(Howard K. Smith, Daniel Schorr, Charles Collingwood, Eric Severeid, Ernest Leiser, David Schoenbrun discuss Berlin)
"If, at this conference we could make a beginning toward relaxing the tension then, as they believe, in diplomacy as in forestry that great oaks from little acorns grow, perhaps we could plant an acorn at this conference."- Charles Collingwood.
On the eve of the G-20 Summit in London, I was thinking back on previous summits, back when there was a Cold War. Before The Soviet Union dissolved, everything that seemed to go wrong in the world after 1945 was either directly or indirectly attributed to the goings on of The Evil Empire. The ever-present threat of Communism seemed to be the one glue that held most of Europe and the Western Hemisphere together. It was the one fear that held everything else in check. All out nuclear war was never far away from peoples minds, and the threat of total annihilation made for many sleepless nights.
And so it was this particular Summit Conference, held over the question of Germany, or to be specific, West Berlin that drove all the Super Powers to the negotiation table. The question of reunification was argued since the end of the War and would stay that way until well into the 1980's. And it was always the potential flash point for a crisis threatening to become World War 3.
So fifty years ago next month, on May 10 1959, the Geneva Conference of Foreign Ministers would begin, in another attempt to negotiate another Cold War strategy. Nothing was particularly accomplished, and whatever was achieved died the following year with the U-2 incident and the eventual building of the Berlin Wall. On the eve of the Conference, a panel of CBS News correspondents got together to discuss what lay ahead. It's interesting to compare journalistic skills then and now - how, even within a news organization there was no lock-step point of view, opinions ran the gamut.
Information, even in the relatively primitive days of the 1950's was considered important.