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

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NEW YORK, Wednesday—It was interesting to read a report that the press in Western Germany insists that the occupying powers are willing to allow the revival of German militarism in order to provide an army to serve as "cannon fodder" against the Russians should they decide to start a shooting war. The claim that these German newspapers announce that the German people are overwhelmingly opposed to rearmament is a statement which I devoutly hope is true.

We keep hearing denials of any intention to rearm Germany on the part of all the high officials in this country, and I hope they are telling us the truth. They are speaking also for the attitude of the French and British, since, of course, it is possible to allow other people to rearm a nation!

I would deeply regret seeing Germany rearmed. In my lifetime she has started two World Wars. I think we have earned the right to see to it that she is not able to start another one. I hope she will not want to start another and I hope, as her young people grow older, that they will be firmly opposed to reviving the old German position as the center in Europe for a belligerent atmosphere.

In the past Germany has controlled the economy of Europe. In so doing she built up a military organization and a spirit among her citizens that taught them to believe they were superior to all other people in the world and that they should rule all the other people in the world.

I read with great interest the remarks made in Washington by Dr. Ernest E. Irons, president of the American Medical Association. He is quoted as saying: "Under the cover of the welfare state the nation is being led down the road to socialism with all its blighting effects on individual incentive and personal responsibility."

We have had several warnings in the last few days against the surrender of our individual initiative. Several people have told us that they feared the American system would perish if we took away from human beings the necessity for making their own decisions. We have been told that we always have had the foresight to look ahead and to take care of ourselves and our families.

I agree entirely that if we become a people who trust our thinking in the hands of other people we will have lost our way. But I do not agree that any people in the world can do without some of the things which today are termed socialistic.

We have been going along for a long time without paying much attention to our post-office system and yet it is socialistic. I think there is no question that a certain amount of medical care can be worked out that will not be really harmful to anybody. I am not frightened by the words socialized medicine. I want to know what it means, what people will get and whether they will be better off or not.

Of course, I want to keep our independent teaching centers. I do not want to give the state any more power over the individual than is necessary for the well-being of all individuals. But the depression taught us that, given certain circumstances, the people needed the state's cooperation to pull themselves up again to the point where they could become independent. To keep this fine balance and not go too far in either direction is the problem of the democracies today.

It can be solved. I do not think we should be afraid to look at each individual program and make up our minds whether it would be of value to our people or not.

E. R.


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About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, December 8, 1949

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.