My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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WASHINGTON, Wednesday—I have just received from the Prime Minister of the Republic of Poland, who is visiting in this country, a message transmitted from a secret radio station in Poland during the month of September and received in London. It reads, in part, as follows:

"We send you in the name of the Polish women, sincere thanks for the imposing protest which you organized on the 30th of July against the German atrocities on the Polish women. ... We are enduring awful times here in Poland. We still deplore the loss of our dead in September 1939 and already the shadows of thousands tormented to death in concentration camps in Oswiecim, Ravenbruck, Oranienburg and other places hover around us.

"But beyond the pain that stabs us, beyond the despair and longing after the dead, we are dominated by the consciousness that the struggle which we are carrying on will decide the existence of freedom, and no one can remain out of it. We Polish women have, therefore, all joined the ranks of subterranean struggling Poland, and together with our husbands, fathers, brothers and sons we will fight to the end with them. We are prepared either to win or perish. ... God grant that the sacrifices are the smallest and the sufferings of assaulted nations be reduced to naught."

What courage there is in a message of this kind! Listening to the messages sent from here last July, would have cost anyone discovered his life. Sending the reply to London was most dangerous and ten efforts were made before it was finally transmitted. These women, who are keeping alive their faith in freedom, in spite of such daily horrors as we can hardly conceive of here, are going to have a right to representation when the machinery for peace is built in the future. I am sure that Russian, Chinese and British women have earned and will demand that same right.

In the last peace conference women had no such voice. In the coming one, women will have a right to a voice and they should be sure to prepare in advance so that their influence will be of the greatest value. The isolationists are preparing again to play somewhat the same role they played at the end of World War I.

They are idealists, but they do not want to pay the price of practical idealism or of peace for the world. They still believe that the United States can prosper all alone, can have peace all alone, can be a little island apart from the rest of the world.

Women are realists and I think they had better study these questions and come to their own conclusions. If they do, I am sure they will find that only cooperation and world understanding and concern for each other is going to keep peace through the years. I hope the women of the United States will awaken to the full sense of the influence which they can wield if they accept the responsibility which all power implies.



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About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, December 10, 1942

Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
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Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project The George Washington University 312 Academic Building 2100 Foxhall Road, NW Washington, DC 20007

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MEP edition publlished on 2008-06-30

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Transcription created from a photocopy of a UFS wire copy of a My Day column instance archived at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.