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Comrades
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script

Narration: Fulton, Missouri, a quiet little town in the Midwest. Not much has changed since 1946.

Less than a year since the war had ended, the flags were up to welcome Winston Churchill. But he came to Fulton bringing a somber message for the world.

Archival Footage: Churchill's "Iron Curtain" speech

"From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the continent. Behind that line lie all the capitals of the ancient states of central and eastern Europe -- Warsaw, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Belgrade, Bucharest and Sofia. All these famous cities and the populations around them lie in what I must call the Soviet sphere."

Interview: Clark Clifford, special counsel to President Truman

"The speech was not well received in the United States. It was thought to be too tough a speech and the president was criticised by some for having Churchill over. Just goes to show how history changes. Now it's one of the great speeches that's ever been made, because it helped warn the world about the danger of the Soviet aggrandisement."

Narration: Back from overseas came the Americans. For the second time in a century, the United States had been pulled into a world war far from its own shores.

Three hundred thousand Americans never came home. But the rest returned to a country wealthier and happier than ever before.

Interview: Al Aronson, returning U.S. veteran

"I sort of eased back into contentment. I said 'Gee this is wonderful.' People seemed to have a little cushion of money now, you know, which, you know, back in -- back in the Depression years, no one had any money. You, you just had about enough money to put food on the table and put a roof over your head and keep your insurance policy in -- in effect, you know."

Interview: John Kenneth Galbraith, economist, U.S. State Department

"Before the war we had 15 percent, maybe sometimes more, unemployed. A very stagnant, unhappy economy and the war -- war production -- production of munitions, production of armaments -- put enormous sums of money into the economy, put millions of people to work -- not only men, but women -- Rosie the Riveter -- and we emerged from the war with virtual full employment."

Interview: Al Aronson, returning U.S. veteran

"As soon as the war was over the factories -- they realized, hey, the Americans have been without a car since before the war. Let's get back into automobile production. And of course the people were anxious for an automobile. There was gasoline available. Foodstuffs became available. So the economy definitely was on the rise."

Narration: War and the postwar rush to spend put American capitalism back on its wheels.

In the first summer of peace, the Soviet soldiers rode home. They were awed to find themselves still alive.

In the crowds that welcomed them, it was the lucky ones who found their sons or husbands. Some 27 million Soviet civilians and soldiers did not live to see this day.

Interview: Valentina Gordeyeva, Briansk resident

"We met the soldiers with flowers, bread, anything we could get hold of. We kissed complete strangers, we were so happy. Our spirits were rising. We even dared hope that those who had gone missing might still be alive."

Interview: Victoria Zlobina, Briansk resident

"The whole of Russia had been destroyed. Everything from the borders to Moscow lay in ruins. There were lots of people with no homes to go to."

Narration: Where the Germans had passed, nearly 70,000 villages had been destroyed. Cities lay in rubble. Stalin's prewar achievements, the factories and apartment blocks of the five-year plans, had been wrecked by the invaders.

Interview: Valentina Gordayev, Briansk resident

"Things which before the war hadn't seemed too bad were completely destroyed. People were living in ruins. It's impossible to describe the suffering. You can only understand it if you've lived through it and seen it with your own eyes."

Narration: For Russians the end of the fighting brought an instant of pure joy.

Archival Footage: Russian woman in Berlin

"Here we are in Berlin. The Reichstag is opposite. Over there is the Brandenburg Gate. The Germans tried to block it but we went right through."

Narration: Berlin, the final battlefield.

The capital of Hitler's Reich had fallen to the Red Army. Dazed Berliners waited to see what the conquerors would do to them. But there was no organized massacre; the survivors were allowed to live as best they could.

Stalin even ordered his troops to feed the Berliners. But the soldiers looted homes, and all over the city they hunted down women.

Interview: Elfriede von Assel, Berlin resident

"More and more Russians came by, they looked through the window, then one of them suddenly came in. I was babysitting. He took the child from my lap and gave it a toy and some cigarettes to play with. That was the first time I was raped. It was terrifying. Afterwards I couldn't speak."

Narration: Stalin's police chief, Beria, and foreign minister, Molotov, tour Berlin. Germany was divided into four occupation zones and each of the Allies took a sector of the German capital. The Allies had decided that Germany should compensate them for war damage.

Interview: Konstantin Koval, Soviet military administration, Berlin

"Marshal Zhukov said, 'We have fought long and hard. We've captured Berlin. We have the moral and legal right to take out as much as possible in reparations. We don't know what the future holds.'"

Narration: The German population was forced to help the Russians seize industrial resources. Not just machines, thousands of craftsmen and scientists were kidnapped and taken to the Soviet Union.

Central Europe was reverting to the Dark Ages. This was a space without law, shelter or mercy -- a continent of nomads. Millions of people uprooted by the Nazis were struggling home; now it was the turn of the Germans to be the victims.

From the Mediterranean to the Baltic, the victors were shaping Europe in their own image. Poland, the invaders' route to Russia, obsessed Stalin. Eastern Poland had been annexed by the Soviet Union. As compensation, the allies shifted the whole country westward, giving Poland the eastern territories of Germany. The Germans were expelled.

Poles, whose own homelands had been seized by the Soviet Union, now took over German farms and houses.

Interview: Monika Taubitz, German expellee

"In the fall of 1945, a young Polish woman, 19 years old, and an older man from the militia entered our house. The girl asked, 'Who does this house belong to?' And my mother said, 'To us.' And Hanja, that was the Polish girl's name, said, 'Now it's mine.' From then on it was Hanja's house.

"Six in the morning -- the militia came and banged the butts of their weapons against the door -- 'Out!' Even though I was only a child, I knew this was it."

Narration: From all over Europe, some 12 million Germans were expelled from lands they had lived in for centuries.

Today it's called 'ethnic cleansing.' Then, the Allies called it 'population transfer' and the British helped to move the Germans out.

Victory in London. From six years of war, Britain emerged happy, but inwardly exhausted.

For the moment, people cheered for king and empire as if nothing had changed, or ever would.

The king's new prime minister was Clement Attlee. The British voters had swung leftwards, and Churchill was out. In foreign policy, the new Labour government held tightly to the American alliance.

Ernest Bevin, the new foreign secretary, was a trade union veteran who mistrusted communists. He had backed Churchill's intervention in the Greek civil war. British interests were at stake here. The concern was that the conflict might threaten Britain's oil route from the Middle East through the Mediterranean.

The strongest resistance movement, the communists, reached for power.

But they didn't know that Stalin had told Churchill that he had no interest in a communist Greece. The British army moved in.

The civil war was long and cruel.

But Stalin kept his word, and left the Greek communists to their fate.

The Soviet Union now dominated the nations along its western border. At first Stalin did not impose a Soviet system on his new empire. Instead, he built up pro-Soviet coalition governments. But the communists made sure that the police and security were in their hands. The Yalta Conference had given Russia control of central Europe.

Interview: Sir Frank Roberts, British Embassy, Moscow

"We knew perfectly well what the Russians interpreted as democracy and all that, but then we were allies fighting a war together. We couldn't very well say to Stalin, 'Now we are going to write down our interpretation of Western democracy and you've got to sign up and say this is your interpretation.' It wasn't possible."

Interview: George Elsey, aide to President Truman

"We began to receive cables from American representatives in the, what we were all later to call the satellite countries, on the behavior of Soviet troops with respect to er, er, the people of Poland, er, of Bulgaria, Romania, Yugoslavia and so on. So, er, trouble was in the air."

Interview: Robert Tucker, U.S. Embassy, Moscow

"What would happen is that such and such a prominent member of the Peasant Party of Bulgaria would be kidnapped. Simply, would disappear. Er, or other figures who were not acceptable for inclusion in the People's Democratic new regimes would be disappeared."

Narration: In Berlin, where the Allies jointly supervised city life, the communists were careful.

Interview: Wolfgang Leonhard, East Berlin communist, 1945

"The idea was at the beginning to cooperate, and gradually, gradually, to build up the party, making the best organized party, the most militant party, the most active party and gradually increase the influence on the other parties and gradually take over the whole situation but not at once.

"We should already prepare for building up the police. The man for personnel, who changes personnel. The man for education. So we were flabbergasted, we -- only three or four comrades and everybody else the social democrats and bourgeois democrats and so on. So one of us asked and said -- but it must look democratic, but we must have everything in our hands."

Interview: Lord Annan, British military intelligence

"Many Germans perfectly well understood that brown, the Nazi colors, were becoming red overnight. After all, the methods in some ways were the same, or at any rate very similar, of forcing people to do things against their will."

Interview: Wolfgang Leonhard, East Berlin communist, 1945

"For me, my only comparison was always the Soviet Union under Stalin. And comparable to the Soviet Union under Stalin in 1935 to '45, '45 to '46-47 in Germany was, er, wonderful. It was much less terror than which I had witnessed the 10 years before in the Soviet Union."

Narration: Soviet communism had stood the test of war. The Red Army was the biggest on Earth, and General Eisenhower came to pay his respects to the world's newest superpower. But Stalin feared encirclement by the capitalist powers. At home he watched for treachery. Those who had been taken prisoner by the Germans and seen a glimpse of the West might become disloyal. They were being arrested in thousands. The Americans knew what was going on.

Interview: Martha Mautner, U.S. Embassy, Moscow

"We had a maid whose husband was a prisoner of war. When he finally was repatriated and came back, it was a great reunion, and life was wonderful again, the family was reunited. Six months later he was arrested because he had been a German prisoner of war."

Interview: Lev Kopelev, Red Army officer and political prisoner

"Some were there because of a general decree by Stalin, some were deserters and thieves, some White Russian emigres, some Poles from the Home Army. I entered a whole new world. Prison camps were my university."

Narration: Poland. In the wreckage of Warsaw, the Poles began to clear the ruins. The Poles had fought the Germans on every front, East and West. Now they worked together to rebuild their country. Some loathed the new semi-communist government tied to Moscow. But others found reasons to accept it and live with it.

Interview: Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski, Polish army

"The most important thing for me was for my mother and sister to come from Siberia, and for us to begin rebuilding the country. We also needed to secure our borders, which were seriously threatened. Staying in the army gave me that chance."

Narration: In Moscow, Poland's new puppet leaders were taken to the opera.

The Poles agreed to a close alliance with the Soviet Union. Stalin promised to defend the new Polish frontiers against any German attempt to win back the lost territories.

Stalin was at the zenith of his power. His colleagues felt terror in his presence.

Interview: Sir Frank Roberts, British Embassy, Moscow

"The Russian diplomats, like all other Russian officials or party members or whatever, lived in terror of the great man, and justifiably so, because if they gave, er, unpopular advice, er, they might find themselves in a concentration camp or with a bullet in the back of their heads. It wasn't very easy to give good advice to Stalin if it was unpalatable."

Interview: Vladimir Yerofeyev, Soviet Foreign Ministry

"Stalin was cheerful and in high spirits. At his side were the main guest, the interpreter and Soviet guests too. The waiters came in with the main course.

"I think it was turkey. One of them, whilst he was pouring the sauce, dropped some red liquid on Stalin's sand-coloured jacket. Everybody stopped eating. They were in a state of shock about what would happen because the stains looked like drops of blood. But Stalin didn't react. He continued to talk with his neighbor. Then another waiter came up to him with some water and offered to sponge it out, but Stalin said, 'No, no,' and he was absolutely calm. People saw that things seemed to be OK. Everyone began eating again and the routine continued."

Narration: To mark the Soviet elections, Stalin made a grand appearance. To his exhausted people, he promised no rewards but only more effort, more five-year plans for heavy industry.

Then, in cloudy words, he warned that capitalism and imperialism made future wars inevitable. Did this mean war between the Soviet Union and the West? Abroad, alarm bells rang.

Interview: Paul Nitze, U.S. State Department

"I read the speech with care and interpreted it as being a delayed declaration of war against the United States. There wasn't any doubt about it, if you read the text carefully, what he was talking about."

Interview: Vladimir Yerofeyev, Soviet Foreign Ministry

"The speech was interpreted in the West as no less than a prediction of World War III. I don't think this was right though. Stalin didn't say anything new or different in that speech. He said what he had always believed: that with imperialism and capitalism, war was inevitable."

Interview: Sir Frank Roberts, British Embassy, Moscow

"What the Russians were thinking in terms of, was that -- and I think Stalin thought in these terms -- was that communism was one day going to rule -- be the dominant ideology in the world, and all countries gradually were going to become communist. And in the meantime you didn't -- in Stalin's idea -- start dangerous wars which you might lose, but if you had a good chance of pushing the cause along you always pushed it along."

Narration: Stalin had relaxed his dictatorship during the war; but now he was tightening it once more. The Soviet Union's obvious suspicion of the West disturbed Washington.

An American diplomat in Moscow, George Kennan was asked what he thought was going on.

Interview: George Kennan, U.S. Embassy, Moscow

"When they finally sent me a telegram expressing their astonishment and concern, because the Russians were dragging their feet about joining the International Bank, I thought, well, for goodness sake, I can't answer that in one question. They're going to have to give me space and I sat down and tried to give a picture of this government as it emerged from the war."

Interview: Robert Tucker, U.S. Embassy, Moscow

"One of the strengths of Kennan was his awareness that the Russia in which we were living, Stalin's Soviet Russia, communism, people called it, actually drew in very many ways upon the Russian past."

Interview: George Kennan, U.S. Embassy, Moscow

"I had to go right back to page one and to try to tell them things that I felt they'd forgotten during the war. This all hangs together with this whole question that this was the same group of people who had dealt with Hitler, had tried to deal with Hitler at our expense and never had changed their views about us."

Narration: Kennan's Moscow Embassy cable became history: an 8,000-word prophecy that the Soviet Union was in the mood to expand across the world and must be contained.

Interview: Martha Mautner, U.S. Embassy, Moscow

"The day that telegram was drafted I unfortunately or fortunately had the night duty at the code room and, and was rather perturbed about it because I happened to have a very heavy date that night: there was a dance at one of the other embassies and I wanted to get out as early as possible. About 6:30 or 7, George comes walking in with this six-part cable which he wants to send out, and I took a look at it and I said it was nice, 'But let's not send it out. Let's wait till tomorrow,' and I tried to talk him into not sending it. He said, 'Washington wants it. They're going to get it and you stay here and do it.'"

Narration: Kennan's telegram alarmed Washington. Days later, its message was reinforced when Churchill arrived in the United States as President Truman's guest.

Interview: Clark Clifford, special counsel to President Truman

"They began to get to know each other. Mr -- our president said to Mr. Churchill, 'Now we'll be on this trip quite a while and I would be glad if you would call me Harry.' 'Well,' Mr. Churchill said, 'I'll be glad to if you will call me Winston.' Mr. Truman said, 'I don't believe I can do that.' He said, 'I consider you the First Citizen in the world and I just don't believe I can call you Winston.' Winston Churchill said, 'If you can't call me Winston, then I can't call you Harry.' The president said, 'On that basis, we'll do it.' So it was Winston and Harry from that time on, and they got on very well."

Narration: Churchill was due to speak to a college audience at Fulton in Truman's home state. Privately, he showed Truman what he was going to say. The president, not sure that the American public was ready for an attack on its wartime Soviet ally, let Churchill test the water.

Archival Footage: Truman at Fulton, 1945

"Mr. Churchill is one of the great men of the age. He's a great Englishman. He's a great Englishman but he's half-American."

Archival Footage: Churchill at Fulton, 1945

"From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the continent. Behind that line lie all the capitals of the ancient states of central and eastern Europe. Except in the British Commonwealth and in the United States, where communism is in its infancy, the communist parties or fifth columns constitute a growing challenge and peril to Christian civilization. Whatever conclusions may be drawn from these facts, and facts they are, this is certainly not the liberated Europe we fought to build up. Nor is it one which contains the essentials of permanent peace."

Interview: Robert Tucker, U.S. Embassy, Moscow

"Immediately after that, Stalin came out with answers to a foreign correspondent's questions in which he compared Churchill to Hitler. And decried Churchill's speech as a belligerent call to arms against Soviet Russia."

Narration: Since 1945, America had been extending its influence and power all over the world. Stalin grew nervous. He put pressure on Turkey to grant the Soviet Union a military presence in the Dardanelles and the Bosporus. America and Britain feared a threat to the Suez Canal.

They were determined to keep Turkey free of Soviet interference.

When the Turkish ambassador in Washington died suddenly, Truman used America's biggest battleship, the USS Missouri, to deliver the body to Istanbul.

Interview: George Elsey, aide to President Truman

"This was a symbol to Stalin, 'Don't push us and don't push Turkey, because if you push Turkey we'll be there.'"

Narration: Iran, like Turkey, lay on the southern borders of the Soviet Union, and for centuries had been hostile to Russia.

During the war, Soviet and British troops had occupied Iran to protect their oil supplies. They even celebrated their partnership there.

The old shah, thought to be pro-German, was dethroned and replaced by his son, Mohammed Reza Pahlevi. There was an agreement that, once the war was over, the British and Soviet troops would both pull out.

Interview: Vladimir Yerofeyev, Soviet Foreign Ministry

"When the occupation was due to end, Stalin didn't want to leave. He wanted to stay on. This created problems. There was lots of pressure put on us, pressure from the British, and in fact the Soviet Union had no legal right to stay there."

Narration: Iran presented the Security Council of the newly founded United Nations with its first crisis.

Archival Footage: Narration

"That's Mr. Gromyko proposing to the Security Council that the hearing of the Persian case should be postponed."

Narration: The Soviet Union tried to prevent further discussion -- they lost.

Archival Footage: Narration

"Mr. Gromyko and the other Russians then walked out. Their dramatic exit seems to have caused no obvious reaction at the time, though we can imagine what most of those present were thinking. One good thing, however, emerges from this incident. The Security Council had stood its ground."

Narration: Six weeks later, Stalin ceremonially withdrew his forces from Iran. But Truman, shaken by his behavior, suspected that Stalin was aiming at world domination.

Interview: Clark Clifford, special counsel to President Truman

"He said, 'I want to be in a position to document our concern. Go back over the recent agreements and list one by one the violations in which the Soviets have engaged.'"

Interview: George Elsey, aide to President Truman

"I was then Mr. Clifford's assistant and he turned the task over to me. We talked about it a bit, and I said, 'Well, it seems to me that that's only scratching the surface, a list of agreements broken. This is a much more -- there are much more fundamental problems in our relations with the U.S.S.R. than that. So let's go at it in a somewhat broader way.'"

Interview: Clark Clifford, special counsel to President Truman

"We spent weeks on it then, interviewed most of the top officials in the United States."

Interview: George Elsey, aide to President Truman

"There was absolute unanimity, in all of the agencies concerned, as to the nature of the problems we had, and the kind of response we were going to have to make."

Interview: Clark Clifford, special counsel to President Truman

"We ended up the report by saying the policy of our country should be set and clearly set. The Soviet Union constitutes a real menace to freedom in this world. Freedom in Europe, freedom in the United States. So we must prepare for it."

Narration: The Clifford-Elsey report was kept secret. The report concluded that "a war with the U.S.S.R. would be more total, more horrible, than anything previously known."

The United States still had the monopoly of atomic weapons. At Bikini Atoll in the Pacific, two atom bombs were detonated in July 1946. The warning to Stalin was plain. From now on all the big powers worked frantically to develop their own atomic and biological weapons.

At the Paris Conference of Foreign Ministers, Molotov was determined to maintain joint allied control of Germany. But his American counterpart, Secretary of State Byrnes, wanted Germany to pay no more reparations. For Molotov, Byrnes was too concerned with German opinion. He was outraged.

Interview: Vladimir Yerofeyev, Soviet Foreign Ministry

"Molotov was nicknamed Mr. No, but if he had been a Mr. Yes, Stalin would not have kept him on. Stalin needed a Mr. No, someone capable of finding out the maximum information about the other side's position. Molotov would squeeze the other side to its absolute limit. When he had totally exhausted these methods it was Stalin's turn. He would come back and resolve matters with a friendly smile."

Narration: It was at Paris that the wartime alliance began finally to break up. The Americans and the British were impatient to develop stable economies in their zones of Germany, without Soviet interference.

Archival Footage: Narration

"Stuttgart, Germany. Scene of an event that marks a new phase in Europe's destiny. Secretary of State James F. Byrnes is here to set forth the policy of the United States on Germany. A speech, widely interpreted as marking the end of America's appeasement of Russia, Byrnes tells the Germans and the world."

Archival Footage: Secretary of State James Byrnes

"It is not in the interests of the German people, or in the interests of world peace, that Germany should become a pawn or a partner in the military struggle for power between the East and the West."

Interview: John Kenneth Galbraith, economist, U.S. State Department

"I listened to the Byrnes Stuttgart speech with marked approval, because in fact I had written most of it, and I -- those of us who worked on it, and Byrnes, were not thinking in anti-Soviet terms."

Archival Footage: Secretary of State James Byrnes

"The American people want to return the government of Germany to the people of Germany. And the American people want to help the German people to win their way back to an honorable place among the free and peace-loving nations of the world."

Narration: In 1945, the Allies had approved Poland's annexation of Germany's eastern provinces, up to the Oder and Neisse rivers. But now Byrnes suggested that the new frontier was unfair to Germany and might be changed.

Interview: Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski, Polish army

"It was a shocking statement. It made us think that our western border was being questioned by the Germans and by other Western countries. It was one of the most important things that strengthened our ties with the Soviet Union."

Archival Footage: Narration

"More pictures have arrived from Moscow. They show the everyday scene in the Soviet capital's famous Red Square. And what's in their shops? Well, here's a glimpse of the sort of things now on display. These new fashions, our cameraman tells us, are so expensive, that they are quite beyond the means of ordinary people in Russia today."

Narration: Ordinary people were much worse off than the newsreels showed.

Interview: Victoria Zlobina, Moscow resident

"It was a very hard time. I had a son who was 1 1/2 years old. He used to get a plate from the cupboard and walk after me saying: 'Give me, give me.' But I had nothing to give him. We used to go to the market and buy horsefeed."

Narration: On the collective farms, war damage and the death of so many workers at the front were deepening a grave food shortage.

Interview: Martha Mautner, U.S. Embassy, Moscow

"I took a trip down through the Ukraine and it was the time of the '47 famine that was going on down there about which nothing was heard in the outside world. The Soviets were talking about great grain harvests and everything else. We got down there. On the train stops you would see children with distended bellies begging for bread, er, at the Odessa itself, people lying out on the streets outside the hospitals where they couldn't take them in, starving to death. There was malnutrition everywhere."

Narration: In Germany, too, hunger and disease were spreading. The nightmare of the Western Allies was that poverty would drive the Germans towards communism.

Interview: Elfriede Graffier Poppek, Dortmund resident

"There was never enough food. We were always hungry. In those days we went on scavenging trips. We went to farmers and begged. Sometimes we got something, other times nothing."

Narration: America's General Lucius Clay reflected, "There is no choice between being a communist on 1,500 calories a day and a believer in democracy on a thousand."

Aid to Germany cost Britain over a million dollars a day. But British supplies were not enough to save thousands of Germans, who died that winter for lack of food and fuel.

Britain too was weakening. The fierce winter of 1946-47 brought industry to a standstill. The country's economy, undermined by six years of war, began to seize up. Coal ran out, electricity failed, and food rationing grew even tighter.

Interview: Lord Annan, British military intelligence

"You know, people forget again: We never had bread rationing during the war, we had bread rationing after it. And that was because we were pouring wheat into Germany to prevent mass starvation there."

Interview: Paul Nitze, U.S. State Department

"That was a bad winter altogether. It was cold and the crops were bad, people were unhappy, and the communists were making strenuous gains here, there and the other place, particularly in Italy and in France, but also in Germany."

Narration: The British could no longer afford all their heavy commitments in the Mediterranean. They told the Americans they intended to pull out.

Interview: Clark Clifford, special counsel to President Truman

"The message came and it was flat. It said, 'Great Britain is withdrawing from both economic aid and military aid to Greece and Turkey.'"

Interview: George Elsey, aide to President Truman

"This simply crystallized the opinions in the executive branch that the United States had to move and move very, very quickly."

Interview: Paul Nitze, U.S. State Department

"The prospect didn't look good at all for Europe or for the United States or for anybody."

Narration: In Washington, President Truman went to Congress. From now on, he announced, the United States would contain the advance of communism anywhere on the globe. This, at last, was the official declaration of the Cold War.

 

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