SEPTEMBER 10, 1958
BRUSSELS, Belgium —Delegations here for the meetings of the World Federation of United Nations Associations were invited the other night to visit the German pavilion at the World's Fair. Tables were arranged out on a high terrace and refreshments were served. Everyone enjoyed sitting around in the cool evening air and looking at the lighted buildings. I think the fair is even more attractive at night than in the daytime. Certainly, the United States building is beautiful when lit up at night.
I was told by some of the people at the fair that our commissioner general had removed a part of our exhibit that was called "Unfinished Business." This section had showed that we still had some slums to do away with, and I imagine these slums were in both rural and city areas. It also dramatized the race question, which is still "unfinished business" with us.
Two things that almost any foreigner invariably brings up in conversation today are the situation in Little Rock and the story of the Negro who has been condemned to death for stealing a small sum of money from an elderly woman.
Removing this "unfinished business" exhibit from our pavilion, however, will hardly take it out of the minds of foreigners visiting our building. I think it probably would have helped us rather than hurt us to show that we still felt there were things left undone. I, for one, am very sorry that there was enough influence brought to bear to remove something about which practically every foreigner knows. In such a situation I think it is better to acknowledge one's failures or one's "unfinished business."
A nation like ours, where we have such good communications, cannot hide for long certain conditions that really exist. Fortunately, however, in the newspapers here at least, alongside a statement by Governor Orval Faubus of Arkansas is printed the fact that integration is taking place without interference in a number of schools in Tennessee and several other Southern states.
Here one may read both sides of an issue in such newspapers as the Paris edition of the New York Herald Tribune; Le Monde, a French newspaper; the Zurich Zeitung, and others. But when I get into the Soviet Union we will have nothing but the Communist papers and there will be no publication of any of the good things, I regret to say.
We made a tour of the four German buildings, and while there are some very interesting exhibits of machinery and plastic materials and china and glass, I enjoyed more than anything else seeing their model apartments. These are arranged for people of moderate means—one for a bachelor and one for a family with four children. Both are well planned and livable—but, of course, they were beautifully tidy, which, I am sure, they would never be if they were actually lived in.
The German people are very proud of the rebuilding that has gone on in West Germany, and there are several models showing the parts of Berlin that have been rebuilt. These models show, first, how close the buildings were before the war and, now, how they are rebuilt with plenty of space for parks and playgrounds in every part of the city.
This shows more wisdom and foresight than most people have. When the great destruction came to Berlin it must have seemed to the inhabitants that there was no silver lining to the cloud. But as you look at the models of the rebuilding that has been done you realize that out of the misery may have come more health and more beauty for the children of the future.
The newspapers over here tell us that lately there has been a tremendous influx of people from East Germany coming into West Germany. I had read before coming over that it was being made more and more difficult for people to leave East Germany, but they still seem to manage to do it.
The most striking departure, of course, in recent weeks was that of Dr. Josef Haemel, former rector of Jena University in East Germany. He was an older man who had built up the university, and it must have been a terrible wrench to leave, even though he has found new freedom.
(Copyright, 1958, by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)
About this document
My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, September 10, 1958
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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