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

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PARIS, Monday —There are two points of view over here that one encounters constantly in conversations. One is that it is absolutely essential to rearm Germany and to recognize Germany as one of the Western democracies. The other is that Germany will never be a democracy, that rearming her is very dangerous and that we should try the economic union first before we do much in the military field.

One would expect this second point of view to be held very largely by France, which has always had to keep in back of her mind the possibility of war with Germany. Such other nations as were invaded and occupied by Germany in World War II might well also have these fears.

But every now and then someone who comes clear from outside the European orbit surprises one by calmly announcing that the real reason for not giving too much military strength to Germany is that no one ever will be sure on which side Germany will use her strength.

When one suggests that Germany must see that the Soviet Union is her greatest menace, one is told that Germany might easily decide to join whichever side she felt was strongest—if it ever came to war between the East and West. Germany, it is contended, would base her decision purely on self-interest and not on any principles.

This sounds like a rather cynical judgement, and yet Europeans may perhaps be forgiven as may some of the other peoples who have lived in nearby countries. Self-interest undoubtedly has motivated the power policies of all these countries for a long time.

Sometimes one wonders if there is any really idealistic voice in the world today, and as one talks to different people one grows to value highly the men who seem willing to face the truth about their own countries and their own people and still hold to the belief that, given certain opportunities, there is enough good in human beings to make it worthwhile to try to preserve and improve our civilization.

If we are going to do that, I believe it would be well to get groups of men together in different areas of world to study the problems—economic, social, and religious—and from time to time, as they saw the need, to bring them together until there existed a certain number of men who actually had a picture in their minds of global conditions on which some kind of disinterested and valid plans might be built for the future.

These men must have imagination and vision, great integrity and an understanding of practical possibilities.

As we begin to solve the military problems, it is clear that simultaneously these other problems must be understood so that plans can be made to assimilate some of the productive capacity of the world. In other words, to wipe out of men's minds fear and suspicion they must be given something constructive to work on.

We have seen in our own country that in order to rearm we had to build a fear of communism. But it is not good to live in fear forever and there will come a day when we must be prepared to give our people a vision of accomplishment in other fields. Sometimes one hears people say they fear peace because it might bring about economic collapse. That is said only by those people who do not understand the needs of the world or the possibilities of development that lie ahead if the foresight and vision are enlisted to solve problems of peace as they have been in the necessary growth of military power.

E. R.


Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Paris (France) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, January 22, 1952

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.