall Plan Dollars, 6
Military Construction, 6
Monnet, Jean, 3, 5, 15
Mutual Security Agency, 9, 13, 14
Mutual Security Dollars, 6
United Nations, 20