Mobbed by Poles. Nixon on a high note.

Mobbed by Poles. Nixon on a high note.
Warsaw: Mobbed by Poles. Nixon on a high note.
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NBC coverage of Nixon Arrival in Warsaw – May 31, 1972 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection

On his way back from a historic visit to Moscow in May of 1972, President Nixon stopped in Warsaw, the first time since 1959.

During his time as vice-President, Nixon had visited both Moscow and Warsaw. But this time the atmosphere was different and, by the looks of it, the Cold War was starting to thaw. The air was less contentious as it had been in 1959. Khruschev was gone, replaced by Brezhnev and, following on the heels of his historic visit to China, this looked like a good political move for all sides concerned.

Back home however, Nixon was still in charge of a highly divisive war in Vietnam. There was also a little matter of the break-in at Democratic Headquarters at The Watergate, which at the time barely registered a blip on the local D.C. news screen. Those were incidents which would come back to haunt in the coming months.

But on this May 31st in 1972, Nixon was on a high and his greeting in Warsaw was enthusiastic. He had scored major points in Beijing and Moscow and he was keeping the momentum going.

An hour after his arrival Mr. Nixon switched from a closed Polish limousine to his own open car and then stepped into a crowd that needed only this Presidential initiative to come alive.

For a long 10 minutes that became harrowing for security officials, he shook hands, exchanged greetings and finally sought to escape a good natured throng chanting “Nix‐on Nix‐on” and singing “Sto lat,” meaning “May you live a hundred years.”

Here is live coverage of President Nixon’s arrival in Warsaw, narrated by Edwin Newman as it happened on May 31, 1972.

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