The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers, Digital Edition > My Day
My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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CHICAGO, Friday—In a recent issue of a national publication there appear these words: "As we Americans have been told so often, millions of people face what may become the worst winter in the history of human suffering. The instrument we think will save them is UNRRA, but it won't. In fact, it is so far from adequate that we had best junk it and start anew.

"The United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration was, in its origin, the most ambitious humanitarian undertaking ever conceived. Its course has been paved with good intentions; also with dollars."

The net argument of this whole editorial is that because there are certain European nations which desire to pay for their own relief as long as they have the money, we are therefore not helping the Europeans we are chiefly concerned about. UNRRA has helped primarily such nations as fall under the sphere of Russian influence, since they wanted help. Therefore, the editorial implies, we should look upon UNRRA with suspicion and consider its continuance of little value.

* * *

UNRRA was not set up as a permanent organization, nor was it set up to help any nation that was able to help itself. The fact that we and Great Britain provide the major amount of cash means only that we have more and are able to do something toward relieving the world's misery at the present time.

An article, however, which shows plainly that its great objection to this organization is a fear of strengthening countries which may be primarily under Russian influence, seems to me to be an article that does harm to our thinking in this country at the present time. Russia is our ally, not our enemy. The complaint against red tape and failure of administration in UNRRA may be entirely legitimate. I have never known a government agency—or, for that matter, a business agency—which did not suffer from some of the ills that have bedeviled the organizing period of UNRRA. But I think the main difficulties have been the troubles of a civilian organization functioning where, primarily, a war organization is in power. As the armies retire, the civilian organization will improve.

* * *

The main body of the editorial points out that there are other things which must be done in Europe besides giving relief and temporary rehabilitation. These are long-term rehabilitation measures—basic things like the reestablishment of the coal industry and its improvement. There is no question but what these are matters which should come up at once for discussion by the UNO, because this type of rehabilitation is of interest to us in our efforts to keep our own economy at a high level of production. Yet this will require a long-time planning program, and Mr. Will Clayton and many other of our top-flight economic leaders should have a hand in that program.

UNRRA, however, has a job to do and is doing it better all the time. We have been grudging in our appropriation for this year. We should not only fulfill it, but vote for it next year. Then, in every way possible, we should facilitate the much-needed work which Mr. Lehman and his organization have done as well as it was possible to do under the handicap of war and military occupation.

E. R.


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About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, November 17, 1945

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