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War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Dawn; Interview with Richard Hottelet, 1986

Part of War and Peace in the Nuclear Age.


Richard C. Hottelet was a journalist mentored by Edward R. Murrow. He worked for CBS News from 1941-1985. After presenting his early background, the interview turns to his time in Moscow shortly after the war. His impression was one of discouragement – air defense was still being conducted and the population was surprisingly anxious and reluctant to speak openly. During his brief stay he conducted a now-famous interview with former People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs Maxim Litvinov who gave an unexpectedly grim picture of Soviet intentions. Mr. Hottelet also discusses Joseph Stalin’s apparent disinterest in the atomic bomb at Potsdam, and disinclination to participate in the Baruch Plan. He contrasts the atmosphere in Moscow and the Soviet leadership’s actions in 1946 with the warm interactions between Soviet and Western armies meeting at the Elbe River at war’s end. In terms of the arts, Mr. Hottelet recalls the onset of the Zdanovshchina, named after Andrey Zhdanov who was in charge of Soviet cultural policy, which amounted to a “cultural revolution” designed to place the arts in the service of the regime.

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War and Peace in the Nuclear Age
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Interview with Richard Hottelet, 1986

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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Rosenberg, Ethel, 1915-1953
Nuclear weapons
Pasternak, Boris Leonidovich, 1890-1960
Soviet Union
World War II
Shostakovich, Dmitrii Dmitrievich, 1906-1975
Potsdam Conference (1945 : Potsdam, Germany)
Baruch, Bernard M. (Bernard Mannes), 1870-1965
Litvinov, M. M. (Maksim Maksimovich), 1876-1951
Murrow, Edward R.
Fuchs, Klaus Emil Julius, 1911-1988
Rosenberg, Julius, 1918-1953
Akhmatova, Anna Andreevna, 1889-1966
Kennan, George F. (George Frost), 1904-2005
United States
Zoshchenko, Mikhail, 1895-1958
Pontekorvo, B. (Bruno), 1913-1993
Stalin, Joseph, 1879-1953
War and Conflict
Global Affairs
Hottelet, Richard C. (Interviewee)
Publication Information
WGBH Educational Foundation
Chicago: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Dawn; Interview with Richard Hottelet, 1986,” 04/04/1986, GBH Archives, accessed December 6, 2023,
MLA: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Dawn; Interview with Richard Hottelet, 1986.” 04/04/1986. GBH Archives. Web. December 6, 2023. <>.
APA: War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Dawn; Interview with Richard Hottelet, 1986. Boston, MA: GBH Archives. Retrieved from
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