Russell, Bertrand (1872 – 1970)

Writing days after the Cuban Missile Crisis by a key player: ‘it was not clear that we should survive the week’

An interesting typed letter signed by  Russell, 19th November 1962. In part, ‘As you might appreciate, the crisis was such that it was not clear that we should survive the week, but I can assure you that the solution to the crisis made the week one of the most worthwhile of my entire life.’ Letters folds, and a couple of creases, otherwise in fine condition.

Russell’s involvement in the Cuban Missile Crisis is highly significant, and well documented. He wrote a barrage of telegrams to both John F. Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev during October 1962. To Kennedy, in response to his blockade of Cuba, he wrote ‘Your action desperate. Threat to human survival. No conceivable justification. Civilized man condemns it. We will not have mass murder. Ultimatums mean war…. End this madness’. To Khrushchev he wrote, ‘I appeal to you not to be provoked by the unjustifiable action of the United States in Cuba. The world will support caution. Urge condemnation to be sought through the United Nations. Precipitous action could mean annihilation for mankind.’ Russell followed up with  numerous other attempts to mediate between the American and Soviet leaders. The then U.N. General Secretary U. Thant later wrote, ‘I am writing at some length on Bertrand Russell’s activities regarding the crisis because I felt at the time, and still feel, that Khrushchev’s positive reply to my first appeal of October 24 was, at least in part, due to Earl Russell’s repeated pleadings to him, and to his congratulating him on “his courageous stand for sanity”.’