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

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HYDE PARK, Thursday—After all the excitement about Berlin, the papers yesterday reported that quite peacefully and with none of the anticipated violence a lot of East German youngsters crossed the line into Western Berlin. They were fascinated by the shops and particularly by the automobile show at Funkturm in the British sector. They asked only to be left alone to take in all the gadgets. No different than other boys in any other country.

Out of the whole group only about a hundred seemed to have the courage to ask sanctuary and to stay behind. This must be hard to do because of the fear of what may happen to their families left behind in the eastern zone.

The disappearance of people in the countries under USSR domination is deeply disquieting. Once they disappear it is impossible to get any news or information as to their whereabouts. The constant accusation that comes up over and over again in the Iron Curtain countries—the statements just made in Prague both against former government representatives and some of their own citizens who have dared to disagree with the present regime—is a constant reminder of the weakness which is bound to exist when a government is kept in power through fear. Any totalitarian police state exists only through fear.

This is one of the things that we must constantly bear in mind and guard against. It is easy to fall in authoritarian ways even while insisting that one believes in democracy and the right of an individual to make his own choices.

A little booklet I have just read, published by The National Committee for Free Europe, Inc., called: "Breakdown"—"The story of Michael Shipkov in the hands of the secret police." This pamphlet will give you a picture of how, under authoritarian regimes, confessions are finally extorted. One shudders to think what horrors confront people where justice no longer exists; where they live under constant espionage and where freedom is something they may once have dreamed of but no longer know as a reality.

It seems impossible for people ever to free themselves under the circumstances described in this pamphlet. Neither is it conceivable for a nation to go forward and develop economically, spiritually or socially under this type of government. Living must become so utterly futile. Even under the lash of fear one must cease to work and produce because life is so completely valueless. No one could want to bring children into a world where people are no longer allowed any personal freedom and must face moral and mental domination.

E. R.


Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Hyde Park (Dutchess County, N.Y., United States) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, June 2, 1950

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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Digital edition published 2008, 2017 by
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MEP edition publlished on June 30, 2008.

TEI-P5 edition published on April 28, 2017.

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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.