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Roger Ockrent Oral History Interview

Oral History Interview with
Roger Ockrent

Belgian diplomatist, Secretary to the Prime Minister and Secretary of the Council of Ministries, 1947-48; Secretary General for Administration of the Marshall plan in Belgium, 1948-53; Permanent Representative, Head of Belgian delegation and Vice Chairman of the Council, O.E.E.C., 1953-57; Belgian Ambassador to O.C.D.E., 1958-74; and Chairman of the O.C.D.E., Executive Committee, President of the International Energy Agency, 1973-74

Brussels, Belgium
July 8, 1971
by Theodore A. Wilson

[Notices and Restrictions | Interview Transcript | List of Subjects Discussed]


Notice
This is a transcript of a tape-recorded interview conducted for the Harry S. Truman Library. A draft of this transcript was edited by the interviewee but only minor emendations were made; therefore, the reader should remember that this is essentially a transcript of the spoken, rather than the written word.

Numbers appearing in square brackets (ex. [45]) within the transcript indicate the pagination in the original, hardcopy version of the oral history interview.

RESTRICTIONS
This oral history transcript may be read, quoted from, cited, and reproduced for purposes of research. It may not be published in full except by permission of the Harry S. Truman Library.

Opened June, 1983
Harry S. Truman Library
Independence, Missouri

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Oral History Interview with
Roger Ockrent

Brussels, Belgium
July 8, 1971
by Theodore A. Wilson

[1]

WILSON: Please tell me of how you first came to be associated with the Marshall plan.

OCKRENT: I was then just getting with [Paul-Henri] Spaak, who was Foreign Minister in '47, as well as being Prime Minister. It had been a long time since the Socialists had succeeded in forming a government. When the Marshall plan started, he looked for a good man. We thought about Andre de Staercke, who is my colleague now, who was secretary to the Prince Regent at the time. The Prince Regent accepted our plan to use Andre de Staercke, and

[2]

so Spaak asked me to do it. So I moved from the Cabinet of the Prime Minister, and I set up a new administration in Belgium to deal with the Marshall plan for Belgium. I was not able to do this kind of job without coming to Paris in the OEEC (Organization for European Economic Cooperation), you see. So I came to all the important meetings of the Council, or of the Executive Committee, since 1948. I came here practically once or even twice a week. I came to the most important meetings with Baron [Charles J.] Snoy and Hubert Ansiaux. Snoy was in charge of general economic programs and trade programs, and Ansiaux was in charge of the financial program. I was the youngest of the three, and I was handling our contacts with the Foreign Office and all the departments.

WILSON: I was wondering. The decision was made to set up a somewhat separate organization in Belgium. That is, you were not directly under one of the normal Cabinet offices?

[3]

OCKRENT: Yes, because I had to, because I was not a Minister, and so I had to have some link with one of the Ministers. Politically speaking, you cannot imagine an administration which is not under the political responsibility of the Minister. That was the equilibrium. Inside of the Cabinet you had Socialists and Christian Democrats, and there was one so-called 'technocrat." There was one man, a very close friend of Spaak, and a first-class man. His names is [George] Moens de Fernig. Perhaps you can see him too if you are back to Brussels, and tell him that I told you to see him. He was Minister for Foreign Trade Imports, ERP. That involved al1 kinds of imports which we needed in '47-'48. The Marshall plan administration was given to him, politically. In fact, he was very closely linked to Spaak because they were and are still very close friends. He was a technocrat [non-party technician], and was neither a Socialist nor Social Christian Democrat. I was very fortunate to have him as boss, because he's a businessman, so

[4]

he handled all this as a businessman, you see. I had the opportunity to be supported by a man in the Cabinet who says, "I need so many civil servants, and such and such grades, and if you don't have them, well, go to hell, I will quit. And I will say to the House when they ask why I'm quitting, 'Because you are not prepared to do the right job in the right way."' I was very happy to have this kind of man, which you don't meet very often in political life, for obvious reasons. And so I worked with them, and he was the minister for the Marshall plan, during those four years.

He [Fernig] played a very important role in Paris, too, because we had this very special organization. Spaak was chairman of the Council of OEEC, on the ministerial level. So was Baron Snoy [later]. On the -- let us say -- civil servant level, in which there were meetings once or twice a week Moens Fertig was the Belgian representative. He had the Belgian seat on it, and I had the Belgian seat in the Council of Officials.

[5]

Snoy and Spaak were in the chair for the ministers, you see. So we had, I think, what was the right kind of an organization to have. We made a difference between the representative of Belgium, and our duty as chairman of the Council. This is a tradition in Belgium, a tradition for which I am very proud, because we never confused our national interest and, let us say, the European interests. And going along with this kind of tradition now, for eleven years I have been chairman of the committee [OECD Executive Committee], and I've never taken the floor for Belgium in these years. Sometimes, and I think Snoy did the same, I have opposed the Belgian point of view from the chair. And this happened to Spaak, too.

WILSON: Quite remarkable.

OCKRENT: Yes, but I think that you can find that in small countries. I am sorry to be so rude towards big countries; there is no question of morality, just a question of possibilities. You can do that

[6]

in small countries; politicians cannot do that in a big country. All our parliamentarians and the public are prepared to understand this kind of schizophrenia, if I may say so. You know, all big countries, especially European -- they cannot understand it. Just try to explain that to a man like de Gaulle. I'm sure you would not succeed. It is just obliterated; they would not understand it, even the language. But for a small country it is quite possible, even for the Dutch, who are very nationalistic-minded, too. Of course, we are also a very young country and so on and so forth.

WILSON: The French did go a certain way, though, and perhaps they went further toward supporting a strong OEEC, than might have been expected at the beginning. Is that correct?

OCKRENT: Yes. Let me say two things. It's not very easy to say, because this is the part of your judgment and I may be wrong in this judgment, but the French are much more Europeans than the British

[7]

ever were in OEEC, and later on in a lot of discussions on Common Market and so on and so forth. But it is a fact, for reasons which could be explained, and you know these as well as I. I'm not speaking now about "the Six," because in truth the French are in the Six and the British are not, although they were invited to be members, and to participate in the discussions and negotiations.

I'm not criticizing the British. It's very difficult, and I think it's always wrong, to pass a judgment towards a big group of people. Sociologists and historians agree to that. These are generalizations that the French have such, and the Americans have such, and the Germans have such; it really depends on the kind of people you are meeting and dealing with.

WILSON: One of the ironies, I guess, was that Stafford Cripps was representing the British at that time. That's been brought home to me quite clearly.

OCKRENT: Oh, Stafford Cripps was really a most conservative, nationalistic-minded man, very brilliant

[8]

and very intelligent, and very courageous, but I never met him. But even in meetings in OEEC between Spaak and Cripps, they are very amazing you know. Even the British refused a post. They alone opposed the appointment of Spaak to OEEC. It was because of that, because I saw that there was a man of temperament, of power, of political growth and of skill, much more than that, a Socialist, which in the eyes of Stafford Cripps was an argument, paradoxically, against him. I remember really a big dispute between them. Spaak seemed to wonder what they were doing here, if they were opposing, all the time, everything that was suggested by France. Of course, Stafford Cripps could use substantive arguments which Spaak wasn't able to, because he was not an economist.

WILSON: From all that I've read and what people have said, though, Spaak seems to have been able to penetrate to the heart of problems, even if he had not the technical expertise. Amazing.

[9]

OCKRENT: Oh, yes, because as he says himself in his memoirs, and, as he told his very close civil servants as I was, and as Snoy and Ansiaux were, he was fortunate enough, he said, to have always very good and responsible servants able to explain to him in very simple words just what was going on. But it was much more than that. I never met anybody else, except maybe the Prince Regent -- but I didn't know him as well as Spaak -- who was able to look in your eyes and understand what you meant to say in discussions. This exists, you know, from time to time, while meeting people.

WILSON: Were there serious repercussions within OEEC because of the failure to get his nomination? Did any bitterness last long?

OCKRENT: I don't think so. I'll tell you why. Because OEEC at that time was so watered down. That was the policy of the British, not to have anything which would be able to go deeper or farther than we succeeded to go.

[10]

WILSON: I have the impression from the documents that I have been able to see that the United States and [Averell] Harriman worked very strongly for Spaak's nomination. But there also is the suggestion, and several people have raised it and, indeed, in a way you have raised it, that the British did enjoy some special relationship, to use that term. And the British may have felt, well, that the Americans will push us; they'll argue that we should cooperate more and yet in the end, in the last result, they won't push us too hard because of politics or the connection. Was that the case?

OCKRENT: Yes. American policy was always reluctant to dictate the policy in Europe, and I think it was a wise thing to do; but it was very depressing for Europe.

You are speaking about this issue of the nomination of Spaak -- Spaak received a message, a handwritten letter from President Truman. Spaak was his choice, and he was the choice of

[11]

the United States. Everything he had done had been done to have OEEC again coming up, and it was disappointing for everybody, especially for Spaak, not because an appointment had been sought, but because he hesitated very much to quit political life, you know.

WILSON: He was also president of the Council of Europe, wasn't he, at that time?

OCKRENT: Yes; and at that time he believed in the Council of Europe. Well, he wasn't wrong, politically speaking. We needed to have parliamentarians meeting, and it was very, very disappointing.

WILSON: Was there a time in which you could tell that American interest in OEEC was subsiding, or slacking off? Some of the people have suggested that it came at the time of the Korean war, and other people I've interviewed have said it happened as early as the signing of the NATO treaty.

OCKRENT: It's very difficult to answer that. If you are looking at the people the American Government appointed to Paris, to succeed Averell Harriman,

[12]

they were all first-class people. And [Pau1] Hoffman was still in charge in Washington so they were not secondary people.

Now, the United States is a big country, and the United States Government is a big administration, and we used to say, "The American administration is a building. And whatever the matter might be, whether it is EPU, or whatever it is, depends on the floor we are going to." That was a standing joke. And sometimes that was true to a certain extent.

For the behavior of the United States, let us take a recent event. We had a visit here a few months ago of Mr. Lee Goodrich. He came here and talked to us about environmental problems. Looking at our work in OECD -- the United States is not a member -- we had to take it for granted that we had to go along in our work, make it much more effective than it was before, and so on and so forth. In the meantime, there was another demonstration on the part of the White House administration. For some time Mr. [Daniel P.] Moynihan took

[13]

all initiative in NATO at the same time, so we just confer, you see. That happened and, well, it happened on the part of big countries. Of course, then it has repercussions in worldwide operations, but when this happened in Belgium, it has no repercussion, whatsoever, so the people don't know it. And it happened during the Marshall plan, too, and in the OEEC, too. Of course, the Americans were irritated, as we were, or the French, or all the countries, most often the Dutch and all the European countries, about the slowness of our progress here in the field of trade.

I remember that we, the Benelux countries, with the Scandinavian countries, suggested in OEEC to start a code of reducing tariffs in the field of trade. And we had more or less the blessing of the United States Government, which was very courageous on their part. The British opposed it very strongly, because the entire question was the matter of GATT and of OEEC.

[14]

I remember the discussions we had here in OEEC, later on, when the negotiations upon the Common Market started, the British delegation here made a presentation to all the six countries. Spaak being the chairman of the group among the six, I was under Spaak right here defending our negotiations, and the British were telling us, "What are you doing? You are starting a power combination to discriminate in trade. And you are trying to set up political machinery which will never succeed. Secondly, you are doing it to spoil our interests, for the interests of all the other European countries, and for the interest of the United States.

We had a big dispute but not in the Council. The British asked always to have private meetings on behalf of the delegation. So there are no minutes of that. But there are recollections of a lot of people on that. I had to argue, as we had been instructed, that they were invited; they were in our negotiations, you know. They sent there

[15]

a very good man; and I liked him very much.

Mr. [Jean] Rey used to say, later on, "If you have a lot of people which are deciding to go a little bit faster than the other, they are renting a faster car, I mean an American one. But there are those others opposed who would like to take the bus. But later on, if you were asked to join and go faster, then you had to take a taxi and it's more expensive."

This was very strange, you know. This is my experience, too. When the British decided to do something, or accept a decision, then you may just close your eyes and go to sleep. They will go even further than what they had promised to do.

WILSON: Yes, but the point of what you've really been saying is that at that time it would have been much less complicated, much less difficult than today.

OCKRENT: Oh, yes.

[16]

WILSON: Because everyone was on about the same level.

OCKRENT: About the same level.

WILSON: I'm not sure how much time you have to give to me.

OCKRENT: It's all right; all the time you need I will give.

WILSON: On this question of administration, what was your experience in dealing with the Office of the Special Representative in Paris and also with the ECA mission in Belgium, in Brussels? How did that work?

OCKRENT: Well, very well. With the exception of one man, whose name I will not mention. I think you are asking for my judgment but this was in my youth, and so I had a lot of teachers. The reason was that I was one of the youngest here, so I tried to take all the opportunity to be learning everything. The American side was really very strong. You had people such as Averell Harriman, as Milton

[17]

Katz and [William H., Jr.] Draper. The people in the mission here, all these people, were really first-class. And they came here with the will to do something; they were very enthusiastic, young people, and they had real power. I think that the kind of freedom which was given them by Washington, thanks to their own importance to Washington, was of the greatest importance and maybe is explanation number one of the success of all the enterprise. And since, I think, but I know less than all the others, the same applies to Paul Hoffman in Washington. I think it was really a first-class team. Among the Europeans, too, you know, you had very good people, but this was not your question.

Now, in Brussels. Well, as you know, Belgium is a small country but you attach a very great importance, I think, to Belgium, but especially due to the kind of people as Spaak. In political people, we had among the best in Europe, as compared with the Dutch, the French and the British. But your mission was not of the same importance as

[18]

in Paris, or in London, or even The Hague, because we were not among the poorest countries. A lot of the explanation I know you received in Brussels from Ansiaux and others. You know all the details about that. We had no direct aid, or practically none. We had indirect aid since we were able to pay better in Europe, and we were able to sell goods and things, through American aid, to the other countries. You remember the mechanism of drawing rights and things like that. You did not need a very strong mission in Brussels, so you had a small mission, but these were first-class people. I dealt with those people all the time, or with your ambassadors. And we had an important ambassador, [Robert D.] Murphy. Later on [1961-1965] we had for a certain time, Douglas MacArthur II, when we were in a critical period with the Belgian Congo. In the ECA mission I had, as counterparts or opposite numbers, Gene Blaine, who was a banker; Bob Haines, he has died since; and one or two others. All those people -- I would say they were really the

[19]

top. But you did need to have these people in Paris, or in London, or in Germany, or in Italy, in all the countries. I'm not speaking of England now. But in all these countries which were really in danger of communism overwhelming them, there you had to send the best people.

As far as what concerns communism, you were at that time, really concerned in Europe about communism and rightly so. But it was strange for me, as a young man, holding Socialist opinion, but not being a member of the Socialist Party, since I was a civil servant, and serving a man like Spaak. A lot of your people -- not among the best ones, the best informed -- were influenced by the mass media which made confusion between socialism and communism.

WILSON: Yes.

OCKRENT: And this was really very strange, because in those countries where socialism succeeds, there

[20]

is no communism, and there was no communism whatsoever.

In these very poor countries, you do have stupid people in the Socialist parties. There were some mistakes made by the Gaullists and especially by General de Gaulle himself after liberation. This is very easy to say afterwards. This is post facto judgment. But one of my impressions when I came there was the mental confusion -- not in your top people here in the Embassy in Brussels, but in your American public opinion, and even in the Administration,

WILSON: And certainly in Congress.

OCKRENT: And in Congress.

WILSON: Did this confusion have any effect on programs? Was there anti-Socialist bias at all?

OCKRENT: No. I won't say that, but there was a certain feeling toward those people who had this label, because of this confusion. I would say I saw

[21]

much of that through your press and through people in your Congress whom I met when I went to Washington. Of course, I met always people who were convinced of the rightness of President Truman, the Marshall plan, or of Acheson, for example. I met Senator [Brien] McMahon, for example, and Congressman Abraham Ribicoff. I remember my first meetings with Ribicoff who was in the House. He put a lot of questions to me about the Socialist Party in Belgium, and he was not well-informed about socialism in Europe. I mean some people, you see them sometimes -- politicians are common people. Well, that's a democracy; fortunately, that's the case. But I remember this kind of confusion, which really made me very shocked, you know, because I remember the courage of a man like [Achille] van Acker, one of our Prime Ministers and a Socialist who was against communism. And there is Spaak. Their main enemies were the Communists, and we had no Communists whatsoever, thanks to the courage of the Socialists, not of the Christians. In those

[22]

countries, Italy and France, where socialism was weak and still is weak, even though it exists, there you have a strong Communist Party. But in our country, in the Netherlands, and in the Scandinavian countries where the Socialists are very strong [the Communist parties are weak], and that the Americans did not understand. Well, we had to wait a few years, you know. Of course, a man like Truman or Acheson knew all this. But your public opinion -- and as you said, you had it in Congress. We had some difficulty.

WILSON: This is a matter of an impression, and it's asking you to revive your impression of over 20 years ago, but did you have a feeling then that people in the ECA mission were looking over their shoulder at Congress when they were pushing the programs? Perhaps they were sometimes more cautious than they might have wished to be because they thought, or believed, that Congress would not go along with a certain kind of program?

OCKRENT: Definitely, yes. Using the argument of Congress,

[23]

in order to push us to go faster in our efforts in coordination -- I'm not saying integration, but in coordination -- they maybe used it a little bit as a weapon, even going a little bit further than the true feeling in Washington. But it was the right thing to do. We had delays you know; we had to give our proposals at the end of June, and another on the 5th of July. It was delayed; I remember meetings, day and night meetings. I remember one week with Snoy and Ansiaux when we slept four hours a day, no more than that. But it was really a very, very interesting experience. I was thinking of that; I want to say that to Ansiaux and to Snoy because we are very lucky people to be born in the right time to meet the challenges. For us, you know, it's linked with American policy and American behavior, which is more important than policy. Of course, there were exceptions, like not having always the kind of softness we would like to have, but you had the right people for this kind of thing. They were first-class people.

[24]

After the Marshall plan, and with OEEC becoming weaker and weaker because of lack of policy in Europe, the Common Market being built up, fortunately Europe was coming on in another direction elsewhere, and then your people which you sent here were not the same.

WILSON: I had heard that. I've heard that from...

OCKRENT: This is important.

WILSON: Yes, from numerous people.

One of the questions that may not be on that list, but occurred to me to ask you was how knowledgeable and how sympathetic were the Americans with whom you dealt regarding Belgium's colonial problems, particularly the economic problems of the Congo in that period. I've had the suggestion that perhaps the Americans who came to Europe were too Europe-centered; they thought only of Europe and not of the rest of the world in trade, not of the rest of the world, perhaps, particularly, of European colonial possessions with regard to

[25]

production of raw materials and things like that.

OCKRENT: Well, I think that before that the Belgian Congo was in a very special situation, and really had on the part of the American politicians and administration, a special treatment, because of the special link during the war, between us and the United States, concerning the raw materials for the preparation of the atomic bomb.

WILSON: Right.

OCKRENT: You know this story. So the Belgian Congo was not something unknown by the American administration, by American politicians, nor was our policy in the Belgian Congo. It was very well known, not entirely true. But we had with the Americans a very special climate towards the Belgian Congo. That's why it was possible for Spaak, with help in Brussels, to have this operation in the Belgian Congo. When we had these big difficulties, not in the Belgian Congo, but in independent Congo, [G. McMurtrie] Godley was U.S.

[26]

Ambassador in Kinshasa in those critical days. He was one of my opposite numbers in the American Embassy in Brussels during the Marshall days. He was the number two man under Murphy.

We had in OEEC an overseas territories committee. We played an important role there, as did the French and the British, all of those European countries which had responsibilities overseas. So this was not ignored, but it was considered with some shyness or timidity, because their main policy was to have these countries independent as soon as possible. You made, and you are still making, this confusion between the United States as a former colony and Africa and East Asia. But this is not a matter of confusion, and if you will allow me, Mr. Wilson, it is not stupidity; it's because you are linked in political life to use a political language which deals with types of behavior which are behind the words you are using, but you are a prisoner of the words.

WILSON: That's a very good way of putting it.

[27]

OCKRENT: And that is one of the cases we had to understand, that we Belgians understood it perfectly well. We had a lot of trouble with you in this regard, and we had the same with the French, who were prisoners of their own words, too.

We had an overseas territories committee, I repeat, but the problem of the colonies was never made a main issue in our discussions, because after all it was a European recovery plan, ERP.

WILSON: Was possible American private investment in the Congo an issue at all?

OCKRENT: I don't remember that; there was one problem, that's all. We even had a secret contact with the American administration, of maybe a special administration, for the furnishing of pitchblende at a time when pitchblende was a rare commodity rich in uranium. This was only brought to public attention in our country, maybe not before '47-'48.

WILSON: That had been done, of course, at great financial risk to the Belgians.

[28]

OCKRENT: Oh, yes. We were reasonable enough. Well, it was not government; it was a private company. And thanks to one or two people in this company, they were wise enough not to try to push the last cent of this privileged situation. I think that the contracts that we had were very reasonable, and I think that this is very rare in political life, especially in international politics, but I think that the Americans always were aware of this wisdom of the Belgian Government. Of course, we had a very good reason to be wise because we were in London. But the Americans never tried to take our place in the Congo.

WILSON: This raises a question which I've been asking people. It's a false question, in a way, but in the United States, a great deal of attention on the part of some historians and others is given to what they call an American empire. I don't know whether you're familiar with any of this, but the argument is that the United States rather carefully and coldly planned at the end of the war, and after

[29]

the war, to expand American markets abroad. Therefore, such programs as the Marshall plan, the Truman Doctrine, and Point IV had as a primary aim the expansion of opportunities for American business. Now, I wonder if you have a comment on this.

OCKRENT: Oh, I think it's very easy to comment that way. A comment has always two faces. How could you succeed to have your political obligations towards the world fulfilled without the weapon you need to do that? Not weapon, the tools, you need to have. What are these tools in a democracy? Is it the Army occupying territories? No, that's out of the question. What is the auxiliary for that? Your diplomatic presence? You need it, but it's not enough. So, it's economic force, and economic power. How could you do that, without investments abroad? Of course, if you are building up your empire, you could be doing it at the expense of all this, which could be argued about through the difficulties of balance of payments, and one thing or another, but that is another question

[30]

that opens now another door in a big world. But provided that wise policies are adopted, that economic force is the way one has to do it.

One has to add one thing. When we are looking at the policy of private American companies in South America, for example, where the fruit companies are dominant, then there's a lot of things to be said. I'm always saying to my students -- I have postgraduate students, people who are already well-trained in administration -- that paradoxically the traditional colonialists could be less harmful towards less developed countries than the private colonies that you could hire through big companies, such as United Fruit in the Central America. Why? Because in a democracy you have always an influence of your democratic public opinion on your political organization, your parliament, your government. We had big disputes in the Belgian Parliament about the way the Congo was administered. You cannot have arguments of that sort in Congress about the behavior of the United Fruit in other countries. It's impossible.

[31]

So, you have a power, which is the so-called economic power, which is, in fact, a political power, without a democratic compensation in the use of this power. So, while the Russians and the Chinese talk about neo-colonialism, well, there is a certain truth in it. It is very important for us, the democracies, and especially you, which are the leader -- willing or not, that you have to be very careful and to study that, to look after that very closely, because after all, for the poor peons in South America, United Fruit is America. While I'm mentioning it, it may be marked by stupidity, and be something foolish, or it may be the best company in the world, I don't know. But the company is the United States, and it is confused in the mind and the spirit of these poor people with those people who have behaved so badly sometimes.

So, paradoxically, this new empire exists with no counterpart whatsoever in the democratic organization, which did not exist under the European colonialism aspect. Of course, this does

[32]

mean that there was not a lot of aid to North Africa or elsewhere in Africa, or in Asia. It's really a very big program, which is not dangerous. Particularly, there was awareness, more or less, but it had not become in your Congress, or in world-wide public opinion, a question of serious, calm discussion. Sometimes because we cannot go along with that in the same way.

WILSON: There was going to be, as you said, an inevitable growth of American investment because of the situation, but you did not receive the impression at that time that the Americans..

OCKRENT: At that time, no, certainly not. No; the impression was that at a certain time in a democratic world, that you had to fight communism, all of us. Of course, if we were prepared to accept communism, we would have said well, all we want to have is your money; that's what the Russians did. But let me put it another way, in an example I'm using all the time. Let us take the example of small boys who are playing with marbles. Well,

[33]

if one of the boys has all the marbles, and he wants to go along to play with all those, he has to make a redistribution of the marbles again. It was the same with gold, gold being at that time, and still to a certain extent, a necessity for paying for imports. But you needed, of course, to have your customers able to pay you in order for you to export. Of course, I know that exports for the United States at this time represented a little more than 6 or 7 or 10 percent of industrial production. But it was marginal production. This notion of marginal production is very well known today, and you needed it, but this was secondary. Your first aim was to oppose communism. The second aim -- and there was a certain extent of confusion between the two -- was certainly economic, for your own interests. Anyhow, we needed to come under this. If Europe had not the possibility of paying you, you had to give them some marbles in order to go ahead with the plan. That's what you did.

I remember, in parliament, the interpolation

[34]

of the Communists to the Government. I was then helping Spaak in Parliament, you know, as secretary to Parliament in the meantime, giving him the figures and what arguments he needed. But the Communists having warned, the Marshall plan and ERQ were in the interest of the Americans, of the United States Government. Otherwise, why do you think the hell you would do it? It was as simple as that. And then he came with the arguments, you know; I had dealt with them before. He didn't need me, but I was there, giving the economic arguments and the stuff he needed like figures and all this kind. But it was a right answer, as simple as that.

WILSON: That's very good.

I'll try a question on you which I haven't tried except on one or two people, and you can answer it or not as you wish.

Was there any concern at the time, that what might come out of this program might be an Americanization of Europe in the sense of the cultural as

[35]

well as the economic sphere? It is what I suppose Jean-Jacques Servan-Schreiber has written about, in part, that Brussels in some way shows the effects of that because of all the Americans there because of NATO and all of the other things. Was there concern at the time that you might be giving up or might be forced to give up some very important things in order to...

OCKRENT: When we recovered we saw that we had our own responsibility, our own way of life. Well, to place dates on it is absolutely stupid,