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

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PARIS, Wednesday—There was one thing in particular that interested me very much in my visit to displaced persons camps in and around Stuttgart. I had been almost afraid to go because I felt it must be so difficult to keep up any kind of morale where the people have to continue to live with the thought that they simply are marking time. But, astonishingly enough, the International Refugee Organization workers have been able to keep up what appears to be a high standard of morale. For this and for the great devotion to their work , which was evident in the field workers of the IRO whom I met, I want to salute them for their job which is hard and in many cases heart-rending.

The people in the camps are more or less cut off from their surroundings and have a sense that the people around them are hostile. Some of them, of course, work outside the camp, but they know only too well that Germans everywhere would like to see them leave Germany.

In the camp for Jewish displaced persons there was an almost unanimous desire to get to Israel, and as a result an ardent and passionate effort is being made to prepare themselves so that they would be useful citizens there. Many people whom I am sure never worked with their hands before are learning trades, for they feel they may be useful and essential in the building of a new country.

In the Ukrainian DP camp there was an exhibition of handiwork, and I could not help wishing that some arrangement could be made whereby these people could build up reserves in cash for themselves and receive material from countries to which they might emigrate. For instance, if those coming to the United States could have a contact now, as a group, through which they might receive materials and in return send back finished articles and were credited with payment in the U.S., it would give them a reserve for resettlement purposes when they did arrive and it would give them now a new hope and added security.

Just before leaving Stuttgart on Sunday I met with the heads of 19 youth organizations. They represented students; church groups, such as the Catholics and Methodists; Christian Democrats and labor groups.

As you looked into their faces you were struck by the old and haggard look that many of them had. Spokesmen for the students asked for exchange opportunities both for professors and students. All the young people asked for contacts with other young people in the outside world. They evidently feel they have been cut off for a long time and that if they are to be a part of any new and peaceful world they must begin to meet and talk with their contemporaries.

The Soviets, of course, always claim to speak for the interests of the worker, and one of the things that the democracies have to prove is that they can actually give workers as much hope for the future as they could possibly get under the Soviet system.

There is among these young people a certain sense of defeatism, which is readily understood. I wish there could be for each and all of the young people of Europe a breath of freedom and the basic sense of opportunity that still exists in our great country. Even though the fear of war and the fear of Communism has in some ways rendered us less optimistic for the time being than is usually the case, I still feel we have a sounder basis and more confidence in the future to impart to the youth of other countries.

* * *

The other night I attended a meeting at the European headquarters of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, where John Foster Dulles presided and Hector McNeil made a speech on the Economic and Social Council's activities in the United Nations.

It was a very brilliant exposition of the scope of work of this group, and Mr. McNeil ended on a hopeful note by saying that he felt these activities might make a real contribution toward preserving peace in the world.

In the audience there undoubtedly were people to whom an explanation of the possibilities that lie in the development of this side of the work of the United Nations would be valuable. One hopes it may lead to bolstering the hopes in those nations of Europe who feel so close to war.

E. R.


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About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, October 28, 1948

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.