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

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NEW YORK, Tuesday—I was rather interested in the newspaper report, which I read on Monday, about the release of Brig. Gen. Francis T. Dodd who was taken prisoner by the Red prisoners of war on Koje Island.

I never quite understood how it was possible for prisoners of war to take anyone, either guarding them or visiting on an inspection trip, a prisoner. One would think that precautions would be taken not to allow any of the prisoners an opportunity to do any outsider harm.

I also am interested in the fact that the prisoners are objecting to the screening that has enabled the Allies to learn that there are 100,000 prisoners who do not want to return to Red soil.

The article I read said that this was the Communist party line. Of course, it is the Communist party line, but I am not quite sure that it wouldn't be our line if suddenly we heard that our prisoners were being screened and that any who did not care to return to our soil would be kept in the Communist territory.

It is one thing to say that the people who were in camps in Europe, for instance, could make their own decision as to whether they wished to go home or not, free from all interference, but it is a question in my mind whether one can say that people who are prisoners of war are making such a free decision.

Someone put this before me the other day in relation to our taking a stand that we would not send anyone back against his will in Korea. I would still feel that if prisoners had voluntarily come and asked our protection and volunteered they did not want to go back to Red soil that we should not force them to do so.

I think that we should not give in under any pressure on this point.

This screening business and the fact that we have allowed those who did not wish to go back to organize—which I suppose means they have some power over the other prisoners—leaves a question in my mind as to exactly what we are doing.

The other demands made by the prisoners of war are couched in the same language you would expect from Soviet-dominated people. I am quite sure that even in trying to keep in order unruly prisoners in these camps, we have not used some of the methods suggested by their demands.

Of course, if there have been riots there has been bloodshed, and force has had to be used to put down riots. I am quite sure that Brig. Gen. Charles F. Colson was correct in saying any trouble at Koje was deliberately instigated by Communist prisoners of war, but we cannot be too careful to obverve all of the conventions. If we do not, we will lay ourselves open to many accusations of cruelty and lack of consideration for the conventions laid down by the Red Cross for treatment of prisoners of war.

The story told by Lt. Col. Wilbur R. Raven, who escaped when General Dodd was made prisoner and which I read in the paper also, sounds as though perhaps there was some lack of proper discipline and, as a result, some cruelty to enforce obedience which was evidently not customary.

E. R.


Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Colson, Charles F. (Charles Frederick), 1896-1970 [ index ]
         American army officer
         [ LC | VIAF | SNAC | US Nat. Archives ]
  • Dodd, Francis T. (Francis Townsend), 1899-1973 [ index ]
         American army officer
         [ LC | VIAF | Wikidata | SNAC | US Nat. Archives ]
  • Raven, Wilbur, 1913-1978 [ index ]
         American; Lt. Col. stationed at Geoje POW camp during Korean War
  • New York (N.Y., United States) [ index ]
Other Terms and Topics

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, May 14, 1952

Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
[ ERPP bio | LC | VIAF | WorldCat | DPLA | Wikidata | SNAC ]

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.