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


HYDE PARK, Sunday—We arrived home from Campobello yesterday afternoon after a very pleasant drive through beautiful country, and we found again that, generally, people are very kind. We stopped at a little roadside stand to get hamburgers and milk for lunch and no one bothered us. Then when I went to pay the bill the very pleasant, kindly looking woman said, "I would rather have your autograph, Mrs. Roosevelt, than your money." I gave her both and I could not help thinking how nice it was that she had not shown sooner that she recognized me.

There is one question I have not mentioned lately in this column about which I think every American should be deeply concerned. As everybody knows, the International Refugee Organization, which has taken care of displaced persons in many parts of the world, now finds itself busy with closing up its various activities. By far the greatest number of its charges have been in European camps.

One of the most difficult problems confronting the organization is what to do with the vast number of people who are usually referred to as "hard core" cases. These are the physically handicapped, the blind, the aged, the tubercular, both young and old. I have had letters from many of them. They fear they will be left in some kind of camp at the mercy of an overburdened German government in a Europe that seems to them far from secure. The IRO has tried and is trying to resettle them elsewhere.

The "hard core" cases number about 75,737 and are divided into the institutional and the non-institutional cases. The former are, of course, "mercy cases," while the latter, if special conditions can be arranged, may be self-supporting.

Strange as it may seem, almost as difficult from the resettlement point of view are the professional and skilled people who number nearly 100,000. Their training and their perfection of background and skill very often make them unacceptable in a new country. The unskilled are welcome, but the teachers, musicians, painters, engineers, doctors, technicians in all fields of industry and agriculture seem not to be wanted. Perhaps it is that they are too competitive. Whatever the reason, they have been the most difficult to resettle.

As of the end of June, 1950, there still were 539,579 refugees on IRO's list. More than 23,000 were classed as institutional cases and 52,655 non-institutional. These figures include members of families and dependents in family groups who have not wanted to abandon their relatives and so have not been settled independently.

There are a few people in Shanghai, a few in the Philippines, a few in Lebanon. The largest number, according to nationality, is the Spanish group. These may be Loyalists who do not wish to return to their country under the present government. The next largest is the Polish group, and following that the Latvian group. There are very few Jewish people left because of the policy of Israel, which accepts all those who wish to come.

These people belong to many different religious groups. There are, of course, many other categories besides those I have mentioned, but it is quite evident that the countries of the world must set their minds to thinking how they can accept people who may be an economic burden.

Somehow, it seems we should be able to take a little of this burden.

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, August 28, 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.