tv Giles Milton Checkmate in Berlin CSPAN December 4, 2021 6:10pm-6:56pm EST
guide or cspan.org/history. >> hi and welcome to tattered covers. i'm with tattered cover. we havee some great authors to share sometime with us. tonight we have jiles. his most resent book is how the allies won d-day. it was turned into a major tv series. his work includes nathaniel. he will be in conversation with an editor of hope awaring fiction and memoire.
weto wish you luck and they allw writing. this includes heather which was a reese witherspoon book club pick. the new york times notable book foric prize. and victoria before the relative happen. welcome jiles. welcome carolyn, good to see you tonight. milton, good to see you tonight. >> thank you, so nice to be here. >> hello to both of you. great to be here. >> i w >> thank you, great to be here. i believe we will dive right into the conversation. we have so much to talk about and we would like to go right
there. >> i>> worked with jiles and red it a handful of times. it was fascinating and does read as a thriller and page-turner as it does a work of history. in that way, the book is set in berlin after world war ii. this is just after the war was ending. it is during this time when it was four sectors and they follow the leaders of the four sectors and the soak tors germany was divided into. it was so shocking. they are larger than life it was like watching a terentino
movie. i'm not sure if you know it was famous or that's what drew youu or discovered while doing research and just ran with it. >> i think, so many books published about the second world war. hundreds of hundreds and nothing wasun written about the postwar period. it's just a fascinating. the war is won by the allies and who will win the peace, it's a big w issue. he has the whole of eastern europe and central europe as well.fo starling is for east germany. it's agreed barely six squarely in this the soviet control.
contention and potential disaster and fallout that can happen set by the gee -- geographical position. they are surrounded by territory and stallens red army. that's upsetting for everything that will happen and it's a dramaticyt story that will unfold. >> it really is just a face nateing situation. we get one of the great things about the booky is he makes it clear what the stakes are right away. we understand they are not on a human level and personal conflict and larger things that are at stake. you mentioned stallen is a carrick interpret in the book.
-- characters in the book. there are others and names i had not heard before. i came to love them by the end. if it was one of the bad guys it was fun to show their company. i'm curious if you had a favorite or person you was drawn to a or captured your attention. >> theo, plain character is howly. he will end up as comdaunt. he's determined to get his way
he found himself head to head in the opposite number they will never see eye to eye. what is really interesting about the coronal is that the americans in the british went in with instructions to get on wih theire wartime partner. the partnership that helped win the war. the coronal realized when he arrived in berlin. thesele guys are not allies. these allies are no longer allies.e he wrote in his diary and memoire. i came thinking the germans were the enemy but i realized the soviets were the enemy.
his opposite number with their under instruction from stallen to kick the americans and british out of berlin. they would like to take-over the whole of berlin you begin to see the stakes are massive. the whole of europe is up for grabs they will prevent them from taking control of berlin what drew me to it is the political battle. you have truman and churchill. you have the picture on the ground which is where the battle is being fought between the commanders you have a personal way of telling a big story.
>> it's so personal i knew them as men. it's heads up on anybody else and they won't be his allies. he knew right away there was a conflict within his own country and allies. what was the big turning point when they realized we won't come to anag agreement here. >> how do you think telling washington we must change policy but it doesn't happen. big thinged happened in the spring of 1964. truman invited him to make the iron curtain speech in fulton, missouri. this is the wake up call of the
world. he said stallen can no longer be trusted and we must change the policy this caused total scandal in. america. churchill put it firmly he can't be trusted stay work in the embassy in canada and defects to the west. he defects with a huge bundle oe highly explosive documents that reveal they had been spying on the nuclear program. heex knows everything about whas been taken place with developing a nuclear warhead. these two i vents are really important and this third thing. i don't know how well known in america. it's not known at all in my country in england. george canon the famous diplomat
writes his famous long telegram. in arin verisimilar tone to churchill.l. sets out the fact that the soviets cannot be trusted. in 1946 these three things happened. he was banging on the drum and we must change policy. he begins to change the foreign policy. the marshall plan is a tremendous turn around. the idea. it's in the western form. everything begins to change and play a massive role. he'say saying things firsthand e can really crank up the new policy and it changed in
washington the.is >> it's such a huge cash richter and the main guide here. i was surprised by the student of american history. ire wonder that and you give him such attention. i'm curious why you think he's not a household name and legacy is not what it is? >> yeah, i think it's been stolenam by general clay who isn charge of the whole of germany. everything that is written is intended to be written about him. ytyou see, there are streets nad after clay. he's's mentioned all over the place during the course of the book i i have been in touch with one of his sons that felt pretty aggrieved over the years.
his father never got the creditten that's due. i went to the archives. of course of course he published a memoire he kept a daily diary. i discovered this in the army college archive in pennsylvania. i traveled their this is wonderful setting out. his single-handed warfare against alexander. so, yeah, some people to do do written out of history yeah, absolutely. you have done that here. you mentioned the archive. you access a lot of materials here.
some are new and you use new materials here or documents that are not sited often. i'm curious if you tell us about the relationship about those documents and how you found them and worked with them also the research process. >> i'm a bit nervy. a spent a lot of my life in the archives. both in london and d.c. what happens is you often order and havery little idea what's inside.re it's not great you can order box file after box file. you open one and it's gold dust. it's fantastic. i mean, one of the things i
discovered it wasne a gangster's paradise. this is the story of a detective from london from scotland yard in london that was sent with a team of people to try to crack the crime ring. tom, a detective inspector arrived in berlin and finds himself investigating the biggest crime ring in the his history of crime. it's fantastic because this city is fullol of gangsters, ex nazis and pimps. they raided everything and stole rare metals and works of art. priceless things. tom is sitting their and works alongside the americans to bust the crime ring.t that was all in the fail. when it came to washington, there was another file on
operation sparkler in the national archives. so, they build the whole chapter of the book it's the story of busting the crime ring. just things like that. it's fantastic. >> neverar written about before. we set pen to paper. we write as you go. >> the general lee over research. we have so much research. you turn your head. we had the overall research done. because otherwise you cannot retain that much information. another thing i love doing is meeting the descendents of the people. o
so, comdaunt. i chased his daughter that lives in scotland. i have his archives in a suitcase. why don't you come up. it was an adventure. >> yeah 6789. >> turned out she a descendent of the family and all of the archives andll wonderful stuff. she traveled to berlin age 16 to visit her father and had her own memory. they were lying in the ruins. it's a very power physical story of what berlin was like when she lived her.
>> you try to image that. a person who will talk with you and give you the first pay out of material. how far were you in the process when you met her and discovered it when she was around. >> it was quiet early on in the book. it's's a book about men. because of the time period it's obviously men dominated. they tend to be male but there is a story. in 1945 theyrl arrived in berlin it's a a city of women and children. they are either dead or prisoners. there are few men inre the city and i have uncovered a lot. i have to say heroing memoires and diaries of those who suffered enormously. they were literally drunks on
victory. it was very important and difficult story to tell and difficult story to read. it was important to tell that because it's part of the story andmp trama that the women of berlin live with. also explains why they were so desperate. they were disparate for them to arrive and bring some sort of sense of order to the city. this is not only a city in ruins but without electrics, gas, water, no lawg. and order. the americans when they arrived in the city bringing in 25,000 troops each. they are coming into a place of absolute total anarchy.
it's important for people to realize just how trashed the city was by the end of the second world war. thee whole of europe was trashed. w all of the soldiers said they had never seen anything like berlin. . . >> now they said themselves in america - settings and talk a little bit about that and you know, the soviet kind of themselves pretty. >> so yes the friends were the richest in america as well read and you have on the one hand
coming out the berlin who are starving and their russians in there in a bad way and the soviets move in and they are more does of all things and they have access to any cigarettes and they become current in the black market and they have to go into than the alcohol many sources of finance is also taken by absolutely anything they want.ro and it would be from sexual which is certainly one thing that soldiers felt they deserved it fighting their way through berlin and also they could buy any sort of food and alcohol and the nightclubs spring upon us immediately when allies move into the city. and you're right, they could also have any property they want. and thehe rest of the city with americans and british are comins this is work on the great industrialist that berlin is to
live in the americans and the birds arrived, with her forms of the start of the door and they kick out anybody is still living there in the takeover these houses in the story, it is absolutely fascinating of the story of the high life lived by mostly western allies but also the sylvan soviets and that contrasted. and the champagne and the caviar. and it is party timear you knowi and contrasting with the minimal on the russians in l the lot of people and say welcome the germans deserve it, they must've worn they treated their territories accordingly and a lot of the american and british and soviets felt like that but when you read some of the accounts of these women and children, they didn't have any part of the work and some of them for even working the resistance you know and it is difficult story to read. and when you say that the
british bringing his daughter over our how much of the family life is going on to these general and the leaders is that one off and can you talk a little bit about that. >> when he 47, the americans and the french were all bringing in their wives, and to cut down on the sleeping with the berlin women. they brought their children over and it big american schools in berlin for precisely for the children and the people liked - he was school berlin so there was a huge influx. but things were very intense and there was a blockade and i don't know how much time we have to explain but as we got to this point, the british realized, hold on where to really dangerous situation here and wee have women and children lots of women and children here stuck in
a city under siege position so a lot of them left or some of them left at that point. and estella declared the berlin blockade. >> that is fascinating and again all of this is in beautiful detail in the book, that contrast and that contention. save met at least two of the descendents and were there any others who you met. maybe resistance telling the stories of sure you have more to ostell about those relationships and how often that happened. >> the one that i thank you so really good, speaking about because the general has been slightly written out of the story so the americans have often taken a complete credit and justifiably because without the americans, the manpower and claims the airlift could never happened . is christian and was a possible
to see a city to have million people by air and he said never been there before in history to god remember that the soviets have declared a blockade on the 'swestern effect of the berlin ait's been completely isolated. it is a bit like many bulk of is in the americans the brits and the parents were stuck inside of the city have no access to the city because the roadies in the railings across soviet germany have been cut so the only possible way to keep the city life is by air and can it be ntown. almost everyone said that it was impossible to know public thing in times of crisis, it's always good to call the troop british eccentric and they have this weight in this complete mathematician a brilliant metaphysician and he was never caught without his slide rule and he sits down and he works out and actually feasibly
possible to feed the city by air any goes valley and also to client said that this is my mathematical formula for feeding city. and he six airfields in western germany occupied to be entered by the americans and breads and two in the western section of germany and this is one of the most extraordinary advance in the history of aviation really is to require the planes money and flying and edified levels in planes landing every few seconds in the western part of berlin to keep the city alive. and he has been totally written out of the story critically in american history. he does not get a mention. i had quite a long chat with her and she a lot of documentation habout her father and his role n the airlift read the americans
without a doubt play the major role but i would like to think that the rehabilitated this eccentric british who actually came along at the time possible to do this. >> that was such a wild and vicious thing in the air in these people had sections dedicated to the airlift. and they did a good job of painting and how tough this would be to pull off so it is still a big ambitious plan. and everything just at the edge of yourho seat the whole time. >> so one statistic really tells the whole story, absolute minimum level for the berliners they needed to fly in fort have thousand tons of food every single day around-the-clock and the plane at the time, good. two hamptons and so that gives
you scale so you will have to have planes flying in around-the-clock and when the inside, once i got the green rllight the airlift basically, this is where it really gets exciting because the americans from honolulu to hawaii to everywherero across america plas are brought into this area and likewise from the british empire and from across the world, from india and the pacific is the brits bring in the planes as well. there's this mass convergence of planes in western germany and they're going to keep the city of life and it's really a heart wrenching story. >> is really beautiful uplifting story. and it's really wonderful and uplifting and successful the same time. that is great. so the question that i had, were you surprised, you know so much
about world war ii and this is your era and this is your area and have so much expertise here and i'm curious as you're doing research him if he thought away, oi thought i was going to tell the story that isng going go rit here and i had this part of the story wrong or t something. >> i was surprised that i wrote a lot about the three as i recall, when churchill roosevelt and stalin met in the big bear and if the other big conference at the end of the work which is stalin churchill and truman of course by then and roosevelt said the meat and surprised me is the extent to which both roosevelt and churchill and truman and churchill were prepared to trust stalin. and he clearly had absolutely no intention whatsoever of living
up to the promises he made for dealing the promises that he made earlier and of course, the work comes to an end. red army swept into eastern europe and is astonishing, they got everything that he wants wanted as a truman and churchill chare really, there is a bit ofa backseat there because stalin has one everything that he wanted and yet they still wanted to work with him. they wanted to keep his wartime 11 that's where the real tension comes in with holly on the ground in berlin and this is ridiculous, this guy cannot reach us. these persistent, freely began to change policy. as all happening on a very personal level you know pretty. >> together but i do think of the people ready to find out and then other people's resistance on estella speak to stones magnetic to similar just to how
eager everybody was to get along without any more turmoil in fighting. >> i think stalin from everything i've read was absolutely of brilliant coming let's get right here he was a very evil individual but he was brilliant to getting what he wanted an event toti remember, roosevelt was a a couple of blocks away from dying, is very very sick man. he has to have somebody in his room in hiss bed perhaps he was not on his best form and churchill likewise, i don't think he was on his best foreman he was drinking unbelievably heavily for comfort in fact of his aides described him as caucasian champagne. and churchill kept saying, i like that man, unlike that mannequin work with him read and i think this talent used it to his advantage. in a red also after the conference i read interestingly the soviet diplomats account and
they came away thinking that we want this hands down and wait really got everything that wed. wanted. i'm actually fascinated by stalin because he was so evil and yet he could be so charming and he seduced it so many people he seducedso churchill truman ad roosevelt. >> this fascinating, were almost out of time and we are getting it audience questions and so the last question that i have i think we have time to slip on more and is that this was history that took place a very long time ago but one think it's really fascinating about this book is that as kind of off hundred shows you how the gotti now kind of s the legacy of this time has led both indirectly and directly, and i'm curious what you think theou lasting vents ae today.
>> our relationship with russia and the new cold war. sort of the russian to the uk rdescribed them as close to frozen it the other day so i think the story has not gone away at allen the think ever president how do youho deal with this particular man with somebody in charge completely ball this coming of the gangster running the place i think that it's a very relevant story. what do you do and what came out of the event in my book, was ynato which was a guarantee the safety of the west of the entire cold war. i think it is interesting to look at how her relations with russia are going to involved with the next few years and how we as the west work together to contain this very volatile situation inside of russia rated. >> to do again what we did in
the book pretty. >> we realize how big the characters count in these historical episodes and character plays a major role in these big dramatic events in history printed. >> that's one of the best things that i love most about the book is that comes through how much the individual shapes kind of shapes history. and even the positions that they have and i will turn it over to the questions. the first audience question from carl and he said were there minor characters that you wish you could've spent more time on inou your stories. >> you come across the money in the course of a research is very difficult to know which ones to focus on pretty some of the soviet ones, i might've had more information music from the difficult to get access to the russian archives these days but one little story and pleased
within this book, and i managed to get from the archives you have a very good friend and russian who did the research for me is a story of a small platoon of six men, six soviet soldiers who broke into the rice stag and they hung out in the soviet flag on the roof and like so many of the stories, and the book of the stories of the six men has been written out of the history book and the never met the credit okthey were deserved and stalin had promised the first soviets and the ones captured the building would be showered with medals and awards and everything in these guys, one of the main characters, they never got anything, no recognition that they were pretty bitter for the rest of their lives. so it is s stories like that whh i don't know, i feel sometimes you're giving very belated
critics to people who achieve remarkable things. they never got their credit in their lifetime so that is one of the stories. >> how did the pandemic work with writing your book pretty. >> i was extremely passionate and i know many writers had a lot of problems during the pandemic but as we said earlier, i did my research and that are the book so it worked out as a year of research and sometimes a year of writing a bit more but i go inn and i take off everything of interest and then allowed it onto my mac, so i have absolutely everything that i needed and i have thousands of documents on my mac but it was very fortunate because i have all of that and i was able to really, for me the confinement was a time just to bury my head
into getting stuck into the writing really big guys i know so many basically missed a year of the writing lives because they did not do any research during that party decides very fortunate indeed. >> i remember you are right on time with the delivery date even though the pandemic was happening. and i remember reading the first draft on the fourth of july and the whole country was closed. and there was very little celebrating in the way that we are used to, parades and gatherings and so does a nice of the way to be celebrating the fourth of july. because a lot of our usual traditions were kind of moved. so what was your favorite archive. >> which is my favorite archive. it is very tricky one. i like it in london, give a
great museum of warfare and all of the many wars fought of the centuries and there archive is particularly good because it is largely diaries letters and memoirs in the stories of individuals. and for me, these individuals stories of men and women often are not very well known that have achieved remarkable things in their own lifetime and they said the stories that interest me more than the collections of all of the documents of state which of course are reported interesting for the framework of the book but what really gets to the meat of the book is a story of individual accounts of people who are in july of 1945 when the americans and the relation pride, and remember their ecology and all of the details of it with the weather was like what they ate for lunch that day. those details really enabled me to bring back to the story.
archive like that and i think really the army archive in pennsylvania, that is another one like that because on like the national archives in dc, it got out of their way to collect diaries memoirs and complete set of diaries and again, here is a great detail not just about the politics of berlin at the time, but what is he wearing with the atmosphere the meeting was like and so all of that was absolutely wonderful and it should be said for the score men, these four commoners met every week in this building which is the part of the governmentnt for berlin the wors wonderful about the archives of that era is that every single word, ever spoken in that room by those four-minute hasrd been recorded for history because the secretaries and stenographers writing downie everything.
so you can trace these progress to the politeness into just absolutely outrageous arguments between howie and the others and they all recruited and that was a wonderful resource as well. really such a gripping and if you like you are in the room at the time. an explosive around us are taking place is absolute miracle that they didn't start to punch each other really rated by 1948, they were ate each other's throats. >> man, that is very cool rated and did your book affect your view. >> was certainly shaped a very different light on sort of wartime alliance which is a story that absolutely is fascinating because when america and britain went into alliance with the soviet union, this was the most unlikely alliance in history.
america and britain just a few decades earlier they had their own troops on russian soil funding is the very people now in power pretty and they found them at wartime the son thanks is absolutely fascinating and of course is explosively that is really how the bookends as well the blockade and the airlift and when this wartime alliance falls apart and quite dramatic fashion. >> wonderful and thank you and i think that is all and i want to thank giles milton for joining us here. and before you go, do you guys and let us know where we can find online. >> my website is simple. debbie ww giles milton .com is
very civil my name .com and you can buy edit independent bookstores of course and barnes & noble and amazon as well. they'll have it in it is available both if you've enjoyed this book come alive with a view to to go out and buy it read also if you can leave a review. it's very important for me and to encourage others to read the book i would encourage you to do that predict. >> is real rich fascinating stuff. >> is been a real pleasure to be able to talk about this. >> every saturday on "c-span2", american history tv features lectures from investors across the country, recently a college
professor john klassen presidential speeches and public opinions from the 1970s through the 1990s and how presidential communications shaped at from network television and cable and the internet pretty. >> and this is very much of the time because many people wanted to have closer relations with the soviet union and the reception was about using the term evil, it would be presentable, the soviet union rated some of you may have seen the americans where the characters are spies are shockey and yes within the soviet rights, shocked about reagan and now, should reagan fall have to do with the soviet union will fall, will that is quite a debate and some would argue that
a mouse, reagan policies were peripheral and soviet union fell because of the internal reasons and others would say that the soviet union fell because reagan gave them a push and you decide, use the evidence this will comea lot of the forces in international relations and the important thing again is what he was using the speech for an this case of the presidential speech happened to multiple audiences. obviously the national association and more broadly the ones religious people in the united states and evangelical's in general really wanted to mobilize a behalf. but when the president speaks, the world listens. people all over the world now in deferred to the soviet union as
an evil empire and this was a concern to moscow but word reached places like warsaw and therefore people who took inspiration from these words. so for some people, is inspirational of the people is confrontational and alarmist pretty. >> or lecture from history this been featured on american history tv, is available to watch online, anytime a cspan.org/history. >> this date of history explores why and how things happen and sometimes it seems these familiars are revealed and his new book liberty, he seeks out the hidden history of american revolution. he is more than a thousand eyewitness accounts to constructive history and many of those are freely available online and the original words are leading figures of the revolution it can be found on
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