Thirty-Three Years Later. . .
On this day in 1983, the Soviet Union released a letter that then-General Secretary of the Soviet Communist Party Yuri Andropov had written to Samantha Smith, an American fifth-grader. Widely suspected to be an attempt to demonstrate the 'softer side' of the Soviet Union and negate the harsh rhetoric of President Reagan, Secretary Andropov sent a personal response to a letter Smith had written as part of a class assignment.
Smith, a fifth grader from Manchester, Maine, posed the question (as many children did in that time) as to whether the Soviet Union wanted to prevent nuclear war. Andropov's response broke the mold in his "humanistic" approach stating, “Yes, Samantha, we in the Soviet Union are endeavoring and doing everything so that there will be no war between our two countries, so that there will be no war at all on earth. This is the wish of everyone in the Soviet Union. That’s what we were taught to do by Vladimir Lenin, the great founder of our state.” Andropov would go on in his letter to invite Samantha and her parents to visit the Soviet Union. In July 1983, she accepted the invitation and flew to Russia for a three-week tour. The letter continues to be regarded today as a change in tone by the Soviet Union and by Yuri Andropov to work towards a better relationship with the United States.
Samantha's letter to the Communist leader serves as a reminder as to just how far the United States and Russia have come in their relationship over the past 30+ years. Reminders like these are present all throughout the Museum, from the soldiers' uniforms of wars past, to the towering Berlin Wall. We invite you to come down and see a bit of history in person.
Visit www.history.com to learn more about Samantha's letter or www.worldtreasures.org to learn more about the Museum.