Cold War Soviet Russia & Khrushchev – The Brothers Kalb #1

Cold War Soviet Russia & Khrushchev – The Brothers Kalb #1


>>Hello, and welcome
to an exciting journey through the eyes of
Marvin and Bernard Kalb, two of the most respected
broadcast journalists of our time. Over a period of 70 years,
these two brothers reported some of the world’s most
historic events and witnessed firsthand some of our nation’s most
turbulent moments. Marvin Kalb was a diplomatic
correspondent with CBS and NBC news for 30 years. In the 1980s he anchored
Meet The Press. He also anchored the Kalb
Report, a quarterly broadcast from the National Press Club
emphasizing journalistic ethics and practice. He has authored and co-authored
14 books including his most recent, The Road to War: Presidential Commitments
Honored and Betrayed. Today Marvin Kalb is a senior
advisor to the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting
and Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution. He is a Professor of Journalism
at Harvard University. Bernard Kalb started as
a reporter and columnist for the New York Times
before he branched out into TV journalism
at CBS and NBC news. He was a foreign correspondent for 15 years covering Southeast
Asia during the Vietnam War. Bernard Kalb’s career as a
journalist took him to locations around the world including
Washington, Moscow, Beijing, Saigon, Paris, Antarctica
and many places in between. These two brothers have some
wonderful stories to tell that will be both
entertaining and educational. So sit back and prepare to
take a journalistic journey as the Johns Hopkins Osher
School of Lifelong Learning and Montgomery College’s tv and radio students proudly
present the Brothers Kalb: Here, There and Everywhere,
a lecture series that recounts the globetrotting
professional experiences of Marvin and Bernard Kalb.>>CBS News diplomatic
correspondent Marvin Kalb. [ Music ] [ Multiple Conversations ]>>Here we are, Marvin and I,
and what we’re going to try to do in a running theme
throughout this few sessions we have together is to
talk about the Cold War which will evoke many
memories for those of us here who were over 15. What we’ll try to do is
recreate some of the immediacy, some of the urgency that
surrounded Cold War headlines that we’re all familiar with
that we have all lived through. And essentially we could
have called this session of ours together here
headlines we were at. But Marvin escalated up to
give it a much more feel political theme. And so these will be
variations of the Cold War as we covered them
when both of us were at a particular headline,
when one of us was at a particular headline, or
where we were geographically at any time a headline erupted
that caught your attention. A quick bio of Marvin
in a minute fifteen. Born, then [laughter] quickly
after college, etc., etc., an interpreter, Russian
into English and the other way
around in Moscow. Worked for many years as
a diplomatic correspondent for CBS, for NBC, a
professor at Harvard for about ten years teaching and founding the Osher
Instinct Center, the interaction of public policy and the press. And I did a few things as well. Now, let’s go onto what
we’re talking about today.>>One little story I
want to share with you about Years of Crisis. When I was working
as a correspondent for the New York Times in
Southeast Asia where I lived for about 15 years, I came back
once at the end of the year on home leave, and Marvin
was on of these programs. I had not yet joined
CBS, left the Times. And one of the questions
during a live Years of Crisis finale was a
question during the worst days of the Cold War. A fellow stood up in the
audience, live program, said my question is
addressed to Mr. Kalb. Would you rather be red or dead? I was in a living
room on 79th Street in New York wondering how I
could deal with that question if I were at the recipient
end of that challenge. Palpitations, gasping. Marvin said those
are not my choices. Brilliant. Brilliant. Those are not my choices. But since we’re talking about the Cold War let me
help you dust off memories about the panoramic
sweep of the Cold War from when it began essentially,
when it was headlined, the Winston Churchill speech
at Fulton, Missouri in 1945 –>>46.>>I told you not to do that. 1946 Churchill says an
iron curtain has descended across Europe dividing
it into two components. And in 1990, 1990 Marvin?>>1990.>>1989, 1990, but actually in 90 Gorbachev gets the
Nobel Prize for Peace. So you’ve got that span of
45, 46, the iron curtain, 90 Gorbachev gets the speech. And let me take a look,
let me remind you, dust off a few old memories of
some of the hot spots during that particular period from 45,
the end of World War II, 46, all the way through,
a few of these things. The Yalta Conference 1945. Remember Yalta, the
big table around Yalta. The United States and the bomb,
first bomb 1945, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japanese
surrender World War II, Winston Churchill’s speech. Marshall Plan announced to
build an economic buttress against any threats from the
Soviet Union from the east. The Berlin Blockade begins. NATO ratified. Berlin Blockade ends. Mao Tse-tung takes
control of China in 1949. Soviets explode their
first bomb. Are you remembering with me? Their first bomb in 1949. Korean War, just think of this
cycle of fright and anxiety. Korean War June 1950,
Korean War ends 1953. Vietnam is split in two at
the 17th parallel in 1954. The Warsaw Pact emerges
created by the Soviet Union as it countered Nato,
blah, blah, blah, blah. Sputnik goes up in 1957. Khrushchev demands withdrawal of
all troops Berlin 1958, 1960s. Soviet reveals U.S. planes shot
down over Soviet territory. You remember that was
on the even of a summit that was suddenly cancelled. Kennedy elected April 61. April 61 everybody? Bay of Pigs, Cuba. Berlin border closed 61. Berlin Wall begins. Cuban missile crisis the
worst of it all in 62. Kennedy assassinated in 64. Gulf of Tonkin incident.>>66.>>What did I say, 64? That’s why you’re here.>>64 Gulf of Tonkin, Vietnam. The President announces in 65
150,000 U.S. troops to Vietnam, eventually it would go
to 500,000 in Vietnam. August 68 Soviet troops crush
Czechoslovakia in revolt. Apollo lands on the moon
in 69 and on and on. Nixon extends the Vietnam War. Egypt Banks in 73 and
Syria attacks Israel. In 75 the North Vietnam
beats South Vietnam. The 80s are filled with
it, etc., etc. I picked out this tyranny of these
events over those years. I isolated and described
predictably without any question, without
any ambiguity the Cuban Missile Crisis.>>Okay, that was the
single, most important issue, the most dangerous issue. But I want to back up just
a little bit and tell you about my own experiences
in Russia in 1956 before the
Cuban Missile Crisis. At that time, we were
three years removed from the death of Stalin. And less than three years
after that huge event, Nikita Khrushchev who many of
you will remember a boisterous, rambunctious, reckless,
most interesting, fascinating Russian
leader, takes over. And it is 56, it is
the year of the thaw. And in February of 56, Khrushchev delivers a
de-Stalinization speech which says to all of
the Russian people: everything that you
had believed in, every word that this
man said– forget. We’re entering a new era now. We’re trying to get
along with the West. And we began to talk about [foreign language],
peace and friendship. And this is the theme
for Russia today. So what Khrushchev did was
bring the entire Politburo, all of the leaders
of the Soviet Union, to every single national
day event in Moscow. So if you were a reporter
you could anticipate that Khrushchev would
arrive at all of these parties…including
the July 4th party at the American Embassy. At the Embassy at that
time there were four people who spoke Russian, the
Ambassador, two officers and a junior colleague
named Niev [phonetic]. And I was assigned to look after
Marshall Jukhoff [phonetic]. Marshall Jukhoff was small, round and a great
hero of World War II. And I made a deal with Chung
who was the Chinese butler at the American Ambassador’s
home. And he probably worked for five or six secret services
[laughter] including the American. And I said to him,
Chung, this is the deal. You give me water and
you give him vodka. [Laughter] And so 11 drinks
we had, the two of us. And I socked it back
just like that, and he did his vodka
and I did my water. And I stood straight. And as the Marshall
was leaving he stopped, and there was the
Ambassador and Khrushchev. And Marshall Jukhoff said, ah,
I have finally met an American who can drink like a Russian. [Laughter] And Ambassador
Bohlen knew I didn’t drink. So he gives me a look, and I give him a look
of great innocence. And then Khrushchev
looks up at me and he says, how tall are you? I answered in a phrase,
by the way, to this day that I can’t
figure out how I did it. I said, I’m six centimeters
shorter than Peter the Great. [Laughter] Khrushchev
roared with laughter. Thought it was a great line. I still think it’s a great line. And he said from that moment on
the many times that I saw him after that he would always
say here comes Peter the Great whenever I walked over to him. Did you see our basketball game
last night, Khrushchev asked. I said, yes, I did, sir. He said did you see how
great Lithuania was? I said it was a good effort. I used to play basketball
and they weren’t that good. And he said they
would win not only — they would beat any
team in the world. And I looked at him and I
said, with all due respect, Mr. Chairman, a good
college basketball team in the United States could
beat your Lithuanian team. At which point the
Ambassador looked at me, and he would have punched
me right in the face because it was outrageous to
say that, but it was true. [Laughter] And Khrushchev
at that point looked at me fiercely, but he had this
way of switching from anger to feigned humor in a second. And so he went from anger to
humor, then he began to laugh. In a dictatorship whenever the
leader laughs, everybody laughs. So everybody was laughing. They thought that was so funny.>>Laughing was policy.>>That’s right. And from that time on he
did give me actually two or three very good stories. And he was always giving
it to me as a result of Peter the Great
and that story. So it gives you a sense
that Khrushchev who led us into the Cuban Missile
Crisis was also a man of –>>Before you go into
the Cuban Missile Crisis.>>No, I don’t want to do that.>>I just wanted to say –>>No, just a minute.>>No, hang on. I just wanted to say that he was if you all understand
French he was Khrushchev in his way was a mensch. He understood, he was
able to grasp things from a human perspective. And one of the things he did
not want to do was go to war. But he did have enormous
faith in the Soviet Union, and he thought it could
do just about anything.>>You saw Dan Schorr here
who recently passed on, Dan Schorr whom you’ve
known for many years on radio and television. Dan Schorr used to
tell a story about one of these July 4th affairs
which Khrushchev attended and Dan was there along with
Marvin and other reporters who were covering Moscow
on a regular basis. And Dan had made plans with CBS to take a vacation
beginning the next weekend. But just a few days
before the weekend and just before the July 4th
party was about to happen, there were rumors in Moscow that the Communist Party
leadership would be holding a meeting on the very same
day that Dan was due to depart from Moscow. That’s a bad miss if
you don’t cover one of the most critical
stories in your area. You don’t leave town when the
Communist Party leadership is meeting. So at this cocktail party
out on the garden Dan goes up to Khrushchev, and he says,
Mr. Chairman, I have a question. I am scheduled to leave on
my vacation next weekend. But now I hear from
rumors around town that your Communist Party
leadership will be meeting at the same time. What shall I do? Shall I cancel? And Khrushchev said, Mr. Schorr,
[foreign language] Schorr, you go on your vacation, and
if we hold such a meeting, we’ll hold it without you. [ Laughter ] No, I want to tell one
story on the Cold War. Very quickly, it will
be a minute or so. The Cold War, to those of
us who worked in the field, the Cold War would
come to us as well. It wasn’t simply U.S.-Soviet. The Cold War affected
the entire world. It affected your vocabulary. It affected literature and
songs, television, movies, etc. And I jotted down two
things about the Cold War here. For example, I lived
many years in Indonesia. Do any of you speak Indonesian, otherwise I’ll stay
with English. In 1965 Khrushchev came
to visit Indonesia. And I just pause here
for a second to tell you that if you were one of the
newly independent countries that emerged at the end of
World War II, colonialism went to a quiet burial
service, sometimes violent. But be that as it may, you had
these new, independent countries that were taking their
first steps as free nations, and they chose a
terrible time to do that. While they were still in
diapers these countries, Indonesia among them,
the U.S. and Russia moved in on them competing for their
loyalty and their allegiance and for their vote
in critical times. And I say that following, for
example, a night in the 60s, somewhere following Chinese
Premier Zhou Enlai throughout Southeast Asia. He traveled uh…Hungary 56? Late 50s, I changed the time. Late 50s Zhou Enlai, the
Chinese Premier, China is free in its communist sense
only six or seven years, 1949 to 1956, Hungary
is quashed. The rebellion in Hungary is
quashed by the Soviet Union. Zhou Enlai, nervous about the
image communism will have, takes the Cold War
to Southeast Asia. And he goes through the
countries to reassure them that we Chinese will never
behave the way the Russians, the communists did
in the Soviet Union. We don’t go around crushing
countries when they try to express national aspirations. So no matter where you were I
was covering the China-India War in 1962 in a way sparked by Cuba
or used at the same time as Cuba by the Chinese leadership. That no matter where you
are, the Cold War had a way of intruding in your
lives, your personal lives and your national lives. And, again, nobody in the
world disagrees with this in any language– Cuba, the Cuban Missile Crisis
was the zenith of horror, potential horror, the
end, the extinction of civilization in
October of 1962. You all remember
what it was like? I don’t know whether you hid
under desks, whether you were that young or that old. If you hid under a
desk raise your hand. Look at this, Marvin,
look at this. Look at that. Hid under a desk,
Cuban Missile Crisis. It takes one’s breath away. I see Cuban Missile Crisis
hiding under a desk I think of it as something you read. But you’re personalizing
it now, and it’s chilling. It’s chilling.>>I was in Moscow then for CBS, that entire week,
that whole period. And I can tell you that
in Russia it was seen very differently. And I want to give you two
illustrations that indicated for an American reporter
in Moscow that we were not
heading to a nuclear war. The first was I went very often
to the Central Market in Moscow which is open air where
peasants bring in their food and where people living in
Moscow buy most of their produce because the stuff
in Moscow was awful. In Russian, the words [foreign
language] together means hospitality [foreign language]. They are the two basics in a
Russian diet, salt and flour. The year before in 1961
during the Berlin Crisis, which was alluded to here, if you went to the Central
Marketplace you could not find salt or flour because they
were both hoarded by Russians who instinctively knew
that war was near, and if war comes they have to
have bread, so they would hoard as much flour as they could. Salt they needed for
food of all sorts. When you went during the week
of the Cuban Missile Crisis to the Central Market in Moscow
you could buy as much flour and salt as you liked
which meant that for the Russian people
there was no diving under desks. They simply did not feel
that they were close to war. Incident number two. On Wednesday of that
week, my wife had tickets to the theater, to an opera. And Jerome Hines, the
American opera star, was to be singing that night. I said to her that
I’m not going, I’m staying in the office. She said, yes, you are going. Because if there is
some manifestation of Russian desire either for war or peace you might see it there
and, of course, she was right, not for the first time. We went, and at intermission
Khrushchev arrived at the opera that night with the
entire Politburo. And he stood up and applauded
and gave that big smile. And I’m sitting there about
15 feet away, and I’m saying to my wife, did you know this? No, but she had an instinct
that we ought to be there. And she was right. And immediately after the opera
ended, Khrushchev stood up, gave a lot of applause, and
went around to backstage. And I raced along with him,
and his secret service people, though they did know me, nevertheless allowed
me to go through. And I overheard Khrushchev say
to Hines we must find a way so that people like you
can always come to Russia and Russians can
come to America. We must find a way
of living together. And I piped up, of course,
do you feel, Mr. Chairman, that we’re going to find a
way out of the current crisis? And he looked at me and
spoke very slowly as if to say I know you speak
Russian but I don’t trust you so I’m going to say
it real slow. We can always find a way out of
this crisis and other crises, we have to use our heads. He sounded like he wanted to get
a particular point across to me so that there would
be no [inaudible]. [Laughter] I was very taken
by that, and I did a broadcast that night describing that. The tone in the Russian press where we got these
clues indicated that there were two voices. There was a voice that said
we cannot allow ourselves to be humiliated. We did something we don’t think
was a great idea but we did it, now we have to stick with it. There was another side which I
always felt was the Khrushchev side saying, cool it, we’ve
got to find a way out. What you just saw a
moment ago when they talked about the Friday letter
and the Saturday letter, that first letter was
Khrushchev writing it himself. It was a very emotional letter. The second letter was
something quite different. It was very tough and straight. And Kennedy used
his head brilliantly by ignoring the second
letter, focusing on the first, sending a letter to Khrushchev,
back to Khrushchev picking up the theme of the first and saying we’ll get
our missiles out, you take your missiles out. And for the world that will be
— for us that will be a swap. For the world, I’ll
give you something, too. I will say that the United
States will not invade Cuba. In other words, Khrushchev
could turn to his people and say we got something
out of that as well. And that was the essence
of that great deal that came together
on that Sunday. And, finally, I want to say
that on that Sunday I was in the Central Telegraph. It was an incredibly tense day
because we really didn’t know which way it was going to turn. And a friend of mine who was
a Moscow radio reporter came rushing in. I was there alone. Came rushing in, and he gave
something to the censor. And I ran after him and
said what are you giving to the censor? And he looked at me
with a slight smile, and he said listen carefully,
you will want to know this. And I said peace? And he went like this. And then he said
listen carefully because there is
a great announcer, [inaudible] who did all of the announcements
during World War II. When you heard his
voice, it was you know, it was like Cronkite’s voice. When you heard his voice you
knew it was something big. And he began to speak at
exactly 5 p.m. Moscow time. I had a line open to New York. I fed the Russian broadcast
through to New York. And when I heard the phrase “and
we will withdraw our missiles from Cuba,” I jumped in and told
the editor the Russians have just caved, and that is
the verb that I used. Kennedy heard that broadcast,
and he said to the anchorman, David Schoenbrun, he
said tell them not to use words like caved. I don’t want to humiliate
Khrushchev. And so Schoenbrun said
to me please don’t use that word again, and I
said, yes I will, and did, because that’s what
the Russians did. They did cave, but we’re all
very lucky that they did.>>We hope you enjoyed this
edition of the Brothers Kalb: Here, There and Everywhere. Join us again next time for
an up close and personal view of the unforgettable events that
shaped our nation and the world. And remember you can
always join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter. I’m Mary Kay Shartle Galotto,
Director of the Osher Program at Johns Hopkins University. Thanks for joining us, and
we’ll see you next time. [ Music ]

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