My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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WASHINGTON, Tuesday—Now that we have embarked on relief for Greece and Turkey, not only for food and rehabilitation purposes, but for a number of other areas of activity which might be considered political and military, rumors are abroad—and fairly well substantiated—that we are not going to give relief to Poland and to Yugoslavia.

The relief they ask for is food. They are in dire need of food. People cannot live on a diet which falls below a certain caloric content. Even in Germany I do not think we are letting people receive less than 1000 calories a day. The Germans were our enemies; the Poles and the Yugoslavs fought with us and, by their fight, helped our final victory.

I do not ignore the fact that Yugoslavia and Poland both are under Russian influence in their governments, but the people who are going to suffer from starvation probably know very little about the political complexion of their government. Where are these countries going to turn for aid in the next critical months, before their harvest, which has been damaged by a bad winter, comes to fruition? If we refuse to help them, there is nowhere for them to turn except to Russia. Now is when help is needed, not later.

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I would far prefer to see us give to Greece only what she must have to keep from starvation and to begin her economic rehabilitation, and give the balance to Poland and Yugoslavia. I cannot believe that we have reached a point where we have forgotten that we originally chose this policy of unilateral relief because we wished our relief to be given only on a basis of need. We did not wish it to be used for political purposes. But if you withhold food from a people, you sometimes achieve political results quite as much as if you give them food and allow them to use it for political purposes.

Poland has been cutting her export of coal to Russia and sending more coal to Germany, Italy and France. That will help us, for it will help the rehabilitation in those countries which we are hoping for.

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We cannot be of the opinion in our Congress that starving people are going to be better democrats. What we are doing is building up enemies. Once upon a time we had friends—people who looked to us for liberation, who thought we had courage and freedom and charity in our souls. They trusted us, but today, little by little, the opinion of the world and the feeling of the world is changing.

We cannot carry the world on our backs forever. We need the best financial and scientific minds to work on the problem of quickly rehabilitating Europe as a whole, but one cannot rehabilitate when people are starving. I beg the gentlemen who are our responsible representatives, and on whom the blessings or the curses of these people will lie, to think well before they misrepresent the spirit of the people of the United States.



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About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, April 9, 1947

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.