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

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HYDE PARK, Sunday—Judging from some of the fantastic misconceptions that I am getting in my mail, it seems to me that some of our people are not approaching the aftermath of war with great common sense. For one thing, I should like to make it entirely clear that I never said the children of Germany were "chubby." No one in Asia or war-torn Europe is chubby. I did say that while there was hunger in Germany, as yet there was no starvation.

The thing one dreads in war-torn countries is epidemics. These are more apt to occur where the people have been on low and undesirable diets for a long time and, therefore, have had their resistance undermined. That is the case in Europe wherever Germany was the conqueror in the early days of the war and was able to syphon off the available food into Germany, leaving the conquered nations a far lower minimum of calories than Germany herself is being allowed today.

Fifteen hundred calories is not enough, but 1,500 calories a day for a year or two is better than less than 1,000 calories for four or five years! The record will show that the German occupation, in many cases, meant less than 1,000 calories a day and that babies did die of starvation in the Allied countries. It is true that people all over Europe, young and old, are dying perhaps more rapidly than they would have had there been no war, and I hope that a visit to Germany or any other country will make anyone conscious of the absolute necessity of working for the UNO and making it the people's instrument for peace.

Throughout most of Europe, from all I was able to learn, people living in the country are better off than those living in cities. That is true of people living in other nations during the war as it is true today in Germany. Because of the early bombing of Berlin, poor people in that city probably were hungry for two years before the final defeat of the Germans. The people in other German cities fared better. Nevertheless—and I want to repeat what I said—as far as one can see, the children even of Berlin look no worse off than the children of Great Britain, who have been on a reasonably good, but extremely restricted diet ever since Germany began the war.

Wherever the Japanese have passed, starvation is staring people in the face, as it is in India. That is partly because of the narrow margin on which the people lived anyway. Whether we can keep a great number of people from dying of starvation, I do not think is yet known. It can only be done by coordination of all available food supplies in the world, and by careful direction of shipping and distribution. I think we should be willing to do all we possibly can to prevent famine anywhere. But when people talk about feeding Germany better at the present time, yet do not seem to be concerned about giving our Allies in Europe a better diet first, I think they have lost their sense of justice and have become hysterical and therefore unable to act in a common sense fashion.

E. R.


Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Hyde Park (Dutchess County, N.Y., United States) [ index ]
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About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, February 25, 1946

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 June 30, 2008.

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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.