SEPTEMBER 2, 1950
HYDE PARK, Friday—It rained yesterday morning and that really upset my army of small boys. They had counted on going to the county fair, and when I said that it would not be much fun in the rain and so we had better put if off until today, I had four very sad small boys. In the afternoon when it seemed to be clearing they couldn't see any reason to prevent us starting off for the fair promptly, but I had another engagement so we had to postpone our visit until this morning. Everybody is saying prayers that it won't rain today.
My engagement yesterday afternoon was really very interesting. I went to the library to meet one hundred and twenty-five German students who have come over under the auspices of the State Department and the Institute of International Education. They are on their way to study in various universities scattered throughout the United States. They told me that some of the young people had come from Eastern Germany, which means, of course, that they have left their homes forever, at least for as long as this sector is occupied. I would have liked to talk to some of them but I did not think it was fair to single them out from among the others.
As we were gathered on the lawn before the library I invited them to ask any questions they wanted. None were forthcoming. Finally, I asked how long they had been here, and learned that they arrived eight days ago. I tried to encourage conversation and ventured to say that some of their first impressions must be different from what they had expected and didn't they want to ask about those things. Little by little the questions started, and it was gratifying when some of them spoke up and contradicted a story which I had told about German education. They said that my ideas of education in Germany today were not correct. I had to explain that my impressions dated back from an experience of some fifty odd years.
I hope that as these youngsters settle into their university life in various places, they will not encounter any unreasonable prejudices. It seems to me very important that our young people should realize that these young people have been chosen because they have taken the trouble to learn English. That means they are really making a very great effort to learn about the differences that separate us.
We must try to show them the real meaning of a democracy. We cannot hide from them the defects which are bound to exist in any group of citizens, but we should try to give them an understanding of the highest ideals that motivate people in a democracy, in the hope that those ideals will help them when they return to their own country.
Eventually they may progress even faster than we do. If they are once convinced that something is desirable, the Germans are a very thorough people.