My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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NEW YORK, Tuesday—While at Hyde Park last weekend , I walked over to talk to a Norwegian-American who lives in one of the houses on our land and does fine cabinet work. He was full of the letters which have just begun to come in from Norway about various members of his wife's family as well as his own.

Stories of heroism poured out as I listened. They were tales of the feats of young men and women in the resistance movement, and even of children who, when questioned by the Germans, kept their own counsel and never gave their families away. I think my tenant was glad to have a chance to talk to me. He said some people wouldn't believe him and thought he was just giving out propaganda. Naturally, to find that I could match his stories, not only in Norway but in many other countries, was a satisfaction to him.

* * *

I want to tell you a little today about one branch of the work our Army is doing in Germany which I think we know little about over here. In the American zone, Brigadier General Robert A. McClure, a Regular Army officer, is in charge of the policies and operations of the information-control division of our Military Government. He seems to be fully aware of the issues at stake and very well qualified for his job. I talked to a number of the men working under him and gained an insight into some of their problems. Hitler and Goebbels did a wonderful job, from their own point of view, on the thinking processes of the German people!

We began, of course, in the period of psychological warfare, to study the warped German mentality and the propaganda techniques used by the Nazis to bring it about. We are now carrying on a re-education and a re-orientation program. This must not be relaxed for a minute or the consequences will be very serious, for the Nazi poison has gone deep into the hearts and minds of young and old in Germany.

Their Fuehrer gave them some material things which they could appreciate—full employment (even if it was in preparation for war), better houses, radios, the little three-wheeled cars. They closed their eyes to the concentration camp which lay over the hill and which, as human beings, they had to forget in order to be able to enjoy life. The job before us is a long-term job.

One of the things going on now is an effort to reestablish a free press. None has existed in Germany for many years. It is not wholly free today, for it is not allowed to criticize the Military Government or Allied policy. However, the papers are staffed by German editors and German reporters, and are subject only to post-publication scrutiny. They are being encouraged to develop high modern standards based on the high ideals of American journalism, but they may not propagate ideas of racism, Nazism or militarism. The same general policy applies to radio news.

This is one of the most important undertakings by our Military Government, and everyone should be watching it with interest and should insist that it be carried on until the roots of Nazism are wiped out.

E. R.


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About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, February 27, 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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Transcription created from a photocopy of a UFS wire copy of a My Day column instance archived at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.