Manuscripts/Mixed Material Interview with David E. Mark
MARK: Well, just about what actually happened in June 1950 when the Northern invasion took place, and the American riposte was totally unanticipated. I mean, it shows that Harry Truman had a gut reaction that made a lot more sense than the sophisticated deliberations of the cabinet departments in the previous few years; that, instinctively, he knew that a victorious outcome for a Soviet-backed state could undermine our entire position in the Far East and, more specifically, challenge our position in Japan. And I guess it was becoming clear even at that early post-war time that Japan was going to regain its status as a very major voice, a very major actor, in the Pacific. Whether Japan would be “Finlandized” by the USSR, or in a strategically neutral stance, or pro-American was very crucial.
Q: So where did you go, your next career turn?
MARK: Well, I had applied for Soviet language and area training, and when I got back to Washington, they said to me, “Well, we don't have any room for you in that right now. We'll keep your application on file. We do have some other area training that you could go into.”
I said, “Well, what do you mean?”
And they said, “We'd like to sign you up for Arab language and area training.” Well, although I'm not a practicing Jew, I'm nevertheless of Jewish background, so I said that I didn't think that that would prove to be very useful for the Foreign Service. Besides, I was interested in the Soviet side. So they said, “Okay. Just wait for that and go on to your next assignment, which is Berlin.”
Now, before I got to Berlin, everyone arrived through Frankfurt in those days.
Q: This was in—
MARK: This was in approximately August or September—well, maybe it was July 1949. I was informed in Frankfurt that I was not going to Berlin after all, that a new government was going to be formed in West Germany. Our military headquarters would be moving to Frankfurt from West Berlin and, therefore, I should stay in Frankfurt. And I was given a sort of ignominious job as the deputy protocol officer of the new U.S. High Commission under John McCloy that was taking over from the military government.