NOVEMBER 24, 1954
NEW YORK, Tuesday—There was surprise at the United Nations on Monday morning when Mr. Vishinsky was not in his seat to hear Premier Mendes-France's speech. I had said good night to Mr. Vishinsky the night before at French Ambassador Hoppenot's dinner while those two were talking earnestly together. It was 11 p.m. and, since I had been told that the Premier had not yet finished his speech for the next morning, I decided that the guests had better be started on their way home.
Therefore, with United Nations President Van Kleffens' encouragement, I interrupted the two important men long enough to say goodbye.
Seeing someone apparently perfectly well at 11 p.m. is not conducive to making one think that anything has happened to him the next morning, so I thought there was some other reason for Mr. Vishinsky's absence from the General Assembly. I thought, perhaps, he did not agree with the Premier's ideas and yet did not want to speak against him.
But shortly after I left the U.N. to spend a little time in the American Association office and to attend a meeting of the Citizen's Committee for Children, someone brought in the news, first that the rumors were that Mr. Vishinsky was seriously ill, and then that he had died.
I found it very difficult to think of a person as alive and well one evening and then suddenly to believe that he had left this world. It must be a great shock to his wife and daughter, who came to this country with him, and the Soviet Union has lost one of its ablest foreign representatives.
Mr. Vishinsky had made many vitriolic speeches against the United States but in the last few months he had been a very much calmer and more affable gentleman, I am told in the U.N. circles. Those who had the opportunity of knowing him in this mood hoped that it presaged better understanding between the nations of the East and the West. We can only hope that his successor may continue in this attitude.
* * *
I was very much impressed by the French Premier's forthright speech. He spoke of many touchy questions, particularly the need for an Austrian treaty and the willingness to have a pact among the Eastern European states if they limited armament and had the same amount of publicity as the West. The Prime Minister's manner is more like the Anglo-Saxon approach than one usually expects from a Frenchman. I think it will earn him great confidence here and I am sure he will be a valuable negotiator for his country when there is a four-power conference. He suggested that should come after the ratification of the present European accords, which, of course means also the acceptance by Germany of the Saar Agreement.