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

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NEW YORK, Tuesday—Having had such a perfectly glorious day in the country made me more than ever reluctant to return to the city last Sunday night. Although I can spend less than 24 hours at Hyde Park every weekend, I still like to go there. It is refreshing to have a little more room to breathe in, and leaving the atmosphere of accusation and counter-accusation, which surrounds most of our meetings at Lake Success, gives one a little perspective.

Adolf Hitler accustomed us to a certain type of propaganda—the louder he proclaimed a falsehood and the more often he repeated it, the surer he seemed to feel that his own people and the world would believe him. For a time the technique worked pretty well and when you think back to the first victorious days of the war, for him, you realize that he must have thought he had found the medium for controlling the minds of human beings. Hitler demonstrated what a well-trained, well-equipped and fanatical population can do. Germany had, of course, only about one-third of the population of the Soviet Union and could use only part of her army in the campaign against Russia.

The fanaticism was brought about by these propaganda techniques, and we are seeing repeated today a somewhat similar technique—employed this time by the Russians. Not only do they reiterate accusations, but they make sure that those whom they control politically play the same tune.

You can tell almost in advance what will be said in certain speeches. I was interested to have the Ukrainian delegate repeat today the accusation that a Mr. Ross of the International Refugee Organization was picking out 14-to-16-year-old boys to come to this country from the displaced persons' camps in Europe. He did say, however, that he must have been misunderstood in his original speech since he had not said that they were coming as slave labor. I shall, of course, try to find out who Mr. Ross is, and how many people of this age he has managed to bring into this country and of what nationalities they are.

Our Ukrainian colleague insists that he has hundreds of letters from fellow citizens who have escaped from displaced persons' camps. He says they bemoan the fact that so much pressure is put upon them in the camps that they are unable to return to their homes.

I should like to show him some of the letters that I have received from refugees begging me not to allow them to be forced back to the Ukraine or any other so-called homeland. They do not want any part of the homeland, whatever it may be, that they left because they no longer agree with the political atmosphere.

Accusations are foolish in this situation. It may be possible to find some people who urge displaced persons not to return to their homelands, but I don't believe it is the general rule. On the other hand, one thought comes quite often to my mind—any of these people who go to other countries would not be prevented from returning later, if they so wished. However, if they return to the U.S.S.R., they cannot leave again, since the rule against leaving the country seems to be strictly enforced.

E. R.


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About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, October 1, 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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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.