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


PARIS, Sunday—On Thursday we lunched at Clervaux, where I heard tales of World War II.

They told me that the Germans captured the new De La Noye castle, which is across the valley, while the Americans occupied the old castle. A German gun pounded away at our men until an American tank arrived and shot through the new castle—demolishing a good deal of it, but silencing the German guns. Our men, after having successfully held the Germans for two whole days, which allowed General McAulliffe to strengthen the Bastogne position, had to retire.

I sat by a young man at lunch who had worked in the resistance. He was spirited out of town by our American army officers before they had to vacate the town, and so he feels he owes them his life. This same young man told me that he owned another hotel in town which had been used by our men as a rest place on their leave. One young American lieutenant became almost like their own son, and he loved to play games with their little girl of nine.

The night before he was to leave for the front he slept in their house and carried the little girl to bed. The next morning he delayed his leaving until the last moment, hating to go, and showing the man on the map where he would be in 24 hours. With tears in his voice, the Luxembourg man said, "Twenty-four hours later he was killed for us."

There was another interesting story about the old castle at Viedam. When the Germans were approaching, the present mayor, who is a young man, together with the other young men of the village, about 15 in all, retired to the castle and there defended themselves during the entire last year of the war. They never did surrender to the Germans.

War and the occupation are still very vivid to these people because they are still rebuilding all that was destroyed. Marshall Plan money has helped them to rebuild, and here they tell me proudly that their budget is on the whole in pretty good order and their program of rehabilitation is about two-thirds complete.

After lunch at the restored Park Hotel, we drove to Bastogne to see the monument erected there in memory of our soldiers by the Belgian-American Association. Seeing it made me realize how it will dominate the entire landscape and keep alive in this country the memory of the men who died or were lost at Bastogne. It is most impressive, and I like the way the story of the battle is told in letters of gold on the pillars that face inward around the circle from which the five points of the star go out. The names of the states whose men were engaged in this battle are inscribed around the top, and the view spreads out for miles when you go up the little stairs that leads to the top of the monument. There is a crypt below which will be a chapel with altars for the Protestant, Catholic and Jewish faiths. This monument will be dedicated on July 16 in gratitude by the people of Belgium, and I think the people of the United States will also be grateful for the appreciation they have shown of our men's heroism.

On our return to Luxembourg a brief reception was held by the Mayor in the city hall and the crowds waited in the rain to greet us. Afterward we went to the Foreign Minister, Mr. Besch's house for a pleasant half hour, and in the evening we attended a dinner given by our Minister, Mrs. Mesta, at the American Legation.

E. R.


Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Paris (France) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, June 26, 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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Transcription created from a photocopy of a UFS wire copy of a My Day column instance archived at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.