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#1048 – Dr. Joseph Schwartzberg: Remembering India’s Early Support for ‘One World’

Tuesday, August 4th, 2015

PRE-NOTE: Too rarely, in this age of sound-bites, Twitter feeds, Text messaging, analysis by headline and screen crawlers, and similar shorthand, and other often blatantly false “forwards”, comes a breath of fresh air, an actual ‘back-and-forth’: an e-mail between two friends with acknowledged expertise about their topic of conversation.

What follows is such an e-mail exchange, shared with permission of the authors, Dr. Joseph Schwartzberg, Distinguished International Professor Emeritus at the University of Minnesota, and Dr. Manu Bhagavan, about Dr. Bhagavan’s book “The Peacemakers”.

This e-mail was received July 23, 2015.
Dick Bernard


[Dr. Joseph Schwartzberg]:
Several friends have suggested that the following exchange between me and Manu Bhagavan, who has written an excellent book on early Indian support for world citizenship and world government might be of interest to a wider audience. Manu has encouraged its being put out in the form of a blog, which is now happening. I have edited out a few sentences that would be of interest to nobody but Manu and me and inserted, in square brackets, a few short notes for those whose knowledge of India might be a bit fuzzy. The exchange has, I believe, interest from both a historical and a human interest perspective and contains some lessons for those who see themselves as World Citizens. Manu, a historian of modern India at Hunter College of the City University of New York, is a guy you would like to know. Among his five published books is one entitled Speaking Truth to Power. His interview with Garry Davis, World Citizen No. 1, was broadcast on World Citizen Radio. He maintains a close connection with the World Federalist Movement and will likely be making a presentation to World Federalists in connection with their annual Council meeting this November in New York.

Joe Schwartzberg
Director, The Workable World Trust


Dear Manu,

Several days ago, I finished reading The Peacemakers. I thoroughly enjoyed it, It is written in a very readable, jargon-free style, tells an interesting story, and is exceedingly well documented. I learned much from reading it. . . . . .

While there is no reason why you should know this, you may be interested to learn that, on my first trip to India in 1955-56 I made a point of meeting the then head of the Indian World Federalist Movement, C.L. (Chiranjilal) Paliwal. We became and remained good friends until his death (I believe it was in the late 1970s). On that and subsequent trips I was often his house guest and had many discussions with him about world federalism, and, more generally, about world and Indian politics; and he shared with me many of his reminiscences of the freedom movement in which he played an active role as a student leader and close associate of Gandhi. (He was jailed twice for his activities.) . . . .

Another relevant outcome of my first and subsequent trips to India was that they reinforced my conviction about the potential efficacy of World Federalism, not as a global panacea, but as the most suitable system (among other possibilities) within which to address global problems, I viewed the diverse nation of India as a microcosm of the world and reasoned that, If India, despite its enormous problems and limited resources, could maintain a viable system of federal democratic governance, so too, could the world as a whole, with its comparable problems, but vastly greater resource endowment. . . . . .

I offer below what I regard as my only significant criticism of your work, namely its excessively hagiographic portrayal of Nehru and Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit [Nehru’s sister and a leading Indian diplomat]. (Your recognition of the genius and moral steadfastness of Gandhi, on the other hand, was warranted.) Of course, you are in good company in lionizing those two leaders and there was a time when I would have subscribed to your views.

As you point out , Nehru and his sister were children of enormous privilege. They moved in elite circles and habitually captivated the intelligentsia (even most of the impoverished intelligentsia), political leaders, diplomats and the media. Their vision was truly global. But, while they struggled mightily on the global stage for an independent India, embedded in “One World” [Nehru was immensely impressed with Wendell Willkie’s 1943 book with that title] with equal rights for all human beings, they never, to the best of my knowledge, engaged themselves wholeheartedly in the struggle to bring equal rights and opportunities to India’s own marginalized groups, in particular, the scheduled castes [the official name for ex-untouchables] and adibasis [tribal peoples]. They could have made a big difference, but failed to do so. They were more concerned, it appeared, with the plight of black and native Americans, than with the counterparts of those groups in India itself. . . . .

It is one thing, when one is out of power to rail against the injustices of a system that denies many groups — especially colonized peoples — their political and social due. And Nehru and Mme. Pandit were superb spokespersons for a moral agenda to which millions of people worldwide could resonate, And they basked in the adulation that came their way. (I think here of Barack Obama’s undeserved Nobel Peace Prize.) But talk is cheap. What really constitutes a test of character is what one does when one actually holds power and has to make tough and binding decisions. Nehru failed the test in Kashmir, in Goa and later, disastrously so, in his handling of the Sino-Indian boundary disputes. [The failure in Kashmir was not following through on his 1947 promise to hold a UN-directed plebiscite to determine the state’s future; in Goa it was the seizure in 1961 of territory by military force; and in the dispute with China it was India’s unwillingness to consider very reasonable compromise proposals put forward by Zhou En-lai in 1960,]

On p. 161 of your book, you quote Nehru as saying, in the wake of the 1962 military debacle in its border encounter with China: “We were living in a world of illusion. … [W]e were getting out of touch with reality in the modern world and were living in an artificial world of our own creation. We have been shocked out of it.” You then go on to argue that, Nehru’s disillusionment notwithstanding, Mme, Pandit kept the faith. I disagree. In 1963 or’64 (as I recall),when the University of Pennsylvania, where I was then teaching, awarded her an honorary doctorate, she made a speech about India’s border disputes with China that I thought was exceedingly bellicose, inappropriate, and often factually inaccurate. It went over well, however, because China was then the bad guy du jour (not to mention her enduring charisma); so I found myself in a small minority of dissenters.

To return to the global stage, it is one thing to proclaim lofty goals, such as those embodied in the two major human rights conventions and pretend that they have the force of international law (which, in theory, they do), but quite another thing to follow through meaningfully on the implicit promise of such conventions by establishing a system of enforcement and of punishment for offenders. The longer the disconnect continues, the greater the loss of respect for the system as a whole. Happily, a beginning has been made in rectifying this problem globally with the creation of the ICC and the adoption of the R2P paradigm. But we have a long, long way to go.

Once, when I was having dinner at the home of Ashish Bose, India’s leading demographer, another guest, his aunt, a member of the Lok Sabha [the lower house of india’s Parliament] from Assam, asked him, “Well, what do you think, Ashish? Should I introduce a bill raising the legal age for marriage from 16 to 18?” I then asked her: “Wouldn’t it be better to enforce the laws you already have than to enact bigger and better laws that few people will take seriously?” To this, Ashish responded: “You don’ understand, Joe, India wants to be judged by the enlightened nature of its laws, not by what it actually does?” This applies, I’m afraid, to much of what Nehru and Mme. Pandit were doing , or arguing for, at the UN. They knew the problems in theory, but they didn’t demonstrate a good grasp of what the real world was like.

This criticism, I would argue,applies to most of my World Federalist friends and renders them fair targets for the accusation of being naive utopians. Obviously, ideals are important; but to achieve lasting changes, one has to find or create a workable mix of idealism with an understanding of real world power relationships. Otherwise, one loses credibility and effectiveness. That is why I’ve scaled down my emphasis on World Government as our common goal (while noting that it remains my preferred goal; cf. 2nd full paragraph of page 2 of my book and 1st full paragraph of p.297). I argue instead for the creation of a workable, though clearly imperfect, world. That is a general goal on which virtually all people of good will can agree. But it will garner little support unless one can demonstrate that there are, in fact, ways of dealing with problems much better than those on which the UN presently relies, mired as it is an anachronistic Westphalian rule system. Hence, the “Designs” in the title of my book.


[Manu Bhagavan]
Dear Joe:

Thank you, so much, for this careful reading of my book. I am grateful for the considered engagement. I’d be very happy if you chose to publish this somewhere, either as a review, or, less formally, as a blog post. It’s a great way to promote debate around the issues. . . . .

I’d love to see the Paliwal interview and to discuss other aspects of your experience. I’d really appreciate your insights.

Of course, I think we may have a few disagreements, but perhaps not as many as you describe. For instance, I concede in the book that Kashmir, Goa, and the Sino-Indian war were tripping points. But mistakes or shortcomings do not negate everything else, and there is much that Nehru and his sister accomplished, and where they were true to their ideals.

On the 3 major faults: I have a paper coming out on human rights, self-determination, and the question of Kashmir. I concede, as I indicate in the book, that this was the one issue on which Nehru ultimately was not able to rise above. Goa and the Sino-Indian conflict I largely chalk up to Krishna Menon, [India’s then Minister of Defence], though of course Nehru went along. I have another paper coming out where I discuss the Sino-Indian issue briefly, . . . . I’ll be bringing out an edited book that will address some of this in more detail shortly. . . . .

I agree that Nehru could have done much more to address the problem of caste, though I think we could have a fruitful discussion on the issue, and on locating Nehru somewhere between Gandhi and Ambedkar [an ex-untouchable who was the chief architect of India’s Constitiution] on the spectrum of moralism and law in change making.

I don’t think that your assessment of Mme Pandit, based on her Penn talk, is particularly fair, as you might have guessed. I don’t know what she said there, of course, but considering the nature of the setback and the humiliation following the war, and her brother’s despair, I think it hardly unexpected that she would give a rousing defense of India’s position in a foreign forum in the immediate aftermath. But she did deal in more internal ways with the critics, as I indicate. And, importantly, she also returned to speak for the old internationalist vision in the years that followed, in public and private settings. Her general position remained Nehruvian internationalist, and the talk you mention seems the exception. Most significantly, she and her daughter broke publicly with Indira Gandhi, and suffered for it, when they thought she was going down a dark path [initiating a period off emergency rule that lasted from 1975 to 1978], and taking the country with her. I’d say that that is indeed indicative of someone who “kept the faith.”

I don’t think it fair, either, to claim that Nehru was about showpiece laws and not about real change. Almost all of the new scholarship reassessing the Nehruvian period, whether economically or socially, reveals substantive progress on many an issue. This isn’t to say that everything was perfect. Nehru was powerful, but he wasn’t a dictator. He held the foreign minister portfolio, and so was much freer to act internationally, and domestically was much more constrained by cacophonous parliamentary democracy.

My position . . . . is that Indira Gandhi systematically undermined and destroyed the Nehruvian state. Nehru’s was an imperfect model, but what it could accomplish was going to take time. . . . .

Both the ICC and R2P [International Criminal Court and the Responsibility to Protect] have come under withering criticism from numerous scholars for being neo-imperial western tools. I don’t think that they are an unmitigated good. But I agree that they are, overall, positive steps, but ones that must take place in concert with other major changes to make the system more effective and fair. (I say this as someone who has heard Kofi Annan explain the reasons for R2P and who has met Ocampo and Bensouda [ICC prosecutors] on occasions, and who deeply admires Bill Pace and the work he has done.)

Anyhow, I say all of this only in the spirit of engagement. Not at all to be defensive. I love the fact that you have such a passionate take on the book, and that you have taken the time to write. Thank you!! . . . .



#822 – Dick Bernard: Thursday, Jan. 16, 2014, 7 p.m. Dr. Joseph Schwartzberg on Transforming the United Nations System Designs for a Workable World

Thursday, January 2nd, 2014

Dr. Schwartzberg gets right to the point in the very first sentence of his introduction to his important new 400 page book, “Transforming the United Nations System, Designs for a Workable World“:

“Global problems require global solutions”.

He will introduce his book to us at Third Thursday, January 16, 2014, 7 p.m. at the Social Hall of St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church in south Minneapolis.

All are welcome. Books will be available for purchase at the event.

Those of us who have been privileged to know Dr. Schwartzberg for a few or many years, know that his simple introductory phrase, global problems require global solutions, has a long and deeply felt history in his long and productive life, going back to the years between WWII and the Korean Conflict.

He has “walked the talk”. Here is Dr. Schwartzberg’s bio, as it appears in the book: Schwartzberg Bio001

(click to enlarge)
Schwartzberg UN Book002

Transforming the United Nations System covers an immense amount of “ground” about a very complex institution with a now-long history – the United Nations. It addresses its problems and offers ideas for potential solutions for improvement as the UN works in an ever more complex and interdependent world.

A very impressive array of experts are endorsers of the book, including Ramesh Thakur who writes the Foreword to the volume. The Endorsers of Dr. Schwartzberg work, as printed in the book, comment here: Schwartzberg Endorsement001.

Here is the front and back cover contents of the book: Joe Schwartzberg Book001

Those of us who have been privileged to get to know Dr. Schwartzberg over the years, particularly through the newsletter of, know his fondness for pertinent quotations.

In Transforming the United Nations, his first quotation appears in the preface as follows:
“The splitting of the atom has changed everything, save our mode of thinking , and thus we drift toward unparalleled catastrophe.

Henceforth, every nation’s foreign policy must be judged at every point by one consideration: does it lead to a world of law and order or does it lead us back to anarchy and death?”
Albert Einstein

Be there, January 16, 2014, 7 p.m., St. Joan of Arc Social Hall, to hear Dr.Schwartzbergs thoughts on our role, and our future, as members a global society.

More about Joe Schwartzberg here.

#511 – Dick Bernard: Lynn Elling, World War II & Korea Veteran, Businessman, World Citizen

Friday, February 3rd, 2012

UPDATE December 11, 2013: Personal statement: Dick Bernard.
I initiated A Million Copies website in March, 2008. At the time, I had known Mr. Elling for only nine months. As time passes, he continues as a most remarkable and committed seeker of Peace in our world. For the interested reader, place the words Lynn Elling in the search box of this blog, and you will find many other posts which refer to him in one way or another. He walks the talk for Peace. I’m honored to know him. Here is a recent summary of his experience/work for peace over the last 80 years: Lynn Elling Timeline 1943-2013. The most recent post which relates specifically to Mr. Elling is about the U.S. Declaration of World Citizenship signed by President Lyndon Johnson in 1965. You can read it here.

UPDATE June 20, 2012: Lynn’s spouse of 68 years, Donna Elling, passed away June 1, 2012. Here is a blog post about Donna and Lynn and their family, first posted on the day of her Memorial Service June 13, 2012.

UPDATE January 4, 2013: During the fall and early winter of 2012, I found more information particularly about the Minneapolis/Hennepin County Declaration of World Citizenship March 5, 1968. That information has been added to this post, including some photos of the May 1, 1968, dedication ceremony taken by Donna Elling.

I met Lynn Elling in June, 2007. In November of that year I wrote the below commentary for Minnesota Alliance of Peacemakers (original here), and in March, 2008, I rolled out the Million Copies website tribute to Lynn Elling and Professor Joe Schwartzberg, which remains essentially identical to when it was first published.

Both Mr. Elling and Dr. Schwartzberg remain with us, and both remain very, very active in their respective passions.

This seems to be a good time to update the original commentary about Lynn. (Changes to original text are minimal. The photographs are new additions.)

March 1-3, 2012 inaugurates the new Augsburg Nobel Peace Prize Forum, incorporating the long existing Nobel Peace Prize Festival, also at Augsburg, in which Lynn had a major co-founding role, and through the years has been a remaining powerful and crucial presence as both worker and fund-raiser for this major event.

The histories of both Festival and Forum are here.

Lynn and his spouse, Donna, still live in south Minneapolis. They celebrated 68 years of marriage last fall. Below are photos taken September 22, 2011, at their home; and in February, 1972.

(click on all photos to enlarge them)

Lynn and Donna Elling September 22, 2011

Lynn and Donna Elling World Service Authority Passport photo February 7, 1972

Lynn and Donna Elling World Service Authority Passport photo February 7, 1972

Lynn remains very active in working for an enduring peace, particularly with children’s programs such as Peace Sites, also here, and listing here: World Citiz Peace Sites001. And Peace Education.

Donna and Lynn, congratulations and best wishes to you both.

UPDATE April 17, 2013: Here is an abbreviated timeline of Lynn Elling’s efforts for World Peace: Lynn Elling Timeline001 It is much abbreviated.


LYNN ELLING: A MILLION COPIES MADE: Visioning a New Declaration of World Citizenship
by Dick Bernard
Originally published Nov. 5, 2007 at Minnesota Alliance of Peacemakers , slightly revised February 3, 2011, and December 3, 2012.

I don’t know why Ed McCurdy chose the line “a million copies made” for his circa 1950 peace anthem, “Last Night I Had The Strangest Dream”.

Nor do I know why John Denver especially liked that song (a 1971 rendition performed by him on the U.S. Capitol steps is ‘front and center’ at

All I know is that I heard Lynn Elling lead us in singing that song back in the spring of 2007; and that the lyric “A million copies made” has stuck with me.

Who is this Lynn Elling?

And what does he have to do with peace and justice?


As a young LST (Landing Ship Tank #172) officer in WWII, Lynn Elling saw the horrors of War closeup in the South Pacific, at places like Tarawa. The history of LST 172 is here: Lynn Elling LST 172001,

Later he was recalled to service, and served in the Korean conflict, also on an LST.

Lynn Elling on USS LST 172 in the Pacific, 1944

Born in 1921 and a life long Minnesotan, after WWII Elling entered the insurance and financial planning business with Lincoln Life, becoming very successful in the profession. But early in his post-war career, he was discouraged and almost quit. Selling is very hard work. At a critical point in his early professional life, 1947, a workshop leader, Maxwell Maltz (Psycho Cybernetics) unlocked the door to Lynn’s future success. Maltz taught that if one could visualize a goal in technicolor, 3-dimension and stereophonic sound, the goal could be achieved. Elling listened, and followed Maltz’s advice, and it worked.

But Elling never forgot what he’d seen and experienced on that LST in the south Pacific in WWII.

Assorted experiences after WWII, including the service in the Korean conflict and visiting Hiroshima in 1954 and again in 1963, and opportunities to meet with and get to know people like Thor Heyerdahl (Kon Tiki), Norman Cousins, and many others, led to Lynn’s life long passion to build a culture of Peace and World Citizenship. Through leaders like MN Gov. Wendell R. Anderson, and mentors like Minneapolis business executive Stanley Platt, his wife Martha Platt, former Minnesota Governor Elmer L. Andersen and others, Elling was encouraged in his efforts.

His enduring monument is World Citizen, Inc.. World Citizen is a long-time member of Minnesota Alliance of Peacemakers (MAP).

In the Fall of 1967, Stanley Platt and Lynn worked with then-Minneapolis Mayor Arthur Naftalin on a Declaration of World Citizenship, patterned on a then rapidly expanding program called “Mundialization” of cities particularly in Japan, France and Canada. Mayor Naftalin took the lead on the initiative, and on March 5, 1968, Minneapolis City Council and Hennepin County Board of Commissioners approved the resolution and the Declaration was signed by numerous parties. Here is a photo of a copy of the 1968 Declaration:

(click to enlarge)

Minneapolis/Hennepin Co MN Declaration of World Citizenship March 5, 1968

This was the first such declaration by a United States City. Signers of the Declaration and twenty-eight mayors from area communities attended the public declaration on Law Day, May 1, 1968.
Signers of the Declaration were: Chair, Henn. Co Board of Commissioners Robert Janes; Mayor of Minneapolis Arthur Naftalin; President Minneapolis City Council Daniel Cohen; Gov. Harold Levander; Oscar Knutson, Chief Justice Minnesota Supreme Court; Eli Kahn, President Minnesota Rabbinical Association; Congressman Don Fraser; Chairs of Minnesota Republican and DFL parties, George Thiss and Warren Spannaus; Aux. Bishop of Catholic Archdiocese James Shannon; Irene Janski, President of MN League of Women Voters; President MN United World Federalists, Sidney Feinberg, Minnesota State Bar Assoc; Harold Greenwood Jr, United Nations Association of Minnesota.

Former MN Governor Elmer L. Andersen spoke at the ceremony that day, very proud that the occasion marked the first flying of the United Nations flag by Minneapolis and Hennepin County, [and] the first such declaration and UN flag flying by any major community in the United States. Thus this becomes a deeply significant occasion in our nation’s history. It represents a commitment to cooperation among nations for world peace, to belief in the common brotherhood of all men of all nations, and to aspirations for a world community of peace, freedom and justice under world law.

In the same speech, he said “that we must look upon all the peoples of the world as one community, and we must find a way to operate under a body of world law to preserve peace.” (quotes from pages 151-52 of I Trust to be Believed, significant speeches by Elmer L. Andersen edited by Lori Sturdevant 2004). Text: Elmer Andersen I Trust..001

Elmer L. Andersen speech, City Hall, Minneapolis, May 1, 1968. Photo by Donna Elling

Gov. Elmer L. Andersen (center left) with Minneapolis Mayor Arthur Naftalin, May 1, 1968, Minneapolis City Hall. Photo by Donna Elling.

Lynn Elling speaks at May 1, 1968, ceremony at Minneapolis City Hall. In foreground, holding the Declaration, is Warren Spannaus, then Chair of the Minnesota DFL party, later Attorney General. Phot by Donna Elling.

Lynn’s passion for peace continued with another remarkable achievement in the spring of 1971 when 26 prominent leaders, including all notable Minnesota Republicans and Democrats, and then-UN Secretary General U Thant, signed a declaration of World Citizenship whose major proviso recognized “the sovereign right of our citizens to declare that their citizenship responsibilities extend beyond our state and nation. We hereby join with other concerned people of the world in a declaration that we share in this world responsibility and that our citizens are in this sense citizens of the world. We pledge our efforts as world citizens to the establishment of permanent peace based on just world law and to the use of world resources in the service of man and not for his destruction.”

Coming as it did during the darkest times of the Vietnam War, the 1971 bi-partisan Declaration is remarkable. Similar declarations were entered into in several other states and many communities.

See for more information about the entire declaration, which includes the signatures of all its very prominent signers , as well as Lynn’s current proposal.

In 1971, the Vietnam War raged on. It was difficult for most Americans to visualize an end to the deadly conflict. For those old enough to remember, the late 1960s and early 1970s was a time of deep division in this country. American youth were dying by the thousands in southeast Asia, as were millions of fellow world citizens in southeast Asian countries.

Minnesota Declaration of World Citizenship March 1971

Here’s a Minneapolis Star Tribune editorial about the 1971 Minnesota Declaration:

Also accessible at the website is [the Elling led] 1972 film, “Man’s Next Giant Leap”, featuring John Denver and many then-notable Minnesota leaders, whose sole purpose was Peace Education for children and adults.

In 1972, Lynn and others founded World Citizen, Inc; in 1988, Peace Sites became integral to World Citizen. Peace Poles have been publicized by World Citizen for many years.

In 1996 Lynn Elling co-founded the Nobel Peace Prize Festival, now part of Nobel Peace Prize Forum, at Augsburg College in Minneapolis. Both remain. (The link to the Peace Prize Festival is here; in 2012 the Festival becomes part of the Forum, and the history of both is accessible here.)

As so often happens, after a flurry of attention, the remarkable 1971 declaration literally ended up in a closet, its immense significance unnoticed by later generations.

Lynn Elling never forgot the 1971 declaration and in the spring of 2007 put it back on the table with a proposed update to fit the present day. Lynn is grateful to Dr. Joseph Schwartzberg, professor emeritus at the University of Minnesota, who prepared the current proposal.

Today, of course, we are confronted by circumstances even more compelling and troubling than visited the U.S. and the world in 1971.

Today war is almost an abstract reality for many of us, something that seems to have no apparent negative consequences for us, mostly affecting people we’ll never see face-to-face, with fewer of ‘our own’ dying in places far away, no military draft facing young people, our war financed on a national credit card for our grandchildren to pay.

In a real sense we are playing a deadly video game. Additionally, we are beset with other potentially calamitous problems ignored at our peril. No longer can we pretend that our problems are confined to some other place far away, or even controllable by our own will. We are vulnerable in a way that we do not want to understand.

There has never been a greater need for world citizenship than there is today.

When Lynn secured his last signature on the 1971 declaration, achieving mastery in the space race was still a priority. Today, our very survival as human beings is rooted on what is happening on our own planet in all ways: human relationships, resource depletion, increasing inequities between peoples, climate change…the list goes on and on. Today’s priority must be right here on the sphere we call home – the earth. We are part of the global community; isolation and domination are no longer options.

Lynn Elling deserves immense credit and admiration for not only his accomplishment in 1971, but for reigniting the issue for today’s world.

Thanks, Lynn, for all you’ve done.

To all of you, stay tuned as we “retool and refuel” Lynn’s dream and take it, as he likes to say, “to the stratosphere”.

Lynn Elling World Service Authority Passport Photo 1975

Lynn Elling World Service Authority Passport Photo 1975

Memorial Day 2013, Lynn Elling with family at their Lake Cabin, celebrate Donna's life and inter her ashes at the base of a favored tree.

Memorial Day 2013, Lynn Elling with family at their Lake Cabin, celebrate Donna’s life and inter her ashes at the base of a favored tree.

#381 – Dick Bernard: Detente, June 3, 1990: the Gorbachevs come to Minnesota for a visit

Friday, June 3rd, 2011

June 3, 1990, was a chilly, somewhat blustery and threatening rain day in Minnesota.

It was also the day that USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev and his wife, Raisa, came to the Twin Cities of Minneapolis-St. Paul to visit. It was a ‘coup’ of sorts for we in the hinterlands of the U.S., as outlined in this New York Times news article preceding the visit.

Then, as now, I considered such events worth following so, since it was Sunday, I got a general idea of the time schedule and route, and decided to try to get a few amateur snapshots (click on photos to enlarge).

The Gorbachev motorcade came down I-94, from Minneapolis, through the stretch that is now under reconstruction, exiting at Lexington Avenue in St.Paul.

I was, then and now, an amateur photographer, running around with an old Nikkormat, using ordinary and relatively slow film and a couple of different lenses. These were the days long before digital photography. Taking pictures was work.

I photo’ed a welcome sign in English and Russian along the freeway, and managed to get rank amateur photos of the Gorbachev’s car at the exit ramp to Lexington, then later, of his arm waving to the crowds on John Ireland Boulevard near the Minnesota Transportation Building near the State Capitol. I passed on trying to join the throng at the Governors Mansion in St. Paul, where the Gorbachevs were hosted by then-Governor Rudy Perpich and his wife Lola. One street over, if I recall, was the always crowded Grand Old Days on Grand Avenue.

June 3, 1990, on I-94 eastbound near Snelling Avenue, St. Paul

Gorbachev, June 3, 1990

I decided to wait out the afternoon and see if I could see the Gorbachev’s plane take off at our International Airport.

While the weather continued overcast, and the time was getting late, once again I got lucky. There was no oppressive security along Post Road paralleling the south runway at the airport, and about the time the Gorbachev’s were scheduled to depart, the last rays of the days sun peaked out from behind the clouds to the west, giving me sufficient light to take my snapshots.

There were people there with me, watching, but relatively few.

The Gorbachevs plane, I believe it was an Ilyushin, was followed in short order by a United States of America plane.

Gorbachevs leave the Twin Cities June 3, 1990

June 3, 1990, early evening, Twin Cities International Airport

Today is 21 years since that memorable Sunday in June, 1990.

A great deal of history has passed us by in those 21 years, recorded and interpreted in many ways by many people: fact mixed with mythology, and all shades in between. “History” is an interpretation; never exactly as it is portrayed by its teller.

It is not my intention to try to write my version of those 21 years since June 3, 1990, and the time preceding; nor to speculate on the years to come in international or domestic relations. But the passage of history does give much food for thought. Today’s politicians and others, particularly those who view politics and other matters as war, pure and simple, might learn something from that time of detente. Winners and Losers both lose in the long run.

This day I remember two people, Lynn Elling and Professor Emeritus Joseph Schwartzberg, still living, who and were and are committed to making a positive difference for a peaceful future on this planet earth.

Two contributions, one each from Lynn and Joe, to our world community are highlighted here.

Each day I draw inspiration from them to try to do my part to contribute to a sustainable and peaceful future of our planet.

I invite you to do the same.

Mikhail and Raisa Gorbachev from the front page of Minneapolis Star-Tribune June 4, 1990

UPDATE, 3:35 p.m. same day: Retired newspaper columnist and current blogger Nick Coleman gives his take on the Gorbachev visit here.