My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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CINCINNATI —In an effort to find out if Nikita S. Khrushchev, chief of the Communist party in the Soviet Union, thinks the Communist world can ever live in peace with its democratic neighbors, I posed questions on this point to him in our recent recorded interview at Yalta.

Continuing from yesterday, here is that part of the interview:

ROOSEVELT: Mr. Khrushchev, I would like to go on and ask my next question.

We were not suspicious of the U.S.S.R. at first. We had fought the war together. I know my husband, and I think President Truman, had a real hope that we would be able to come to understandings.

Now, it was felt in the U.S. that some of the agreements made at Yalta were not strictly kept by the U.S.S.R., and suspicion began to grow. I regret to say that I think this suspicion was partly because there had been so little intercourse between the two countries.

I am afraid that today we have really got to do something on both sides before we begin to regain confidence, so we would like—even though you think our proposal for some kind of inspection is impractical, since either side may hide what they are producing—we still would like to feel that an effort to come to some kind of agreement is being made, even though neither of us thought our agreement was completely adequate.

Our people would like to feel there was more willingness on the part of the Soviets to consider a proposal that is not their own but is a proposal from the West.

KHRUSHCHEV: About the Yalta agreement, we have different points of view as to who broke that agreement. We cannot agree on the policy of the U.S.A. that they want to liberate the European and Eastern countries from socialism. They not only announced it, but they also gave money for it. They have established radio stations and have arranged propaganda.

They blame us that we are responsible that Czechoslovakia established a socialist regime in its country. But it is well known that when the revolution happened in Czechoslovakia, not a single Russian soldier was in their territory.

You know, Mrs. Roosevelt, what happened in Greece—the will of the people was destroyed by English tanks. Even Mr. Churchill himself went through the country in a tank, and so the will of the people was destroyed. After the English troops left, American troops moved in.

ROOSEVELT: Would you mind my saying that we believed it was not the will of the people? We believed that the majority of the people wanted their King back and did not want the socialists. You see, that is the difference between us.

So I would like to go on to my third question, which is: Does the government of the Soviet Union still believe that a Communist world must be brought about? Do they believe two systems can exist in peace because that is the crux of the whole matter?

You say we have tried to keep these nations from becoming socialist nations, but it is because we think that the Soviet Union wishes to spread throughout the world, not only through the use of soldiers but through other agents, that our suspicion has grown.

KHRUSHCHEV: Am I also an agent?

ROOSEVELT: You may have been, for all I know. But what would be believed at home would be that you had arranged for the agents.

KHRUSHCHEV: By whom arranged?

ROOSEVELT: I think it is believed that there is a constant effort—let us say suggestion—from people that this is the way the world is going to be. Now, we don't believe that this is the way the world has to be. We can believe in our way and you in your way.

KHRUSHCHEV: That is why we brought our agents—the agents of different philosophies—into the United Nations.

ROOSEVELT: Can they live in the same world without trying to undermine each other and, therefore, threatening everybody, or are we going to continue this constant threat of war because both of us think the other is trying to promote only their philosophy for the whole world?

KHRUSHCHEV: Two questions, Mrs. Roosevelt, two questions. The first one about two philosophies which may live in peace. No doubt about it, Mrs. Roosevelt, we must live in peace, we must live, we must. (Dr. David Gurewitsch breaking in: Not only we must live in peace, but we want to live in peace and we strive to live in peace in the U.S.)


KHRUSHCHEV: We also want to have, you see, something common in our economic activity, in our cultural life.

ROOSEVELT: Must your philosophy alone spread in the whole world because that seems to be the motto, at the top of your newspaper, Pravda, for instance?

KHRUSHCHEV: Yes. We have a motto: "Proletarians of all the world unite." That was not my idea. We differ about our foreign systems. I have never hidden myself from such questions.

This is my statement which, I am sure, I told your Columbia Broadcasting System: Communism will win in the whole world. This is scientifically based on the writings of Karl Marx, Engels, and Lenin. Your people in the U.S. are cultured people, so you know that all kinds of changes take place in economics and how the relations between nations change—feudalism, capitalism, then socialism. And the highest state will be communism. It is well known this is the meaning of history.

When a state changes its order, this is the business of the people themselves. We are against any military attempt to introduce communism or socialism into any country, as well as we are against your interference to reestablish capitalism in our country through military intervention. That is why we stand firmly for coexistence and collaboration.

ROOSEVELT: I would agree that changes come about in the world. I would agree that no military action should bring about these changes. I would also say that it is essential that there be no interference by our country in countries that are Communist, except through peaceful interchange and observation.

But this should hold good, too, for socialist countries. If there is a drive to put over Communist ideas, it makes it very difficult to live in a peaceful atmosphere.

KHRUSHCHEV: If we speak about interference, Mrs. Roosevelt, you know what your State Department does in this sphere. Let Mr. Dulles inform what Mr. Henderson had in view when he visited Turkey and the rest of the countries of the Far East. Mr. Henderson had a rather dirty mission.

ROOSEVELT: I think the whole Near Eastern situation has been a very bad situation, but we feel that the Soviet Union started it when they first let Czechoslovakian arms go to Cairo. We know today that it was Soviet or satellite arms that were used by the Egyptians.

You must know that for a long time the Egyptians had been telling Israel they were going to drive them into the sea. Israel was created as a state by the United Nations. It is a state which could help, because it has advanced technicians, to improve the living conditions of the whole Near Eastern area if once all those nations would sit down together for peaceful discussion.

But now you are building up Syrian arms to preserve what you call Syria's neutrality.

The other day I read in the newspaper here that 117 million dollars had been given by us to Israel and that we had told Israel to move into the demilitarized zone between Syria and Israel. Now, we may have given the money, but we never told them to move into the demilitarized zone. Of that, I am sure.

I believe this situation could have been vastly improved long ago by both the Soviets and ourselves. Because of the flow of Soviet arms to Egypt and Syria, we now feel that when the other Arab states ask for arms, we must help them.

My feeling is that if neither of us gave any arms but helped to improve the living conditions of the people, we would be doing something useful. Today there is nothing but a race to see which one of us can build up this balance of military power.


(Copyright, 1957, by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)

Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Cincinnati (Ohio, United States) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, October 4, 1957

Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
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