WGBH Openvault

War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Europe Goes Nuclear; Interview with Valentin Falin, 1986 [2]

Part of War and Peace in the Nuclear Age.


Valentin Falin was an influential career Soviet diplomat, and later journalist, who specialized in European and particularly German affairs for most of the Cold War. In this interview he details the German problem, during which, he alleges, the U.S. pushed for imposing decisions on the Germans and recreating the German military for its own objectives. He provides personal recollections on German rearmament, including the deep concerns generated by what he describes as American plans to use ex-Nazis to rebuild the country's military capabilities. By contrast, he asserts, the USSR initially hoped only for the creation of a neutral and friendly German state along with other unaligned states in the region. The Marshall Plan, he declares, was primarily a means of forcing Europe to toe the American political line. He describes a "complex" Soviet reaction to the formation of NATO and the decision later to create the Warsaw Pact, challenging Western portrayals of the threat posed by Soviet forces after the war. He also offers a description of nuclear developments in the late 1940s, including his views on the formation of British and French atomic forces. The Suez and Berlin crises are also discussed from the point of view of Soviet thinking, as is the 1961 Vienna summit. On nuclear issues, Mr. Falin provides Moscow's conceptions of the Cuban missile crisis and of America's massive retaliation and flexible response strategies. He also reviews the Sino-Soviet split and the Korean war, including the threat of nuclear deployments during that period. He closes with a description of the Czechoslovak coup of 1948.

License Clip
Got it
War and Peace in the Nuclear Age
Europe Goes Nuclear
Program Number



Interview with Valentin Falin, 1986 [2]

Series Description

The first atomic explosion in the New Mexico desert on July 16, 1945, changed the world forever. This series chronicles these changes and the history of a new era. It traces the development of nuclear weapons, the evolution of nuclear strategy, and the politics of a world with the power to destroy itself.

In thirteen one-hour programs that combine historic footage and recent interviews with key American, Soviet, and European participants, the nuclear age unfolds: the origin and evolution of nuclear weapons; the people of the past who have shaped the events of the present; the ideas and issues that political leaders, scientists, and the public at large must confront, and the prospects for the future. Nuclear Age highlights the profound changes in contemporary thinking imposed by the advent of nuclear weapons. Series release date: 1/1989

Program Description

France and England rush to acquire their own nuclear weapons, NATO worries about the threat from the East, and Europe becomes the most nuclear-saturated place on Earth.

British and American scientists worked side by side to build the first nuclear bombs. “There was a strong desire on the British side for that collaboration to continue into peacetime. There was no such desire on the part of the United States,” recalls British diplomat Roger Makins, Lord Sherfield. Britain decided to proceed on its own and in 1952 joined the US and the Soviets in what pundits would call “the nuclear club.” General Charles De Gaulle, president of France, wanted to join the club, too, and not rely on the US for nuclear protection. Prestige was also an issue. In 1960, France exploded its first atomic weapon. Since World War II the Soviet Union had had a superiority in conventional forces in Europe. NATO countered by deploying thousands of nuclear weapons. “They were accepted as being perfectly reasonable weapons to use in a tactical battle in continental Europe,” said Sir Richard Powell of the British Defense Ministry.



Asset Type

Raw video

Media Type


German rearmament
Byrnes, James F. (James Francis), 1882-1972
Dulles, John Foster, 1888-1959
Soviet Union
Truman, Harry S., 1884-1972
Khrushchev, Nikita Sergeevich, 1894-1971
Massive retaliation (Nuclear strategy)
Yalta Conference (1945)
Czechoslovakia -- History -- Coup d’etat, 1948
Potsdam Conference (1945 : Potsdam, Germany)
Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962
Marshall Plan
Warsaw Treaty Organization
McNamara, Robert S., 1916-2009
Flexible response (Nuclear strategy)
Berlin (Germany) -- History-- Crisis, 1961
Kennedy, John F. (John Fitzgerald), 1917-1963
Eisenhower, Dwight D. (Dwight David), 1890-1969
North Atlantic Treaty Organization
United States
Korean War, 1950-1953
Sinai Campaign, 1956, Israel--History--Suez Campaign, 1956
Great Britain
Moscow, USSR
Global Affairs
War and Conflict
Falin, V. M. (Interviewee)
Publication Information
WGBH Educational Foundation
Chicago: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Europe Goes Nuclear; Interview with Valentin Falin, 1986 [2],” 12/09/1986, WGBH Media Library & Archives, accessed April 20, 2019, http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_1008082DBA5E43558D585CE8795C35FD.
MLA: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Europe Goes Nuclear; Interview with Valentin Falin, 1986 [2].” 12/09/1986. WGBH Media Library & Archives. Web. April 20, 2019. <http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_1008082DBA5E43558D585CE8795C35FD>.
APA: War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Europe Goes Nuclear; Interview with Valentin Falin, 1986 [2]. Boston, MA: WGBH Media Library & Archives. Retrieved from http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_1008082DBA5E43558D585CE8795C35FD
If you have more information about this item, we want to know! Please contact us, including the URL.