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War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Dawn; Interview with Valentin Berezhkov, 1986 [1]

Part of War and Peace in the Nuclear Age.


Valentin Berezhkov was Joseph Stalin's interpreter at conferences with Roosevelt and Churchill during World War II. In this first interview he begins with a lengthy description of the issues surrounding the Hitler-Stalin pact, including Soviet reactions when the Germans broke the agreement. He claims that the pact was essentially forced on the Kremlin by the West's hostile policies. He assesses the Grand Alliance and sketches Stalin's attitudes toward each of the allies, principally Roosevelt and Churchill. In recounting the Potsdam Conference he asserts that Stalin understood immediately the import of Truman's revelation of a nuclear test, and took it as an effort at blackmail linked to revisiting the question of Poland's borders, and beyond that to a more confrontational attitude toward the USSR. He notes as a sign of American and British untrustworthiness their decision not to share information with Moscow about the bomb earlier. He then discusses the post-war European order and Soviet understanding of the Truman Doctrine and Marshall Plan, both of which Mr. Berezhkov believes were directed against the USSR and were signs of Truman's more combative stance toward Moscow. He closes by stating that Stalin viewed the underlying objective of the bombing of Japan as being mainly "to make an impression" on the rest of the world.

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War and Peace in the Nuclear Age
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Interview with Valentin Berezhkov, 1986 [1]

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

Amid the violence, fear and desperation of World War II, nuclear weapons are created and used for the first time.

“Dawn” traces the development of the first atomic bomb, from 1932 with the ominous rumblings that led to World War II and the ground-breaking scientific experiments that led to the bomb. Atomic physicist Victor Weisskopf explains, “we did not think at all that this business would have any direct connection with politics, or with humanity.” The frantic rush by American scientists who feared the Nazis were ahead of them and the first nuclear explosion in the New Mexico desert on July 16, 1945 are described by eyewitnesses. Physicist Philip Morrison was ten miles away from the blast and will never forget the heat on his face. “Dawn” concludes with the failure of the first attempts to reach agreement on international control of atomic weapons after the war.



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Ribbentrop, Joachim von, 1893-1946
Meissner, Otto
Yalta Conference (1945)
Europe, Eastern
Potsdam Conference (1945 : Potsdam, Germany)
United States
Hitler, Adolf, 1889-1945
Great Britain
Harriman, W. Averell (William Averell), 1891-1986
Nuclear weapons
Zhukov, Georgii Konstantinovich, 1896-1974
Hiroshima-shi (Japan) -- History -- Bombardment, 1945
Roosevelt, Franklin D. (Franklin Delano), 1882-1945
Churchill, Winston, 1874-1965
World War II
Germany. Treaties, etc. Soviet Union, 1939 August 23
Teheran Conference (1943)
Molotov, Vyacheslav Mikhaylovich, 1890-1986
Truman, Harry S., 1884-1972
Soviet Union
Stalin, Joseph, 1879-1953
Moscow, USSR
Global Affairs
War and Conflict
Berezhkov, V. M. (Valentin Mikhailovich), 1916- (Interviewee)
Publication Information
WGBH Educational Foundation
Chicago: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Dawn; Interview with Valentin Berezhkov, 1986 [1],” 03/25/1986, GBH Archives, accessed December 11, 2023,
MLA: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Dawn; Interview with Valentin Berezhkov, 1986 [1].” 03/25/1986. GBH Archives. Web. December 11, 2023. <>.
APA: War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Dawn; Interview with Valentin Berezhkov, 1986 [1]. Boston, MA: GBH Archives. Retrieved from
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