tv American Artifacts U.S. Diplomacy Center Museum Collections - Part 2 CSPAN January 21, 2018 10:00pm-10:39pm EST
faster or transport and improved communication. --th vietnamese troops already assassinated countless teachers, villagers, and others who refuse to join them. i now circle and you can watch this >> you can watch this and other programs at c-span.org/history. >> the state department's civics pavilion opened in january of 2017. it educates the public about diplomacy and they plan to eventually open a museum at the location. in the second part of a two-part program, we visit the collection storage area to see some of the 7000 artifacts. the curator and historian continue the story of american diplomacy beginning with artifacts from the cold war. >> we are in the thick of the
cold war now. the late 1950's. there was some -- not so much sighing, but conversations to happening exchange culture and to understand each other better between the united states and the soviet union. in 1959, there was a big exchange of national exhibitions. the soviets sent international exhibition to new york city in 1959. here is the exhibition booklet. you can see that on the cover they featured sputnik. >> what message were they trying to send with that? >> their exhibition covered sputnik and soviet industry, agriculture , and cultural arts.
>> president eisenhower flew from washington for a preview tour. with vice president nixon he and the delegation toured the elaborate show. all jovial despite the size of the crowd. the show is a counterpart of an american exhibition to be opened in moscow next month by mr. nixon. in the elaborate cultural exchange, full-scale models of sputnik are among the things russia is proudest of. legitimately impressive achievements exploited to the utmost here. >> not long after that, the united states sent their national exhibition to moscow which was a huge hit. over 2 million russian visitors came to the exhibition. this is a keepsake. various things were handed out to the visitors and this is a little polaroid keepsake.
and the american exhibition covered various topics including polaroid technology, automobile technology, and of course kitchen technology. we have heard a lot about the kitchen debates. >> indeed. >> do you want to talk more about the kitchen debates? >> clearly what is going on during these exhibitions is this idea of which industry is better, capitalism or communism? in terms of technology. in of the big features moscow was an american kitchen. you have the translators working with president nixon -- i am sorry, vice president and and nikita khrushchev. they were together in a room. >> vice president nixon escorts christian --r nikita khrushchev on the
exhibition. it is the official opening of the american exposition. the counterpart to the russian show in new york and dedicated to showcasing the high standard of life in our country, but on this occasion, traditional diplomacy goes by the board and the story of the fair itself is eclipsed by a crackling exchange between nixon and khrushchev. every aspect of the american and soviet rivalry it argued in blood and forthright terms. the threat of atomic warfare, diplomacy by ultimatum. economic progress. he says the soviet will overtake america and then wave bye bye. [applause] both khrushchev and nixon appear to enjoy themselves. is a sovietays he
spokesmen dealing with a capitalist lawyer. >> the way you talk and dominate the conversation, you would have been a good lawyer yourself. >> but the culmination is agreement that both nations conduct a debate. >> every word you have said has been taken down, and i promise you that every word have said here will be reported in the united states and they will see you say it on television. >> [speaking russian] >> in english. >> certainly it will. right. [laughter] [applause] >> and by the same token, everything that i say will be
recorded and translated and will be carried all over the soviet union. that is a fair bargain. [applause] >> one of those diplomats involved in this event of touring khrushchev and nixon through this exhibition was a foreign service officer. he worked for voice of america. excellent russian language skills, so he was part of the entourage and even had the opportunity to provide impromptu translation for khrushchev because his official translator got lost in the crush of people. this was a huge event. as alison mentioned, on the flight back, they inaugurated what they jokingly called the kitchen cabinet.
you can see that picture you were mentioning of nixon pointing at khrushchev. they even had a password for this exclusive club. in russian, it means peace and friendship. the language skills are so important for diplomats, you never know when you might need to pull it out. we have some exchange in the conversation going on in the midst of the cold war. and eventually, things start to thaw. >> eventually. there is a recognition that the status quo cannot remain. during nixon's presidential administration, you start to see the salt talks. these are strategic arms limitation treaties being discussed. during the reagan administration, it was a high priority as well.
this speaks to that as well. in 1987, the united states and soviets sign the limited range nuclear forces treaty. that didn't happen so much with the number of arms but to limit how far the range of them. ,>> exactly. part of the inf treaty was witnessing elimination of certain classes of missiles. this happened here in the united states as well as in soviet territory. this piece tells a little bit about that story. it is a beautiful piece. diplomacy is an art form and it also works of art such as this. as a result of the 1987 inf 1990, in kazakhstan, a diplomat was the chief of the
arms control sector at u.s. embassy moscow. she was part of the entourage that went out to witness the elimination of the last of these missiles covered under the inf treaty. the missiles were laid out for display and measurement and verification and then of course the entourage would go to a safe location and they were destroyed. the soviet military had reserved some of the debris from previous elimination activity and contracted with a local businessman to create these fantastic little sculptures. the soviets gave the sculptures to their american counterparts as a celebration of the destruction of these missiles. you can see the soviet flag, the u.s. flag. and then this very interesting,
quite beautiful, it is evocative of turning your swords into plowshares. what was once a weapon is now a beautiful piece of art. this is all happening between the u.s. and russia as far as arms control systems. but berlin, , germany is still a divided , city. people are quite angry about that. >> indeed, they were. in 1961, almost overnight, a physical wall divided berlin. this presented a challenge for the united states. retained a diplomatic presence with west germany. you can only have one ambassador in a country so we had the u.s. minister sent specifically to west berlin to cover the national interest and protect american citizens over there.
very quickly, much to everyone's surprise, in 1989, that wall literally started to come down. katie, do you went to speak more about that particular minister? he played a crucial role in that. katie: the night of november 9, 1989, the u.s. minister to berlin, harry gilmore, is what was called the allied chairman and the chairmanship rotated monthly between the british, the french, and the u.s. the month of november was the u.s.'s turn. people started gathering at these checkpoints. word had gotten out that supposedly the checkpoints were open. that they could now cross berlin. police were not prepared for this onslaught of people. and so, the mayor of berlin -- and
these checkpoints were still in russian territory. there was still a buffer zone between the actual checkpoint that you crossed through before you got into west berlin territory. so the west berlin police needed permission to cross into that sector to help out the east berlin police with this crash of people. harry gilmore, this was an on the spot decision. had to make it. normally, protocol would have him consult with counterparts and notify but he gave permission on the spot for the west berlin police to help out with the crush of people. of course, the wall came down. not long later, germany was reunified. the u.s. in the seat was moved to berlin. this unique position of u.s. minister to berlin was no longer needed. we have in the collection a
wonderful flag, the position of u.s. minister is a rarity. >> antiquated. katie: antiquated. this flag was presented to harry gilmore at the end of his tenure as u.s. minister to berlin. it has a wonderful inscription on the presentation box that america saved the best for last with harry gilmore. as you can see in the image it , is an interesting flag. the great seal is in the middle. it is on a white field with blue stars surrounding the seal. a u.s. ambassador's flag has the great seal in the middle on a blue field with white stars. for further comparison, the secretary of state's flag. again, great seal in the middle, blue field, but four stars, one in each corner of the flag.
it is a wonderful representation of this unique time in u.s. history. i think we will bring out a few more artifacts. alison: let's go. the last segment, we talked about embassies being the site of refuge and a silent. but sometimes embassies are often the site of political unrest and political attack. katie: this little piece here is a segment of the sidewalk that surrounded the former u.s. embassy saigon and what is now the u.s. consulate ho chi minh city. this piece was retreat for us in as they were renovating the 2003 sidewalk and surrounding area. but that particular sidewalk has a pretty interesting history for the u.s. embassy. theon: that is why collection is so fascinating. at first glance it is just a
, piece of concrete. in 1968, in the thick of vietnam, the vietnamese lost in offensive on tet on the vietnamese new year. they blew a hole into the compound of the embassy. they planted a bomb and blew a hole in it. the north vietnamese forces were able to enter the courtyard. this put american diplomats in extreme danger. but they were held in the courtyard and never made it inside the embassy. they were finally driven out by helicopter reinforcements coming in. but the american diplomats inside were very brave. they kept up the line of communication with the united states during that time and never left their post. the gentleman who retrieved that has an interesting narrative about going in 2003 and noticed they were ripping up the
sidewalk, right near where the hole was blown into the embassy compound. katie: right. as the gentleman who retrieved the sidewalk for us pointed out, this attack spilled out into the streets as well. there were security guards and military forces fighting on the sidewalks and in the street as well. items like this are called site elements. it is a very interesting way to evoke a time and a place, it can tell a powerful story with imagery of the time. alison: especially since the embassy no longer exists. katie: continuing in vietnam, that was 1968 when the attack happened. in the early 1970's, our diplomats were at the embassy, continuing in the midst of the conflict that was occurring, trying to do their best to
assist their military counterparts. there are a lot of political relationships our diplomats needed to understand as well which can be complicated. one enterprising political officer thought to create a chart to be able to track who is who, who is married to who, who is because of who. he went down to the mailroom and got this piece of brown mailing paper. he tapped it up on his wall in his office and started with the vietnamese president and started charting out his political family relations as well as the interrelations with his prime minister. this chart became a pretty handy tool and pretty popular among his fellow officers. when he left vietnam and came
back to washington, d.c., for his next post, this chart was left in the embassy for use by his colleagues. thankfully, this survived and it almost didn't. alison: it almost did not. in 1975, south vietnam completely collapsed. the american embassy was hastily evacuated. there are very iconic figures of helicopters landing on the roof. a lot of south vietnamese citizens attempting to board the helicopter. for american personnel in these embassies, you often have to make a snap decision what to take. you want to take classify things. but you are also in a helicopter. this family chart was one of the things that an american diplomat grabbed. here we have it today. katie it was salvaged and the : political officer who created it had no idea. his colleague, weeks after the
evacuation, surprised him at his office at the department of state and handed this over much , to his surprise that it survived. alison: i think it was a smart thing to do because there was such a fear of reprisals, hence the terror of the evacuation. this would have given a roadmap to any kind of political contacts. katie we are happy to have this : now. the crises continued in the 1970's. there was a lot going on in iran in the late 1970's, a lot of protests. alison: a lot of protests. in 1979, the islamic state was created after much political violence and unrest. of course, putting the americans serving there as diplomats in grave danger. it all came to a head when the shah of iran sought asylum in
the united states of america to seek medical treatment. he was suffering from cancer. and president carter permitted him to come to the united states which greatly angered the political leaders in iran. katie: absolutely. that anger boiled over and ultimately, one day in november 1979, the u.s. embassy was overrun. and the u.s. diplomats who happened to be there in the building at the time were taken hostage. they were held hostage for a total of 444 days. 52 american diplomats in total. we know something of their treatment and it was not that great. they were blindfolded, interrogated, and beaten. and we are very privileged to have this cloth. onwas used as a blindfold
economic officer robert blucher. the takeover of the embassy happened to coincide with his first full day on the job. what a first day on the job. on the second day, he was beaten . and about a month later, he was called for interrogation and said he was blindfolded in a cold room for six hours. he could hear the cooking sounds -- clicking sounds of his captors' rifles in the background. very harsh treatment. this blindfold came to us through a friend of his. we know the end of the story that they were ultimately freed. when he returned to freedom, he was visiting friends and gave this blindfold to his friend as kind of a thank you gift for hosting him. and he said, just wash it.
luckily, this friend did not and she treated it like a relic and it ended up in our collection. and we do consider it a treasure of the collection. there are so many stories surrounding the embassy takeover. alison: because not everyone was held 444 days. katie there were some who : escaped out the back door of the consulate. they ultimately became known as the canadian six. these six americans found shelter with the canadian ambassador as well as the canadian consul general john shearden. they were their houseguests for about three months before the c.i.a. was able to successfully extricate them from the country. as you can see in the image, we have a pair of fake eyeglasses. this was part of the costume given to one of the canadian six.
her name was kathleen stafford. the c.i.a. provided them with costumes and fake personas, and fake documents. they had to take on and memorize these cover stories to pass through the revolutionary guards at the tehran airport. these fake eyeglasses are a wonderful representation of that successful extrication. alison: we have two sides of the story. one who was held and another who made it out. katie in addition, we have items : that show the end of the story, the welcome home. on 52 hostages were released january 20 1, 1981, the day after ronald reagan's inauguration. they were showered with gifts and memorabilia. and certificates. we have a button that was a gift
to ann swift. she was one of the two women of the 52 held captive. the button celebrates their welcome home and incorporates a yellow ribbon. and as we know, the yellow , ribbon campaign was started by some of the family members to show solidarity. and it really caught hold throughout the nation. alison: bring them home. katie embassies are still : targets, unfortunately. alison: in 1998, there was a surprise attack on the continent of africa. it was a coordinated attack. we now know that this was an al qaeda attack on the embassy in tanzania and kenya. we have a couple of items from that tragic event that are highly personalized. we really get a sense of the person and what it was like to be there during that traumatic time. our american diplomats were
under these circumstances. katie: absolutely. i cannot imagine anything more traumatizing than your office building exploding. the u.s. ambassador who was our ambassador to kenya at the time. on the morning of the attack, she was in a meeting with the kenyan minister of commerce. and his office was quite close to the embassy, just across the parking lot. she and some department of commerce colleagues were upstairs at the meeting -- >> when we heard noise which we subsequently learned was a stun grenade. there were about eight people in the room at the time and most of them got up to walk to the window to see what it was about. that in fact was the purpose of the stun grenade, to bring people to the windows.
i was thrown back and was unconscious for a few minutes. the ceiling came in. and i thought i was going to die. it was a feeling i will never forget. this is it. i am going to die. but i didn't. as i went down 21 flights of stairs with one of my department of commerce colleagues, i kept thinking, i just need to get out of the building, back to my embassy, and into the medical unit and i will be all right. it was when we exited the building and i saw the charred remains of what was once human beings, looked up and saw that my embassy was destroyed that i realized there was no medical unit to go to, and i was going to have to take charge.
katie she was injured on her : head. and she very graciously has donated the suit she was wearing on that day. and you can see the bloodstains that remain on that suit from the horrible morning. the embassy building was completely destroyed, as were some of the surrounding buildings. as embassy employees were able to go back and retrieve their parked car -- you can imagine the chaos of the scene. one embassy employee found this chunk of the building in the backseat of her car. it had blown through the back window from the explosion. in addition, ambassador bushnell gave us this personalized hard hat. the day after the attack, she wanted to go back and tour the site and
see what happened and offer her love and sympathy to the people dealing with this. embassy staff and support to her -- is this a staff in a show of love and support to her personalized this hard hat with the word ambassador and a gold sticker for her to wear. alison: and when you mention the staff, it is not just americans. we have foreign service nationals. they are natives of the country and often work there for 20 or 30 years and developed a very close relationship with the americans, and especially the ambassadors. i think clearly this mutual sign of affection and appreciation that she was so severely injured, but came back the next day to show concern for the people of that nation and what a strong bond that is in that in the city family.
katie, why don't we bring out gifts to the secretaries? when they travel, they are given gifts of appreciation to show that mutual respect. katie: this medallion was a gift to a delegation of japanese diplomats back in 1860. diplomatic giftgiving is a wonderfully long tradition and americans absolutely took part in this tradition going back to the 19th century. alison: very much so. this story of opening up trade with japan is fascinating. the chinese had been forced into trading with the western powers. the japanese were concerned that they wanted to keep their own sovereignty. in the 1850's, they began welcoming communication with western nations and signed a treaty with the united states, similar to the 1778 treaty.
japanese signed in 1858, but of course then the american president had to sign it. that was the reason for the delegation. it was three very high-level samurais that came with 74 other japanese and some interpreters. they landed in 1860 in the washington navy yard. we have this wonderful photograph taken by matthew brady of the entire japanese embassy with these delegates. they were wined and dined. they were not happy with everything they ate. they were served rice with sugar and butter on it, and they were horrified. nowadays you would not offer them that. it was considered to be a very successful visit.
on the last meeting of their visit with the president, he gave them what was a gold coin that had been engraved by a gentleman who worked at the mint who came up with the design and a number were struck to commemorate the visit. katie you can see the profile of : president buchanan, and on the reverse commemorates the visit. it says, "in commemoration of the first embassy from japan to the united states 1860." and again, that word embassy meaning -- allyson: meaning people not the , actual building. katie: our secretaries of state travel. a big part of their time in office is traveling and meeting with their foreign counterparts. and part of those meetings and trips involve an exchange of gifts. and our secretary works closely with the office of protocol for
to arrange the giving and receiving. allyson they can't keep them. :katie: they can't keep them all the time, so the diplomacy center has a number of examples of gifts to secretaries of state. they are wonderful pieces and have great stories behind them, including this pearl inlaid box, which was a gift to secretary baker in 1991, a gift from the mayor of bethlehem. alison: bethlehem is in palestinian territory and consider to be a very important ancient city. diplomatic relations with the arab world had been strained. throughout the 1960's and 1970's, american presidents and secretaries were preoccupied with negotiating between egypt and israel, which was solved during the carter administration. when ronald reagan became president and then his successor, h.w. bush, they were
focused on the palestinian conflict. this was very important that not only was it given in bethlehem, in palestinian territory, it was an important shift in thinking about american foreign-policy and how they could mediate the settlement between the israelis and palestinians. katie: this particular box came with a personalized note to secretary baker. and it is from the mayor of bethlehem, and you can see that he writes, "welcome to bethlehem. we pray that secretary of state, mr. baker, will succeed in helping us to have peace between palestinians and israelis." it is dated march 12, 1991. alison: continuing with priorities, during the clinton
administration, extreme violence broke out in the bosnian region with the breakup of yugoslavia. it was kind of the last gasps of the cold war. the americans were very much involved in the peace process in dayton, ohio. the dayton accord ended that war. the region was a hot spot, and the secretary of state, madeleine albright, was aware of what was going on in the region. katie: she was. she managed the response in coordination with some of her foreign minister counterparts, and she held an almost daily conference call with the foreign ministers. and she later termed it conference call diplomacy to help manage the conflict. and they coordinated and worked quite well together. at the end of secretary albright's tenure in january
of 2001, she and her conference call diplomacy counterparts gathered for dinner in paris to celebrate the end of secretary albright's tenure. and of course, she was presented with gifts. this spectacular russian porcelain coffee set was a gift by the russian foreign minister. and as you can see, on each of the cups is the image of albright and her foreign minister counterparts. these include igor ivanov of russia, robin cook of the united kingdom, hubert vedrine of france, joschka fisher of germany, lloyd axworthy of canada, and lumberto dini of italy. and they didn't stop with the
faces. they dubbed this group madeleine and her dream team of foreign ministers. as you can see, engraved on the service tray. alison what is so interesting is : madeleine albright is the first woman secretary of state, gendereds very much a gift. she has a male counterpart. but this is a gift to a woman as secretary of state. as visitors come to the diplomacy center, that will very much be apparent. katie: the art of diplomatic giftgiving involves trying to figure out who the person is and their likes and what they might be interested in. but at the same time what , represents me and my country? how can i represent the natural resources and arts and artisans of my country?
i think this set does that magnificently. we have been actively building the artifact collection for many years, and we are at about 7500 items in our collection. and this collection is truly unique to the nation. there is no other institution in the nation that is solely focused on collecting diplomacy. and these objects would have nowhere else to go, and would be somewhat lost to history. with the diplomacy museum, we can really bring these stories to life through these fascinating objects and their visual appeal and the many fascinating people and events behind these objects. alison: also, in part of our outreach, we do travel around the united states. most americans know they can go to the state department to get a passport. they don't really understand
sometimes the function of the state department and what do american foreign service officers do? they will learn all of the stories and see these wonderful objects. katie: what is diplomacy, who does it, and why does it matter, that is really the key question to answer throughout every exhibition. why is this history relevant to everyday americans? what have our diplomats doing today and what have they done to promote security and our national interests abroad? >> this was the second of a two-part look at the u.s. diplomacy center museum collections. you can view part one and all other american history tv programs at c-span.org/history. >> all weekend long, american history tv joins our cox communications cable partners to