APRIL 3, 1953
NEW YORK, Thursday—On my plane trip back from New Orleans I finished Vladimir Dedijer's "Tito." I think I told you before what an interesting book I found it to be.
In the early parts one sees so well the causes of communism and then one sees the gradual training and making of a young Communist leader. The saddest part, and yet the most interesting, to me was the gradual disillusionment and discovery that what Stalin was building in the Soviet Union was not the socialism that Tito, and all other people who felt they were doing something of great value for the people, had dreamed about.
What Stalin was building was a kind of imperialism and a class state.
After all the faith that had been built up in Stalin, this must have been a very bitter discovery to make. But the thing that interested me was that in all the efforts Stalin made to break Yugoslavia, to appeal to the people against Tito and the government, he was not successful. And he was not successful because Tito told the people the truth from beginning to end. In addition, they knew that he had lived as they did, fought with them for freedom, suffered with them, and was genuinely working to rebuild the country and give them better opportunities in life.
There seems to be a lesson in this for every free government in the world, whether it be socialist or a democratic republican government such as ours. Yugoslavia is a small country, but it was a federation of six independent states and it required real effort to see that all the people understood what their government was trying to do.
One has a feeling that this is an honest book and that it really mirrors the man, Tito, for so much is in his own words.
For instance, when a beloved friend proposed a toast to him telling of his merits in the war, Tito answered: "I owe to our party every achievement I have made. I was an ignorant young man and the party took me, educated me, made me a man. I owe it everything."
And 10 years later, in the summer of 1952, he said: "An intelligent man cannot accept the theory that personalities create history. In my opinion, men make history and play a considerable part in it only if they understand the people's needs and wishes, and insofar as they become part of the people themselves."
This sounds like a modest man but a man of great penetration and deep understanding. One begins to understand why Yugoslavia has been fortunate in its leaders.
I think one of the nicest Easter presents any child could have is Catherine Marshall's little book, "God Loves You." This is a collection of her family's favorite stories and prayers and is beautifully illustrated by Nora S. Unwin. I like the last story, called "The Little Red Wagon." It is the kind of thing a child might so easily do and the grown-ups might so easily misunderstand!
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About this document
My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, April 3, 1953
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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