"Of course it was taken very seriously.
I should say that there were conflicting feelings. On the one
hand, there was a willingness to agree to discuss the question; that was
Molotov's stance. He even wrote a note to the Central Committee
arguing that it was necessary to start negotiations; he understood that
the Soviet Union needed help. In his reply he noted that
reconstruction was everyone's main aim, and the United States's offer of
help should be welcomed. His reaction to the Marshall Plan was
"Stalin, with his suspicious nature, didn't
like it: 'This is a ploy by Truman. It is nothing like
Lend-Lease - a different situation. They don't want to help
us. What they want is to infiltrate European countries.'
"But Molotov insisted on his view, and Stalin
said, go. So Molotov went to the Paris conference.
He listened to all the proposals. He understood that it was
not simple; the aid had strings attached.
"Stalin, meanwhile, received information that
the Americans did not want us to take part. The Americans
indicated that nobody was to be afraid to contact them. Stalin
became even more suspicious and moved to stop the countries friendly to us
taking part. Yugoslavia and Poland agreed. Finland too.
Finland had not signed a peace treaty and didn't want to risk jeopardizing
that, so it pulled back from taking part - very sharply.
"The Czechs undertook to take part in the
conference, so Stalin summoned Gottwald and Masaryk, the foreign minister,
to Moscow. Very severe pressure was put on them: if by 4 AM on
the twelfth - the day the conference started - they had gone there, they
would face the consequences.
"They understood what it meant.
So at the last moment they were prevented. Nine countries
refused to take part in the conference. Sixteen agreed.
The Soviet Union and the socialist-oriented countries stayed away. S
o did Finland. ..
"The US never really wanted the Soviet Union
and its satellites to benefit from Marshall aid. They made no
further effort to persuade them to take part."