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

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EVANSTON, Ill.—Since Deputy Premier Anastas I. Mikoyan of the Soviet Union left our shores, I have been trying to assess what was helpful and what was not in his two-week visit.

The mere fact that he came to the United States was to me a sign that the Soviets are anxious to show their friendliness. The fact that they sent Mr. Mikoyan shows that they are almost as oblivious to the reactions of people of the U.S. as we often are in our understanding of the way the Soviets feel.

For instance, the only active demonstrations against Mr. Mikoyan in this country were staged by Hungarians, most of whom were refugees from their ill-fated revolution.

In the Soviet Union visitors are told that this revolution was not representative of the people of Hungary but that it was waged by a mere few fascists who, supported by the U.S., were trying to return to the old, pre-Soviet form of government, which the mass of people did not want.

We in the U.S. believe, however, that this was no fascist uprising but an expression of the genuine desire of the people of Hungary to have greater democratic freedom. So, many of the people in this country are opposed to Mr. Mikoyan because he was a member of the Soviet government that ruthlessly put down the revolution.

Under whatever guise it was done, it was done by the Soviets and not the Hungarians themselves, so it would seem that the Soviets must have been supporting a minority government.

The fact that Americans generally did not demonstrate against Mr. Mikoyan showed, I think, their feeling that any guest in this country must be kept safe and received courteously. It did not, however, indicate approval of Mr. Mikoyan's part in suppression of the Hungarian revolt.

Since he traveled through this country, I hope he was convinced that no one was putting on a show for him. He saw conditions as they really were, and this, therefore, must have been educational and had much value.

We do not want war, and we would like to understand the Russian people, to have them understand us, and to lessen the tension that now exists between the two countries.

But that does not mean that our memories are short. The Soviet leaders must never forget that we bear in mind past pronouncements.

For instance, in 1927 Mr. Manuilski from the Ukraine, in speaking at the International Institute of Higher Education in Moscow where foreign service personnel is trained, said:

"Today we are too weak to attack, but our hour will come in about 30 years. Then we will put on the greatest peace campaign that the world has ever known. We will make electrifying concessions and the stupid and decadent capitalist nations of the West will let down their guard; then, with our closed fist, we will destroy them."

Now, of course, one Soviet official does not speak for the entire government any more than does one U.S. official's position represent that of the whole country. But when you put these remarks in line with some not long ago by Premier Nikita S. Khrushchev himself, they give you pause.

You then realize that peace must come because you are strong and your defenses are great. No nation must ever be permitted to believe that it is stronger in military power than we are. We must keep a balance and disarm jointly—never alone.


(Copyright, 1959, by United Feature Syndicate, (nc.)

Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Illinois (United States) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, January 24, 1959

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.