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


PARIS, Wednesday—On Monday I had the pleasure of seeing Prime Minister Peter Fraser of New Zealand, one figure in public life who carries much weight and individuality. His country is small, but you know that when he takes a position on a world problem he takes it because he thinks he is doing the thing that is right. His judgement often has been proved to be very sound, and I would always think over very carefully any difference of opinion that might come up between us because I would be sure he was acting with conviction and not because a position was easy to take or seemed expedient at the moment.

* * *

It's an amazing thing how much John L. Lewis, who sits in Washington most of the time and so far as I know has not been in France for some time, seems to know about the French coal mine strike.

The lot of the miners here probably is very bad. I can recall reading years ago Van Gogh's description of working in the Belgian mines, and since conditions in the coal mines change so slowly I would not be surprised to find that they had not improved greatly.

We owe Mr. Lewis a debt of gratitude for what he has done in improving conditions in mines in the United States, but during the last few years I think he has become more interested in making John L. Lewis important than he has been in his actual achievements for the miners.

He has become an outspoken Republican and most of us look upon the Republican party as somewhat the more conservative party in the U.S. and certainly not the champion of Communism. To find Mr. Lewis lining up to protest a situation over here, which is openly acknowledged to be the result of Communist activities within the French unions, seems a strange and curious situation.

Perhaps, however, a little item that I read in the paper today soon will relieve Mr. Lewis of many of his responsibilities. A new machine has been invented, I understand, that does the work of a large number of men in the mines just as the cotton picker does it in the cotton fields. This may change the industrial situation in various parts of the country.

* * *

I don't think I have ever mentioned what a strong impression the chairman of the committee of the League of Women Physicians—Dr. Kopka-Jellinghaus—made upon me when I was in Stuttgart. She seemed to be a very simple and straightforward person, but I had a feeling that behind the complete self-control that characterized her bearing there lay years of real suffering. Through these years she has achieved to a remarkable extent both objectivity and self-control, but it must have cost her a great deal.

The Germans are wrapped up in their own suffering and their own needs. It is hard for them to realize that the TB rate among Jewish DPs is higher than it is among the poorest Germans.

I was fully aware of the fact that to many of the Germans who came to my lecture and who met me at the reception and dinner given by the city of Stuttgart in the evening both my husband and I must have seemed like friends incarnate during the war. From that point of view the reception accorded me by the Germans and the way in which they talked and their general acceptance of responsibility seemed to me to be a great step forward.

High Army officials and its personnel as well as our civilian personnel in Germany should be congratulated for the respect for democracy that they evidently have been able to bring about.

E. R.


Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Republican Party (U.S. : 1854- ) [ index ]
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  • Paris (France) [ index ]
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About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, November 4, 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.