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War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Europe Goes Nuclear; Interview with Wilhelm Grewe, 1987

Part of War and Peace in the Nuclear Age.


Wilhelm Grewe was a German diplomat actively involved in negotiations relating to post-war Germany. He was Ambassador to Washington from 1958-1962, and Permanent Representative to North Atlantic Council at NATO headquarters from 1962-1971. In this interview Mr. Grewe goes into detail about the nature of Ostpolitik then turns to German views of Nixon and Kissinger’s policies. Detente was generally positively received and the SALT process did not engender deep concerns, but Kissinger’s notion of the Year of Europe in 1973 turned into a disappointment.

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War and Peace in the Nuclear Age
Europe Goes Nuclear
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Interview with Wilhelm Grewe, 1987

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


North Atlantic Treaty Organization
International relations
Adenauer, Konrad, 1876-1967
United States
Kissinger, Henry, 1923-
Brandt, Willy, 1913-1992
Strategic Arms Limitation Talks
Nixon, Richard M. (Richard Milhous), 1913-1994
Nuclear arms control
Soviet Union
War and Conflict
Global Affairs
Grewe, Wilhelm Georg, 1911- (Interviewee)
Publication Information
WGBH Educational Foundation
Chicago: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Europe Goes Nuclear; Interview with Wilhelm Grewe, 1987,” 11/02/1987, GBH Archives, accessed November 30, 2023,
MLA: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Europe Goes Nuclear; Interview with Wilhelm Grewe, 1987.” 11/02/1987. GBH Archives. Web. November 30, 2023. <>.
APA: War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Europe Goes Nuclear; Interview with Wilhelm Grewe, 1987. Boston, MA: GBH Archives. Retrieved from
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